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Paros > a hot ticket to paradise September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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This Greek island is a hot ticket to a paradise of turquoise waters, history and ouzo shooters.

Mid-June, the apex of the tourist high season, was booked. Sorry, I was told, all planes, all ferries, all hydrofoils, every way of getting to Paros in the next month was full. Short of swimming, Paros was not going to happen, which, of course, only added to the island’s allure.

Two months later, when I finally set foot on Paros, it was easy to see what all the fuss was about. The island is vast and mountainous, its periphery dotted with crisp white buildings and all of it surrounded by clear turquoise water rolling gently against its shores. And it’s packed, rock-concert packed.

The main street in Parikia, the port town, was bursting with tanned and young Europeans, American honeymooners, families with strollers, elderly Greek couples and an inordinate number of young women who looked like Kate Hudson.

I was beginning to see how Paros was supposedly usurping Mykonos as the party capital of the Cyclades. Its position, smack in the middle of the archipelago, and the first stop for nearly all ferries leaving the mainland, has always made Paros the perfect jumping-off point for island-hoppers. In the past few years, however, day-trippers have taken note of Paros’ stunning landscape and cheaper prices. In other words, the spillover from Mykonos and Santorini has turned Paros into a destination itself.

But this is Greece, which means that even here, among the bronzed beauties and beach parties, there is history that dates back a few millenniums. Paros is said to have been founded by St. Helen, Emperor Constantine’s mother, on her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Recessed two blocks from the port and lending credence to the story is the beautiful and massive Cathedral of Ekatontapiliani (“Church of 100 Doors”), which was built in A.D. 327.

“It’s actually only 99 doors, they never found the last one,” says an elderly Greek man I had stopped to ask for directions. Before long, he was regaling me with stories about his native island as he escorted me to the giant church.

This was my first lesson learned in navigating the island: Ask a local. In most neighborhoods, street numbers and names simply don’t exist. Getting somewhere often requires guidance from Paros natives along the way.

A teardrop-shaped island, Paros is rocky, arid and speckled with dry, thorny flora and roaming herds of goats, the source of the fantastic feta cheese that’s sprinkled throughout every menu. Though Paros is only 13 miles long and 10 miles wide, it is rich with ancient history, thriving towns and postcard-worthy harbors. The eastern edge boasts the island’s best beaches; to the north, the bustling town of Naoussa; in the center of the island is the ancient city of Lefkes. And the best way to see it all is by moped.

The first stop is Naoussa, the hub of the island’s nightlife. Starting about 11 p.m., Naoussa’s bars and discos spill onto the narrow streets with revelers who don’t retire until dawn and sometimes 10 a.m. By the way, all those places called Sex Club aren’t brothels, just discos. (more…)

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Books > Swashbuckling Tales from the Greek Myths September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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Book review: Gods and Swaggering Heroes: Swashbuckling Tales from the Greek Myths

This is a very funny book about the Classical Greek Outback 3,000 years ago. Where we Australians have bunyips, rainbow serpents and Min Min lights, the Greeks had nymphs, flying horses, gods in winged chariots, monsters with six heads and sphinxes.

The average Australian thinks that the classical Greek myths are only for white-bearded scholars and academic eggheads. This need not be so. The myths are the greatest fantasy stories ever told and here they are presented with comedy and suspense and down-to-earth language by short story writer David Myers.

When I first read Glorious Gods and Swaggering Heroes I was reminded of the controversy following the publication of Robert Graves’s I Claudius, which immediately became a best seller. The surest way to infuriate the critical or the academic establishment is to write a best seller on a topic which those two institutions regard as their exclusive domain.

In writing Glorious Gods and Swaggering Heroes, David Myers demonstrates the breadth of his learning and the facility and the versatility of his writing. This book joins a veritable caravan of works by him: essays on English and German; numerous editorial contributions to other books; the picaresque semi-autobiographical novel, Benjamin Blauenblum; other novels including Cornucopia County; anthologies of short stories; Mudmaps to Paradise; the Secret Sins of the Suburban Swaggy; as well as many learned papers and monographs.

Gods and Swaggering Heroes presents Greek mythology in a readily accessible and easily readable form. The presentation is informed and enhanced by David’s broad general knowledge and deep readings of history and philosophy. As he says in his introduction, “Myths are retold because they mean different things to each new generation.”

He adds, “Think, for example, of Jean Paul Sartre’s atheistic satire on Zeus’s cruel authoritarianism in his play The Flies, or of existentialism’s championing of Prometheus and Sisyphus as the champions of enthusiasm against the Olympian gods. My awareness of these philosophical clashes has shaped the ambivalence and irony with which I re-tell the myths.”

Read this book review > Book review: Gods and Swaggering Heroes: Swashbuckling Tales from  

The Aphrodite Hills Resort > Paphos, Cyprus September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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On September 17, 2006 we posted an entry about Aphrodite Hills Resort and we promised that “A detailed feature and photos about Aphrodite Hills will follow soon. Stay tuned!” So, because we keep our promises, here is a new article about The Aphrodite Hills Resort in Paphos, Cyprus.

