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Greece’s National Hockey Team winning uphill battle for survival September 28, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cricket Hockey Rugby.
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In that regard, the members of Greece’s national hockey team and the rest of its small, close-knit hockey community were just like players the world over. Once upon a time, they never thought their toughest battle would be to simply have a place to play. But circumstances beyond their control left them without a single viable rink in their country and no funding for the national hockey program.

That’s when a determined group of Greek hockey players, driven only by their love of the game and desire to play for their country and for one another, banded together. They fought both for the survival of their team and of hockey in their homeland.

Since 2003, Greece has been just one of one three European countries without a rink in the country, along with Albania and Malta. But the players of Team Greece have gone to extraordinary lengths to stay together on and off the ice. All the while, they’ve lobbied anyone who’ll listen for a place to practice and play in their country.

The story of the Greek ice hockey team starts in the mid-1980s. In 1984, a group of Greek nationals returned home from hockey countries abroad to form the first national league in Greece. Soon the league consisted of five teams of amateur players; two in Athens, one in Pireus, one in Salonica and one in Chalkida. The first official game was played the following year in Athens.

Over the next four years, the rag-tag league gained better organization and stronger infrastructure for training. In 1989, the first Greek ice hockey championships took place on an Olympic-sized ice surface at Peace and Friendship Stadium, marking the first time organized hockey games were played on an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) regulation-sized rink.

With growing youth participation in the sport, the Hellenic Ice Sports Federation formed the first Greek national junior hockey team in 1990. The team participated in the IIHF Pool C World Junior Championships in Yugoslavia. The next year, Team Greece took part in the IIHF Under-20 tournament held in Italy.

In 1992, the first adult-level version of Team Greece took shape shortly before the upcoming IIHF Pool C World Championships in South Africa. Despite having only two weeks of serious training, the squad won the bronze medal in the tournament.

Related Links >

  • Official Greek Ice Hockey team site
  • Video: Team Greece
  • Video: Greek hockey rap song
  • Greek rink proposal
  • Greek hockey forum
  • Read the rest of this article > Team Greece winning uphill battle for survival


    Mimes and puppeteers headline in Kilkis festival September 28, 2006

    Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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    This year’s global show features performers from China, Argentina, Europe
    France’s Tabola Rassa will present a different take on Moliere’s comedy ’The Miser,’ as part of this year’s International Puppet and Mime Festival of Kilkis. The global event, which has grown into an established cultural institution after a strong eight-year run, will continue to October 8. The city of Kilkis is already in the festival groove.

    With a successful eight-year run, the International Puppet and Mime Festival of Kilkis returns as an established cultural event.

    This year’s fest is about to kick off with companies from Argentina, China and Europe which includes Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary and the UK.

    The festival’s artistic director, Spaniard Juanjo Corrales, decided to enrich the program this year with seminars, competitions, street performances, school workshops, exhibitions and other events. The city of Kilkis, which is located just north of Thessaloniki, has organized the extra programming and is already getting into the festival vibe.

    Greek singer and storyteller Loudovikos ton Anogeion will mark the opening on Saturday. China’s National Puppet Theater – the first national puppet theater there and founded in 1955 – will perform the play “The Great Sage Caused Havocs in Heaven,” while Christos Stanissis’s shadow-puppet theater will stage a music and theater performance with live music and Karaghiozis puppets.

    There are many more treats in store for eager audiences. The State Puppet Theater of Varna, from Bulgaria, will perform “Folklore Fantasies,” a cheerful play full of imagination, which is based on traditional Bulgarian motifs. France’s Tabola Rassa will present its own take on Moliere’s popular comedy “The Miser,” in which the main characters are after water instead of money, as is the case in the original.

    British artist Nola Rae, who has studied at the Royal Ballet School and then with Marcel Marceau, will perform “Mozart Preposterioso,” a hilarious yet also moving portrait of Mozart the clown. Italy’s Girovago & Rondella Family Theater, which was founded in Greece, will stage a circus parody, “Poetic Circus,” and the puppet-theater show with juggling and hand acrobatics “The Live Hand.”

