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Marcos Baghdatis Fizzles at French Open June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Not so easy at the top

RANKED in the top 20 and off the charts when it comes to charisma, Marcos Baghdatis is a hero back home in Cyprus and a fan favourite wherever he plays.

But he’s struggling to cope with his newfound celebrity, and at the French Open he failed.

An overnight sensation when he was runner-up at the Australian Open in January, Baghdatis lasted only two rounds at Roland Garros, losing yesterday to Julien Benneteau of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

“It’s been tough for me after Australia – a lot of questions in my head, a lot of doubts,” Baghdatis said. “It’s not so easy. I think I need some time. I need some experience to find my way through.”

Baghdatis has shown the same engaging personality that won him fans in Melbourne but his shotmaking has lacked sizzle.


International karate games to be held in Cyprus June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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The 2nd International Karate – Aikido – Tai Chi Games will be held in Limassol from 3-4 June, organized by the Cyprus Academy of Martial Arts and the support of Yermasoyia Municipality.

During a press conference on Monday in Limassol, Yermasoyia Mayor Panicos Louroutziatis said the municipality supports the Cyprus Academy of Martial Arts effort which aims at developing and promoting the sport. At the same time, it promotes tourism and the town of Limassol.

Chief Martial Arts instructor Agis Agisilaou said that “if we manage to elevate martial arts to the level they deserve, both as a sport, way of thinking and attitude, then we will manage to make Cyprus a place to hold important sports’ events”.

During the games, seminars will also be organized while on Sunday, 4 June, the public will be able to watch a display of martial arts from four chief instructors and a group of athletes from various levels.

Athletes from Cyprus, Japan, the Ukraine, Britain, the US, the Czech Republic, Lebanon, Sweden, Vietnam and Greece will take part in the games.

Expedition seeks clues to lost Bronze Age culture June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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An underwater explorer who found the Titanic and a team of international scientists will soon survey waters off the Greek island of Crete for clues to a once-powerful Bronze Age-era civilization.

The expedition about 75 miles northwest of Crete aims to learn more about the Minoans, who flourished during the Bronze Age, and seeks to better understand seafaring four millennia ago, the scientists said.

U.S. researchers say the Minoans were engaged in broad-based trade with other civilizations, such as the Mycenaeans on mainland Greece and perhaps with peoples as far away as the present-day Middle East.

"No one knows who the Minoans were," said Robert Ballard, an oceanography professor at the University of Rhode Island who discovered the Titanic in the North Atlantic in 1985.

"They don't think they were Greeks … they think they might actually be Egyptian. Obviously a lot of these mysteries will be solved if we find their ships and especially their cargoes," said Ballard, who is helping lead the expedition.

Ballard's other high-profile discoveries include the remains of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy's sunken World War Two-era boat, the PT-109, in the Solomon Islands in 2002, and two ancient Phoenician ships off Israel in 1999.

The latest expedition begins on June 8 in the Sea of Crete, where scientists using sonar have already identified possible ancient shipwrecks. Using high-tech, underwater equipment, the team will probe the sites more closely, including taking photographs and mapping the area.

Mary Hollinshead, an archeologist at the University of Rhode Island and member of the expedition, said it is clear the Minoans had contact with the Mycenaeans and Egypt and Syria in the Bronze Age, but scholars know little more about the nature of those relationships.

Hollinshead and others are convinced that a key to understanding the links is finding the ships. "We have done some work on land, but what's lacking is material from the sea," she said.

The archeologists also hope for new insight into shipping in the Bronze Age, which lasted from about 3000 BC to about 1100 BC and witnessed a dramatic expansion in sea trade that went beyond the Aegean region.

Much like today, they believe, shipping was comprised of large transit vessels that could sail for long distances and local peddlers who stuck close to the shore.

The parallels may extend further than that. "You don't have just one nationality or one ethnic group running a ship," Hollinshead said. "What we're learning is the questions are much more complex than what we started with."

On another leg of the $1.5 million expedition, University of Rhode Island scientists will study the sea floor around the Greek island of Thera, site of a massive volcanic eruption around 1600 BC.

They will examine the volcano's collapsed crater for the first time with underwater remote-controlled vehicles equipped with high-definition video cameras and temperature sensors.

Thera is also important because it may help better explain the Minoans, whose name derives from Minos, a legendary ruler of Crete and purportedly the son of the Greek god Zeus.

