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Missing Persons cause February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.
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The Belgian Government will contribute 250,000 euros to the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), to enable it to extend its project on the exhumation, identification and return of remains of missing persons to their relatives.

Belgium’s contribution has been welcomed by the President of the Pancyprian Organisation of Relatives of Missing and Undeclared Prisoners, Nicos Theodosiou. He expressed the hope that, “other European Union countries follow Belgium’s example and contribute to this humanitarian cause.”

According to a joint press release from the CMP and the Belgian Embassy in Cyprus, the “government of Belgium supports the work of the CMP because it enhances dialogue between the communities and brings concrete evidence that both communities have a strong interest in cooperating, in order to go beyond the tragic events of the past and build together their common future.”

Referring to the CMP’s work, Theodosiou said that although there is some progress, the relatives of the missing persons are concerned because there have not been any identifications of remains through DNA.

“The procedure is progressing well, but we are not satisfied with the results yet. Progress without results is an issue of concern to us. We look forward to the identification process,” he noted. Theodosiou added that the relatives of the missing would also like to see some progress regarding the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling of 2001 in the 4th Interstate Appeal Cyprus vs Turkey.

In May 2001, the ECHR found Ankara guilty of violating the rights of the relatives of missing persons because of its refusal to inform them of their fate, thus violating article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

“The exhumation procedure is not enough for us. We would like to see some progress regarding the ECHR’s ruling for Turkey, which is obliged to inform us on the fate of our beloved ones,” Theodosiou said.

He also expressed the view that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Michael Moller, is awaiting the conclusion of the CMP’s procedures to focus on the implementation of the ECHR’s ruling for the ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons. He recalled that the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Council of Europe had expressed the conviction that progress in the issue of exhumations and identifications does not constitute a remedy for the ECHR’s ruling. The Committee, he added, has repeatedly asked Turkey to give information on the fate of the missing persons.

After the July 1974 Turkish invasion, 1,493 Greek Cypriots were officially reported as missing to the CMP, but following a number of identifications in the past several years, that number now stands at 1,468. The Turkish Cypriot community has declared 502 persons as missing.

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Pourekkia > Cyprus traditional small pastries February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Greek Culture.
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Pourekkia me halloumi i anari > Small pastries stuffed with halloumi or anari cheese 
Pourekkia me keima > Small pastries stuffed with minced meat
Pourekkia me spanakhi > Small pastries stuffed with spinach
Pourekkia me lachanika > Small pastries stuffed with vegetables

We’re a little bit late, since today is the last day of “Sikoses”, the fortnight in the Greek Orthodox calendar between the beginning of Carnival and “Clean Monday”. This is the time when the faithful no longer eat meat, gearing up for the 40-day fast of Lent, but can still eat dairy products, hence the popularity of “pourekkia”, the little squares of fried dough traditionally stuffed with sweet anari cheese.

Hardcore religious types will look askance at this, since they can’t eat pourekkia from tomorrow, but it’s gone way beyond religion, just like pourekkia have gone way beyond the traditional anari (a Cypriot type of soft cheese, salted or not). Most bakeries now do variations with cream, halloumi and even mincemeat. Still, we stuck with the old-fashioned formula, sampling the wares of seven Nicosia bakeries and confectioneries, and here are the results. Prices quoted are for six pourekkia in each case.

San Remo > Strovolos confectionery is famous for its “sadji”, savoury halloumi pies in thick, chewy dough, so it’s no surprise to find the pourekkia crust similarly soft and thick. The anari mix is also robust, choppy more than creamy, but delicately sweetened, complementing the chewy exterior. A very satisfying pourekki from a place that prides itself on generosity; the owner was aghast when we suggested paying after sampling a spring-roll, and the lady at the till confided that he “always likes to treat the customers”.
Price: £1.30, Tel: 22 510305

Twice as Nice > Aglandjia “pastry shop” comes with an advantage, since it was the only place where we encountered pourekkia fresh from the oven; on the other hand, we happened to go twice in three days and found a fresh tray on both occasions, so I can only assume Mr. Evripidou takes his pourekkia seriously. Diametrically opposite to San Remo, with a crispy fried crust absolutely packed with anari, blended to the consistency of fresh cream. Probably not the healthiest pourekkia in town, and certainly the most expensive of the seven we sampled. No matter; these are our favourites. Price: £1.50, Tel: 22 334006