    The Spasmo Teatro from Spain will present the children’s mime show “Sketching” and Argentina’s award-winning Veronica Gonzalez will perform “The Little Feet Theater,” a performance featuring puppets emerging from different parts of her body. The Hungary-based Kolibri Theater will perform “Escape from the Seraj,” a puppet adaptation of Mozart’s classic opera “Abduction from the Seraglio.”

    Greek participants include the Anemoptero group, which will stage the doll play “In the Land of the Big Hat,” the Tik Nik puppet theater company with their takes on classic fairy tales, Yianna Mamalouka’s puppet show with illusions and transformations, and the Baruti, at the Edge of the String company, with “Mad Cooking,” the story of a French chef’s menu preparations gone wrong.

    The festival will run to October 8 and performances will be held at the Kilkis Town Hall conference center, noon to 8 p.m. daily (with additional shows for schools in the mornings). For further information: tel 23410 39158, 23410 36160 and www.kilkis-festival.gr.

    Tenor to tenor > a homage September 28, 2006

    Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Athens Festival.
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    A Greek tenor is to pay homage to a legendary colleague at the Herod Atticus Theater this week.

    Mario Frangoulis, the prominent Greek singer with a world-famous career, is taking over the ancient theater for an evening of “Passione: A Tribute to Mario Lanza” this Friday. The concert will feature a series of Neapolitan tunes.

    Lanza, the popular American tenor and Hollywood star whose career reached great heights in the 1950s, died at the age of 39. Frangoulis is poised to interpret the late tenor on the silver screen and in view of this, Lanza’s family has authorized the Greek tenor to interpret his entire repertoire. Accompanying Frangoulis on the Herod Atticus stage will be the 80-member Ossipov Russian Folk Orchestra (complete with balalaikas), along with noted American soprano Kallen Esperian and rising young tenor Giorgos Misailidis.

    For tickets, Hellenic Festival box office, 39 Panepistimiou Street, Athens. The concert starts at 8.30 p.m.

    Greece’s global appeal September 28, 2006

    Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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    Greece targets 30 percent growth in tourism next year

    On the occasion of World Tourism Day yesterday, Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia opened the «Tourism Planetarium» a 15-meter-high ball installed at the Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens.

    Operating until Saturday September 30 (9 a.m. – 10 p.m.), the Planetarium will feature projections of films on tourism sites and infrastructures in Greece on a 360-degree vision field.

    Petralia predicted that tourism arrivals could reach 19 million in 2007, from 15 million this year (2006), a 30 percent annual rise, and said this will bolster the Greek economy further. She also mentioned that Greece hopes to become one of the world’s top five destinations.

    To do so, she said, the country must make full use of its comparative advantages, highlight new forms of tourism beyond the traditional «sea and sun» model, upgrade areas saturated by tourists, improve services provided, modernize infrastructures, adopt new legislation to boost entrepreneurship, and adjust economic and tax policy. All these objectives must be carried out without abandoning the intense promotion of Greek tourism around the world, she added.

    Mykonos > a playground for everyone September 28, 2006

    Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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    The breathtaking Cyclades Islands are the most accessible cluster of islands in Greece with easy access from Athens. Contiki’s direct charter flight from London to Mykonos means it’s never been easier to get to paradise. Mykonos is an island where you can find your own relatively secluded beach to get away from it all or if it’s a party your looking for you’ll find some of the best in Europe.

    Mykonos is a playground for everyone from the sleek and chic jet-set crowd, world wise travelers, party people and to sun seekers that like to bask in the tropical weather.

    Get lost in gorgeous cobbled back alleys, ride jeeps through olive groves to sparkling coves, dance away the afternoon at pumping beach bars and quaff ouzo and octopus at harbourside tavernas.

