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Work on ‘world-class’ airport in Cyprus progress May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Transport Air Sea Land.
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Improved travel links to Cyprus could mean a boost to local property as the country is set to become more accessible.

Larnaca and Paphos airports are part of the way through upgrades totalling 650 million euros that the contractor said will make Larnaca very competitive. Hermes Airports chief executive, Bob Manning, told Cyprus’ Financial Mirror that the works will turn Larnaca into “a world-class airport”.

The firm is to build new passenger terminals and extend the runways at both airports under a 25-year concession. Paphos and its new facilities will ready by the end of 2008 and Larnaca by the end of 2009.

Phase 1 of Larnaca’s new three-level 98,000 sq m passenger terminal, inspired by the city’s medieval aqueduct, will have a capacity for 7.5 million passengers a year. Phase 2 increases its capacity to 9 million and the runway from 2,700 m to 3,500 m by 2013.

Cyprus offers sport in the sun May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus.
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Channel 4’s overseas property series and magazine A Place in the Sun has just declared Cyprus to be the best place for Britons to invest in a foreign property. The decision was based on a number of factors, including the current level of facilities available and the various developments lined up for future construction.

For instance, Cyprus already has PGA-quality golf courses which make it easy to pitch properties located near to the golfing tourist market, a significant proportion of which comes from the US and Japan. However, the market is set to expand still further when the next wave of new courses is developed, there are around ten that are at the planning stage, according to Travel and Tourism News Middle East.

Another facet of the island that makes it popular with sport and leisure tourists is the fact that it is possible to pursue outdoor activities there all year round because of the clement weather. The Cypriot government set out a sports tourism action plan in 2004 that provided for a range of sporting programmes across the island with the aim of promoting this aspect of the tourism industry. One result has been that Cyprus is now a popular choice as a winter training venue for many foreign professional athletes.

However, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation has also given consideration to the less energetic holidaymaker, producing, free of charge, a range of maps and guides for walkers, taking in country paths, nature walks and sites of historical interest. Indeed, history is one of the island’s best assets. Standing as it does at the edge of both Europe and the Middle East, while in easy reach of North Africa, many cultures have passed through Cyprus over the years and left their mark.

Many of the 2.4 million visitors that Cyprus attracts each year come to visit the legacy of the island’s rich cultural heritage. Ancient Greek monuments such as the Temple of Apollon are juxtaposed with remnants of a Crusader presence. The immense Kolossi Castle, for instance, was a stronghold of the legendary Templar Knights and was once occupied by Richard the Lionheart.

Tourist numbers may be further boosted in the coming years by the new airport terminal to built at Paphos, one of the more popular destinations on the island, plus news that budget airlines are increasingly opening up routes to Cyprus, bringing the cost of a holiday there down. The latest budget operator to add a Cypriot route is Monarch, which will be running three flights a week from Luton to Larnaca.

Eurovision Song Contest 2007 > stars bid for obscurity May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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An audience of 100 million, a full orchestra at your disposal and enough special effects, costume designers and lighting experts to make a corpse look lively, how could a Eurovision winner not deliver a performance guaranteed to generate global superstardom?

Yet, even if Dervish beat the odds to win tonight’s singathon in Helsinki, the chances of the contest lifting the Irish six-piece out of the trad scene and splashing them across popular music charts from here to the Galapagos Islands are, at best, remote.

The only winners to make a mega-success of their victory were ABBA in 1974 and Celine Dion in 1988. A whole lot of obscurity followed for a whole lot of performers since then. Or what about Helena Paparizou, winner for Greece in 2005? Helena is now advertising Nokia phones in Greece, which shows that even if she isn’t giving people in the music industry something to talk about, at least she’s recommending something they might like to talk with.

The most successful song in all Eurovision history was Dominico Modugno’s Volare which only came third in 1958, but went on to be recorded by everyone from Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to the Gypsy Kings and David Bowie. 

Favourites are Ukraine, who last won in 2004 with Ruslana. Which of course you knew. This time they’re represented by comedian, Verka Serdyuchka, whose entry will be sung in four languages, including Mongolian.

Sounds memorable, but as Eurovision history proves, it probably won’t be.