Aphrodite Hills Golf Resort in Paphos, Cyprus

Golf and the beauty of Aphrodite at Aphrodite Hills Resort in Paphos, Cyprus

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was the god of love and well known for her immense beauty. When mortal, she emerged from the foaming Mediterranean Sea and was revered by all. Overlooking the very same spot, one can understand why The Aphrodite Hills Resort area of Cyprus has retained her name.

Constructed near Paphos, is this luxurious and casually elegant, fully integrated community of residence, golf and leisure activities.

Golf was almost certainly not part of Ancient Greece, but it’s here. An 18-hole championship course has been created by architect Cabell B. Robinson. Taking five years to complete, it claims to be one of the best the Mediterranean can offer.

“I first visited the site nearly 20 years ago and was impressed with the inherent potential of this land,” Robinson said. “I have kept the fairways spaciously wide between the trees, the greens on the large size, and both men and women have two sets of tees to choose from to match your capabilities. Challenge it from the very tips, however, and in a bit of a breeze, and that can be a whole different story.”

The course plays either side of a central ravine with holes winding their way around and through. It can become quite challenging at times but at around $50 (U.S.) for a round including a cart, playing often will not develop a nervous slice.

The longtime efforts resulted in Aphrodite Hills being awarded the INVgolf award for “Best New Integrated Leisure Resort in Europe 2003.”

In total, the resort cost more than $300 million to build including the five-star deluxe InterContinental Hotel, which has a total of 290 rooms and suites plus a presidential suite with private pool.

Overlooking Aphrodite’s Rock, the hotel caters to both golfers and guests wishing to simply unwind. A full range of facilities will please the lovers of luxury, mythology and tradition.

The resort can also cater for corporate events and functions with top quality conference facilities.

“The resort serves as a prime example of how Cyprus can upgrade its tourism product, offer high-quality hospitality services to foreign and Cypriot citizens and make a positive contribution to the Cypriot economy,” Conference Director Peter B. Heilmann said.

Set in the middle of this unique development is the traditional Cyprus Village Square, reflecting the typical unhurried atmosphere of Cyprus and built from locally quarried stone.

Including many restaurants, shops and bars the Village Square is the first choice as a meeting point for residents or guests. Amenities including a bank, pharmacy, mini-market, flower shop, travel agency, electronics shop, gallery shop, optician and luxury fashion and jewelry boutiques are also available.

With local laws allowing foreign ownership of property, purchasing a property is made very easy. Available are a range of pre-designed and custom villas, which start at around $520,000, and apartments starting at $450,000.

Every home at Aphrodite Hills is designed, fitted and finished to high-quality standards. Designed to be contemporary in their comfort and facilities but reflect a true Mediterranean heritage with pastel-painted walls in typical local style.

Quality of construction is proven with several awards including the “Homes Overseas Silver Award for Best Golf Development.”

Whether you are planning a golfing vacation and are looking for somewhere different or you have made the decision to purchase a golfing home, you won’t be able to find fault with quality of inclusions and luxury here at Aphrodite Hills Resort.

Aphrodite Hills Resort
1 Aphrodite Avenue
8700 Kouklia, Paphos
Cyprus
Phone: +357 (26) 829 606
 
Related Link > http://www.aphroditehills.com

For more photos from the Aphrodite Hills Resort, please check our Flickr photo gallery.

Athens welcomes you! September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.
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Crowded, yet one of the most historically significant of all cities, the eight hills surrounding Athens encompass some of the world’s most important archeaological sites.

The Acropolis is the iconic heart of the city and is best visited early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. Its crowning glory is the Parthenon, the symbol of ancient Greece’s power. Temples to Athena, the patron Goddess of Athens, were here for hundreds of years before Pericles built what you see today in 432BC. The Parthenon is remarkably well preserved and is looking its best after some expensive sprucing up for the Olympics.

The old Plaka district underneath the Parthenon is fairly traffic-free and thus a pleasant place to wander around, stopping for lunch or dinner in one of the scores of restaurants along its narrow streets.

The market district of Monastiraki sells everything from lace to antiques. It also sells an awful lot of tat and fake designer gear. However, it’s a pleasant enough place to browse. Some good cafes and bars here, too.

Athens has more than 130 museums and if you’re only here for a few days you’ll never get round them all. Make time for the Benaki Museum, in the Syntagma area, a stunning private collection including gold jewellery from ancient Thebes and Byzantine artefacts.

However, you must not miss the National Archaeological Museum, near the Viktoria Metro station. This impressive building contains the world’s largest and finest collection of Greek antiquities, including the famous gold death mask of King Agamemnon.

The famous Grande Bretagne Hotel at Syntagma Square (www.grandebretagne.gr) is almost worth the Olympian-sized bill.

A chic, and cheaper, alternative is the boutique-style Periscope Hotel (www.periscope.gr) in fashionable Kolonaki area.

