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The Parthenon is a symbol of civilisation March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Athens.
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The Parthenon and The Acropolis > An ageless icon of culture > A living history

If you’re a bit poor on your Greek gods and heroes, buy or borrow a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology and Robert Graves’ Greek Gods and Heroes before you go to Athens. They help familiarise you with the city. For practical, hip and concise information buy the 2007 Wallpaper City Guide to Athens.

The parthenon > A Living Histrory, a Symbol of Civilization.

Morning > Start with a Greek coffee at the Eleftheroudakis book shop on Panepistimiou Street, www.books.gr. There are several floors of books and maps on Greece.

Some say Athens is a walking city but consider the public bus company’s Line 400 bus that runs hourly from 10am to 4pm from November to April. Buy a 24-hour ticket onboard for 5 euro and sit back and tick off the 20 or so cultural landmarks on the 90-minute trip before getting down to the serious business of shopping, eating and drinking or hop on/off at the biggies. For info check > http://www.oasa.gr/index.asp?lang=en

The most popular is the National Archeological Museum, with collections that represent all the cultures that flourished in Greece. Grab a brochure when you buy your ticket because you probably haven’t time to see it all. Nearest metro station is Viktoria.

You’ve seen it from every corner of the city, almost, so there’s no avoiding the walk up the Acropolis to the Parthenon, the remains of a temple built on the Acropolis to honor the goddess Athena, patron goddess of Athens. A lot of places in Greece have an acropolis but only Athens has The Acropolis. For further info check > http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21101a/e211aa01.html

Lunch > Archestratos would have had no idea what a publishing phenomenon he started when he wrote the world’s first cookbook in 330BC. So it’s no wonder Greeks like to eat and cook and there are plenty of places to try moussaka, souvlaki or a choriatiki salata without breaking the travel budget. Don’t even go there if you don’t like olive oil, oregano, feta cheese and lamb and goat meat raised on herb-rich pastures. By lunchtime you probably deserve an ouzo, ordered with appetizers, the mezedes.

Athens old town, the Plaka, is full of pavement cafes. For something a little more upmarket choose a cafe in Kolonaki Square.

Afternoon > OK, you can shop now you’ve done the culture. To avoid the tackiest representations of this great society, shop at the Centre of Hellenic Tradition in the Plaka for good quality icons, pottery, woodcarvings, prints and embroideries. Antiqua, on Amalias Avenue, just off Syntagma Square, is one of the city’s oldest and best antique stores. The world’s oldest flea market is in Monastiraki Square. January and August are sales months. Kolonaki is where you’ll find the upmarket clothing stores, but try Ermou and Eolou streets for small shops and interesting stalls.

Day tripping > Hire a private guide at your hotel or the tourist office or take a half-day coach trip to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. For additional info check > http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21102a/e211ba07.html

Evening > The Greeks eat late so take a stroll and read the menus on display in restaurant doorways and windows. Local papers can direct you to shows and entertainment. At night the Psiri neighbourhood is a nightlife mecca of cafes, bars, restaurants, ouzeries and clubs. For additional info check > http://psiri.gr/english/

Related Links > Hellenic Tourism Organisation > www.gnto.gr


Grecian hospitality March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Testimonials.
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CNCC’s 10-day trip to Greece filled with history, culture, kindness
Mary Shearer was humbled to find Greeks who could not speak English.

“I think as Americans, we think we own the world,” Shearer said. “I really felt we were the minority, and I think that’s a good feeling to have, that we’re just a dot on the map.”

Shearer was one of 19 Colorado Northwestern Community College staff members, students and area residents who instructors Kathy Simpson, Mary Karen Solomon and Kathy Ross accompanied on a 10-day trip to Greece this month. The trip ran from March 15 to 26 and included six nights in Athens, three nights on Mykonos island and one night on Santorini island.

“I think there’s a lot to be said to tap into another culture and not be invasive,” Shearer said. She feels the CNCC tourists did just that. Simpson said the residents of the areas they visited were welcoming. And while former trips have included participants being refused service for being American, the trip to Greece was filled with kindness.

Solomon cited a four-hour discussion she and Simpson had with a jewelry store owner, who offered them tea and sweets while they chatted. One Greek man stopped CNCC student Alyssa Macomber to tell her she resembled Aphrodite. “It was really a fulfillment of what you thought of Greece,” Solomon said.

She was impressed to see sites she’d seen photographs of. “They were larger than life,” she said. “They were incredibly more beautiful than you would ever imagine.”

