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Isles and isles of Greece September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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Whether you crave the serenity of Syros or the merriment of Mykonos, there’s a Greek island – with fabulous food and views – waiting for you

Mykonos and Syros share many of the attributes that make the Greek Islands so alluring: clear, deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea; stunning coastlines with hidden beaches of every variety of sand and stone tucked into remote coves; placid panoramas of sailboats, yachts and fishing boats gliding across the water; impressive ports with picturesque waterfronts; and rocky hillsides with prickly pear and agave cacti, flaming oleanders, red bougainvilla, orange trumpet vine, pink and red hibiscus, and lantana of all colors. Thyme, fennel and capers grow wild in fields separated by stacked rock fences, and groves of olive, eucalyptus, pine and fig trees are present wherever you turn.

Both sport lovely tavernas, the simple eateries where families eat, drink and converse, an ideal setting to savor a communal meal and the Greek way of life. Dinner in the summer typically begins around 10 p.m. and winds up sometime after midnight.

Neither island has high-rises nor billboards; both are smoker-friendly. No-smoking areas are all but nonexistent.The similarities end there.

I have to admit, Loula’s place on Mykonos was pretty swell. The last hillside villa on a road on the extreme southwestern tip of the island, the four-bedroom white stucco spread was straight out of Architectural Digest with clean lines and a Moorish-Mexican look with requisite swimming pool, cabana and private beach below, and a sweeping view of the eastern horizon.

But at the end, the nod went to Syros, a compact island about 12 miles long and four miles across with a population of 20,000. If Mykonos is known around the world for clubs that thump with the Euro-pop beat till 10 a.m., then Syros is the anti-Mykonos. Oh, downtown Ermoupolis is noisy at midnight on weekends, but by 3 a.m., its marble streets are pretty calm.

On Syros, tourism is a small part of an economy that runs on government, a large shipyard and agriculture (greenhouses litter the island interior).

Let the cruise ships descend on Mykonos and overwhelm whatever charm is left. Islanders on Syros point out that Ermoupolis may not be worthy as a major cruise line port o’call, but it attracts plenty of yachts and sailboats that jam the amphitheatre-shaped port on weekend evenings during the warm months. The smaller boats pull up next to the sidewalk cafes on the waterfront, and boat owners, captains and crew members gather around tables on their boats a few feet from the rest of the town sitting around their tables, and the whole island watches the street parade until well past midnight.

Mykonos architecture is all white sugar cube boxes — think Santa Fe, N.M., only bleached. Syros is two-story tree-shrouded 19th-century Italian mansions with rock and granite walls and red tile roofs, especially around Poseidonia, where my aunt and uncle live. The architecture and the local preference of referring to Poseidonia as Dellagracia reflect the island’s strong Venetian influence, which dates back to the 13th century. Then again, some inland stretches could be confused for Tuscany if not for the deep blue sea in the distance.

The Mykonos crowd comes from all over the world. Syros visitors come mostly from Greece and in July and August, from Italy and northern Europe. When the high season is over on Mykonos, the island pretty much shuts down — so much for Bulgari jewelry, Italian gelato and Corona Beer T-shirts — until spring.

Syros, whose history dates back to the sixth century B.C. and the pre-Socratic philosopher Pherecides, stays open year-round for business and for pleasure, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Miaouli Square, the main plaza in Ermoupolis, two blocks from the waterfront, is a real public gathering place where kids run and kick soccer balls on the marble tile. The open space is surrounded by the Italian neoclassical Town Hall on one side, and sidewalk cafes on the other three sides — the perfect place to enjoy a thimble-full of strong, muddy Greek coffee and a plate of loukamadis, a Syros dessert delicacy of fried sweet dough drenched in honey and cinnamon that is popular throughout Greece. A small museum at the northeast corner of the Municipal Building has reproductions of human figurines with folded arms found on Syros dating back as far as 2,800 B.C. They look a little bit like the giant heads found on Easter Island in the Pacific and a little bit like the Oscar award. There also are other artifacts from the island.

A block up the hill is the Apollo Theatre, a 150-year-old small theater built on the same blueprint as La Scala Opera House in Milan. Farther up the hill Ano Syros, or High Syros, the splendidly tranquil medieval maze of whitewashed residences and cafés surrounded by narrow footpaths too tight to accommodate any transportation other than a donkey. The biggest difference between Syros and Mykonos was the pace of life, a point driven home when Aunt Roussa took us to a seaside taverna in Kini on a Saturday night and another on Delfini beach on the northwest side on a Sunday afternoon. Both were sublime locations, attracting people from the neighborhood to idyllic little settings meant to be shared by just a few.

