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Eternal wonder of humanity’s first great achievements March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Vote For 7New Wonders.
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Only one still stands, but tales of the seven ‘must see’ monuments still grip the world’s imagination

When the ancient Greek historian Herodotus was about four years old, a tiny army of 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and a small cluster of Greek allies fought one of the most famous battles in history: Thermopylae.

Here, a mountain pass in central Greece, the unprecedented Persian army of Xerxes I, estimated by Herodotus to number 2.6 million, excluding elephants and horses, was held back long enough for the Greeks to prepare a counterattack by land and sea that would trounce Xerxes and spare western civilisation from being overrun from the feared east.

The battle had been a true wonder, and even though every one of Leonidas’s men was killed, the Greeks had every right to be elated, and in myth-making mood. In adult life, Herodotus drew up a list of seven wonders of the world, although we only know about this through passing references.

So too, some 200 years later, did Callimachus of Cyrene, a librarian at the Museum of Alexandria that later became the Royal Library, a wonder itself.

Who knows how many lists were drawn up over the centuries, but long after Greece had been annexed by Rome and Rome itself had declined and fallen, the seven wonders of the world had become an established and familiar part of western mythology.

Until, perhaps, Greek and then Latin began to disappear from school curriculums in recent years, millions of children could reel off this list of primarily Greek achievements.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, where the first Olympic Games had been held in 776BC; the Colossus of Rhodes; the Mausoleum in Herodotus’s home town, Halicarnassus; the Lighthouse of Alexandria; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, destroyed by a Christian mob led by St John Chrysostom in 401AD, with parts of its 12-metre marble columns reused in a later architectural wonder, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only one of the seven ancient wonders still standing.

Herodotus might just have visited all seven, he seems to have been to Egypt, if not to Mesopotamia; yet, whether he did or not, the wonders would have been tourists attractions of the Roman era; the Greeks themselves called them theamata, which roughly translates in today’s terms as “must-sees”; so here were seven attractions you had to see before you died, or your empire fell.

Herodotus claimed that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon grew along 56 miles of walls surrounding Nebuchadnezzar II’s city, rebuilt in part by Saddam Hussein. They were, he said, 25 metres thick and nearly 100 metres high. Reports of the scale and extent of the Gardens were perhaps greatly exaggerated. As for the Colossus of Rhodes, a huge statue of the sun god Helios, although it may have been the same size as the Statue of Liberty, it did not straddle the harbour mouth at Rhodes, even though this is how it has been depicted time and again over the centuries.

The wonders were always more than real places, artworks and buildings. They were about national pride and mythology; they fed the imagination of millions of people over many centuries who would never have had even the hint of a chance of visiting one of them.

And, because they were mythic, they had to be part of a magic number. Three wonders of the world would have been too few to haunt the imagination. Twenty would be too many. Seven was satisfyingly right. For the Greeks, as with civilisations around the globe, the number seven has special, arcane, magical and even divine properties.

Perhaps of particular significance to the Greeks was the fact that there were seven wonders of the heavens to be seen from the Earth with the naked eye: the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. These celestial bodies gave their names to the most important classical gods, as well as to the seven days of the week. Perhaps, then, and especially in such a clearly gifted and fortunate civilisation, there must have been seven man-made wonders worthy of celebration and myth-making too.

Today, when we have become inured by a never ending supply of attenuated media lists, the Greek seven is both happily taut, and retains the power to excite the imagination. What were those Hanging Gardens like? How colossal was the Colossus of Rhodes? Could the light from the Lighthouse of Alexandria really been seen by ships 35 miles from shore?

And, yet, over the centuries, as the idea has continued to invade the collective imagination, as more “wonders”, or “must-sees” have been shaped, and as ever more people have found a voice of their own, it has been ever harder to pin down a properly satisfying and universally acknowledged list of just seven.

The Middle Ages had their own fascination with such epic monuments as the Tower of Babel, the Temple of Jerusalem and the Roman Colosseum. Individual nations and local cultures were possessive of the legendary power of structures in their own backyards: Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Villa, the Great Wall of China.

In the age of mass travel and the internet that has followed an earlier era of insatiable exploration and archaeology, the number of “must sees” has grown.

On July 7th this year, 07/07/07, a “New Seven Wonders of the World Declaration” will be made in Lisbon. The brainchild of Bernard Weber, a Swiss-born American film producer, pilot and author, the event will celebrate seven wonders as voted for by millions of people worldwide.

Weber’s shortlist of 21 wonders is remarkably conservative. The pyramids of Giza are there, all three, rather than just the big one, as is the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, the Acropolis in Athens and the Colosseum. Among the others are the Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House, Chichén Itzá, the Kremlin, Neuschwanstein and Timbuktu. While each of these is fascinating and endearing in its own right, it is hard not to think that Weber’s 21 are there to please everyone, and, as you might say, just a touch geographically correct.

How to vote > VOTE FOR THE ACROPOLIS > ATHENS > GREECE!
Online: www.new7wonders.com (free registration required)

Phone: Call international voting lines or send SMS mobile text message (numbers available on www.new7wonders.com)

Traditional Greek Easter in the Peloponnese March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hotels Greece, Special Features.
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Join the Easter celebrations in Greece at the Minoa, a family-run hotel in Tolo in the Argolida, Peloponnese.

