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What makes Santorini so special September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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What makes Santorini so special?

The remnant of one of the world’s most spectacular volcanic eruptions in recorded history over 3,000 years ago is now one of the most sought after Greek island destinations. The sheer cliffs of the island present a challenge from arrival to the walk, donkey ride or vehicle journey to the main town of Thira on the summit of the plateau.  Many of the hotels and villas most sought after by visitors are perched like white meringue cakes on the edge of the caldera’s cliffs.

The whitewashed walls and blue domes of churches and homes represent the idyllic images of Greece. Locals and tourists alike gaze west to view the spectacular sunsets which are a highlight of daily life on the island.  Santorini has many wonderful archaeological sites including Akrotiri which includes evidence of the Minoan people who lived on the island well over 3,000 years ago. Some historians are convinced that Santorini is the remnant of the mystical lost land of Atlantis. Some scientists  believe that the volcanic eruption of Santorini 3,200 years ago provide the explanation for many of the biblical ten plagues and the parting of Red Sea.      

Santorini provides a comprehensive range of accommodation options ranging from the comfortable budget priced Sunrise Hotel where rates start from about 40 euro including continental breakfast to the luxurious Chromata Hotel featured on a recent episode of Channel 9’s Getaway and the luxurious clifftop Katikies Hotel favoured by honeymooners and visitors who seek the ultimate in luxury.

Santorini is a popular destination in the Greece Island Hopping programs of every tour operator. Check yours today!

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My big fat Greek dinner September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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Top Greek restaurants in Chicago’s Greektown

Greek Islands (200 S. Halsted St., 312-782-9855) The food is always great, and the service is quick and professional. Great dolmades and, of course, saganaki. Nice selection of wines (try Maleatis, a very crisp, dry white wine). The chicken riganato and spanakopita are just delish.  

Parthenon (314 S. Halsted St., 312-726-2407) You will always be greeted by the staff. The cheese and gyro appetizer are very good, and the lamb chop entree is fabulous, as is the pork chop too. 

Santorini (800 W. Adams St., 312-829-8820) Grilled seafood and octopus are particularly good. What you will mostly appreciate is the distinctive flavors of the moussaka, the rice and each of the items. The chicken is particularly well prepared.

Athena Greek Restaurant (212 S. Halsted St., 312-655-0000) Prefer to sit outside as the patio is so beautiful and the food is authentic. Very friendly staff! And good looking! Lots of excellent food.

Artopolis Bakery Cafe & Agora (306 S. Halsted St., 312-559-9000) Great place to sit down and relax and take in the sights. Probably the most inexpensive place in Greektown. Their menu is wonderful, full of Greek flavors. A plus for cafe lovers.

Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna (130 S. Halsted St., 312-226-3377) Service is absolutely excellent, from the host, waiter, busboys and valet staff. Food is delicious, particularly the grilled calamari and dishes with scallops. 

Acropolis to make Hollywood debut September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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Greek authorities are lifting a ban on filming at the Acropolis for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” star Nia Vardalos in the hope the exposure will boost the country’s image.

“My Life In Ruins”, which is being produced by Tom Hanks, will become the first movie ever to be allowed to feature the Athens classical landmark.

Shooting on the movie, in which Nia Vardalos plays an archaeologist tour guide, is expected to start next month, October 6.

mybigfatgreekwedding.jpg 

Baghdatis in Bangkok for the ATP Thailand Open September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Cyprus’ world number eight, Marcos Baghdatis arrives in Bangkok tonight for the ATP Thailand Open which begins on Sunday at the Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani. Baghdatis has just won his first ATP title at the China Open in Beijing where he beat both of Thailand’s top players, Paradorn Srichaphan and Danai Udomchoke, according to Bangkok Post, Thailand.

He was also the Australian Open runner-up.

It was confirmed yesterday that Danai has been given a wild card for the tournament.

Chairman of the Organising Committee, Chaiyapak Siriwat said Danai performed well at the China Open last week and deserved a place in the main draw.

Last year, Danai lost to Robby Ginepri of the United States in a first round match.

