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Paphos > a home on a cliff November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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With seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, Marc Wall’s new stone house in Cyprus seems intended for the Brady Bunch rather than a family of three. But Mr. Wall, an American, said it will be the perfect setting for him and his German wife, Gisela, to raise their 3-year-old son.

After falling in love with the country during a vacation six years ago, Mr. Wall decided this year to move his family to Cyprus from London, where he had been based. He looked at about 40 different properties before deciding on a half-built house that was selling for the equivalent of $1.4 million just north of Paphos, on the western side of the island. The house, which totals 550 square meters, or almost 6,000 square feet, is being built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the island of St. George. It is scheduled to be finished in January.

Houses in Cyprus typically sell for $1,700 to $2,433 per square meter, or about $158 to $226 per square foot, depending on the location.

Boasting unobstructed views of the Mediterranean, the Walls’ new house is one of the most eye-catching in the area. The private swimming pool appears to be filled by a cascade of water that flows down the slope where the house stands. The house also will have a gym, sauna and jacuzzi. But, for Mr. Wall, the real selling point was Cyprus itself and what it offers to young families seeking a quiet way of life.

“People are very friendly here and they are very genuine and family life is very important to the people,” he said. “The school system is also very good and I plan to send my son to Greek schools, at least until he learns Greek.”

About 85 percent of the island’s 780,000 residents speak at least English.

All in all, Cyprus seemed to fit his family’s needs, said Mr. Wall, who has worked in financial markets for 22 years. “Fortunately I can do my work out of my house thanks to the Web and broadband,” he said. “And telecommunications in Cyprus are cheap when compared to the rest of Europe.”

Mr. Wall is not alone in singing Cyprus’s praises. Many foreigners say they buy homes here to enjoy the more than 340 days of sunshine a year, and a high standard of living that is inexpensive compared with other European countries.

The low rate of taxation also helps. Anyone who is retired and a permanent resident, someone who spends more than 180 days a year in the country, pays just five percent tax on their income, which can include foreign pension payments. Property prices have long been on the upswing, especially since the country entered the European Union in May 2004.

Litsa Chrysostomou, marketing manager at BuySell Real Estate in Cyprus, said that house prices have increased six percent to eight percent a year in the last few years. Mrs. Chrysostomou said the area around Paphos is particularly popular with foreign buyers, primarily because the airport will be expanded by 2008 and a new marina with 1,000 moorings is expected by 2010. Also, the Cypriot Government has decided to allow the development of at least seven more golf courses; now there are only three, all in the Paphos area.

But Mrs. Chrysostomou and many other real estate experts warn prospective buyers to stay away from Cyprus’s Turkish north. “Properties might be cheaper there but there’s no way to check who the real owners are” because there is no reliable land registry, she said.

The island has been divided into Greek and Turkish Cypriot sectors since July 1974, when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus and since then occupies the northern part of the country. Only Turkey, however, recognizes the so-called and self-proclaimed Turkish Cypriot government, which controls 37 percent of the Republic’s area, a situation that is one of the problems endangering Turkey’s membership negotiations with the European Union. The E.U. has threatened to suspend membership talks with Turkey unless it allows Greek Cypriot vessels to access its harbors by mid-December.

On the legal and internationally recognized Greek Cypriot side of the Republic, there is a land registry and legal system very similar to Britain’s as well as the promise of solid rental returns topping seven percent a year on investment properties.

Loucas Kitrou, the real estate manager at Aphrodite Hills, a large development at the mythical birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, near Paphos, said the availability of mortgages in euros allows foreign investors from those countries to enter the market with little difficulty. Cypriot banks also can arrange mortgages in other currencies. Cyprus’s current national currency is the Cypriot pound, worth about $2.23.

He said that while Cyprus historically has been a retirement destination, especially among Britons more than half of all foreign buyers these days are families with children.