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Audience sings along at benefit concert September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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Many artists joined forces for a good cause.

Though the Athens Festival is over, concerts in aid of charity continue at the Herod Atticus Theater, for a large fee. One such concert was organized by the City of Athens Institute for the Homeless and its president, Deputy Mayor Lefteris Skiadas, in collaboration with the Panathenaic Union of Women and Youth and the Friends of the Municipal Theater of Piraeus.

It was an evening of music and poetry performed by singers Manolis Lidakis, Mario Frangoulis, Fotini Darra and Andreas Smyrnakis, as well as actors Grigoris Valtinos and Despina Bebedeli reading poems by Elytis and Lorca.

In the second part, they all sang together, getting the audience on their feet to sing along to songs by Hadjidakis, Theodorakis, Xarchakos, Kokotos, Mikroutsikos and the talented young composer Dimitris Papadimitriou, sung by his favorite, Darra, dressed in white with the movement, rhythm and voice to match her ethereal beauty.

The proceeds from the concert, which was called «When I Speak for the Sun» in honor of the tenth anniversary of Elytis’s death, will go to the homeless of the city of Athens. 

A multi-culti, glitzy take on traditional flamenco September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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Colorful show ‘Fuego,’ directed by Carmen Mota, will be performed at Thessaloniki’s Dassos Theater and then at Athens’s Lycabettus Theater.

“Fuego,” an explosive show directed by Carmen Mota, is the performance event that 15 talented dancers and five equally talented musicians from Spain will bring to Greece. The spectacle will first go on stage at Thessaloniki’s Dassos Theater, on September 11 and 12, and will then move on to Athens, at the Lycabettus Theater, from September 14 through to 16.

The colorful show features some top dancers, striking costumes and breathtaking choreographies in which the seductive solos alternate with the strikingly coordinated group performances. The fascinating production combines the flamenco tradition with landmark music compositions, including Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and “Private Investigation” by the Dire Straits.

The performance is divided into two parts: the first consists of an experimental mixture from different cultures, while the second is more personal and focuses mostly on tradition. Artistic director Carmen Mota said she wanted a broader audience to get acquainted with flamenco, without alienating those who are already charmed by the traditional Spanish music. “That is why I created this mix in the choreographies, the sets, the lights and the general concept and staging of the show. I felt free to seize the opportunity to borrow elements from Broadway and Las Vegas shows, with respect to the values that make Spanish dance admirable.”

Study in Greece > Athens MBA joins top 10 list September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Education.
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An MBA course offered by the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) was ranked as the tenth best in Europe and is drawing a growing number of international students, according to a ranking completed by a leading education magazine.

The survey, put together by magazine ReportED, also placed the MBA course in position No. 30, of a total of 250 business schools worldwide.

The director of the international MBA program, Professor Grigoris Prastakos, said that the course caters to the growing presence of Greek businesses in the Balkans.

«We have a strategic position in line with Greek businesses. Many graduates from Balkan countries choose to study business administration in Greece and then return to their countries, seeking management positions at a Greek subsidiary,» he said.

According to AUEB data, 40 percent of students this year are from abroad, up from 12 percent two years ago.

It is the first time that a Greek MBA program has been featured on an international ranking list.

Greek Festival underway in Salt Lake City September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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31st Annual Utah Greek Festival underway in Salt Lake City

Wouldn’t a vacation to Greece be nice right about now? Well, this weekend only, you can escape to see a taste of Greece right in your backyard.

The 31st Annual Greek Festival kicked off Friday where as many as five generations will be running booths.

“When Greek meets Greek they say, the men especially, ‘Xadelfi’ which means cousin…Everybody’s a cousin!” says Church Historian, John Chipian.

There’s only one rule at the Greek Festival…if you like what you see, you have to yell out “Opa!”

The festival runs Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.. The tents are set up right on the corner of 300 South and 300 West at the Holy Trinity Church.

An impressive driver line-up for Cyprus Rally September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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The 2006 Cyprus Rally to be held between 21-24 September, will attract the local, regional and world driving elite.

The organizers of the 2006 WRC Cyprus Rally have confirmed the entry list for this month’s event, “and it is an impressive line-up of the world’s finest driving talent,” a press release said on Friday.

A total of 50 entrants from 20 different countries are set to leave the start ramp and compete in one of the most popular rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

Center stage at the event will undoubtedly be 2004 and 2005 World Rally Champion and winner of the last two Cyprus events Sebastien Loeb, whose recent win at Rally Japan makes him the most successful rally driver ever.

Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena undoubtedly enter the rally as favourites aboard their Kronos Total Citroen Xsara, but former world champion Marcus Gronholm will be looking to repeat his 2002 Cyprus success. Competing in the latest Ford Focus WRC, the BP Ford driver and his co-driver Timo Rautiainen will be doing all they can to prevent Loeb scoring a Cyprus hat-trick.

The other former world champion competing in the rally, who won here in Cyprus in 2003, Petter Solberg will once more pilot the famed Subaru Impreza alongside co-driver Phil Mills.

All six major teams competing the 2006 WRC will tackle Cyprus with two crews each – Kronos Total Racing Citroen, BP Ford, Subaru, OMV Peugeot, Stobart VK Ford and Red Bull Skoda.

Second driver for Kronos is the talented Spaniard Dani Sordo who will start 3rd on the ramp behind Loeb and Gronholm. Mikko Hirvonen will be aiming to score points for BP Ford from 4th.

Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor – who were placed 2nd in last year’s Cyprus Rally – will start fifth in their Peugeot 307WRC, followed by Petter Solberg’s Subaru.

The 2006 Cyprus Rally will once again be based around the coastal resort of Limassol.

The island’s leading international event is expected to be as exciting as ever, with an added adrenaline rush this year in the shape of the first ever OMV DownTown Special (OMV DTS) which brings rallying excitement to the winding streets of old town Limassol.

New investments in internet services in Greece September 9, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web.
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Craig Wireless is launching “Internet Everywhere” services in Greece using a Nortel solution. The new WiMAX commercial network will deliver high-speed services such as VoIP, videoconferencing and interactive gaming to areas that currently have limited or no access to broadband service.

The first phase network roll-out is expected to be completed by the end of October 2006.

Initially Craig Wireless will cover the four major cities of Athens, Heraklion, Patras and Thessaloniki, and expand to other cities and areas throughout Greece in 2007.

UNINORTEL is reportedly providing the WiMAX-ready solution for Craig Wireless that will be powered by Nortel’s (News – Alert) WiMAX product in the 3.5 GHz band.

“This important first project in Greece with Craig Wireless is a great example of how Nortel’s WiMAX products can be used to deliver broadband access in metropolitan areas without the cost and disruption of laying down cables or upgrading local exchanges,” said Michel Clement, president Southern Europe, Nortel in a press release.

He continued: “And, when Craig Wireless decides to extend service into more rural areas, the Nortel solution can be cost-effectively extended to reach new cities and villages across Greece connecting more users with the Broadband WiMAX network.”

The Canadian telecom giant Nortel Networks Corp. is using its wireless and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) technology to spearhead a push into the European communications market.

Mike Zafirovski, Nortel president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday that his company has signed several new deals — in Britain, Greece, Switzerland and Russia — that he hopes will pave the way for more sales in Europe.

“We will drive simple and effective convergence,” he announced in London, referring to Nortel’s strength in communications technology. “The bandwidth glut left by the internet bubble bursting has disappeared and we clearly see the opportunity for next-generation optical and backbone transport networks.”

Nortel is using the flag “Business Made Simple” as part of a marketing strategy for the European market that will focus on three areas:

Mobility and Convergence.
Enterprise Transformation.
Services and Solutions.

Nortel’s goals are ambitious. In the Mobility and Convergence area, Zafirovski said: “We aim to capture the video explosion and, with IMS [a system for sending audio and video over data networks], ensure next-generation convergence services become a reality at an affordable price point.”

With Enterprise Transformation, Nortel aims to tie communications systems more tightly to the software that runs businesses. “We will … re-invent voice and further blur the lines between IT and telephony,” he promised.

With Services and Solutions, Nortel wants to offer customers “powerful bundles and integration capabilities, freeing customers to integrate and manage as much or as little of their network as they want.”

Nortel said it has signed deals in all three areas.

In the Mobility and Convergence area, Golden Telecom is expanding its Russian optical network to increase its voice and broadband services across the region, while Comcor Group will provide Nortel VoIP and broadband services to residents of Moscow.

In Greece, Craig Wireless intends to roll broadband services across Athens and three other major Greek cities.

In the field of Enterprise Transformation, Britain’s Telegraph Group of newspapers is equipping its reporters with anytime, anywhere communications through internet-based communication tools, while the Economist Group of magazine publishers is setting up an internet system to allow its editors and analysts to communicate more effectively.

And with Services and Solutions, Switzerland’s Swisscom has launched a business VoIP service that uses Nortel technology.

For more information, visit > http://www.nortel.com or http://www.craigwireless.com