    Situated only 10 kilometers/6.2 miles from Mykonos town, Contiki Resort Mykonos has smugly scored one of the most beautiful natural sites of the entire island. Its 2 kilometers/1.2 miles stretch of pristine sand beach is the only beach in Mykonos to be awarded the EU blue flag for cleanliness and impeccable organisation.

    Back in the 1950s Mykonos was a hippy haven and retreat for the highly cultured. Today, it retains its cosmopolitan appeal, has a big gay clientele, amazing beaches and a raft of new hotels. One of them is owned by Contiki, the tour operator.

    While Contiki still ferries 100,000 people around every year on its coach tours, over the past few years the company has also begun to break into the high-end resort market, pitching at affluent 18- to 35-year-olds. The Contiki Resort on Mykonos is one of them. 

    If the idea of an all-inclusive resort, packed with young people and managed by activity planners fills you with horror images of Brits abroad, you’re probably thinking Contiki Resort Mykonos is nothing more than an attempt to steal Club 18-30’s thunder.

    Contiki global manager David Hosking is adamant that’s not the case: The quality we offer sets us apart,’ he says, while adding that Contiki won’t be abandoning its core market. We just realised that people in the demographic we aim at are looking for other options. We now give them the opportunity of more choice.

    So what’s the resort like?

    Well, it’s not too bad, actually. In Greek terms it’s listed as A Category, which is about a four-star in real money.

    Rooms are located around the pool and decorated in the island’s traditional simple style. Set on the gorgeous Kalafatis beach, there is a range of watersports on offer (many of them included in the price) and the food is excellent.

    Our cheery greeting by Head Cap (Contiki Action Planner), the Zoolander-esque A-J, brought a few groans reminiscent of Hi-de-Hi, but he and the rest of the team turned out to be discreet when not wanted, yet super-enthusiastic when their services were called on for activities such as beach volleyball, Greek dancing lessons and cocktail classes.

    Transport into Mykonos town and to the rest of the island is good enough to avoid feeling trapped, although those looking to rave until dawn in town should make sure they stay out past 6am when the island’s 30 cabbies start the day shift. Getting a taxi before then is at least a two-hour wait.

    On the downside, we could have done without the music blasting out by the pool, while the on-site nightclub, Blue, is super-cheesy, especially when you’re offered glowsticks in green, amber and red to indicate where you are on the pulling scale.

    And the clientele? Well, like Contiki, they’ve changed. These days they’re a pretty chilled, mixed bunch. And there wasn’t even a hairy ass in sight.

    For additional information visit > http://www.contiki.com/en-GB/Resorts/Mykonos/Overview.htm

    Athens > Europe’s most improved city September 28, 2006

    Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.
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    There is no doubt that over the past four years, Athens has become Europe’s most improved city.

    Previously a smog-filled cauldron worthy only of a short stop to climb the Acropolis before heading for the havens of the islands, Athens pulled its finger out in readiness for the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek reputation for doing things “avrio” (tomorrow) casted doubt on Athens’s suitability as an Olympic city, and that sparked a new Hellenism born of sheer indignation. The result was one of the most successful Olympics ever and Greece became the only country in history to become European champions in basketball and football and win the Eurovision Song Contest at the same time.

    This renaissance led to other regeneration projects in the city. The breathtaking ancient sites were unified by pedestrian walkways; the extended Metro, new tram system and ring roads eased congestion and pollution; unsightly advertising boards were ripped down; and beaches displayed record numbers of EU blue flags for cleanliness.

    Neoclassical homes in neglected areas such as Psirri, Gazi, Thisseio and Plaka were refurbished and replaced with a buzzy café and bar culture, while shops in Ermou Street, boutiques in Kolonaki and the flea market in Monastiraki all thrived.

    Throw in Athens’s rich historical sites, such as the Acropolis, Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s Arch, and you’ll find more than enough to keep you entertained for a short break. A wag once wrote: ‘If Greece gave the light of democracy to the world, why does it live in the dark?’ Well, the lights are back on and they’re shining bright.

