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Athens is ready for the Champions League Final > Welcome! May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Greece took another step in its preparations to host soccer’s Champions League final in Athens on May 23, as it was revealed plans are in place to segregate rival fans from the moment they arrive in the city.

Officials at Athens International Airport said that more than 50,000 fans of English team Liverpool and Italian side AC Milan are expected to fly into the Greek capital between May 21 and 23. Some 60 percent of fans are expected to arrive on the day of the game.

Only 34,000 of those supporters will have tickets for European soccer’s biggest game and authorities are concerned about the possibility of fans without tickets clashing. As a result, a plan has been drawn up to keep apart the two groups of fans from the moment they arrive.

Liverpool fans arriving on the day of the game will travel to the Olympic Stadium by bus whereas AC Milan supporters will be guided onto trains. The supporters will also be given colored bracelets that, in conjunction with color-coded signs, are designed to help supporters get back to the airport the same way.

Meanwhile, 150 police officers from England will be accompanying the Liverpool fans on their trip. This squad will include 11 undercover “spotters” who will mix with fans and identify troublemakers so authorities can remove them.

Greek Police Chief Anastassios Dimoschakis met with British Ambassador Simon Gass on Tuesday to discuss security for the final. Dimoschakis asked British authorities to deter fans without tickets from traveling and for the British Embassy to be on alert for the final.

Italian police officers are also expected in Athens and will be present at the Olympic Stadium during the game.

Police sources said that Greek officers had asked their British and Italian counterparts to make it clear to supporters without tickets that they will not be allowed near the stadium.

Some 10,000 police officers will be on duty for the final and a further 14,000 will be on standby.


Tennis greats for the Athens Cup > II May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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The Champions Cup Athens, the first international Champions Series tennis event organized by Jim Courier and InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, begun Thursday at the Athens Olympic Tennis Centre in Athens, Greece. 

The tournament, that concludes Sunday, features 14-time Grand Slam tournament champion and Greek-American Pete Sampras in his first-ever visit to Greece.

SPECIAL EVENTS > There are three events of great interest that take place at the same time as the tournament:

Sampras vs. Courier at the foot of the Acropolis > On Thursday, May 17, at 12:00 noon, there will be an exhibition match between Pete Sampras and Jim Courier at a specially modified area in front of the “Dionysus” restaurant with a view to the Acropolis. 

Tomorrow’s  tennis players meet the big “stars” > On Saturday, May 19, at 11:00 a.m., the Athens Champions’ Cup 2007 top stars will meet the Greek champions of the future. The first 100 children up to 18 years of age to arrive at the Olympic Tennis Centre bringing along their racquets will meet the eight athletes and play with them. Apart from the opportunity to live their dream even for a few minutes, the children will also receive a ticket each to watch the Saturday afternoon games for free. Those children who will not be amongst the first one hundred to arrive will be able to remain at the Tennis Centre and watch the exhibition matches from the stands. 

An exhibition entitled “In the Zone” > Throughout the duration of the Athens Cup, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum will present an interesting exhibition entitled “In the Zone”. The exhibition will be set in one of the first floor rooms of the Olympic Tennis Centre and refers to the most important times of famous tennis champions, such as: Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Rod Laver, Chris Evert Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. The exhibition also hosts special tributes to Pete Sampras and Arantxa Sanchez–Vicario, who will this year enter the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

NEW PLAYERS > Australian of Greek origin Mark Philippoussis was forced to withdraw from Champions Cup Athens due to his continued knee problems. He is replaced in the draw by Swede Magnus Larsson. Mats Wilander also withdrew from the event due to the lingering back problems that also forced him to withdraw from the Champions Cup Boston. Wilander is replaced in the field by Anders Jarryd. Wayne Ferreira replaces Emilio Sanchez in the field. Sanchez is unable to play due to illness.

THE ATHENS CHAMPIONS’ CUP GAMES SCHEDULE > The eight athletes have been divided into two groups of four and will be playing a round-robin schedule. The winners from the each group will meet one another in the final, whereas the runner-ups from each group will vie for third place.

All scores and updates can be found at > www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

Squash > Stars to turn out May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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World No 29 Joey Barrington heads a strong entry for the Hithercroft Open, an international event which takes place at Hithercroft SC, Wallingford, UK, from May 22-27.

