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Island Hopping – Cycladic Islands July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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Serifos-Sifnos-Milos or vice versa

This tour commences in either Serifos or Milos in the Cyclades and takes you on a journey around 3 of Greece’s most interesting islands.

Serifos is a well-developed Cycladic island that retains a great amount of traditional charm. The island is  famous for its charming island-style villages and striking landscape of unusual rocky formations. It has a rich and long history; according to mythology, the island Serifos was inhabited by the Cyclops, who are said to have built several of the monuments on the island, such as the White Tower and the Walls of Liomandras. Serifos’ close proximity to Athens (just 2.5 hours from Piraeus port) makes it a splendid holiday spot.  What astonishes visitors is that Serifos has a coastline that stretches for 81kms, 12kms of which are white sandy beaches, great for any beach lover.

Sifnos, the island of Apollo, is quite verdant, full of olive trees which, along with the glimmering churches and chapels, the deep blue and torquoise sea, white-washed houses with colourful windows and wooden balconies, creating a beautiful scenery.  Take your time and explore some of the many lovely villages and beaches scattered around the island.

Milos is unique for its astonishing lunar landscape, with unbelievable and imposing rocky formations coloured in deep red, brown or glimmering white. Fantastic hills and rocks emerge from a turquoise sea, bordered by sandy beaches. Villages and small towns are charming and worth a visit.

You may like to to continue on to other Cyclades Islands.

Sifnos Island July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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A monotonous grey landscape of rock, broken up here and there by a gleaming white chapel, is the first impression made on visitors as the ferry draws into the harbour. But this gives them no idea of the beauty spots waiting to be discovered inland, which, together with the island’s superb architecture, rank it among the jewels of the Aegean.

On a plateau six kms from the port, you will encounter a unique spectacle; the whole of the plateau with its olive trees is covered with sparkling white villages which virtually blend into one another. This sight is unique in the Cyclades.

The island was famous in ancient times for the wealth, which came from its gold and silver mines and the quarries of Sifnos stone. It enjoyed great prosperity in classical times, as can be seen from its Treasury, dedicated to Apollo at Delphi.

Picturesque windmills surrender their sails to the vagaries of the wind, while no fewer than 365 churches and chapels sprout all over the island like white mushrooms from the grey carpet of the island’s terrain. The monasteries of Sifnos, such as that of St Symeon, of Ai-Lias, the Vrissi monastery with an interesting little Byzantine museum and that of Our Lady “Hryssopigi”, the patron saint of the island, are held in high esteem.

The strong local colour of the mountainous island with its strips of coastal plain is further heightened by its picturesque fairs and festivals.

The town of Kamares is the best place to be in Sifnos, with a large number of excellent sea-food tavernas, and several bars, yet there are plenty of quiet spots where you can enjoy a drink and conversation while watching the sunset in the middle of the big bay. It is also the easiest place to get to because this is where the ferry and Flying Dolphin come in. 

Agia Marina is directly across the bay from Kamares so it is quieter, but still within easy walking distance of the nightlife. The beach is one of the longest in the Cyclades and stays shallow for a long way so it’s perfect for families with small children. There are clean and attractive beaches at Kamares, Faros and Platis Gialos, as well as quieter and lesser-known ones, such as those at Hersonissos, Vroulidia, and Fikiada Fassolou. Tourist facilities on Sifnos are of a good standard and it is possible for the visitor to combine a lively night life with a peaceful island existence close to nature.

Our recommended hotel for Sifnos – Hotel Petali http://www.hotelpetali.gr/

Strictly built according to traditional Sifnian architecture, this traditional, but contemporary hotel is comprised of four individual buildings with a breathtaking view of the sea and the other islands, surrounding traditional villages and the famous mountain of Profitis Ilias. The hotel features double rooms, suites and apartments, all with private balcony and excellent views. All rooms are traditionally furnished, with air-conditioning and modern facilities.  Hotel amenities include pool, bar, pastry & coffee shop and restaurant.
Double rooms from €90.00 per person per night.

Music > More changes on the concert front July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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In terms of postponements and cancellations, it has been a summer of confusion and letdown for numerous concertgoers, the latest round of disorder provided by date and venue changes for two eagerly awaited acts, Antony and the Johnsons, fronted by singing sensation Antony Hegarty, and intriguing neo-folk artist Devendra Banhart.

Antony and the Johnsons’ performance, originally scheduled for the open-air Vrachon Theater last Sunday, was postponed until tonight after the heavy rains on Sunday.

Banhart’s show, slated for the Gagarin Club tonight, has been switched to a far smaller venue, the Underworld club (Themistocleous & 5 Gamveta Street, Athens), for reasons that remain unclear.

Banhart, an American who spent much of his childhood in Venezuela, has enjoyed heightened stature over the past couple of years in underground music circuits as a result of his intriguing and prolific burst of several albums in less than five years. Many critics have described him as being at the forefront of an apparent “freak-folk” scene. Banhart has played in Athens once before, about four years ago, as a total unknown at another tiny basement-level club just down the road from where he will be performing tonight. But his popularity has since skyrocketed.

