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Youtravel.com joins travelsupermarket.com May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Holidaymakers looking to compare hotels have had their options widened with the addition of Youtravel.com to the travel comparison website travelsupermarket.com.

Youtravel.com has over 2,500 hotels in popular destinations, including Greece and Cyprus. A large number of 3*, 4* and 5* hotels are available in each destination, as well as having self catering apartments and private accommodation.

Check them out.


J&P Cyprus wins Jordan airport contract May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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A joint venture comprising Joannou and Paraskevaides (J&P), the Cyprus-based construction giant with ongoing projects across North Africa, the Middle East, Greece and Cyprus, and other partners has won the 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract for the extension and operation of the new international airport in Amman.

The joint venture includes Aeroport de Paris with 23 other airport operations in its portfolio, as well as the investment houses Edgo Ventures of Jordan, Abu Dhabi Investment and Noor Financial Investment of Kuwait.

Advising the Jordanian government has been the World Bank’s IFC subsidiary. In all, five companies vied for the BOT contract valued at USD 580 mln. The other bidders were German, Arabic, Malaysian and Portuguese ventures.

The new airport project includes new terminal extensions that will be constructed by J&P, while the terminal buildings have been designed by Norman Foster & Partners who are credited with some of the biggest airports in the world, such as Beijing, Hong Kong and in the U.K.

An announcement issued by J&P in Cyprus said that, “for the Jordan government, this is the biggest project awarded in the kingdom and the government is proceeding with its construction in order promote the country as a financial and tourism destination.”

The announcement added that, “all the comments by the participating ventures and the World Bank were praiseworthy of the transparency and immaculate way with which the competition was held.”

J&P was disqualified from the final process of bidding for the BOT contract to build a new airport in Larnaca and upgrade the airport in Paphos, a decision that was appealed in the Cyprus courts. The project cost has increased to about EUR 600 mln with the government, the operator (Hermes Cyprus Airports) and the tourism industry at odds over rising costs and fees.

6th Historic Acropolis Rally May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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Tradition and fair play are the words that characterize the Historic Acropolis Rally, whose 6th version began as recommended, at the foothill of the Acropolis, at Dionissiou Areopagiotu Street, on Tuesday 1st of May, at 18:00 local Greek time.

Many people watched the established ceremony, perfectly organized by the racing department of ELPA, and applauded the 156 crews that started this special event.

The procedure had already begun since Monday 30th of April noon, at Zappion Megaron, with the scrutineering. The Historic cars of the Sporting category will remain at the same place on Tuesday, in an extraordinary exhibition open to the public, because due to the program, the category’s’ rally starts in the morning of Thursday 3rd of May and consists of 1.126 kilometers (19 Special Stages).

In contrary, the 109 cars of Regularity category will depart in the morning of Wednesday the 2nd of May for their accuracy rally, starting officially the 6th Historic Acropolis Rally. The crews of this highly competitive category are about to mosey for 1.427 kilometers and 27 accuracy special stages.

After two nights at Loutraki and one at Delphi, the crews of both categories will return once again at the Acropolis on Saturday, the 5th of May, for the finish ceremony.

Related Links > http://historic.acropolisrally.gr/2007


Bronze Medal for Greek teen athlete May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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Gymnast’s European Bronze Medal makes him Greece’s youngest continental-level prize winner > Congratulations to Lefteris for making us proud of his achievemt!

lefteriskosmidis.jpg  Lefteris Kosmidis, 16, won Bronze in the floor exercise event at the Europeans.

The National Gymnastics Team earned two medals, both bronze, at the European Championships in Amsterdam last weekend, one of the two for 16-year-old gymnast Lefteris Kosmidis, the event’s youngest medal winner.

It was the first senior-level medal for the young athlete, who competed in the floor exercise event. Further highlighting his achievement, Kosmidis became Greece’s first 16-year-old to win a European senior-level medal in any sport.