Simpson and Solomon chose Greece for this year’s trip, the women have been organizing trips for six years, because of the educational opportunities in humanities, literature, art and architecture. Destinations included the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, Agora, Oracle of Delphi and museums.

Six CNCC students took the trip for three credits. This is the first year the college has offered the trip for credit. Those students kept a journal while overseas and will write 10- to 12-page papers.

Some activities, such as bus tours, are planned as group events during the trip. But Simpson said she also allows those on the trip to have “free days.” “I think you need to find your own experience and not be herded all the time,” she said.

And while planning such a trip is a lot of work for the women, Simpson and Solomon say they enjoy making the vacations possible. “During the trip, people kept coming up to me and thanking me for putting this together,” Simpson said. “I said, We’re happy to be here, too.'” Solomon agreed. “We would have stayed longer if we could,” Solomon said. “We would have liked more days.”

Article By Michelle Perry, Editor, Saturday, March 31, 2007. Read the whole article at > CraigDailyPress

It’s official > Cypriots love their mobile phones March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Cypriots have the fifth highest number of mobile phones in the EU with 13% of the population having more than one phone, according to a new report on telecoms liberalisation released yesterday.

The EU average for mobile market penetration is 103%. Cyprus comes after the Czech Republic where 19% have more than one phone. In Lithuania the figure is 133% and in Italy 134%. Luxembourg has the highest mobile use in the bloc at 171% of the population,  almost two to very person.

Cyprus may have more mobiles than people but when it comes to internet broadband usage the island is third from the bottom with only 7.4% having access compared to the EU average of 15%. Only Poland and Slovakia have less, while the Netherlands tops the list with 29%.

“Despite the fact that broadband penetration has almost doubled in a year, this Cyprus figure is still relatively low,” said the report. The report also shows that despite the liberalisation of the telecoms market in Cyprus, CyTA still holds most of the cards, controlling 99% of the broadband market, 90% of the mobile phone market and 91% of fixed telephony.

“Cyprus is one of the few member states where the mobile access market has been found not to be competitive and the dominant MNO, the incumbent, has been designated as having Significant Market Power,” the report said. “The incumbent operator’s broadband market share is 99%, which clearly dominates this market. In addition, on the broadband market, platform competition is not flourishing as DSL is the main technology,” it added.

It did note that charges were low but pointed out that when it came to fixed telephony CyTA’s total revenues in 2005 accounted for 91.2% of all types of fixed calls and 86% of international calls. For all local calls CyTA’s market share is 97.5%.

Greece exhibits artifacts returned by Getty March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Greece displayed two ancient artifacts Thursday that had been returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The artifacts are currently on display at the National Arcaeological Museum in Athens.

greek_wreath.jpg  Visitors admiring the ancient Greek wreath

The Getty returned back a 4th century BC gold funerary wreath believed to come from Macedonia and a 6th century marble statue of a woman as part of its deal with Greece to return four objects from its collection that investigations concluded had been smuggled and sold illegally.

In December, the Getty, embroiled in an international scandal involving its former antiquities curator, Marion True, agreed that it would return the objects. True has denied criminal charges against her in Italy and Greece.

The Getty in July returned to Greece a 4th century BC black limestone stele, or grave marker, and a marble votive relief dating from the 5th century BC.

A year in honor of great diva Maria Callas March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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Composers, conductors, musicians and opera singers spoke at ‘The legacy of Maria Callas,’ a conference held under the auspices of the Culture Ministry.

diva_mariacallas.jpg  Maria Callas is “a timeless symbol of Greek culture who belongs to the whole world,” said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. He was speaking from the stage of the Athens Concert Hall at a tribute to the Greek diva.

Agnes Baltsa sang the arias for which Callas was famous, with the Athens State Orchestra conducted by Nikos Athinaios. As Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis has announced, this is Maria Callas Year, and there will be a series of events honoring the singer, who eventually chose the love of Aristotle Onassis over the opera and her fame.

The Callas Year program includes 70 recitals and concerts with 169 Greek and foreign artists that will be spread out among the Athens Concert Hall, the Athens Festival, the French Institute, the Goethe Institute, the Greek National Opera and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, which will screen a documentary on her life and career. The tribute commemorates the 30th anniversary of her death. Among the distinguished spectators at the Athens Concert Hall event were Greek President Karolos Papoulias and his wife, and the Culture Minister, who accompanied the Deputy Culture Minister of France, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres.

Greek-Russian tourism relations March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe, Tourism.
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The State Orchestra of Moscow played works by Alexander Galzunov, Dimitris Arapis and Mikis Theodorakis.

Russian Culture and Communications Minister A.S. Sokolov  congratulated Arapis.