For Mr. Wall, the ability to allow his child to play outside alone was, for him, one of Cyprus’s main draws. “Crime is low and I feel very safe with my child being outside here,” he said. “No one will snatch him off the street,” he said.“This is the kind of lifestyle we want.”


Punk era’s smoldering flames November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Former Stranglers leader Hugh Cornwell and Suicide’s Martin Rev in Athens for gigs this weekend
This weekend brings to Athens two heavyweight figures of rock music’s punk era for back-to-back shows at the same club on Saturday and Sunday.

Martin Rev, formerly of the arty-punk New York act Suicide, an act that was initially overlooked but eventually exerted influence on the entire scene, especially in the UK, takes the stage on Saturday at the capital’s Underworld Club, Themistocleous Street and 5 Gamveta Street, Athens, tel 210 3840965. Hugh Cornwell, the frontman of the Stranglers during the band’s golden era, performs the following night.

Rev emerged in the early to mid-70s as the keyboardist of Suicide, a duo fronted by vocalist Alan Vega that was active on New York City’s performing arts scene. Though they fell short of being credited for their trailblazing ways early on, Suicide was later recognized as a major influence on the synth-pop bands that saturated the pop market in the late 70s and early 80s; Soft Cell, Erasure, and Bronski Beat being more glaring examples.

However, unlike those ensuing acts, Suicide’s synthesizer-dominated material was loaded with punk attitude. This band’s work came as proof that punk was more about attitude than raw, guitar-charged material. Though the guitars were missing, Suicide’s sound was dissonant and spooky, and the duo’s performances tended to be confrontational with frontman Vega often working up a frenzied mood that occasionally turned against him in a violent way. Charged up by the bedlam on stage, rowdy crowds were known to assault the stage with Vega on the receiving end.

There was fire between the musical duo, too. Vega and Rev broke up and reconciled several times during their heyday. The 90s proved to be a decade of vindication for the act as a result of the rise of industrial dance music. Following a lengthy break, the duo returned in 2002 with “American Supreme” the act’s first studio album in a decade. Throughout this lengthy overall course, both Rev and Vega have put out a considerable number of solo projects.

There has been no shortage of controversy in Cornwell’s engaging musical life either, the bulk, if not all of it, surfacing during his earlier days as the frontman of the Stranglers, a hugely successful band whose work and stance represented punk rock’s quirkier, even humorous, side.

Cornwell was one of the key instigators of the band’s cheeky tone, as well as a key songwriting component, before he eventually departed in the early 90s to pursue a solo musical path. Contrary to his expectations, the rest of the band carried on, less successfully, with a new recruit on vocals. Though much of the classic-era Stranglers material was enchanting enough to make a major impact on pop charts in various parts of the world, the band’s work did carry a sense of ugly alienation, one of the punk movement’s fundamental aspects. Later on, the roughness was ironed out, but this was around the time Cornwell called it quits with the band. The frontman, who released his debut solo album “Nosferatu” in 1979 while the band’s impetus was strong, has since put out several more. Cornwell has performed in Athens as a solo artist once before, in the mid-90s, about a decade after his first show here, with the Stranglers at a major rock festival in 1985 (the Rock In Athens concert at the Panathinaic Marble Stadium, one of the first rock concerts in Athens, lasting 3 days).

Art films go on display in festive northern port November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Two exhibitions at the 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival

Film as a tool of expression, not just for cinematographers but also for visual artists, is a subject that this year’s Thessaloniki Film Festival draws attention to. Two separate exhibitions have been organized to that effect: One of them shows the film and videos that artist Leda Papaconstantinou produced as documentation of the performances she staged from the 1960s through the 1980s.

The other exhibition is on the work of the British, New-York based Eve Sussman and produced in collaboration with the Rufus Corporation. This is the first worldwide premiere of «The Rape of the Sabine Women» Sussman’s most recent work, a «video musical» which re-enacts the story behind Jacques-Louis David’s famous late 18th century painting. The exhibition is curated by Katerina Koskina and is held in collaboration with the Center of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki, the 47th Film Festival and the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation.

