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Greek self-catering holidays galore this August January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands, Greece Islands Aegean, Greece Islands Ionian, Greece Mainland.
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If you have got your two weeks abroad pencilled-in for August, but are undecided where to go, then why not grab the opportunity to get away to Greece and its nearby islands?

There are many great value Greek holidays available before the summer is out, which include flights and self-catering accommodation, based at a variety of coastal locations.

Kalives on the north-west coast of Crete remains largely unspoilt and has excellent sandy beaches, good places to swim and beautiful rolling countryside.

The spacious Afrodite Apartments have a good-sized pool and are located just three minutes’ walk from the beach. Departs 22nd and 29th August.

Alternatively, if you want to experience the more tranquil and rural side of Crete, you could stay in Gerani at the modern Ilios Apartments, located 14 kilometres west of Chania, the second largest city on the island.

Gerani is a relatively undeveloped area, with a wide sand and shingle beach and lots of greenery. A selection of shops and tavernas are only five-minutes walk away from the apartments, which also have a swimming pool. Departs August 22nd and 29th.

If you prefer staying somewhere more remote, the small, leafy and picturesque island of Skiathos has apartments that are within a short walk of three sandy beaches. The comfortable Magdalena Studios are located in rural surroundings and have free access to the swimming pool next door. Departs August 25th.

The busier village of Tolon is ideal for first time visitors to Greece with its long sandy beach, cafés, restaurants and fascinating past. The Viaros Apartments occupy an elevated, quiet position with spectacular views of the village and sea, yet are just a three-minute walk from the bustling waterfront.

There are lots of things to do at Tolon, including watersports and cruises to the surrounding bays and small islands.

If you are looking for an opportunity to explore Greece’s classical past, then Mycenae, Argos, Tyrins and Corinth are all within reach. Departs August 27th.

Corfu might be best known as a busy tourist-filled holiday destination, however Maltas in the south-west is just about as far as you can get from the island’s mass market image. Five minutes away from one of the longest beaches on the island, Tasia Studios also have a pretty garden and country views. Departs August 28th.

All holidays start at £349 person except Ilios apartments which start at £389 per person. Prices are based on two sharing a self-catering studio apartment (or one-bedroom apartment at the Ilios in Crete) for fourteen nights with return flights and transfers, including in-flight meals. For more information see www.sunvil.co.uk.

Rhodes holiday season extended January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean, News Flights.
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Direct flights to the Greek island of Rhodes are starting earlier this year giving the island a longer holiday season.

Twice-weekly services to Rhodes with British Airways will start from March 28th 2007 before going up to four per week from May 24th 2007. The airline launched direct flights to the island in May last year, which were highly popular with British holidaymakers.

This year, the airline is expecting an influx of travellers heading for springtime sunshine over the Easter holidays in Rhodes.

Greek Easter is on the same day as the UK’s in 2007, giving holidaymakers a chance to experience local celebrations on the island, which include parades, fireworks and church services. The celebrations will usually start on Maundy Thursday and build up to a big Easter Sunday dinner of roasted lamb.

Flights depart from London Gatwick and cost from £69 each way including taxes.

For more information on Rhodes visit www.rodosisland.gr

Build Up to Rhodes begins January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean, Sports & Games.
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With Manx sport on a high after two years of virtually unprecedented success in 2005 and 2006, anticipation is already mounting ahead of the XII Island Games to be held in Rhodes.

With less than six months until the Greek island opens its doors to the cream of offshore sporting talent, Rhodes’s 110,000 inhabitants are preparing to show the world what their little Aegean home has to offer.

Steeped in history dating back to the time of Homer, Rhodes was famed for the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant statue of the Greek god Helios that stood as high as the Statue of Liberty and was considered one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.

With an average high June temperature of 27C, in contrast to 16C in the Isle of Man, the biggest adversary for most Manx competitors will be the elements. Many will arrive a week early for acclimatisation, the effectiveness of which could be fundamental to the Island’s medal prospects.

The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes promises to provide a stunning backdrop for the core Island Games events. Indeed, the making of the Games will be the venues, four of which are truly unique.

One of the most punishing events will be the triathlon. Starting on the coast of the Aegean Sea before heading inland to the town centre, the event promises to be spectacular with hundreds of spectators expected to line the course.

The first of the Manx teams to announce its line-up, the triathlon squad boasts a good blend of youth and experience and should challenge for honours. One member of the team at least should not be fazed by the heat. Graham Stigant competed in the Ironman Hawaii triathlon last October when temperatures peaked at 36C over a course that included barren landscapes with lava deposits, the Rhodes course will be a scenic paradise in comparrison.

Having secured a superb haul of 12 medals in the 2005 Games in Shetland, the Manx swimming team should again be strong and will be the beneficiaries of a particularly inspiring venue.

With just two pools on the island, the 25m, eight-lane Nautical Club of Rhodes has been selected to host the entire swimming programme. An outdoor pool located adjacent to Rhodes Marina and within minutes of the main town centre, the facility is one of a kind and will provide a genuine challenge for those swimmers not accustomed to competing alfresco.

With the pedigree of Isle of Man cycling iterated throughout 2006 on the World, Commonwealth, European and British stages thanks to the exploits of the likes of Jonny Bellis, Peter Kennaugh and a certain Mark Cavendish, the time trial, road race, town criterium and mountain bike races will all be eagerly anticipated by the Manx contingent.

However, it is almost certain that all three will miss the trip to Rhodes as they each have bigger fish to fry, so the old guard of Andrew Roche and co will be called in to uphold honour. All of the two-wheel events will be staged on parts of the International Cycling Federation-recognised Tour of Rhodes course which takes in the island’s imposing medieval castle and vibrant town centre.