It was a whirlwind trip for Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia, who went to Moscow to open the Greek stand at the MITT 2007 international tourism exhibition. The stand, dressed in the blue of the Aegean, the white of the islands and marble, and the gold of the sunset, impressed visitors and won a prize for the best stand.

The number of Russians visiting Greece has doubled in recent years, and is now their fifth favorite destination, becoming more popular as the Greek Consul General in Moscow can now issue visas promptly. “The Russians are generous and they stand out from other tourists. For every euro they spend, the Greek economy earns two,” said Palli-Petralia in a press conference at the MITT.

During the trip, there was a concert by the State Orchestra of Moscow playing works by Alexander Galzunov, Dimitris Arapis and Mikis Theodorakis, attended by Culture and Communications Minister A.S. Sokolov, who congratulated the composer. The Minister opened an exhibition of works by contemporary painters, including Christos Carras, Costas Tsoklis, Pavlos Dionysopoulos, Dimitris Mytaras and Alekos Fassianos in the foyer of the concert hall.

Also on the program was a concert with Maria Farandouri at the Technology Museum in St Petersburg, where Palli-Petralia laid a wreath at the statue of Ioannis Capodistrias, the first governor of free Greece. Eurovision entrant Sarbel made an impression singing “Yassou Maria” at the Greek stand, adding the greeting in Russian, “Previet Maria.”

High quality housing at affordable prices March 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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High quality housing at affordable prices now available at several of the capital’s western suburbs

Areas west of Athens are emerging as a decent alternative for those who want to acquire new quality properties at reasonable prices.

The profile of many of those areas, including Peristeri, Aegaleo and Menidi, best described as the capital’s western suburbs, is gradually improving although many people still don’t think highly of the neighborhoods. Yet many potential property buyers are now willing to “go West” mainly due to the barely affordable prices of houses in other areas of Athens that are more popular.

In the western suburbs one can find a much bigger house than in the north, east, or south of Athens with the same price. The transport infrastructure there is also improving, a trend which is enriching the areas.

Aegaleo > Demand in Aegaleo remains stable, but will soon rise thanks to the state’s intervention in the Elaionas area and the future opening of a metro station, which will bring Aegaleo within less than 10 minutes from the city center. The area’s most expensive spots are at Lioumi and Ierapolis, where newly-built flats can reach 2,050 euro per square meter and older ones come up to 1,600 euro per square meter. The eastern part of Aegaleo, close to Kifissos Avenue, is cheaper due to more traffic, noise and the many manufacturing plants based there.

Ilion > The area of Ilion, formerly known as Nea Liossia, has recently seen considerable development, as many construction companies have made investments there. People from neighboring areas such as Peristeri or Petroupolis are looking into Ilion, particularly due to its lower prices. In the northern part of Ilion one can find the most expensive houses, near the border with Petroupolis, which only recently entered town planning. Flats there can reach 2,200 euro per square meter if they are new. If they were built between 15 and 20 years ago, they sell at about 1,800 euro per square meter at the most.

Menidi > The housing market in Menidi is seeing demand growing steadily, as this is one of the least expensive areas in the capital. Local estate agents suggest that the imposition of value-added tax has not really affected the market. Given the housing needs, there is significant construction activity in the area, while construction firms are constantly searching for new plots. Panorama, Boskiza and Lathea are the most popular spots, reaching 2,000 euro per square meter, or just 1,400 euro per square meter for older houses. Demand seems to be centered on 80 to 85 square meter houses that are up to 20 years old.

Peristeri > Great construction activity in Peristeri over the last couple of years temporarily led the market to oversupply phenomena, as many builders chose this emerging area because of the Aghios Antonios metro station and the line’s extension further inside Peristeri. Most property buyers there come from within Peristeri or the areas nearby. The most popular flats are the 75 to 80 square meter ones, followed by the 60 to 65 square meter flats due to their low prices. Kipoupolis remains the most expensive part of Peristeri, offering many quality constructions and more open space than other parts of the area, so prices range from 2,200 to 2,400 euro per square meter.

Petroupolis > The most expensive area among the western suburbs is Petroupolis, where a newly-built house can reach a rate of 2,700 euro per square meter. Demand has remained stable and the balance between supply and demand continues thanks to the good value-for-money ratio particularly for houses with a view on the foot of Mount Parnitha. Just like in Aegaleo, the cheapest part of the area is close to Kifissos Avenue. Virtually all of the demand, 90 percent, comes from within Petroupolis or Peristeri, focusing on 75 to 85 square meter apartments, with older houses remaining popular at a rate of 1,500 to 1,800 euro per square meter.