The exhibition on Papaconstantinou coincides with a large exhibition of her work currently at the Benaki Museum. A pioneer of visual art performances and body art in Greece, Papaconstantinou has used her own body and self-image to address genre issues, identity as well as broader social and political matters. In the Thessaloniki exhibition, a large installation designed at the 15th century monument of the Bey Hamam Turkish baths provides the setting for the screening of her films and videos, many of them being shown for the first time. The Benaki exhibition includes objects used by the artist during her performances as well as photographs of her performances.

Besides «The Rape of the Sabine Women» the Eve Sussman show also includes «89 Seconds at Alcazar» a film based on Diego Velazquez’s 17th century painting «Las Meninas.»

Based on the naturalism of cinema verite, Sussman uses a whole cast of actors, she established the Rufus Corporation, a team of dancers, actors, artists and musicians, and conducts detailed research into the costumes and decor depicted in each painting as well as the historical time frame in which the works were painted in order to reproduce the scenes depicted in each painting. The film «89 Seconds at Alcazar» shows the royal couple and the rest of the painting’s protagonists move around the room as they prepare to sit for for the portrait. In «89 Seconds at Alcazar» stillness and slow movement suggest psychological tension. In «The Rape of the Sabine Women» the action is more dramatic.

Interestingly, much of the filming was done in Greece, mainly on Hydra and in Athens. Actress Themis Bazaka and singer Savina Yannatou are among the cast. The J.F Costopoulos Foundation partially funded the making of the film.

The Leda Papaconstantinou show runs from tomorrow to December 3. Info at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art: tel 2310 240002. The Benaki Museum show at the Pireos branch runs to November 19.

The premiere of Sussman’s films will be held at the Olympion hall on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. For info: Center of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki: tel 2310 546683 or www.cact.gr.

«The Rape of the Sabine Women» is based on Roman myth, yet Sussman says that the themes it represents, such as «desire, longing and aggression, are ubiquitous.» This is one of the reasons she believed filming could be done in places other than present-day Italy.

The landscape of Greece seemed the most appropriate for the effect she wanted for her film: «The landscape in Italy struck me as too bucolic for the piece that we wanted to make. I had spent time in Rome and Istanbul. Athens sits squarely in between. I thought it would be interesting to go to a place where I had no background or personal history,» Sussman said.

An interesting aspect of Sussman’s film is that it adapts the myth to the 1960s. «When we decided to shoot the piece in Greece, and began to scout locations, our Athens-based producer Yiannis Savvidis pointed out that, because Greece is so mired in the ancient sites, the modernist architecture of Greece is often ignored by the rest of the world. This got us thinking about updating the myth to the 1960s partially because of the wealth of modern architecture,» Sussman notes.

A private home on Hydra which was designed by Nikos Valsamakis in the 60s is an example of the »modernist architecture» that Sussman wished to use as a setting.

Greek music was also incorporated into the piece. «The composer Jonathan Bepler, in collaboration with musicians on the project, incorporated bouzoukis, baglamas and djouras into the score as well as the cadence and rhythm of the Greek language, almost as instrumentation,» Sussman said.

Much of Sussman’s work explores the borders between reality and fiction, the real and the artificial. «A lot of the work of the Rufus Corporation actors over the last years has been about honing this concept and researching what it means to be ‘in and out’ of character. My work has evolved from installations using S8 film, surveillance video and filming materials, such as mirrors, water or projections. Those devices are about empowering and accentuating the gaze of the observer.

«Much of the work originates with a fascination for simple gestures and casual expressions and an interest in how narrative is implied and constructed in the mind of the viewer,» Sussman explained.

In her work, elements of improvisation blend with influences from nouvelle vague cinema. «Much of what I do with the company is take note of the performer’s interactions within the narrative and document where reality and fiction overlap and collide,» Sussman said.