    Grande Bretagne:
    Once part of the Royal Summer Palace, this recently refurbished Starwood hotel, built in 1862, deserves a visit, even if you can’t afford a room. www.grandebretagne.gr
    Plaka Hotel: Minimalist boutique hotel in the city centre. Great rooms at cheap rates. www.plakahotel.gr
    Art Hotel: The beautiful, neoclassical facade belies one of Athens’s best boutique properties with themed rooms. www.epoquehotels.com/athens.html

    This classy, pricey restaurant in Pangrati has topped listings for the Golden Chef awards for four years running plus a Michelin star. www.spondi.gr
    Edodi: There are no menus at this restaurant in Veikou Street. Instead, fresh ingredients are presented at your table and the chef tells you what he can make with them. Only eight tables so do book. Tel: 210 9213013.
    Jimmy And The Fish: Head to Mikrolimano in the port of Piraeus for Athens’s best fish restaurant. www.jimmyandthefish.gr

    Tiny place in Kleitou Street in the city centre hosts eclectic music and serves the best cocktails. Tel: 210 3220650.
    Stavlos: This rock and pop venue in the former Royal Stables in Thisseio has a cosy atmosphere. www.stavlos.gr
    Factory: This legendary gay dance club has recently relocated to Dekeleon Street in Gazi. Tel: 210 3452220.

    You can’t visit Athens without taking the half-hour trek to the mainstay of the Acropolis.
    Lycabettus Hill: The city’s other high point has a funicular railway to take you to the top for stunning views. There’s also an open-air theatre halfway up that plays host to international acts.
    Syntagma Square: The centre of the city is where you’ll see the changing of guards in traditional garb outside parliament. The surrounding National Gardens are a gem.

    Lake Vouliagmenis:
    Take a dip in this eerie, freshwater lake and spa 15km from town. It’s said to be bottomless and have underwater caves.
    Meat market: Buy your meat, fruit, veg and spices here, off Athinas Street. All-night tavernas in the depths dish up cheap, melt-in-the-mouth meals.
    Remember 79: Athens’s only punk clothes shop, at 79 Adrianou Street in Monastiraki, is a shrine to every rock star who has visited the city.

    For additional information visit Greece’s National Tourism Organisation > www.gnto.gr 

    How to sail in Greece September 28, 2006

    Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Ionian.
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    There were two real worries about going flotilla sailing in Greece preying on my mind.

    Forget about the actual sailing; though I’d only had three days previous experience under my sea legs and two different gypsy fortune tellers told me years ago I would die at sea, they were only slight concerns in comparison.

    No, my major worries were a) sleeping (and snoring) in a cabin crammed with complete strangers and b) having to cook for them.

    Imagine how chirpy I was to discover that, on this 11m yacht, I had a cabin all of my own and the only cooking to be done was a daily lunch, prepared by our skipper while the crew went swimming.

    OK, so the cabin made a Tokyo hotel capsule look spacious and Greek salad pales after five days of it, but us sailing types are a hardy lot.

    Here’s the idea of a flotilla sail. A group of yachts with crews of various abilities sail from port A to port B. Each boat plots its own course, stopping for lunch if it’s a sunny day or enjoying a full day at sea if the wind is good.

    In the evening, everyone ties up alongside each other and hits the local tavernas. The flotilla arranges for a lead boat to get in first to lend a hand to the inexperienced.

    Along the way, you absorb sailing lessons. I was going to pass a Competent Crew Certificate, a qualification recognised worldwide. With five of us on the boat for a week, three complete novices, one experienced hand going for the Day Skipper certification and one instructor, there was time for plenty of hands-on experience.

    Putting out to sea is the first task, but which ropes do we untie first? What happens with the anchor? In most of these Greek ports, you drop the anchor and reverse into your mooring, tying up your stern to the pier. That makes it a lot easier to get on and off, and maximises the number of boats allowed in port. (more…)