Among the players appearing in the Thailand Open will be:

Ivan Ljubicic (3), James Blake (9), Lleyton Hewitt (19), Marat Safin (72), Baghdatis (8), Andy Murray (16), Juan Carlos Ferrero (18), Tim Henman (60), Ginepri (40), Gael Monfils (30) and Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan (41).

Tickets are still available at Thai Ticket Master booths and the Thai Postal. For more information call 02-262-3456 or www.thaiticketmaster.com

Curtain to rise on Opening Nights > Athens film festival September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Athens film festival brings over 130 international movies to the Greek capital, Wednesday to October 1

New action with ‘Miami Vice’ and old-style romance with ‘The Palm Beach Story’ are on the agenda for the Opening Nights Athens Film Festival, which covers all eras and genres of films.

Athens’s annual Opening Nights international film festival is about to kick off once more. Running for the 12th consecutive year, this time the agenda features 136 full-length and short films from recent international production but also some past classics. As Christos Mitsis, the Festival’s Director, pointed out at a recent press conference, what is important is to make daring choices in the program.

The festival will be on at the Attikon, Apollon and the Danaos 1 and 2 cinemas from September 20 to October 1. The official premiere will take place with the first screening in Greece of “Volver.” In Pedro Almodovar’s latest production, a recently deceased woman returns as a ghost to the city in which she lived to help her daughters with their problems. “Volver,” which was selected for distinction at the recent Cannes Film Festival, stars Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura and Lola Duenas. Less than a fortnight later, the Opening Nights festival will end with “Paris je t’aime,” a compilation of different short love stories, all of which focus on and are set in the city of Paris and bear the signature of 20 directors. Many well-known directors have participated in the production, such as the Coen brothers, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Walter Salles, Gus Van Sant and Alexander Payne.

There are 15 films that are to participate in the competition section, which will be judged by a committee of 18- to 25-year-old film and drama school students from various European countries. The committee will award the Golden Athena, the festival’s main prize.

Indie films > The “Panorama” section will include 11 of the most interesting recent worldwide productions, while the “Independent Americans” section will feature seven films from powerful American independent cinema, including “Little Miss Sunshine.” The Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris comedy, about a family which travels across America on a bus so that their young daughter can enter and win a little girls’ beauty pageant, managed some success at the American box office. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell and Toni Collette.

Apart from Davis Guggenheim’s much-discussed “An Inconvenient Truth,” about politician Al Gore’s campaign against global warming, Giorgos Avgeropoulos’s “Delta” will also be screened in the documentaries section.

The “After Midnight” section, which has many fans, will offer six horror films this year. The festival will also screen a Greek premiere, Philippos Halatsis’s “Brutal,” a low-budget production like last year’s “Evil.”

Other sections that are an established part of the festival are “Cinema to the Extreme,” with films distinguished by their originality or their radical sense of aesthetics, “Greeks of the Diaspora,” which presents the work of artists of Greek descent living abroad, as well as “Music and Film,” with productions focusing on music.

The “Special Screenings” section will feature four productions: Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 “Battle of Algiers,” Nicolas Roeg’s 1970 “Performance,” Vera Chytilova’s 1966 “Daisies,” and finally John Frankenheimer’s 1966 “Seconds.”

Highlights in the popular premieres include Brian De Palma’s “The Black Dahlia,” Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” and Aki Kaurismaki’s “Lights in the Dusk.”

“The Black Dahlia,” which is inspired by the case of a real unsolved 1940s murder of a young woman in Los Angeles, is based on a novel by James Ellroy and focuses on the efforts of two cops to crack the case. The crime drama stars Scarlett Johansson, Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart. “Miami Vice” is a remake of the hugely popular 1980s TV series of the same title, which follows the lives of two detectives. Actors Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell play detectives Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs and James “Sonny” Crockett respectively, while the movie further features Naomie Harris and Justin Theroux. Kaurismaki’s drama “Lights in the Dusk,” set in Helsinki, tells the story of a night watchman who gets in trouble after meeting a seductive woman.

Comedy > Another production featuring in the “Premieres” section is Jason Reitman’s “Thank You for Smoking,” a comedy about a top executive in the tobacco industry who successfully promotes the joys of smoking but tries to be a role model for his young son at the same time. The film stars Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, William H. Macy, Katie Holmes, Adam Brody and Cameron Bright.