Shopping centers dominate commercial property market May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Big shopping centers have been so successful in Athens that companies are eager to construct and operate as many as possible. There are big plans already in the pipeline.

The commercial property market is brimming with activity, particularly in the retailing sector, both in interest and in action.

shopping_malls.jpg  A recent report by real estate consultancy Danos & Associates shows that shopping centers are at the focus of interest these days, while the office market remains stable, as more new and modern buildings are used by the companies which own them and who continue with their development.

“The absolutely successful operation of The Mall Athens as well as the commercial park of the Athens airport, with the participation of Ikea, Kotsovolos, the new Factory Outlet and recently France’s Leroy Merlin, have rekindled interest in developing commercial spaces,” says Danos & Associates in its report, which represents the well-known international firm CB Richard Ellis in Greece.

The major commercial brands involved in the market have entered a race to secure the best possible spots. The market is also dominated by the constant expansion of foreign brands that have recently arrived in Greece, such as Germany’s Media Markt, which will open its fourth store on Thivon Avenue in western Athens, as well as chains which are scanning the local market in order to penetrate it. These categories include companies such as Fnac, Bijoux, Foot Locker, Skhuaban, Zara Home, Kotton and Geox. The entry of Sweden’s H&M is also notable, with its first outlet on Stadiou Street and the second planned for the extension of the anticipated “Avenue” mall in Maroussi.

The expansion of the already existing chains, combined with the entry of new companies, is increasing competition in all sectors, with the “Do-It-Yourself” market being a case in point: Fourlis Group has brought Leroy Merlin to Greece, aiming at challenging the domination of Praktiker in this domain. Germany’s OBI, which belongs to the Tengelmann Group which runs the 18 Plus supermarket stores in Greece, is also ready to enter the market.

The new era of the Minion department store in central Athens is eagerly anticipated, too. Reconstruction work on the historic store is at the final stage, while its ownership status is significant, too, given the interest by the Laskaridis Group in acquiring a stake. Minion is expected to host various brands of affordable products. Its owner, Elmec, also controls 50 percent of the Attica department store in Syntagma Square.

Greek companies, too, are gearing up for expansion. Sprider Stores intends to expand its number of outlets to 85 across Greece, adding another 25 by 2011. It recently opened its first store in Bucharest, with Cyprus being its next step. Germanos is about to expand its network as well. The Cosmote subsidiary will start with the renovation of its neoclassical building on Syntagma Square to host the first “Public Store,” and then it aims to expand its network to 500 sale points from 339 outlets today.

Big supermarket chains with presence across Greece, such as Carrefour Marinopoulos, Aldi, Lidl, Plus Hellas and AB Vassilopoulos are considering or implementing an expansion of their networks, while other retailers, such as Ikea, Ilektroniki Athinon and Zara are preparing new stores in Greece, Patras, Ioannina, Larissa, and the Balkans.

The successful operation of the first organized shopping complexes and the great demand from domestic and foreign chains have paved the way for the development of more shopping centers in the capital.

Besides the commercial park at the airport, eastern Attica will host two more commercial developments: At Spata, in the area of Yalou, MacArthur Glen is proceeding to build its first “discount shopping village” of 125 stores, while at Kantza, LSGIE is planning the construction of a 110,000-square-meter shopping center.

Furthermore, Pasal Development of the Theodoridis Group is developing a shopping center of 20,000 sq.m. at 180 Piraeus Road. Lamda Development is planning its second mall in Maroussi, on the site of the International Broadcasting Center, while also seeking ways to use its plot at Spata.

Sanyo-Carrefour is to expand its shopping center on Kifissias Avenue, to be named “Avenue.” Another mall will be constructed at Galatsi, within the context of utilizing Olympic installations, by the consortium of Sonae Sierra and Acropol Haragionis, with a total surface of 38,100 sq.m.

The entry of Babis Vovos International Technical in the mall market has also been notable, with the 70,000 sq.m. development at Votanikos, in the heart of the area to be transformed by the construction of the new Panathinaikos sports ground.

Finally, the market is watching closely the tender for the plot at the Olympic Village in Thrakomacedones destined for commercial uses, with two consortiums, TEV-Aktor, and J&P Avax-GEK Terna-Vioter, in the running. 