Other professionals Scott Handley, Paul Johnson and Ryan Thompson will also be playing, along with players from Egypt, Sweden, Namibia, France, Greece, Germany, New Zealand and Argentina.

Matches will be played from 5.30 pm on Tuesday to Saturday, with the finals from midday on Sunday, May 27. A limited number of tickets are available, call 01491 825270 or 01491 835564.

Tennis greats for the Athens Cup May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Over-30s tennis stars gather for top-class tournament, through Sunday > Pete Sampras will play former Davis Cup teammate Jim Courier in an exhibition match on a temporary tennis court below the Acropolis

Sampras, a 14-time Grand Slam champion who is making his first visit to his ancestral homeland, is in Greece to play in the four-day Athens Cup at the Olympic Tennis Venue in northern Athens, run to Sunday. The event is part of the Outback Champions Series, which is making its first stop outside the United States. The seniors’ tour was started by Courier, a four-time Grand Slam champion.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Courier said. “It’s a beautiful facility and a beautiful city.”

The Athens Cup will also feature players such as Pat Cash, Richard Krajicek, Wayne Ferreira and Anders Jarryd. Mark Philippoussis and Mats Wilander have pulled out, however. The players will be divided into two groups of four for the round-robin competition. The group winners will play in Sunday’s final, while the second-place finishers face each other for third place.

In order to play, competitors must be more than 30 years old and be either a Grand Slam finalist, a former top-five player or have played singles for a winning Davis Cup team. Organizers are also allowed a wild card assignment. The Athens Cup tournament will be played at the 7,800-seat Olympic tennis facility, and there will also be a temporary exhibit from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, which will formally induct Sampras in July. Sampras, the retired 14-time Grand Slam champion, has come to Greece for the first time, both to play tennis and for personal reasons.

“This is about sharing some time with my folks in my mom’s homeland,” Sampras told The Associated Press Tuesday in an interview.

Sampras’s mother, Georgia, left Greece with her six siblings when she was 25 and moved to Canada and then to the United States. “Very much a big Greek family,” said Sampras, whose father, Sam, was born in the United States to a Greek immigrant father. This trip coincides with Sam Sampras’s 70th birthday.

Sampras, who last played a professional match at the 2002 US Open when he beat Andre Agassi in the final, said he had a chance to play in Greece once before. “I was actually approached to play for Greece when I was 17,” Sampras said. “I was in Germany, just turned pro, someone approached my dad, but nothing came of it.”

Ticket sales for the event have not met expectations, however. “Not too great, mostly because we started late,” tournament president Constantinos Makrycostas said. “But the Greek people always do things at the last minute.”

Athens also recently held basketball’s Euroleague Final Four, and next Wednesday hosts the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan.

An Irish coach for Greek rugby? May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cricket Hockey Rugby.
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The Greek Rugby Team called on the luck of the Irish when faced Slovakia in their crucial game in Thessaloniki on May 12.

However, former Leinster scrum-half Niall Doherty, who becomes Greece’s fourth head coach in just two years, believed that Greece has enough talent to win the one-off tie and gain promotion to division 3C of the FINA European league. And he proved right!

“I have watched Slovakia on tape,” Doherty said. “They are big and strong up front and have a good half-back, but I am confident that we will come through it. If we play as well as I know we can, then we should win comfortably.”

Doherty, 53, comes into the Greek setup via Cyprus where he is director of rugby and National coach. It was his organisation of the Cyprus side that thrashed Greece 39-3 in March that tempted the Greek federation to dump New Zealander Matt Bridge and bring Doherty on board. However, according the Cyprus Rugby Federation President, Costas Mastoroudes, the arrangement is only temporary.

“We don’t have any games until the autumn, so when the Greek federation asked if they could borrow Niall we were happy to help out,” he said. “As far as I am concerned though, it is only for this game.”

As a player, Doherty represented Old Belvedere in Dublin where he partnered Irish and British Lions legend Ollie Campbell at half-back. Doherty also played twice for the Leinster senior team before retiring and moving into coaching. The Irishman has already made some changes in personnel including the leadership where Michalis Pelekanos, who has captained Greece in each of their six internationals to date, gives way to Rhodes scrum-half Angelos Seitis. Maybe this means a new era for the Greek Rugby Team? We’ll have to wait and see how they progress.