Greece, France face friendly November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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French federation to honor squad for World and European titles in 1998, 2000, respectively

In its latest challenge, this time on a friendly basis, Greece takes on France, the runner-up at last summer’s World Cup, tonight at the Stade de France, in Paris. The game, which starts at 10 p.m., will be televised live by Skai television.

Last time the two sides met, Greece stunned both France and the entire sporting world by beating its star-studded opponent 1-0 in the quarterfinals at Euro 2004 before going on to take the title. Despite being a friendly, tonight’s game in Paris should be no dull affair. The French soccer federation will commemorate its national squad for its World and European titles in 1998 and 2000 respectively. French superstar Zinedine Zidane, who retired following last summer’s World Cup final, will also be honored for his outstanding 108-game career with the national team.

For Greece, tonight’s game, against one of the world’s leading teams, should prove a useful test of the squad’s current standing. Following its failure to qualify for last summer’s World Cup finals as the reigning European champion, Greece has made a bright start to its campaign for a berth at Euro 2008 with three wins from as many games in Group C, all over the past couple of months. “I believe this will be a quality game. We’re up against one of the world’s best teams – a World Cup finalist. We’re going to have to play particularly well to manage here,” said Greece coach Otto Rehhagel. “We’ve selected all available players in order to bolster the team’s spirit and be as best prepared for the next round of official competition in March.”

Greece, which could be without stylish defender Yiourkas Seitaridis tonight because of injury, takes on Turkey in Athens on March 24 in its next Euro 2008 qualifier. They share top spot with nine points from three games in Group C, three points ahead of Norway. The winner and runner-up of the seven-team group qualify for the finals. As for France’s Euro 2008 campaign, it shares Group B’s top spot with Scotland. Both have accumulated nine points from four games. World Champion Italy lies third, two points behind.

Food of the gods November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.
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100-102 High Road, N2, Muswell Hill, UK
Tel: 020 8883 5296 or 020 8444 7004 (takeaway)

Poseidon Fish Restaurant has only been running for two-and-a-half years, yet already has the distinct feel of a much-loved neighbourhood favourite.

“We have very loyal customers, famous people, families, you name it, they come to us time again,” says Stelios, who had owned the takeaway next door for more than 30 years, before teaming up with business partner Stefano to open up the restaurant business when the property became vacant.

Stefano, takes pride on the fact that he knows his regulars very well and knows most of their preferences. He says: “We have many customers who have their favourites, and then we have some who just prefer the healthier option of having their fish grilled instead of fried, and we just cook instinctively.”

On the subject of customers and healthy options, Stefano says: “Even when we fry fish, it is fried in groundnut oil and our batter is made using the healthier matzo flour. We use very good quality ingredients and our fish is fresh and ordered daily from Scotland. It is very expensive but it is worth it.”

The menu is extensive, starters include a sea food selection, including smoked mackerel to crabstick salad, and the Greek selection, which is a variety of favourites from the Mediterranean island. If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, take your pick from home-made fish soup, fresh kalamari, or even fresh melon.

The choice of mains, looks just as appetising and includes all the staples that you would expect from a fish restaurant, as well as sword fish, trout, salmon fillet and sea bass, with a variety of side orders. There is also a lunchtime special, a choice of five or six varieties of fish, chips and mushy peas.

When ordering chose a selection of dips with pitta bread. The dips are tasty, with a nice creamy texture. Next, go for the cod fillet with chips. The cod is full of flavour and literally melted in the mouth, the batter is soft and lightly crisped, the homemade chips are nicely cooked, without being too oily.

Although you will most definitely eat more than your share, you will seriously be tempted when given the choice of desserts, including a pineapple caramel cake and Greek rice pudding made by Stefano’s wife.

This is a lovely, warm inviting restaurant, both Stelios and Stefano are professional but friendly and it’s no wonder they have loyal customers.

Piet de Jong’s view of historic excavations November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Drawings by British artist and architect Piet de Jong (1887-1967) are included in an exhibition of his excavation drawings that opens tonight at the Pireos Street annex of the Benaki Museum.