Owner Yannis Georgidakis advises on where to experience a Greek Orthodox Church service or tuck into traditional roast lamb on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007.

Hotel Minoa, 56 Aktis Street, Tolo 21056, Greece
Phone: 27520 59207 Fax: 27520 59707
http://www.minoanhotels.gr , info@minoanhotels.gr

Traditional Greek Easter Feast in New York March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World, Special Features.
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An Affair to remember! Celebrate “Kalo Pasha” with a traditional Greek Easter Feast at Kellari

The Greeks have always incorporated food, with both its nourishing and symbolic qualities, into their holiday celebrations and rejoicing. The Greek Easter feast is the perfect example of this melding of food and tradition, as it is the time that the fast of Lent is over, and the meal takes on an even grander significance. This year, the joy and beauty of a Greek Orthodox Easter will be an experience to share with friends, as Kellari, 19 West 44th Street; 212-221-0144, the acclaimed new restaurant serving upscale contemporary Greek cuisine, will serve a traditional feast on Sunday, April 8, beginning at 12 noon. This all-day celebration will showcase the vivaciousness and generosity for which Greek culture is famed. The air will be filled with the aroma of a lamb roasting on a spit, and will resound with live Greek music and of course, traditional plate breaking.

The $55.00 three-course prix fixe meal will be served all day long and will feature delicacies executed by Kellari’s executive chef. The first course will be a Magiritsa, or “Easter Soup,” which features lamb tripe in an avgolemono, or egg and lemon sauce. Usually, this soup is the first food that is eaten after the fast, served piping hot at midnight, just as worshippers are returning from church. Tripe, or lamb intestines, is prominent on the menu since lamb was at one time a precious delicacy, and all efforts were made to use every part of the animal. The second course will consist of a Green Salad, emblematic of the verdant springtime, and Kokoretsi, a dish of rotisserie-roasted tripe, a delicacy so exquisitely prepared, it was once enjoyed at this holiday exclusively by the Greek aristocracy. The culmination of the feast will be Arnaki, a dish of Spit-Roasted Lamb with oven-roasted potatoes. The lamb, marinated in fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary and garlic, will be roasted whole, for an aromatic feast pleasing both the palate as well as the eye. The meal will end sweetly with Tsoureki and vibrantly dyed Red Eggs, symbolizing the body and blood of Christ. Tsoureki, baked on premises that morning, and sweetened with honey and almonds, is then beautifully braided to hold the brightly colored eggs. The eggs will be ceremoniously broken against each other to further symbolize the breaking of the fast.

This Sunday, April 8, Kellari invites the city on a culinary adventure with the chance to experience the centuries-old traditions that comprise the festivities of the Greek Easter meal. Delicious food, exotic scents, lively music, impassioned dancing, celebratory plates joyously tossed and broken…these are the makings of a Greek Easter celebration that is not to be missed.

Live Entertainment with renowned Aphrodite Daniels on vocals and her orchestra.
Panos Chrysovergis > Piano
Gabriel Kontos > Bouzouki
Yianna Katsagiorgi > Vocals

Space is limited, for reservations please call Kellari directly at 212-221-0144. Fax: 212-221-0188.

Kellari Taverna, 19 West 44th Street, New York 10036.  http://www.kellari.us

The Greek island life March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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You may think every man and his dog has discovered the Greek islands.

But, with 160 inhabited islands out of 1,500 or so rocky outcrops, there are still gems. Take Folegandros in the Cyclades.

The main village on the 32sq km isle is closed to cars, and bougainvillea colours the balconies of the 13th-century castle. Small tavernas serve delicious food and there’s 40km of undeveloped coastline.

Make your dream come true. Live your myth in wonderful Greece!

Profitable house investments March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Traditional homes in villages off the beaten path are cheap with a significant upside potential when restored

Buying and restoring an old house in a village costs much less than buying a new holiday home. However, village houses often lack property titles.

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Buying an old house in a village, especially if the village is located near a tourist attraction or resort, can be a good investment. These houses often come cheap and, if restored in their traditional form, can have, on the upside, significant appreciation. Such houses are being bought in large numbers in recent years, mainly by foreigners but also by Greeks.

In many tourist areas, construction companies focus on the most popular spots, thus creating a supply shortage in nearby, quieter areas, for which there is especially high demand, usually from foreigners. With the cost of a newly built holiday home rising rapidly, many are opting for older houses, even high up in the mountains. The cost of buying and refurbishing such houses remains significantly lower than buying a new one.

Lately, a lot of money has been invested in large holiday house complexes in places such as Crete, Rhodes and the Messinia prefecture in the southwestern Peloponnese. These projects, however, are still far from complete, leading many buyers, and still others who prefer quieter places, to look into houses in Greek villages. Some among the prospective foreign buyers own property in Spain, in resort areas that have now become heavily built up.