Spain’s Rafael Martinez won the gold with a score of 15.550 points for his routine. France’s Thomas Bouhail took the silver with 15.350 points. Kosmidis shared the bronze medal with Germany’s Matthias Fahrig. Both gymnasts tied on 15.275 points for their routines.

Kosmidis, who was recently promoted to Greece’s senior gymnastics team, had ended fourth at last year’s European Juniors competition, staged in Volos, Greece.

Romanian gymnast Marian Dragulescu, a dominant figure in the floor exercise event and the winner of four gold medals at the 2004 European Championships, ended seventh in Amsterdam with a score of 14.300. Also competing at these Europeans in Amsterdam was Kosmidis’s older brother Xenofontas Kosmidis.

“I feel proud. My two sons participated at this event and the younger one won a medal,” commented Thanassis Kosmidis, their father. “We brought him along for the experience, regardless of the fact that we did secretly hope that he could do well. The youngster, as it turned out, is a grownup.”

Greece’s other bronze medal in Amsterdam came from Stefani Bisbikou in the balance beam event. Like Kosmidis, Bisbikou also shared her bronze medal, with Romania’s Steliana Nistor. Both accumulated 15.475 points.

“It’s a medal I’d been waiting years for. It finally arrived. I believed in it a great deal, which is why I won it,” remarked the 19-year-old Bisbikou. “I’d realized that the gap between me and the other gymnasts was not that wide,” added the Greek gymnast, who began training at the age of 4 and went on to figure prominently in National competition. Bisbikou said she would now focus her efforts on September’s World Championships.

Russia’s Yulia Lozhecko won the gold medal with a 15.675 score and Sandra Raluca Izbasa of Romania captured the silver with 15.525 points. “I believed that Stefani could attain the final,” commented Anastassia Donti, the medal winner’s trainer. “All was possible from that point on.”

Avis Europe sells in Greece May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Avis Europe PLC said it has agreed to sell and franchise its non-core long term rental business in Greece to Piraeus Bank for 25.5 million euros in cash and 190 million euros debt transfer. Completion is expected in two to three months.

The vehicle rental company said it expects the disposal to be earnings dilutive in the short term while the transaction is expected to improve both margins and return on capital employed in the medium term.

The company said the sale will incur a pre-tax exceptional loss of about 5 million euros adding the proceeds will be used to reduce its debt and fund further growth.

Greek Michaniki to build residential complex in Moscow May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greek construction group Michaniki said that its Michaniki Russia unit has initial plans to construct a large, modern residential area on the southern outskirts of Moscow.

To fund the acquisition of the land, the Russian unit will raise its share capital by 10 million euros to 40 million euros, of which Michaniki will contribute 6 million, and another three of its units will contribute 4 million.

The complex will cover more than 700,000 square meters, and includes a commercial shopping centre, schools, kindergarten, a church, health centre, sport facilities and parks, Michaniki added.

Tracking habits of a rare seabird May 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Nature.
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Biologist spent 45 days on island tracking habits of a rare seabird
Giorgos Katsadorakis stayed in a remote lighthouse to observe the Mediterranean shag

Sone 2,400 sea crows are be found in Greece. Katsadorakis also registers the other birds that he observes. Biologist Giorgos Katsadorakis recently spent 45 days in a lighthouse on the remote island of Psathoura in order to study the Mediterranean shag and its migration pattern.

The northernmost island of the Sporades group is indeed remote. There are no ferryboats and only caiques transport tourists in the summer to beautiful Mandraki Beach in the south of the island. The landscape of the western part consists of black rocks and this is where the small jetty of Skalaki is located. In order to disembark from the caique, you have to jump onto the rocks. 

Believed to have been built in 1895 by Skopeliote artisans, the lighthouse is 25 meters tall and made entirely of stone. There are two bedrooms, a kitchen and toilet on the ground floor. From the top of the lighthouse, there is a breathtaking view of the entire island.