British artist and architect Piet de Jong (1887-1967), one of the most influential archaeological illustrators of the 20th century, is the subject of a tribute at the Pireos Street annex of the Benaki Museum, opening tonight and running to January 7.

The exhibition brings together some 150 watercolors and ink drawings of detailed representations of finds from the excavations at the Ancient Agora by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

The finely executed sketches provide rare insight into the lives of ancient Athenians, revealing the wealth of culture and history in the area from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods. They show landscapes, people and objects recovered during many seasons of fieldwork at one of the longest continuously running archaeological projects in Greece.

The Yorkshire architect of Dutch descent worked his first dig in 1920 for Alan Wace at Mycenae. In 1922 he went on to work for Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos, and throughout the next 45 years he produced plans, reconstruction drawings and superb illustrations of finds, vases and frescoes for all the major publications of British and American excavations in Greece.

The exhibition will also feature watercolors from other sites where de Jong worked, including King Minos’s Palace at Knossos and the Nestor’s Palace at Pylos as well as Corinth, Mycenae, Eleusis and elsewhere. The show will also spotlight some his stunning caricatures of the great archaeologists of his day.

Yiannis Papadopoulos, professor of classical studies and archaeology at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California in Los Angeles, brought together the material. The professor has compiled a photographic book on de Jong and will also be giving a lecture on the illustrator’s work at the museum on December 19.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by a number of historical photographs, representative archaeological finds from the Agora excavations and de Jong’s correspondence. The items are on loan from the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, the University of Cincinnati, the ephorates of Iraklion and Olympia, the Corinth excavations, the American School of Classical Studies and the Agora Museum.

Benaki Museum New Wing, 138 Pireos street, tel 210 3453111.

Monuments in danger November 15, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Climate change poses a serious threat to world heritage sites.
Researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute say the greenhouse effect is damaging monuments around the world, including the Parthenon.

Governments must realize that the greenhouse effect is damaging world heritage monuments such as the Parthenon, climatology experts said at the International Conference on Climate currently under way in Nairobi.

Climate change is a grave threat to some of the greatest world heritage monuments, from Darwin’s favorite coral reef in Belize to the archaeological treasures of Scotland.

Scientists have warned of the serious consequences of climate change, such as extreme weather conditions, mass population movements due to floods and droughts. But they have not managed to galvanize world governments into taking effective measures to curb activities that waste energy and cause pollution.

In just a few decades, natural and man-made monuments may suffer partial or total destruction, say researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute in their report titled “The Atlas of Climate Change: Mapping the Greatest Challenge to Humanity.”

In many cases the effect of climate change will be immediate, with destruction caused by a rise in sea levels, floods and massive storms. For other monuments, mainly cathedrals and mosques, the threat comes from drastic changes in local climate. Even minor changes in humidity can have dramatic consequences, either by directly altering the structures themselves, or by affecting the chemistry and the stability of their foundations. It may seem a distant threat, yet such destruction has already begun, the researchers note.

In 2002, for instance, floods that hit the Czech Republic caused serious damage to historic buildings such as theaters, museums and libraries, while an estimated 500,000 books and archived documents were destroyed. Apart from the Czech Republic, which the report lists among the states vulnerable to climate change, Thailand has already lost part of its cultural heritage to the effects of climate change, when floods swept away 14th century ruins in the cities of Sukothai and Ayutthaya in northeastern Thailand.

Egypt is also at risk. Coastal erosion and flooding in the Nile Delta pose a risk to the monuments of Alexandria, such as the Acropolis of Qaitbey and some 12,000 archaeological sites, ranging from Viking-era ruins to medieval monuments.

Many natural ecosystems that support local economies will not be able to withstand climate change. One of these is the coral reef of Belize, which Darwin referred to in 1842 as “the most marvelous reef in the West Indies.”

The reef has already started to lose its color due to the rising temperature of the surface water, a process which is expected to intensify.