Being a Greek island, the importance of athletics to Rhodes’s populace cannot be understated. The greatest ancient Olympic athlete of them all was Leonidas of Rhodes, whose 12 victories in four Olympiads between 164BC and 152BC is unprecedented in antiquity. More recently Rhodes athletes have regularly competed on the international stage and produced medallists at the IAAF World Championships.

And this rich heritage is set to be reflected by the athletics facilities on offer in June when a new 2000-seater stadium overlooking the Aegean will host the track and field events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. For those who wish to draw some inspiration from Leonidas, the new stadium is juxtaposed with the island’s ancient track and is open to visitors.

Other events in the Games will be archery, shooting, basketball, football, golf, judo, sailing, table tennis, tennis, volleyball and beach volleyball.

Heroic quest for home truth is over January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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It was the home of the hero of Troy. Odysseus, the Greek warrior who tricked the Trojans with a wooden horse, hailed from “bright Ithaca”, according to the poet Homer.

The identity of the fabled island emerged from the mists of time yesterday, when a geologist at Edinburgh University produced evidence to support the theory that Ithaca is part of the Greek island of Cephalonia and not, as was always believed, the neighbouring island of Ithaki.

The theory, put forward by a British group including a classical scholar and a geologist, is that an area called Paliki, linked to Cephalonia by a strip of land, was an island at the time of the Trojan war, believed to have taken place in around 1200BC.

The results of a geological survey, carried out by Professor John Underhill, a geologist at the University of Edinburgh, reveal that the connecting strip of land has no solid limestone bedrock and is instead composed of loose rockfall and landslide material, supporting the idea that it was once a waterway that was filled in as the result of rockfalls triggered by an earthquake.

A second marine survey of the bays at each end, carried out by Prof Underhill in partnership with the Greek Geological Institute, found an offshore marine valley which lines up with where the ancient waterway would have run, while micromarine fossils point to the incident taking place in the last 5,000 years.

The results have been seized upon as clear evidence that supports the theory put forward by Robert Bittlestone, a British businessman, James Diggle, a professor of classics at Cambridge University, and Prof Underhill, in their book, Odysseus Unbound.

Last night, Prof Underhill said: “I have always been the sceptic of the group, and I would have expected the geological studies to have disproved our theory by now, but they have not; they have supported it.”

The oral histories of the Iliad, which recounted the Trojan war, and the Odyssey, which chronicled Odysseus’s long journey home, have always been treated as works of fiction. However, today academics believe the stories, while embellished with gods, refer to an actual war.

Homer wrote of Odysseus’s home: “Ithaca itself lies low, furthest to the sea / Towards dusk: the rest, apart, face dawn and sun.”

Over the past 200 years, a number of digs have taken place on the island of Ithaki in search of the city of Ithaca and the palace of Odysseus. Last night, Mr Bittlestone said: “I believe they have been looking in the wrong place and that if our later research concludes that Paliki was once an island, then we now know where to look.”

Paul Cartledge, a historian and writer , said: “The evidence is very strong that Palki is Ithaca. I’m delighted that geological methods are being used, but I don’t think we should go looking to prove every aspect of Homer as if it was a work of fact.”

Bettany Hughes, the historian and TV presenter, who has written a book on Helen of Troy, said: “This is very exciting news.”

In search of Odysseus’s Ithaca January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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A British businessman is trying to prove the birthplace of Odysseus really does exist.

It’s one of the founding stories of Western civilisation, the epic journey home to Ithaca by Odysseus following his victory in the Trojan War. It’s long been argued whether Homer’s tale is pure myth.

Now British businessman Robert Bittlestone has set out to prove that the Greek hero’s homeland does exist.

But his controversial hunch about Ithaca’s actual location would only make sense by showing the region had been transformed, possibly by a massive earthquake. So in October, he set out to prove his theory by drilling a borehole on the Greek island of Kefallonia.

Related Links >
http://www.odysseus-unbound.org/news.html

Retsina, Kefi and Anthos January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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RETSINA
This traditional Greek spot is owned by Yannis Hatjopoulos and his wife, Katerina. They expect to start serving meze, individual casseroles of moussaka and baklava, by Monday. The consulting chef, Thomas Xanthopoulos, was formerly at Periyali: 115 East 60th Street; (212) 486-8826.

KEFI
Michael Psilakis will close Onera tomorrow and reopen it on Monday with this new name, which is a Greek term meaning high spirits. The decor will be dressed down and the menu will be more rustic, with regional dishes, casseroles and cheaper prices ($14.95 maximum; no credit cards): 222 West 79th Street, (212) 873-0200.

Mr. Psilakis also plans to open Anthos, with Greek haute cuisine in an elegant setting, at 36 West 52nd Street. It will replace Acqua Pazza, which will close after dinner on Valentine’s Day. Donatella Arpaia, Mr. Psilakis’s partner in Dona, which just closed, will be his partner in both restaurants.

Greek chicken bake January 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Sometimes all it takes to kick-start your dinner is a little help from your spice cabinet. Greek seasoning, a combination of dried onion, garlic, spearmint, oregano and salt, adds zing to simple chicken breasts.

In keeping with the Greek theme, the chicken is topped with fresh tomatoes and sprinkled with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts. If you are not a tomato fan, substitute chopped bell pepper. Round out the meal with a green salad topped with red wine vinaigrette and roasted potatoes.

Greek Chicken Bake

Ingredients >
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to uniform thickness
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
1 to 2 tomatoes, sliced
¼cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

Method >
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle chicken with Greek seasoning. In a large, lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat, add chicken and brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet. Top each breast with tomato slices and sprinkle with feta and pine nuts. Bake for 10 minutes or until heated through.
Serves 4.

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