On his previous visit here, Banhart, who these days has earned enough respect to curate leading indie festivals such as the UK-based event All Tomorrow’s Parties, had performed solo as an opening act for Michael Gira, formerly of the New York noise-art act Swans. Gira runs his own label, Young God Records, which raked in Banhart several years ago to offer the free-roaming artist a home for his music.

Tonight, Banhart will be accompanied by his recently formed Hairy Fairy band, which reflects the fuller sound of his recent, exceptional “Cripple Crow” album.

Music > A Brazilian master of sound, not soccer July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Amon Tobin set to appear at Synch Festival this Friday

‘Technology means little when the creative spirit is missing,’ says Tobin.

He’s Brazilian but disinterested in soccer. As Ronaldinho is a master of the ball, compatriot Amon Tobin is a master of the studio.

This particularly interesting composer is totally connected with newer ways in music making (samples, loops etc) but at the same time is well aware that technology is not a cure-all. Creative instinct, from as far back as prehistoric times, remains the key factor.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Tobin was raised in the UK. He made an impact in the mid-90s with “Adventures in Foam,” an album he released as Cujo. Tobin established his fame with 1977’s “Bricolage,” an album that fused numerous sounds from old samba and bossa nova tunes, motorcycle sounds, real instruments, and sound frequencies. Just days before his visit to Athens for an appearance at the Synch Festival this Friday (at the Lavrion Technological Park), Tobin, in an interview, promised a lively and intriguing performance while also recalling how he once almost drowned in the Ionian Sea.

Why don’t you ever play live?

You named your first album “Bricolage.” Does that mean something in particular?

It implies the whole game with sounds that I’m involved with. The term is derived from anthropology and “The Savage Mind” by Claude Levi-Strauss. Strauss refers to a process where one takes a type of material from a certain context and creates a new context with it. It was a common procedure among prehistoric tribes… I work thinking along the same lines. I take sound samples and set them to a new environment and create new contexts. Without necessarily understanding an Indian song, I take the sound of a sitar and construct another type of music.

Can we talk, then, about the death of the composer and the birth of the cut-and-paste creator?

Composers change, but composition doesn’t. People must understand that equipment and technology mean very little when the creative spirit is missing.

You hail from Brazil. How much has the country’s music influenced you?

A lot during both my early years and with regard to rhythm. I try, you see, to eliminate the passages that connect me with cultures I’ve drawn elements from. I have a passion for sound and not its name of origin. And, of course, it would be an insult to place myself, a primitive musician, amid such a rich musical tradition as Brazil’s.

Even so, your rhythms remind me of Airto Moreira, as I see it.

My only connection with Moreira is a remix I did some time ago of one of his songs.

Have you been following Brazil at the World Cup?

Unfortunately, I’m neither a fan of soccer nor television.

What do you do during your spare time?

Well, right now I’m recording my new album and my mind is constantly there. Because I’m using all sorts of recording techniques, the project has proven I took lessons in the history of sound engineering and have gone beyond my old technique, this being to take samples from vinyl records. I do field recordings myself, experiment with various kinds of microphones, and work with musicians whom I invite to the studio. Cronos Quartet played some marvelous string-section melodies for my album.

Why don’t you ever play live?

My music is constructed in the studio, it’s complex, and can’t be executed by an orchestra, because it would require 40 musicians. And it would sound fake.

Can fans dance to a song as fast as “Chomp Samba”?

Of course, northern Europeans like it a lot. Ever since the jungle and drum ’n’ bass scenes, rhythms have become faster. I should say that I take care so that concertgoers experience my shows like a musical journey with moments for takeoff and relaxation.

Is Ninja Tune, the label that releases your albums, an institution in contemporary music?

I don’t think there’s a Ninja Tune sound as there was a Motown sound in the past. I’m detached from the [label’s] other artists. But there may be a specific style at the label, which, ultimately, I am grateful to because it promotes my work.

Do you still live in Brighton [UK]?

I live in Montreal, but I have a house in Brighton for holidays.

Greece amends sports bill and awaits FIFA decision July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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According to Reuters reports, Greece submitted a revised sports bill to FIFA on Thursday in a bid to have a ban from all soccer activities lifted by the sport’s ruling body.

“The minister has sent the amended bill to FIFA president Sepp Blatter this morning,” a sports ministry official told Reuters.

The official refused to say whether FIFA’s demands for the Greek football association’s full autonomy were met in the revised document. He said it was up to FIFA to make the next move.

On Monday FIFA banned Greece, which won the European Championship two years ago, because it said its proposed sports law was limiting the autonomy of the Greek FA and allowed for state interference in the domestic game.

The FIFA ruling means the national side and club teams are banned from playing any international friendly or competitive matches, or any international club matches, until the country conforms to FIFA and UEFA regulations.

The Greek FA had urged the minister to change the law immediately to allow Greek teams to start playing in European competitions as early as mid-July.