“There are many groups of people, especially Germans, who are looking to buy and restore groups of houses, around 20-30, in abandoned villages,” says a real estate professional. “This has already been done in Tinos. But there are several opportunities in places such as Mystras, an abandoned medieval settlement near Sparta, and elsewhere in the prefecture of Laconia,” he adds.

Foreign buyers also prefer to be the ones that choose the building materials and the internal decoration of their houses, much more than Greeks. This is another factor, besides price, that leads them to buy an old house and restore it.

There are several areas where interest in traditional houses has significantly increased: In the Peloponnese, two villages in the mountains of Arcadia, Langadia and Stemnitsa, have attracted a lot of interest due to their beautiful surroundings. North of Athens, there are several mountain villages in the prefectures of Fthiotida and Fokida that have maintained their traditional character. Further west, in the mountains above Nafpaktos, near the Evinos River dam, there are several opportunities. In all these areas, the cost of buying an average house ranges from 20,000 to 30,000 euro. Restoring a 100-square-meter house is estimated at 50,000 euro. Of course, real estate professionals warn, the market in almost all these areas, with the exception of already developed places, such as Arachova, is undeveloped and prices not quite set.

There are also significant buying opportunities in the area of Evrytania, in central Greece, which mostly attracts Greeks. Most of the old houses have an area of about 70 square meters divided into two levels. There prices can be somewhat higher, at 40,000 to 50,000 euro.

The mountain of Pelion, in Thessaly, attracts many foreigners, mostly British, French and Dutch who have taken holidays in the area and been attracted by its lush greenery, proximity to the sea and the old stone houses. Many of the bigger stone houses have already been renovated and are being offered on the market at prices close to those of new buildings.

Those houses still needing renovation can be found at prices ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 euro per square meter, in villages such as Makrynitsa, Tsangarada and Portaria in northern and central Pelion. In more southern villages, such as Metochi, Kastri and Trikeri, houses can be found at 500 euro per sq.m. and will rarely exceed 1,200 euro.

Greek boxer Mike Arnaoutis March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Martial Arts.
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After losing his first title match via highly controversial split decision, Cestus Management’s 140-pound contender “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis is back in training.

The Greek powerhouse, who is out to prove that his only loss is a fluke, is slated to face Kendall Holt in a WBO Junior Welterweight title eliminator which will be broadcast live on Showtime. The fight scheduled for April 20, 2007, is going to take place at the Bally’s Event Center, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Arnaoutis, whose record stands at 17-1-2 with 9-kos said, “I was so disappointed in myself as I let my team, Cestus Management, family, friends, and entire country, Greece, down in my last fight against Ricardo Torres,” Mike Michael, Gina Iacovou and all of Team Cestus have been very supportive. I returned home to Athens, Greece for a few weeks and am back in American a very hungry fighter. I’m ready to take that next step and I will win the title very soon,” said Mike Arnaoutis from his training camp in New Jersey.

Cestus Management’s chief advisor Mike Michael stated, “It has not been easy to know that our fighter was robbed of his title but we have been forced to accept it as that is in the past. We are now all focused on the immediate future and I can promise you that Mike Arnaoutis will make good on his potential and we will become world champions soon.”

Michael added, “We as his management company and his promoter, Star Boxing, have done our job as he is right back in the title hunt fighting Kendall Holt in a WBO Junior Welterweight title eliminator. Mighty Mike has learned for his mistakes and is ready to live up to his full potential.”

With five years, 86 rounds, 19 fights and 17 wins under his belt, the moment of truth is at hand for the undefeated junior welterweight contender ‘Mighty’ Mike Arnaoutis, 17-0-2 (9), who took on the once beaten Columbian Ricardo Torres, 29-1 (27), in a 12-round WBO junior welterweight title clash on November, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The Greek southpaw has ‘ooh-ed’ and ‘ahh-ed’ the fight world with some entertaining throw downs in his time as a professional fighter. He earned this title shot with a list of fallen foes that include Jesse Feliciano (TKO 1) which earned him the WBO NABO light welterweight strap, Jose Moreno (KO 1) and Roberto Cruz (MD 10). The 140-pound sensation is ready to put an exclamation point on his climb to the top with a win, and a win he guarantees.

Cyprus cricket league enlarged March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cricket Hockey Rugby.
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Cyprus cricket league enlarged to ten teams as new season nears

The new season of the Cyprus cricket league is scheduled to get underway on the first weekend of April with the addition of two newly established teams bringing the total up to ten.

This season is expected to be longer than any of the previous seasons as Dekelia Village who played several friendly matches last year, and Cyprus College Flames CC, the only college team, join the league.

With currently only four grounds available, only eight teams, out of total ten, are able to play on the same day; however, if the Happy Valley ground 2 becomes available then the league scheduling will become much easier with all teams playing every two weeks leaving time for National Team preparations on alternate weekends.

The Cyprus Cricket Association devised a comprehensive rule book for the upcoming season paying special attention to the experiences of the local league. Revised rules include start times for games, registration of players, rules for the conduct of games, new points allocation, and disciplinary procedures.

For more info please visit the official web site of the Cyprus Cricket Association at www.cypruscricket.com