Get on board and shop till you drop dead May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands, Greece Islands Aegean, Shopping.
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The Greek islands offer plenty of resort boutiques to attract the more demanding consumer. Mykonos is the most renowned for its elite designer shops, but discerning buyers can find trendy treasure troves on other islands such as Santorini, Paros and even nearby Aegina.

Soho Soho > Located on Mykonos’ famed Matoyianni passageway where celebrities ranging from Jean Paul Gaultier to Sakis Rouvas are snapped sauntering from boutique to bar, this cult fashion den sells a carefully chosen selection of casual-chic beach pieces like decorated leather sandals, slogan T-shirts, print bikinis and colourful kaftans. Don’t miss the menswear shop opposite, which offers metrosexual print shirts and scarves, baggy cargo pants and easy flip-flops. 46 Matoyianni Street, Mykonos, tel 22890 26760.

Fistiki > A treat for rummagers, this shop has three small rooms filled to the brim with ornaments, hair accessories, jewellery, kaftans, T-shirts, swimwear, candles, coffee mugs and much, much more. Shoppers wandering the backstreets of Aegina town are lured in by the racks of colourful Havaiana rubber flip-flops and practical beach bags dangling outside, and emerge hours later clasping bagfuls of unusual finds. 15 Panagi Irioti Street, Aegina, tel 22970 28327.

Bit of Salt > This super-funky surf shop is located between Naousa and the famed windsurfing beaches of Paros. Boys love admiring the boards with their graffiti/comicstrip art, checking out the kitesurfing gear and the gorgeous bronzed babes in the advertising photos for surf brands like Killer Loop, Reef and Quiksilver, and trying on the low-slung floral Bermudas and the sporty wraparound shades from Oakley and Arnette. Girls, meanwhile, love the selection of vivid-hued Brazilian-cut bikinis and printed hot-pants, as well as the eyecandy provided by the washboard-stomached bleached-blonde surf dudes who drop in to fix their boards and exchange gossip about where to catch the best waves. Archilochos, Paros, tel 22840 42757.

Ammos > Going for sunset cocktails overlooking the caldera and want to look suitably fabulous? Need a stylish piece to dress up your beach outfit for dinner? Ammos offers chic summer essentials like intricate beaded sandals by Ioannis and reworked retro jewellery by Katerina Psoma, flamboyant T-shirts and bags embellished with crystals, badges and slogans by 2B, and extravagant leather bags and shoes made by Dukas. As well as the pieces by creative young Greek talents, there are also imported goodies, including footwear from Italy. Branches in Fira, tel 22860 28744, and Kamari, tel 22860 32801, Santorini.

Elena Votsi > Votsi is rightly famed for her characteristic, elaborate designs with gold and precious stones. The white-painted shop on the harbourfront of her native Hydra offers the island’s discriminating international visitors a full collection of her chunky gold necklaces and signature rock rings, as well as silver charms and other unique keepsakes. 3 Economou Street, Hydra, tel 22980 52637.

Tara > Patmos’ beautiful and stylish crowd flock to these celebrated sister boutiques to pick up their summer essentials. The stock combines pieces by Greek designers, Angela Rapti’s elaborately decorated leather sandals, milliner Katerina Karoussos’ fabulous handmade straw boaters, Neroli’s unique embroidered army bags and design duo Aesthetic Theory’s flowing silk print sundresses, with carefully chosen imports, including colourful pareos and kaftans handmade in Kenya and bikinis from Poisson d’Amour and Pin Up. Don’t miss the collection of silk or cotton dresses and skirts made by the shop’s charming owner, Tania Topouza. Branches in Skala, tel 22470 32293, and Hora, tel 22470 32193, Patmos.

