Oh, it's here big-time now. Just when my wife and I had grown accustomed to being greeted by gorgeous aerial views of the Acropolis and the mountainous Greek countryside before a recap of the day's events every evening, it's gone. Bye bye, 28th (Modern) Olympiad - we'll pick up the conversation again in Beijing come the Summer of 2008, provided China doesn't go and do anything stupid in the meantime... like invade Taiwan. And of course there'll always be the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, but unless you really, really like figure-skating - or curling, my personal favorite frozen "sport" - it just isn't the same.
At any rate, I won't be missing the Games so much as I'll be missing Greece, a place I still haven't been to yet, although having devoted most of my adult life to Greek language and literature and having married an actual Greek! All of that is set to change next August, however, as I've been invited to give a paper at a conference that will be held on the slopes of Mount Pelion to honor Harvard's own E.A. Sophocles, about whom I've written extensively here on at The Jersey Exile. While I can only hope for the best as far as those arrangements working out, meantime I will mourn the ending of my virtual fortnight in Hellas, although I'm pleased as punch that the Greeks ended up defying the critics and naysayers and delivered an Olympiad worthy of their ancient predecessors. Kudos to the pundits who later apologized for their lack of faith - the best of these mea culpas can be found in many places online, including here.
All in all, it was a great summer for Greece, from the fairytale victory in the 2004 Euro Cup to an almost perfect Summer Games. Too bad the Fall isn't promising the same kind of magic thus far for the Greeks - the celebrated national team lost its first World Cup qualifying match against Albania, 2-1, and then only managed a draw against their archnemeses the Turks this Wednesday. Granted, Greece still has another seven games to go over the next year and half's runup to the 2006 Cup in Germany, but it's a dispiriting start nonetheless. Maybe it's all the celebration that's been going on in the country. Once the confetti has all been swept up and tourists all leave, perhaps then coach Otto "King Otto" Rehhagel will be able to whip the Greeks back into respectable fighting shape once more (as he did before).