Two tributes set the tone in this year’s festival: One is to relatively young Japanese filmmaker Toshiaki Toyoda and the other is to Preston Sturges, a filmmaker whose work has influenced artists like the Coen brothers, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. New copies of seven of his films will be screened at the tribute, some of them for the first time.

“Queer Cinema,” the underground cinema movement which started off in the 60s, features prominently in this year’s festival with 15 films. Screenings will include John Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus,” which caused an uproar at the recent Cannes Film Festival. And last but not least, the tribute to German cinema has selected six of the latest more important German productions, such as Matthias Glasner’s “Freie Wille” (The Free Will).

Tickets cost 6 euros per screening, but one can also issue a card, valid for 24 screenings, for the price of 16 euros. For further information, log on to www.aiff.gr.

Thessaloniki State Orchestra’s permanent rehearsal venue September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Classical.
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Finally out of the rut TSO ready for a good season

Countless proposals intended to find a solution to the housing problem of the Thessaloniki State Orchestra (TSO), drawn up by the ensemble’s director Myron Michailidis, finally seem to be bearing fruit. After 47 years on the music scene, but also of wandering from one unsuitable venue to another, the orchestra has finally received a permanent rehearsals hall, and right in the center of the city to boot.

The former Palace film theater at 73 Nikis Avenue in Thessaloniki has been leased by the ensemble for 15 years at a rate of 12,000 euros a month, giving the orchestra exclusive rights over the venue, which means that it can be used for a variety of events.

One artist who has frequently raised the problem of the lack of a permanent base for TSO, as well as the Athens State Orchestra, is renowned pianist Dimitris Sgouros. «It is unacceptable, to say the very least, that these two orchestras have no space in which to hold rehearsals, especially when there are two wonderful concert halls in Athens and in Thessaloniki. It should be formally agreed that the orchestras be able to use the halls for their rehearsals,» said Sgouros, who was in Thessaloniki for the city’s concert hall’s season premiere last Friday.

With its own rehearsal hall now ensured, the Thessaloniki State Orchestra can look forward to an interesting season of events with a string of new measures to bolster the ensemble. Among these are increasing the price of tickets by over 100 percent in comparison to the 2004-2005 season, the global release of the first CD by a Greek state orchestra with the Naxos recording label, as well as another CD of the TSO performing works by Nikos Skalkottas, and the establishment of a youth orchestra that will hold two performances a year (auditions are scheduled for October 21 and 22).

The ensemble also has an attractive program lined up for 2006-2007.

Performances include a tribute to poet Odysseas Elytis commemorating his death 10 years ago (on Wednesday), a concert of «Carmina Burana» (October 27), a concert for the annual Dimitria Festival, and a collaboration with conductor Maxim Shostakovich.

Residences with a signature September 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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The competition was interesting, both because it is rare for one to be held in Greece for a housing complex and also because it had to do with Metaxourgeio, an emerging area in the capital that has seen a lot of construction activity in recent years.

A recent architectural competition, the results of which the public will be able to see soon, was unprecedented for two reasons. First, it was launched by a private construction company and, second, it was for a study on a group of residences and shops in the area of Metaxourgeio. Housing complexes are rarely the object of a competition for tender in Greece.

The competition was launched by the GEK SA construction company and Domes architectural magazine. The 102 studies that were produced will go on display at the new wing of the Benaki Museum on Pireos Street for four days, Wednesday to September 24, in an exhibition jointly organized by GEK, Domes and the museum’s Archives of Modern Greek Architecture.

The exhibition coincides with the recent announcement that the project that won third place will be the one to be implemented instead of the one that came in first. The company apparently preferred to use the study by Georgia Daskalaki and Ioannis Papadopoulos, though Katerina Tsigarida was the architect to win first place (read our entry/post on this subject Suburban digs for devoted urbanites dated August 12th, 2006).

The exhibition will feature a wide range of projects, from modern realistic plans to radical compositions which project ideas for a future life in the city center. About 400 boards of sketches and 100 models are to go on display.

Benaki Museum’s New Wing, 138 Pireos & Andronikou street, tel 210 3453111.