Mothers’ Day > Greece 23rd in mum review May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Lifestyle.
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Two days ahead of Mother’s Day on Sunday, a survey by an international humanitarian group said that Greece ranks 23rd in the world on a list of 140 countries based on the well-being of mothers.

Save the Children, a US-based organization, ranked the countries on criteria including maternal leave benefits, participation of women in government and the education available to them.

Sweden topped the world list, with Nigeria in last position.

Greek women have a life expectancy of 81 years and are expected to receive 16 years of formal schooling, according to the group.

Greece’s rating regarding the well-being of children places the country at position No 20.

Italy tops the children’s list followed by Iceland.

Special Olympics Hellas celebrates 20th anniversary May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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Special Olympics Hellas is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias will attend the ceremony on Monday at 6.30 p.m. at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Neo Faliron. He will address a special greeting to the 2,007 athletes, wishing them the strength they show in their contests in the rest of their lives. In his message, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will say: “To compete means above all to compete with ourselves.” Also in attendance will be cabinet ministers, parliamentary deputies and sponsors of the event.

The protagonists are the 2,007 athletes from every corner of Greece and Cyprus who have come to compete in events taking place in Marathon, Rafina, Nea Makri, Athens and Piraeus. Beside them are their parents, coaches and the Special Olympics volunteers. As Special Olympics Hellas President Yianna Despotopoulou said at the press conference at the Grande Bretagne Hotel on Wednesday, “this anniversary and the events bring us face-to-face with heroes. The real heroes of life are the 2,007 athletes of the Panhellenic Special Olympics.”

The games are being held with the support of the 5,000 Greek individuals and companies that responded to the telethon the organization held by ERT state television on February 14, and the Greek Parliament, and the Ministries of Defense, Sport and Health and Social Security.

Eurovision Song Contest 2007 > 24 finalists to compete May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.
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Bosnia-Herzegovina crooned its way through a gentle ballad to open this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, an annual extravaganza of pop, rock and circus acts featuring bare flesh and fiery pyrotechnics.

Millions of TV viewers across the continent will pick the winner from 24 finalists during the three-hour event, hosted by Finland, which unexpectedly stole the show in 2006 with its heavy rock entry, the latex-masked monster band Lordi. The contest, held since 1956, has a record 42 entries this year. It is broadcast live to an estimated TV audience of 100 million, who choose the winner by phone and text messages.

The contestants, most of whom are from Eastern Europe, include a Ukrainian drag act in glitzy silver outfits, a Russian female trio with a racy pop number and a British spoof about flying on Eurovision airways.

More than 9,000 admirers of kitschy acts and bubble-gum music packed Helsinki’s largest ice hockey stadium, while a few miles away up to 20,000 people watched the event live on giant screens in the city’s central square. The mad bash has put the Finns into carnival mood with 350 events organized during what has been dubbed “Eurovision Week.”

On “Helsinki Party” day Friday, police closed off central streets for military parades, samba shows and band performances in bright, cold sunshine. Temperatures dipped to near-freezing when 3,000 enthusiasts watched the semifinals of the contest in the main square on Thursday. “We are here to party, and this is the best European party ever,” said Joonas Liukko, 25, waving a Finnish flag and shivering in the early morning.

Ten countries advanced in the semifinals; Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, FYROM, Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. They join last year’s top 10 – Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and Finland. Also, the traditional “Big Four”, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, automatically go through to the final as they are the biggest sponsors of the event.

Some favorites among Eurovision watchers dropped out in the early round, including Norway’s Latin-beat dance number, Swiss DJ Bobo’s neo-Gothic vampire song and Denmark’s brightly plumed drag artist Drama Queen. Israel’s entry, “Push the Button” by the Teapacks, which fueled controversy months before the competition for purported allusions to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, also failed to make the grade.

Last year, Lordi’s victory with the growling rock number “Hard Rock Hallelujah” shocked many traditional fans of the contest, known for bland pop songs, camp acts and over-the-top performances. Lordi’s lead singer, Tomi Putaansuu, said at the time that the monster band had “changed the face of the Eurovision Song Contest forever.” Now, he is not so sure. “The glitz and kitsch are back,” he said before Saturday night’s competition.

Related Links > http://www.eurovision.tv

See related pictures > Eurovision Photos