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Village routes through Cyprus September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus.
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A new initiative aimed at increasing sustainable tourism delivery to benefit villages previously marginalised by tourism and at giving tourists a unique experience of the real Cyprus has been launched.

Named, ‘The Village Routes’, the concept is driven by the recognised increased demand for more independent travel in Cyprus using rental cars.

According to Philippos Drousiotis, Chairman of the Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI), an organisation that represents key tourism stakeholders, “the tourism market on the island is characterised by a percentage of repeat and long-stay visitors especially during the ‘shoulder’ seasons. These visitors stay both in hotels and villas and want to be able to explore the island, but with some defined route map, and where the tourism services indicated on the map will give them a sincere and traditional Cyprus welcome.”

The initiative is being developed in partnership with all CSTI members such as UK tour operators, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, municipalities, environmental NGOs and hoteliers, to provide a quality, natural and cultural experience of Cyprus, not normally on offer to the ordinary tourist.

Drousiotis explained: “Following the Travel Foundation pilot project in Cyprus (2002-2005) that produced the Support Abandoned Villages and their Environment excursion, the Travel Sustainable Tourism Group has now created its own Cypriot NGO, the CSTI.”

The aim is to develop six Village Routes during the project period May 2006-November 2007. Routes will be along the east and west coasts and the mountains. The specifics have not yet been finalised, although Drousiotis told us that, “one will definitely encompass the Laona district in Paphos, which includes the villages of Kathikas, Droushia, Thrinia, Arodes, Kritou and Kritou Tera.”

Promotional material including a booklet will be placed in hotels, rental cars and tour operator companies supporting the initiative.

Drousiotis explained that tour operators have committed themselves to purchasing the booklets. “For CSTI and the Travel Foundation, being sustainable means not only environmentally, but commercially, economically and socially sustainable too,” he said.

Project impacts will be monitored and evaluated and lessons learnt will be posted on the Travel Foundation website.

Related Link > www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk


Greek mythological ship sets sail again September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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greekargo.jpg  The Greek mythological ship upon which Jason and the Argonauts travelled in legend is preparing to set sail again after more than three thousand years, as shipbuilders in the port town of Volos have managed to create a new version of the legendary vessel.

What took Jason and his 50 Argonauts three months to build in the 14th century BC, took three modern shipbuilders more than three years, after abandoning electricity and modern tools to do it just the way the ancient her s did it back then.

The modern tradesmen struggled with wooden mallets and chisels under the guidance of project director Apostolos Kourtis to make the Argo without electric tools, metal or nails, only raw wood as ships were made in ancient times.

On Sunday (September 17) their labours were rewarded in Volos with the christening of the new Argo, the town where legend says Jason and the Argonauts built the original ship and sailed from to find the golden fleece in an ancient city called Colchis in what is now modern Georgia.

Thousands of townspeople gathered on the shores to view the ship, as performers impersonating the Argonauts, re-enacted their perils during that famous sea voyage.

A clay jug full of red wine was used to christen the ship to keep in tune with ancient Greek form.

Shipbuilder Yannis Perros, who worked endless hours to see the completion of the ship without the use of modern aids, talked about the risks to those who would take the voyage in the ancient structure, saying with no metal in the ship there was no risk of nails coming loose during the journey, but rowers would have to be very careful of crashing up against protruding rocks or hitting a violent storm. Otherwise he said it was a sturdy build even without a frame.

The Argo was built by bending whole trees into the hull, without a metal frame as in modern ships, and using wooden pegs to hold it together instead of nails.

The test now will be whether the ship can hold up all the way to the Black Sea coast, a 2,500km journey, with no motor, no modern comforts, and only the handwork of 50 rowers.

Legend has it the 28 metre ship was rowed by strong warriors such as Hercules, and helped along by the ancient Greek gods such as Athena, encountering monsters, sirens, nymphs and f s on its way to the Black Sea where, on the coast of Georgia, the fleece was guarded by a fiery dragon.

Modern day rowers will have to take the oars for 10 to 15 hours a day, an unusual feat even for professional rowing athletes.

Kourtis said anyone can volunteer for the trip and organisers have issued an open invitation to rowers across Europe to participate. Their endurance will be tested on the coast of Volos before the trip, which Kourtis wants to complete in two and half months, a highly ambitious time for a small ship without a motor, modern comforts and only the power of the backs of men.

”Its going to be a difficult journey for us because we are competing and comparing ourselves to ancient hers, they accomplished difficult things, its possible we may also accomplish these things. If we can prove that we can do what they did during their daily lives then we will prove that it is humanly possible and d s not need a hero,” said Kourtis.

Even the President of the International Rowing Federation, Denis Oswald, who was invited as a guest, said it was going to be strenuous undertaking for any rower.

”They will have to train especially for that type of rowing because of course technique is different and I am sure it needs a lot of endurance because its not the two thousand metres we are already rowing,” said Oswald.

The ship builders hope the ship will set sail within next year.

