Meltemi. At last. The north wind breathes life into Athens. Locals can also be seen on the street during the day, where otherwise only Olympic tourists sweat, and Greek television shows a still image of the fluttering flags in the sailing harbor for five minutes. As if it wanted to transport the cool breeze across the screen. Just like you can bring a crackling open fire into your apartment via TV.
The TV makers may say to themselves that it is no less exciting than the 49er train. Because actually they should report live from sailing, but there is a break. The German team was just briefly seen being overtaken by three boats, then for the 25th time the decisive goal of the Greek water polo players who won yesterday will be recorded.
The wind blows a little heat off the freshly paved streets of Athens, which the taxi driver thinks he knows will not survive the coming months. Bad quality and built too quickly. The Olympic tourists are no longer in such a hurry to flee into the air-conditioned trams and buses or to freeze in the handball hall.
If you have to stay outside longer during the day, you have a full water bottle in your hand. Professional fans strap a kind of cartridge belt around their stomachs and put several bottles into them. You fill them up at the water dispensers that are freely accessible in the Olympic parks. The tap water with the chlorine content of a German bathing establishment is not drinkable.
Actually, every reasonable Athenian leaves the capital in summer. It is too hot. And of those who stay, no one would think of doing sports in the shade at 36 degrees. Who for God's sake thought of playing these games at the hottest time of the year?
There was no other way. Because if all 4 million locals were at home, the city would sink into traffic chaos. 1.4 million cars normally cause the highest pollution levels of any European city. A shrewd politician even thought of alternating between only allowing cars with odd or even number plates onto the streets. Thereupon exchangeable signs circulated, or the Athenians bought a second car. The chaos remained.
After all, the subway has been providing relief for four years. The most modern, but probably also the loudest system in Europe is said to drive 250,000 cars out of the city and reduce emissions by 35 percent. No wonder, because it is better to live underground, surrounded by cool marble, than in the shimmering heat.
Unless the meltemi is blowing. Then everything is fine again. The beach cafes are populated earlier, the Greeks look more relaxed, and at the top of the star boat class there are, as usual, the former Finn sailors who can flex their muscles.