Sarah Lyne > Here’s the thing: Sarah Lyne, which prides itself on avoiding mass-production, was almost out of available pourekkia by the time we got there. It was only 4pm, but the little fried wonders were either sold out or reserved by eager customers, the shelves behind the till were heaving with trays of pourekkia, unfortunately spoken-for, which itself is a testament to their popularity. Just a single tray of halloumi pourekkia was left, which the shop generously let us have for free, and they were indeed spectacular: delicate crust, minty-cheese interior. I can only imagine the anari are even better. Price is £6.50/kilo. Approximate price: £1.10, Tel: 22 671222

Zorbas > Probably the biggest bakery chain in Cyprus, with pourekkia which, appropriately, are bigger than usual, curiously flat instead of round. Not very appetising but they taste all right, with a strong hint of rose-water in the anari mix; factory-made or not, they’ll do the trick when you need to pick up something in a hurry for your local pourekkia party. Avoid the custard cream ones, however, which are pretty vile. Price: £1, Tel: various branches

Yiannis Georgiou Ltd. > A hole-in-the-wall “traditional bakery” near Strovolos Church, making small, rounded pourekkia with an optional dusting of icing-sugar. Not a lot to say on the product itself, the crust is thin and crispy, the anari plentiful if a little bland, and again with a hint of rose-water, but the size and shape are aesthetically pleasing, and you also get the satisfaction of helping out a small entrepreneur. Support your local bakery, we say! Price: £1, Tel: 22 425338

Morfo > Is Morfo in decline? We’ve had sensational pourekkia from this Acropolis confectionery in the past but these were uninspired, not to mention worryingly large and misshapen. The crust was puffy but bland, as if puffed-out beyond its natural shape, and the mix was among the sweetest we sampled, which could be good or bad, according to taste. The cream ones are actually superior, as you might expect from a confectionery, closer to creme patissiere than custard and strongly redolent of cinnamon. Price: £1.30, Tel: 22 495456

Mrs S > And finally the home-made option. Mrs. S. lives down the street and makes pourekkia to order, which, according to the Law of Homemade Products, should make her pourekkia the best of the lot. In fact, the crust was a bit thick, overpowering the anari which was rather too solid and pillow-like, ideally it should melt in the mouth when you bite into it; still, at least you know they’re fresh. Ask around to one of the myriad Mrs. S’s making home-made pourekkia. Or else you can always make your own. Price: We paid £0.85

Winter wonders February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus.
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If you miss that winter feeling, a performance by Moscow On Ice brings the best of the season to the Cypriot shores

It may be the depths of winter but we can’t really say that we’ve had much cold weather this year. The closest we’ve probably all come to feeling the chill factor is a visit to Troodos, spending the day in the snow only to go back home and feel like it’s spring again. But all this is about to change as the magic of a Russian winter arrives in the form of Moscow on Ice, involving a spectacular show on an ice rink. The group, which has been traveling the world for years, will perform for the first time in Cyprus. Brought here by Kolizey Productions, it will put on shows between March 4 and 11 at Monte Caputo in Limassol.

The show can best be described as a brilliant extravaganza for the whole family to enjoy as kids will be fascinated by the wonderful colours and costumes, while adults are bound to love all the intricate movement and spectacle of coordinated dancing on ice. It’s a dynamic mixture of modern, jazz, folk and classical ballet with stunning visual tricks taking in graceful gymnastics and aerial acrobatics. What’s more, the programme unites leading performers of the Moscow Ballet on Ice with stars of the Moscow Circus, in a versatile repertoire with a variety of over 300 great costumes. Evening performances will offer two hours of sheer beauty in cabaret style for adults, while afternoon shows will present Cinderella for kids and those young at heart.

“Everything about the show is absolutely magical,” says Louiza Coudounaris, a representative of Kolizey productions in Cyprus. “I’ve recently seen the show in Athens and it reconfirmed everything that I’d previously been told about it. It’s something that children in Cyprus shouldn’t miss and adults will probably enjoy even more than the young ones.”

As the first professional ice ballet company in Russia, Moscow on Ice was founded in 1957 by two outstanding Russian artists, Leonid Lavrosky and Gregory Arnold. When the show first came out it comprised three genres including figure skating, ballet and circus acts, and its performances immediately became an overwhelming success as audiences hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. For the past 50 years its productions have been directed by world famous choreographers and stage directors while highly celebrated Russian stars of figure skating and Olympic Champions have performed with the company at various times.