A shop window with a view May 17, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands, Shopping.
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Situated on the isle of Hydra, Speak Out offers summer visitors a frivolous and feminine assortment of easy beach-dresses, funky one-off grocery bags and eye catching jewels

Island boutique-hopping is a popular summer pastime. Visitors are feeling relaxed and attractive, they’re not having to worry about paying the rent or mortgage back home and the last horrific credit card bill is but a barely-remembered nightmare. Anyway, how else would they fill in the time between leaving the beach, or rising from a long, lazy lunch, and heading for sunset cocktails or a romantic dinner?

Speak Out in Hydra is one of a growing number of eclectic boutiques springing up on the islands to appeal to shoppers in this tranquil, prodigal holiday mood. Situated amid the tavernas and souvenir shops on Hydra’s gleaming cobbled sea front, the store offers a varied but complementary assortment of clothing, accessories and jewellery assembled by magpie-eyed shop-owner Christina Stamatakou.

The look > Freshly whitewashed with a dove-grey tiled floor and plenty of natural light, the decor acts as a blank canvas for the rail of bright prints, the wall-hung bags and the glass cases of glittering jewellery. “I wanted it to be pale,” says Christina, “in keeping with the soft colours and simplicity of the island, but also so as not to distract attention from the clothes.” But there is one distraction she cannot avoid: the view out through the vitrine, past the spring display of amulet-rich bracelets and ladybird candles, onto the harbour ringed with majestic stone mansions. Looking in the white-framed mirror behind which the corner changing room is concealed, the customer’s gaze is caught less by her new ensemble as by the rippling sea and high-masted white fishing boats reflected beyond.

The goods > The first items that Christina brought into the shop were a series of papier mache sculptures of Botero-esque voluptuous reclining women made by Artemis Makridou. From those initial objets d’art, the collection has grown to include a veritable cornucopia of summer essentials: soft pleated silk-jersey gowns from Slovenian label Oktober; smock-fronted silk Liberty-type print sundresses by Greek duo Aesthetic Theory; tailored turn-up shorts from Fornarina; cheery striped marin tops in sorbet pastels from London label Traffic People; bubblegum-hued plastic beach slip-ons by Brazil’s Melissa; individually-designed Tyvex, a waterproof, machine-washable, recyclable synthetic paper/fabric, grocery bags from Portuguese label KrvKurva; intricate silver pendants and hooped earrings by Vally Kontidis; sensual scented candles by Fragrance Conspiracy, and spectacular multi-strand beaded necklaces from Katerina Psoma. The only thing missing is an array of bikinis, but Christina isn’t keen on mixing swimwear with jewellery and other apparel. “I just don’t think it matches, I wouldn’t put underwear in the shop either,” she explains.

Best buys > Speak Out’s own line of leather sandals, manufactured in Athens to Christina’s designs, are just the thing for strolling around Hydra’s picturesque passageways, especially as they are sensibly finished with a non-slip sole. Available in trendy metallics or funky summer hues like lemon-yellow and sky-blue, and in a range of models that includes simple ‘Capri’ and flip-flop styles as well as the traditional Greek ankle-laced ‘Sparta’ shoe, these work day-to-night, from beach to bar. The old-fashioned, wide-brimmed sunhats handmade in straw or canvas by Maria were last summer’s top sellers, and Christina expects them to be equally popular this year. “They are very beautiful and people need them,” she says simply.

The clientele > Visitors to the island. Christina started out stocking purely Greek designers, because the foreign tourists desired local pieces, but then branched out as she realised that Greek designers just didn’t cover the full spectrum of the market. As she found gaps, she filled them with interesting labels from abroad.

Background > Christina was born and brought up on Hydra and, after a spell in Athens, moved back there five years ago to open Speak Out. “I didn’t have anything to do with fashion, but I suppose I just had the instinct,” she says. The boutique was originally intended to be open all year round, but there just wasn’t enough customers to make it worthwhile. Now she teaches English over the winter months and opens Speak Out every March to October. Christina moved the shop from a backstreet of Hydra into the prominent position on the harbour front last April.

Price-wise > Bags and sandals start from 35 euros; tops from around 70 euros and dresses over 100 euros. Hats are priced at 40-50 euros. Jewellery prices start from 30 euros for silver fish pendants and rise to 680 euros for a gold 18-carat ring set with diamonds.

Location > Speak Out is in the port of Hydra, tel 22980 52099; for more info email > speakout@otenet.gr