The story of Jason and the Argonauts was first scribbled down by writer Apollonius Rhodius about 11 centuries after the voyage, which is said to have taken place around 1350 BC.

To design the ship, the modern shipbuilders pieced together images from ancient vase paintings, wall frescoes and references to ships from around the same period, gathered from museums and libraries around the world.

Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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1 jar grape leaves
1 onion
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup rice
1 small can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon mint leaves
3 eggs
Juice of one lemon (for sauce)

1. Boil water. Add grape leaves and simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour off water and rinse with cold water. Chop onion and saute in butter until transparent and set aside.
2. Mix raw meat with rice, butter, sauteed onion, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and mint leaves. Add 1/2 cup water to soften the meat. Take 1 tablespoon of meat mixture, wrap in grape leaves and set in a large pot, seam-side down. Place an inverted heavy oven-proof plate that is smaller than the diameter of the saucepan on top of the grape leaves. Pour boiling water over the plate to cover. Boil on the stovetop for 30 minutes.
3. For the sauce, beat 3 egg yolks with salt and pepper until creamy. Add juice from 1 lemon and 1/2 cup water. Take all the broth from the grape leaves and gradually stir into egg mixture until blended. Pour over grape leaves.

Kotopoulo (chicken) riganato with potatoes September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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4 chicken breasts (with skin on to keep it moist)
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil
3 to 4 medium potatoes, quartered

1. Season both sides of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan.
2. Squeeze 2 lemons into a bowl. Add olive oil and mix together. Pour mixture over chicken pieces. Place 1 or 2 pats of butter on each piece.
3. Add potatoes around the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with oregano. Add about 1/2 to 1 cup water to the bottom of the pan. 4. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours at 350 to 375 degrees until chicken is tender.

The Mediterranean diet > the Greek way September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece, Health & Fitness.
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A series of health studies proves that the Mediterranean diet, lots of fruits, fresh herbs, vegetables, legumes and olive oil, may be the key to a healthier and longer life. And, for the busy home chef, Mediterranean food has an added benefit. It’s easy to cook.

You just need good ingredients and to let the flavors show off. Begin with simple dishes.  Experts recommend stocking a kitchen with the following ingredients for a smooth transition to the healthful, flavorful Mediterranean diet at home:

Olive oil: Olives and the oil they produce are historically among the most important foods of the Mediterranean region.

Greek legend recalls how Zeus promised all of Attica to the god or goddess who could come up with the most useful gift for mankind. Athena offered the olive tree and won the prize, and today Athens is her namesake. For the best quality, buy extra-virgin olive oil to saute calamari or to toss with lemon for a cold lentils salad. In addition to its culinary accolades, olive oil acts as a tonic for cardiovascular health. This prized oil is high in antioxidants and other heart-healthy ingredients, such as monounsaturated fatty acids.

Kalamata olives: This almond-shaped, dark eggplant-colored Greek olive has a rich fruity flavor. It is not at all like the common tangy, salty Spanish olive. Like olive oil, Kalamata olives are packed with fat, but the good, monounsaturated kind.

Greek meals seldom are complete without a bowlful of olives. Kalamata olives also are a key ingredient in a traditional Greek salad and are used to make tapenades.

Lentils: Lentils, with about 17 grams of fiber per cup, are high in protein and rich in complex carbohydrates. A cousin of the bean, they also are a low-calorie, low-fat and cholesterol-free food.

There are several types of lentils, varying in size and color. The most common, and available in the dried-bean section of grocery stores, is the brewer lentil, a greenish brown, lens-shaped legume. Red brewer lentils also are a Greek staple.

Call lentils the fast-food sibling of the legume family. They require no soaking and can be cooked in 15 to 20 minutes, making them a wise choice for a quick and healthful meal. Lentils are used for soups or served warm as a side dish. They also are tossed with olive oil, garlic and lemon for a classic Greek salad.

Fava beans: Also called broad beans, these are large, flat beans with a light-brown skin. The firm-textured bean’s flavor is assertive, almost bitter. They are typically used in soups and stews.

Feta cheese: Widely available today in most supermarket dairy cases, feta crumbles easily and has a sharp, slightly salty taste. Greek cooks use feta in a variety of pastries, vegetable-and-meat casseroles and stews. They also eat it on slabs of bread with olives.

Fresh herbs: Dried herbs fail to provide the fresh potent flavor of fresh from the garden. In Mediterranean foods, fresh basil, oregano, garlic chives, rosemary, dill and bat leaf are staple herbs.

Greece’s selection for JESC music contest September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life.
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Greek broadcaster ERT has finally made its announcements regarding the selection of its own participant for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Bucharest.