Since the 1990s the group has performed on theatre and opera stages, which has proved to be quite a novelty as previously ice skating companies could only perform in special ice sports facilities. The company has since gained vast experience from outdoor performances in central squares and other open spaces in cities such as Brussels, Strasburg, Red Square in Moscow and open grounds in Bombay, Seoul, Los Angeles and San Francisco. As crowds flock to watch the shows, Moscow on Ice has managed to earn a reputation as a group of fascinating and extravagant entertainers.

“This is something that children have never seen before, but it’s also something that’s completely new to adults. A cabaret show on ice is something that’s never been brought to our island before,” says Coudounaris. The ice that will soon be laid down in Monte Caputo may not be real, but for a few hours it’s guaranteed that you’ll be whisked away to a world of magic as a winter wonderland comes to life.

Moscow on Ice > With Cinderella and a cabaret performance for adults. March 4-11. Monte Caputo, Limassol. 8pm. £20, £15 and £12. Afternoon performances March 4, 10 and 11. 3.30pm. £5 child and £10 adult. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Cyprus Antidrugs Association. Tel: 99 681558.

Ballet in competition February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus.
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Encouraging young dancers to reach for the top

Competitions of all forms, but especially in the arts, are unnerving, even for the best. Standing in the wings, watching the competitor who precedes you give a perfect quadruple pirouette can disarm you, even if you felt as confident as Margot Fonteyn at the start.

For dancers who compete, steel nerves and an ability to be ready for anything are as important as the months of rehearsal and years of classes. But for all the challenges which they present, competitions are not all bad.

The competition has two categories, seniors aged 19-26 and juniors aged 15-18. An international panel judges each dancer on the basis of artistry, technical skill and musicality with highest and lowest scores dismissed for each dancer’s performance, thereby avoiding bias from any single judge.

The competition has three rounds beginning with excerpts from the classical repertoire, moving to the second round where they must perform a modern work. Finalists perform classical and contemporary pieces from a pre-selected list. Medallists receive cash awards of up to $10,000 dollars but the real prize is the exposure before officials from ballet companies across the world.

In Cyprus, we too have a ballet competition, the second Pancyprian Ballet Competition 2007 will take place in the Strovolos Theatre in Nicosia on February 25.

The competition was founded in 2005 by Annita Hadjieftichiou who as President of the Dance Association of Cyprus presented her initiative to the Board, which was thrilled with the idea and gave it full approval.

The aim of the competition is to give talented young dancers in Cyprus the opportunity and a platform to gain experience before proceeding to international competitions, seminars and summer schools abroad. The prizes and financial support given to the winners by the Cyprus Dance Association provide incentive and the means through which they can strive for the top in the field of dance. But, as Annita Hadjieftichiou reflected: “All the participants are winners as they all leave the competition richer in knowledge. For a week prior, all the contestants are offered free daily classes by distinguished teachers from abroad, giving them experience and the enthusiasm to persevere. At the moment, as the competition is in its embryonic stages, there are not a lot of entrants, so everybody is accepted. Later, as it grows, we will have preliminary rounds.”

There are two divisions, a junior and senior with 13 entrants in the junior and 8 in the senior. The ages of the junior range from 11 to 14 with seniors at 15-20. The juniors have the option of presenting any classical piece of ballet with any choreography, it can even be their own, whereas the seniors must choose from the well known classical repertoire such as Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Cinderella. Most often, the choreography is that of Marius Petipa, as he was the creator of most of the classical ballets. The second round includes a contemporary piece which must be no longer than five minutes.

There are five judges, two of whom are Cypriot and three who come from abroad. The Cypriot judges are nominated and chosen by the Board of the Dance Association with the stringent rules that judges are not permitted to have any relationship with the candidates on a personal or other level. The names of the three judges from abroad are not announced so that the confidentiality ensures fairness for all.

The first prize in the senior division is £2,000 and covers the expenses for the winner to participate in an international competition. The second prize is valued at £1,500 to cover participation in a summer school or workshop abroad and the third prize a cash gift of £500. The junior division has cash prizes of £200, £100 and £50.