The island, which sank into the sea after the eruption, was home to a society heavily influenced by the Minoans — from architecture to art and possibly religion, Hollinshead said.

Since the island is buried in volcanic ash, any artifacts found there may be well preserved and hold the best clues to how Minoan culture thrived and why it ultimately waned, she said.

Greek professor reveals the ‘secret’ of Hagia Sophia June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.
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The hideout recently opened at the Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul (Constantinople) is the "secret sanctuary," where the Byzantine priest finished the mass on May 29, 1453 interrupted by the appearance of conqueror Mohamed, according to a 10-year research by world known Vienna University Greek professor, Polichronis Enepekidis.

The hideout came to light six months ago when the director of the Hagia Sophia Museum asked if there was a place still not opened and ordered to open the specific room whose door key was lost. The room proved to be Gasparo Fosati office, assigned by the Sultan to restore Hagia Sophia during the period 1847-1849.

Athens News Agency reports that all data collected by professor Enepekidis personal research and contained in the "Fosati File" prove that Gasparo Fosati had turned this room into his private office after instructions by his Greek friends and advisors. This hideout ?according to Greek legends after the conquest of Byzantium-was the place where the interrupted mass finished and the door closed to open again when the priest and the congregation will be Greeks again.

Professor Polichronis Enepekidis underlines that what is necessary now is the ethics of a great religion and the courage of a democratic government for this place to resume its initial role embracing the wishful thinking of simple people and not be turned into another tourist site.

Patras > Cultural Capital of Europe 2006 June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Mainland, Patras Caltural Capital 2006.
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As this year’s Cultural Capital of Europe, Patras is making room for actors, artists, musicians — and an influx of visitors.

Once again, Europeans have chosen a relatively obscure spot as the Cultural Capital of the continent.

For two decades, the European Union has shown a fondness for conferring this annual designation on lesser-known locales. While London, Vienna and Rome remain absent from the list, Krakow, Bruges and Salamanca have all held this title in recent years.

This year, it’s Patras’s turn. Throughout 2006, this Greek city of 200,000 on the western end of the Peloponnesian Peninsula will host performances and exhibitions that will make it more prominent on tourists’ itineraries.

Patras is far from a tourism-driven fabrication — and that’s both a strength and a weakness. There are a few ancient ruins (the site has been inhabited for at least 4,000 years) scattered about the town, a Turkish bath, a cozy little museum and the grand Cathedral of Saint Andrew. However, much of Patras is fairly modern — and the buildings along the arcaded commercial streets range from stylish and immaculate to near collapse. Being a university town, there’s a lively club scene, and good shopping, especially for leather and jewellery.

There’s no major airport, though, and cruise ships don’t call there. But Patras isn’t hard to reach. It’s about four hours by road or rail from Athens, and can also be approached via the spectacular new Rion-Antirion bridge spanning the Gulf of Corinth.

As well, Patras is connected to Brindisi, Italy, and other Adriatic ports by ferry. All these factors have made the city an important transit point, so there’s no lack of hotel facilities. Yet for most of the year, Patras tends to be a place people go through, not to.

The exception is the annual carnival, which runs from late January to early March, attracting visitors from all over Greece. For 170 years, this pre-Lenten celebration has grown to become one of the largest carnivals in Europe, full of street parades, music and a masked ball called the Bourboulia. And this year, Cultural Capital events have been piggybacked onto the festivities, giving the six-week party a cosmopolitan flavour.

Patras’s Carnival ended on March 5 with fireworks and the ritual burning of the Carnival King. The Cultural Capital programming, however, offers themed events spread over the rest of the year.

May and June will feature Contemporary Approaches to Ancient Drama, a series of interpretive productions of classics such as Aeschylus’s The Libation Bearers (May 19-22), Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex (May 26, 27) and Euripides’s Bacchae (May 30-June 6). Many performances take place in the ancient outdoor theatre, the Odeum.

From June through September, music is Patras’s cultural agenda. Maxim Shostakovich (son of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich) will lead the Orchestra of Patras on June 29, renowned conductor and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich will bring the National Orchestra of Lithuania to town on July 19, and the Pittsburgh Symphony will pay a visit on Aug. 28.