The Greek selection show will be held on October 7th, and will present ten hopeful acts to the home audience. These acts are as follows:

1. Pinelopi Skalkotou – Mia aggalia gia ta paidia (A hug for the children)
2. Magdalene Papadopoulou – Se thelo (I want you)
3. Cloe Sofia Bolleti – Den peirazei (It’s ok)
4. Carolain Tatara – Oneira glika (Sweet dreams)
5. Stergios Pertsinides – Zise kardia mou (Live, my heart)
6. Maria Eliadou – Zise ti zoe (Live the life)
7. Eleni Grammatikopoulou – To fos (The light)
8. Irene Korchatzi – Ena asteri (A star)
9. Vergina Aggelou – Kati symbenei (Something’s going on)
10. Elpida Bairaktaridou – Party (Party)

The announcement will come as a relief to Greek Junior fans, who have been waiting a while for details to emerge, amidst claims of Greek apathy towards JESC.

The expert jury will include, amongst others, 1983 Cypriot representative Constantina, who sang “I agapi akoma zi” (Love is still alive) with Stavros.

UPDATE > 24 September 2006 >>>

Due to the withdrawal of one of the junior competitiors in Greece, broadcaster ERT has been forced to reissue the list of ten finalists for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest selection this October.

Vergina Evangelou was originally in the line-up, but has withdrawn, citing “personal reasons” as the cause. Young singer Maria Rigopoulou steps forward in her stead as the first runner-up, singing a new song Kosmos oneirikos (Dream world).

The selection will still take place as previously stated on October 7th, at the ET1 Studios.

Nick Cave’s more intimate delivery September 20, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Brooding Australian songwriter to perform in Athens with three of his Bad Seeds at Lycabettus Theater, Athens. 

Nick Cave’s tumultuous career has gradually moved from the periphery to major venues and widespread acclaim. This latest show, at the open-air, 5,000-capacity Lycabettus Theater, is being presented as a more intimate production.

There was a time when a fair number of Australia’s more creative bands, most of them relatively obscure at home and nowhere near high on their nation’s pop charts, had risen to become darlings of independent music circuits abroad, including Greece and other European locations. For local fans that were around for that Antipodean music deluge between the mid-1980s and early 90s, present-day performances in Athens by two veteran Australian acts, both within less than a week of each other, may rekindle memories of a hefty and sustained Australian musical wave that struck local shores back then.

Last Saturday night, Radio Birdman, a pioneering force in Australian punk rock back in the late 70s, and currently reformed and touring the world with a new album, played their first ever show in Greece, fittingly at one of the capital’s longest surviving rock’n’roll dungeons, the An Club.

This coming Friday night, another Australian musician, Nick Cave, is scheduled to perform his latest of many shows in this country as a celebrated international act. Cave’s tumultuous career has gradually moved from the periphery to major venues and widespread acclaim. The brooding Australian songwriter, whose often harrowing work, both abrasive and gentle, has managed to connect with the masses to such a degree that this latest show, at the open-air, 5,000-capacity Lycabettus Theater, is being presented as a smaller, more intimate production.

Cave, who filled one of the Greek capital’s bigger indoor Olympic facilities just over a year ago with a turnout of some 15,000 fans, is returning with just three of his several backing musicians, dubbed the Bad Seeds, for a softer, more intimate delivery of his compositions. His stripped-down version of the Bad Seeds will comprise two compatriots, bassist Martyn Casey, formerly of the outstanding but defunct Perth band the Triffids, and violinist Warren Ellis, a founding member of Melbourne instrumental trio the Dirty Three, as well as American drummer Jim Sclavunos, whose past includes work with the psychobilly band the Cramps.

Returning to Radio Birdman, who persist in knowing nothing about gentler musical ways more than two decades on: They blasted their way through last Saturday’s set in Athens with new work from “Zeno Beach,” an album released earlier this year and included amid the selections. Interest in this aging, high-energy band with a couple of practicing doctors on board was revived – and broadened – by an excellent compilation album, “The Essential Radio Birdman: 1974-1978,” released internationally in 2001. It helped prompt the current reunion, with a couple of new additions aboard, including bassist Jim Dickson, who has played with countless Sydney acts, such as Louis Tillett, a frequent and popular performer here. When Radio Birdman originally split in 1978, the band members all went on to form various new outfits. Guitarist Deniz Tek, an American expatriate, formed New Race with the defunct band’s frontman Rob Younger, ex-Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and ex-MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson. Younger, who went on to produce numerous albums by the newer generation of Australian punk bands, later formed his own act, the New Christs, one of the many Australian bands that ended up finding sturdy indie-circuit followings abroad, including in Greece. The band’s touring activity had included a gig in Athens.

The New Christs were just one of many domestically neglected Australian acts that responded to their odd popularity abroad by traveling the thousands of necessary miles to get to their international hot spots and pack overseas fans into clubs. Others included the Go-Betweens, the Triffids, the Hoodoo Gurus, Died Pretty, Louis Tillett, Ed Kuepper, the Saints, Hugo Race, the Chills, from New Zealand, and of course, Cave, the most frequent and enduring visitor of all. For many, his latest visit, hot on the heels of Radio Birdman, is bound to revive memories of a bygone golden era.