The evening is open to everyone with tickets at £7. While the judges are deliberating, the Sophia National Ballet and Dance Art will present a programme of about 40 minutes of excerpts from the classical ballet repertoire.

Pancyprian Ballet Competition. February 25. Strovolos Municipal Theatre, Nicosia. 8.30pm.

An artist and a blacksmith February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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If you are looking for a unique piece of wrought iron work or need some new gates, this is just the place to look

Man has, for over 600 years, sculpted cast iron, bronze, wrought iron and other metals by cutting and burnishing them under high levels of heat to achieve the perfect design and distinctive patina.

One man in Cyprus who can lay claim to the ancient and honourable titles of both blacksmith and artist is 38-year-old Pegasios Philippides. Born in the village of Lemona, the young Philippides left his home land in 1990 to travel to America to study sculpture at the prestigious New York League of Arts. Three years later, the qualified artist returned to Cyprus full of ambition, plus a portfolio bulging with ideas for the creation of a range of bespoke sculpture.

Sadly, like so many other talented people who return home, his talent wasn’t fully recognized. In fact, people thought him slightly crazy for thinking anyone would ever wish to buy the likes of a life-size metal sculpture of Athena. Slowly but surely it dawned that here appreciation of his art was a long way off from its zenith so the artist, like so many before him, had to compromise in order to make a living.

“I knew my sculpted pieces would only sell to a very select audience and that that audience wasn’t really to be found here in sleepy Paphos, with many still preferring to buy imported metal work rather than locally-made goods, something I am sad to say is still the case. So I had to forget working on pure sculpture pieces and start to embrace the commercial wrought iron market.

“The difference, though, with my work is it’s all hand-forged in the old fashioned way, just as blacksmiths of old would work metal: tempering it at high temperatures and working on the anvil as fast as possible to mould the iron into the shape desired, that’s a skill which few around can now do. The point is, working in this way, means even my commercial pieces offer customers a truly unique piece, one that has been genuinely hand crafted and not, as in many pieces of wrought-cast iron, that has only been soldered together.

“All my work relies on working quickly, concentrating hard on working the metal to achieve, if possible, one continuous, beautiful shape purely by beating and cutting atop the anvil under the intense heat of the fire.”

Pegasios has both a shop and a workshop, the former boasts a huge range of metalwork delights for sale including hand-made, wrought-iron bed frames, mirrors, frames and a collection of some of the most beautiful candle holders that clearly show the huge difference between the mass-market produced stuff currently on sale and the touch given from a master blacksmith, who will always be an artist at heart.

A huge variety of work is taken on in the workshop, from the making of kebab holders, hand-forging intricately-detailed wrought iron gates, fencing and stair railings, fire screens, plant stands, garden furniture, lamp-bases and baskets. Among iron works that have been transformed into delicately-constructed, scrolled sconces some of the work is outrageously whimsical, while other pieces are quite formal in style but all are unique. And, in this boom time of cheap imports the relative cost comparison between Pegasios’ works is marginal, added to the fact that you get a piece that is like no other one on sale. This, in the end, is the key element most discerning buyers really do appreciate.

The difference, they say, between quality and tat is in the detail and here Pegasios really does excel. I fell instantly in love with his hand-sculpted wrought iron chaise lounge, a gorgeous piece with perfect rhythm and balance, the cold metal having being transformed into a wonderful sleek, sexy piece of symphony-sculpted furniture. The detailing on the legs was achieved in one complete piece, sculpted to produce feet that resemble curling, sleek, snakes’ tails. Finished in leopard skin, it would definitely excuse any lounging sybarite for demanding that their grapes be always peeled.

The Art House, 39 Apostolos Pavlos Avenue, Paphos. Tel 26 952405 or 99 655438. pegasios@cytanet.com.cy

Luxury on the beach February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus.
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Cyprus developer Lordos has created a luxurious development on the beach in Limassol. Start dreaming…

The word Ermitage means a haven for peaceful relaxation but the actual concept promises much more than that. Built and reconstructed by Lordos Properties, one of the most successful property developers in Cyprus, Ermitage On The Beach is an award-winning treasure made of 65 luxury apartments located on the Limassol beachfront. The development won two of the most prestigious prizes at the Homes Overseas Awards 2006: The Bronze Award for the Best Renovation Project and a Gold Award for the Best Cypriot Apartment. Not surprising judging from the fact that it could be the first complex of apartments that ooze luxury from the walls to the ceilings.