November is “Religion and Art” month, with an exhibition on St. Andrew — Patras’s patron saint and one-time resident — and a performance by the Greek Byzantine Choir Nov. 3. December’s theme is “Children’s Art.”

When you’re in Patras, you can always drop by the city’s information centre on Othonos Amalias Street. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and they’ll even lend you a bicycle, free, to tour the city. (I took one up to the ruins of the medieval castle, where there’s a fine view of the sea and snow-capped mountains.) Their expectations are modest: They offer brochures on how to best spend a few hours, or perhaps a day, in the city.

Will the Cultural Capital designation and programming attract a different kind of tourism to Patras? “People from Greece will come,” said one hotel manager, shaking his head. “But not from other countries.”

And perhaps it is a bit much to expect for this Greek city to suddenly transform itself into a major destination. But if you’re in Greece this year, stop by. In 2006, Patras is well worth a day — or maybe even two.

For more information, visit http://www.patras2006.gr or http://www.infocenterpatras.gr.

Acropolis Rally of Greece > event timetable June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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Complete event timetable for the 53rd Acropolis Rally of Greece – the eighth round out of sixteen in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship.
Thursday 1 June:

Start Olympic Stadium, Athens 17.50
SS1 SSS OAKA 1 2.80km 18.00
Finish Olympic Stadium, Athens 18.15

Friday 2 June:

Serv A Athens (10 mins) 08.00
SS2 Imittos 1 11.44km 08.38
SS3 Skourta 1 23.80km 09.56
SS4 Thiva 1 23.76km 11.14
Serv B Athens (30 mins) 13.22
SS5 Imittos 2 11.44km 14.20
SS6 Skourta 2 23.80km 15.38
SS7 Thiva 2 23.76km 16.56
Serv C Athens (45 mins) 18.46
Finish Athens 19.31

Total Leg 1 distance 505.45 km (competitive 120.80 km)

Saturday 3 June:

Serv D Athens (10 mins) 08.00
SS8 Mandra 1 12.60km 08.57
SS9 Kineta 1 37.33km 09.50
SS10 Psatha 1 17.41km 11.13
Serv E Athens (30 mins) 12.51
SS11 Mandra 2 12.60km 14.08
SS12 Kineta 2 37.33km 15.01
SS13 Psatha 2 17.41km 16.24
Serv F Athens (45 mins) 17.44
Finish Athens 18.29

Total Leg 2 distance 450.92 km (competitive 134.68 km)

Sunday 4 June:

Serv G Athens (10 mins) 06.40
SS14 Avlonas 1 23.90km 07.47
SS15 Agia Sotira 1 24.77km 08.55
Serv H Athens (30 mins) 10.08
SS16 Avlonas 2 23.90km 11.35
SS17 Agia Sotira 2 24.77km 12.43
SS18 SSS OAKA 2 2.80km 14.15
Finish Olympic Stadium, Athens

Total Leg 3 distance 322.92 km (competitive 100.14 km)
Total event distance 1279.29 km (competitive 355.62 km)

All times are local Greek time.

Acropolis Rally of Greece June 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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The 2006 FIA World Rally Championship stays in the Mediterranean for round eight in the series’ as the circus heads to Greece for the 53rd running of the Acropolis Rally.

The event, which is the last before the mid-season ten week break, will also play host to the fourth round of the 2006 Production Car WRC.

The route includes 18 special stages and 355.62 competitive kilometres. Legs one and two will feature two loops of three stages separated by a midday service halt, with two loops of two tests on leg three.

There will be two passes through the Superspecial in the Olympic stadium built for the 2004 games on Thursday and Sunday, with an expected crowd of more than 60,000 fans. The podium finish is scheduled for 1530hrs in the stadium on Sunday.

There has been a major change in the event’s format for 2006. In previous years the rally was based in central Greece around the town of Lamia, 200km north of Athens. This year the service park, Super Special stage and rally HQ will be located at the Athens Olympic stadium complex, making the rally the only event to be based entirely in a capital city.

The route takes crews to the hills north and west of Athens, with no test further than 80km from the service park.

The stages combine roads used in previous years with new stretches of freshly-regraded gravel, however with large rocks littering the roads, the event retains its rough, abrasive character.

With average speeds higher than those in Sardinia and temperatures approaching 40ºC, Greece is one of the toughest events of the year. Despite though that the manufacturer teams must use the same chassis, engine and transmission in Greece as was used in Sardinia.