The Athens Classic Marathon September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics, Greece Athens.
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Welcome to the ATHENS CLASSIC MARATHON

This year the Athens Classic Marathon will be held on November 5, 2006. Be there!

Note that a 10km and a 5km Road Race are held at the same time. 

Τhe city of Athens

Athens, the city of intellect, is part of the Attica basin situated at the south-eastern tip of the Greek mainland. The city of Athens is the capital of Greece and it is the country’s heart and its economic and industrial, as well as political and cultural centre.

With thousands of years of history and mythology under its belt, Athens, named after the loving goddess Athena, is more than a concrete big city. Athens, known as the birthplace of democracy and western civilization, is also the birthplace of the ancient and modern Olympic Games.

The city had the honour of hosting the 2004 Olympic Games, which led to major changes in the area: a new international airport, new metro lines and a new ring road around the city were constructed, while new landscaping added millions of indigenous trees and shrubs to the region. The Athens 2004 Olympic Games added a significant chapter to the history of the city, leaving behind important legacy as far as infrastructure and technology are concerned, and putting Athens among the most hospitable metropolis of the world.

In the pages of the following site you will find useful information about the only Marathon race in the world, which is held on the original course and the course of the first modern Olympic Games (1896), as well as instructions on how to register for this year’s race.

Related Link > http://www.athensclassicmarathon.gr 

Your big fat Greek festivals September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Huntington may smell a little more like home this weekend as the scents of lamb and chicken fill the air at the 24th annual Greek Festival.

The event will not only be a cultural learning experience but a celebration of the crafts, dance and food area Greeks offer. Food such as dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Greek salad, gyros, lamb, meatballs, marinated chicken, moussaka (beef with eggplant), potato and creamy cheese sauce, pizza and numerous desserts will be available at the event.

Greek dancing will be shown and taught throughout the festival. These dances have been passed down from generation to generation and will be danced to a live, authentic Greek band.

Admission to the Greek Festival is free, but dinners range from $6 to $9.50. Other food items cost between $1.50 and $3.

The festival will take place at St. George Greek Orthodox Church at 11th Avenue and Eighth Street. It begins Friday at 11 a.m. and will end Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Greek Festival begins in MB

The Myrtle Beach Greek Festival began Friday and will run through Sunday at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Myrtle Beach.

The event, which began in 1977, will feature traditional Greek food, music, dancing, raffles, vendors and children’s activities.

This year, the festival will run a day longer and feature a larger menu, including items such as stuffed grape leaves and Greek yogurt cake, and more children’s activities, including a climbing wall and a giant slide.

When > 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Where > St. John Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 3301 U.S. 17 N.
How much > $1 for adults; free for children 10 and younger
Info > 448-3773

Paphos > Top 5 sites not to be missed September 30, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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Are you planning a holiday in Paphos, Cyprus? Then here’s our Top 5 of most interesting sites not to be missed during your holidays on the island, the birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty!

1. Tombs of The Kings

Spread over a vast area, these impressive subterranean burial chambers were built in Paphos from 3rd Century BC to the 3rd Century AD. They are carved out of solid rock with some being decorated with Doric pillars. Put on your walking shoes and climbing pants and don’t be afraid to get yourself a little dirty at this site. Fun to explore and full of some very atmospheric places.

2. Paphos Mosaics

Cyprus history proclaims Aion as the Greek God of eternity. The house of Aion has an amazing five-paneled mosaic which shows the Greek God in the unenviable position of having to judge what appears to be a beauty contest. The difference in this beauty contest is that his choice lies between the ordinary and smug looking Queen Cassiopeia and a number of much prettier, but unhappy looking Neraides water nymphs. 

3. Aphrodites Rock (Petra tou Romiou) 

The most awesome and inspiring piece of coastline to be seen in Cyprus, when the sun is out, and I defy any couple, regardless of how young or old, to not be bewitched by it’s spell. Of all ancient Greek myths, the story of Aphrodite’s creation will bring water to your eyes, but the story lives on as one of the well known legends surrounding this stunning rock formation. Cronos was begged by his mother Gaia to be released from the embraces of her husband Uranus. In order to assist his mother in her plight, Cronos castrated his father with a sickle and threw his genitals into the sea. The foam gathered around them and the Goddess rose from the sea as a fully grown woman.

4. St George Fishing Harbour

I recommend that you visit this memorable place in Paphos with someone very special to you and a camera. Arrive late afternoon and watch the fishing boats come in with their daily catch. Have a drink or two at the beach side bar but don’t stay too long before securing yourself a spot on the harbour wall. Take along the camera or video and make sure you have plenty of film as this is one of those special places to catch the most romantic of sunsets in Cyprus. 

5. The Sterna Winery

Located on the outskirts of the village of Kathikas, 15 mins drive from Paphos. Be entertained by the charismatic Cypriot owner who will treat you to free wine tasting and a tour of this very small winery. Do not miss out on their own peach schnapps – powerful enough to blow your head off and must be thrown back in one go. If you make a purchase of their very fine wines you will probably find that a complimentary bottle of schnapps is thrown in!