Located in the heart of Limassol, one would think that peaceful relaxation could not really be possible, bearing in mind the busy restaurant and bar-packed beachfront. However, the Lordos Group has taken every detail of this project in mind and that includes the name. “The location of the Ermitage is unique as it is central and yet on a quiet cul-de-sac off the main coast road, right on the beach and within walking distance from every amenity,” said General Manager, Eftichia Christodoulou. “With a clear view of the gardens and ocean instead of buildings you would otherwise get in a packed area.” Indeed, though completely central, its surroundings are quiet and peaceful with large, old eucalyptus trees that border the bed of the Yermasogeia river. Turn and look south and you are face to face with the Mediterranean Sea, which is literally a stone’s throw away from the building.

The Ermitage was first built in the early 80s by Lordos, while the company was still mainly involved with construction. Over 25 years and a property development licence later, Lordos took the Ermitage under its wing and transformed it into one of the best investments today, as the judges at the Homes Overseas Awards board decided.

The seafront development offers a concierge on-site 24 hours a day, making sure all residents are greeted by a familiar face on their way in and out not to mention ensuring discreet supervision is kept. The Ermitage also boasts a health club, a communal pool and gardens for all residents, while some of the larger apartments have their own private pools and even a gymnasium. Each apartment is guaranteed at least one secure parking space with the larger ones having two or even three spaces.

Even though the project as a whole is impressive enough, nothing can compare to the sensational and stylish apartments. One-bedroom apartments offer tasteful, functional and well-lit spaces and a variety of smart features: climate control satellite TV, broadband, wi-fi and computerlink. Two-bedroom apartments enjoy uninterrupted views all around from the bedrooms to the living room/kitchen, while the garden just gives it that extra oomph. But unlike other similar projects, the Ermitage does not only offer three and four bedroom apartments; they offer up to five bedrooms, with these apartments measuring up to 600m².

“I think the features of each apartment are what make this whole concept so special,” Christodoulou said. “We have gone out of our way to install everything of the best quality from the Italian ceramic floor tiles to the bathroom ones.” The good use of high-quality materials includes light-oak units, Italian basins, ceramic-backed glass sliding wardrobe doors and kitchens and appliances sourced from Miele, producing a superior finished product. Of course, other features such as surround sound, additional security system, power showers and even video phone are just additional details. It’s no wonder the project represents excellent value for money. And for those interested, the international business community as well as holidaymakers, a business centre for presentations, seminars or even small parties, is also part of the building.

The Lordos Group, which now operates in many countries around the world, was established in 1936. The years of experience, it seems, have made them one of the most successful property developers in Cyprus; a company that can not only offer so much on one plate but literally push the pedal further. A £2-million unit called Urania within the Ermitage development is said to be a work of art as those lucky enough to own it know only too well.

For additional information : call 22 465314 or 22 465315 or visit www.lordosproperties.com, www.theermitage.com

Sailing in Greece February 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in News Cruises.
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How about rentin a sailboat in the Greek islands? Just follow our suggestions for an itinerary and where to rent a boat.

You don’t have to be an America’s Cup captain to sail around the Greek islands. The waters are open to everyone with a taste for ouzo and adventure. Greece is a throwback in time and Greek history dominates the sailing.

Greek charters are like water taxis. In Greece, you pull into a marina and eat at a near-by taverna. Most likely, you’ll be spending more time exploring the islands’ land attractions, such as museums and archaeological sites, than sailing.

If you’re an experienced sailor and solid navigator, you can bareboat, or captain your own ship. The Moorings, a charter company, quoted a starting price of $280 a day to rent a boat comfortable for five.

Newbies, or those who’d rather relax than steer, should charter a boat with a captain, first mate and chef. You own the boat, and the crew is there to serve you. The most common vessel in Greece is the gulet, a motor yacht with sails. We recommend a 75-foot boat for a family of five, starting at $2,000 a day which includes crew, food, etc., and suggest that first-time sailors fly into Athens and follow the Ionian route, which wends around Poros, Santorini and Hydra. Because the islands are so close together, you should be able to hit at least 15 in a week. The Greek sailing season is short, from June to September, when the weather is warm with little rain.

For charters, check out SailAway Yacht Charter www.1800sailaway.com or Valef Yachts www.valefyachts.com