The government said on Thursday it was doing everything possible to end the dispute.

However, Sports Minister George Orfanos angered parliamentarians debating the bill and sports officials by threatening to cut off subsidies for the FA if it wanted complete independence. 

The Venetian Renaissance by way of ancient Greece July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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The Venetian Renaissance by way of ancient Greece: Grace, Depravity, and Grandeur in Veronese’s Allegories

A powerful contradiction verging on psychic whiplash is built into the grandiose visual machines that are Paolo Veronese’s five Allegories, currently on glorious view in the Oval Room at the Frick Collection.

Not only does this contradictory whiplash fuel Veronese’s paintings, allowing them to have one foot firmly planted in the art-historical firmament and the other in the shifting sands of the ephemeral, it produces one of the most jolting splits between subject matter and content in all of art.

Click above link to read this interesting article.

The Larnaca International Airport expands July 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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LARNACA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (LCA/LCLK), CYPRUS

Larnaca Airport is situated in the Republic of Cyprus about 5km south of the City of Lanarca. The airport is undergoing a major expansion to take account of a significant growth in traffic in recent years.

Between 1985 and 2000, the growth rate in passenger movements was higher than the European Union average. In 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2000 passenger movements were 0.82, 1.39, 1.80 and 2.38 million respectively. As of early 2006, Larnaca handles 800 flights per month and 2.5 million passengers per year. The airport is the largest in Cyprus, and a key destination for holidaymakers going to the popular resort of Ayia Napa, just 46km from the airport’s location.

The airport has 30 international airlines and 30 charter airlines using it at present. One of the major operators is Cyprus Airways who have a significant stake in the duty free and retail operations at the airport.

TERMINAL CONSTRUCTION

The time-scale of the project to construct a new terminal is still unclear but the most optimistic set the date for the new terminal opening as 2007-08. In March 2001, the Ministry of Communication and Work announced that the Cypriot government would begin the procedure of short listing within six weeks.

At the start of the bidding process 23 consortia had expressed an interest in building the new terminal and operating both Lanarca and Paphos airports for a term of 25 years on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) arrangement.

By November 2003, negotiations had whittled this down to just three. These were Alterra (originally the preferred bidder), consisting of Barclays Private equity, Bechtel, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lanitis EC Estates, Amathus Navigation Co Ltd, Cybarco and Caramondi Bros; Hermes, consisting of Aer Rianta, CTC, Charilados Apostolides, Egis Projects and Iacovou Bros, Bouygues Batiment and Chambre de Commerce D’Industrie Nice Cote D’Azur; and the Cyprus Airports Group, comprising BAA and J&P.

The government originally negotiated with Alterra because they were offering the largest portion of the royalties for the airport operation (49%). After six months negotiations fell through and the terminal construction was set back at least 12 months.

The Cypriot government continued negotiations with Hermes, the second preferred bidder, who were only offering 33% royalties. The Hermes negotiations were successful and although construction was only started in 2004 Hermes and the Cypriot government are confident of having the new terminal ready by 2008.

The Hermes consortium has had to invest CYP200 million ($424 million) in the project as part of the agreement. The new terminal design will be a ‘finger’ style with 13 air bridges leading into a central concourse. Outside of the terminal there are plans for a 1,750-space car park for private cars, rental cars, taxis, buses and staff car parking.

The Department of Civil Aviation envisages that the construction of the new airport facilities at Larnaca will make the airport capable of handling 10 million passengers, rising to 15 million by 2015. It is hoped this will allow the airport to take full advantage of its geographical position, which makes it ideal for airline connections from Europe and the USA,to and from the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East.

RUNWAY EXPANSION AND AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS

In 1999, work was completed on an extension to the runway, thereby increasing the number of landing slots for a greater variety of aircraft. At that time the check-in area was extended in the terminal, the parking aprons were reconstructed, the parking apron for light aviation was extended and the public car park was extended.

The growth in passenger numbers was still relentless and a master plan was developed by ADP and Sofreavia for the development of a new terminal building.

OLD TERMINAL DEVELOPMENT

Development of the old terminal has been successful in improving the existing facilities, and this has alleviated some of the problems associated with the process of airport expansion in the short-term.

Cyprus Airways awarded SITA a five-year contract for a Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) system to enable shared check-in and boarding across 65 workstations (48 check-in stations, nine gates, four transfers and four arrivals). SITA has provided a complete IT solution, including the software platform, maintenance, the installation of the equipment and initial training.

CUTE provides standardised workstations for airports, enabling the airline or its handling agent to access its application in real-time at positions throughout the airport. Additional benefits include Automated Ticket and Boarding (ATB) technology to speed up check-in and gate reconciliation processes, enabling airlines to switch handling agents and/or terminals. This system has been successful in speeding up processes and increasing airport capacity at check-in and departure for travellers while the new airport terminal is under consideration.

In addition, a new Flight Information Display system (FIDs) has made communication of flight information to the passengers a great deal easier.