The lighthouse operates on photovoltaic panels which provide the necessary electricity to recharge the laptop and mobile phone, Katsadorakis’s only means of communication with the outside world. He has also installed an electronic satellite dish to obtain an Internet connection. He keeps a blog to explain the sort of work he is doing in the ornithological domain.

“Many people believe our work involves going on trips and observing birds through the telescope. But this is only a small part of our work. I have so much work that there is not enough time to do it. My aim is to inform and raise people’s awareness about protected areas and in particular about the Alonnissos National Park in the Northern Sporades. I would also like to motivate young people to study biology and go on field trips.”

The 48-year-old researcher has studied biology at Athens University and has a PhD in ornithology. He is a scientific consultant for WWF Greece and cooperates with the Greek Ornithological Society, of which he is a founding member, and the Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal (MOm).

The Mediterranean shag is a protected species in the European Union but little is known about it in Greece. “A few years ago, we discovered there was a colony of these birds here. I wanted to study them, in Greece there are about 1,200 pairs, and environmental organizations were willing to help. I came here to conduct research but also to do what I love: to be in the wild.”

How did he turn his love of nature into a profession? “In 1974, I watched a documentary series on the environment. The Prespes Lakes were shown in one of the episodes and I couldn’t believe it was Greece. I saw cormorants, eagles and pelicans. I was so astounded that I was determined to visit the place.”

The opportunity arose during his last year at University when he spotted an advertisement for a student to help a French ornithologist on a project in Prespes. “I was the first to respond and my dreams became a reality. Two years later I was back in Prespes to study the habitats of small birds for my doctoral thesis. I stayed there for 15 years.” I haven’t lived in Athens since then. I spent two years in Zagori, another two in Crete and the last five years in Dadia with my wife and 27-month-old son.”

For his research in Prespes he was awarded, along with Myrsini Malakou, the Goldman Prize in 2001, the most important prize in the world for ecological action. He donated all the prize money, $125,000, to the Society for the Protection of Prespes. He has also written seven books, three of which have been translated into English.

The shag feeds mainly by pursuit diving. When the seagulls, which do not dive, see them, they accompany them so that they can take advantage of the catch. “There are many questions regarding the shag: What sort of fish do they feed on? How deep can they dive for prey? What times do they feed and how far from the shore? We know that to travel from one end of the island to the other they never fly overland but along the shore.”

Katsadorakis watches the birds through his telescope at different times during the day. He makes a note of the time, the azimuth bearing, the distance from the shore, their number, other birds they are with and what they do together, weather conditions and the strength and direction of the wind. On completion of his mission, all the data will be collected and analyzed. “I shall put the positions of the shag on a map with a special software program and, together with other analyses, I shall obtain the information I am seeking. I also register any other birds I see.”

After observing the birds with the telescope he examines the nests. Although the island is only 0.771 square kilometers, this fieldwork takes a long time as the nests are not very accessible, in crevices and caves, and often involves climbing the rocks with a torch and mirror to count the eggs and chicks. The dense and prickly scrub that covers the island makes this task all the more difficult.

He also sets up nets to catch the birds in order to mark them. “On the small ones, as well as the metal ring, we also attach a ring with different colors as we cannot discern the number on the metal ring through the telescope due to their small size.”

According to Katsadorakis: “Ecology means linking everything together. The challenge that I face upon completing the research is to compile a story with a beginning, middle and end about the island.” He added: “Somebody once said that protecting nature is the highest expression of civilization. I absolutely agree. From this point of view, we are a little uncivilized here in Greece.”

Katsadorakis does not feel isolated, as there are many unexpected visitors to the lighthouse on the days when the wind does not blow, that is, all kinds of species of birds. He describes the sight as captivating on his blog. Those that write back often congratulate him, encourage him with his work and thank him for “the sea breeze he sends with his vivid descriptions.”

For more information, log on to > www.lifeatfaros.blogspot.com