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White knuckle water ride in Paphos August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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Hold onto more than your hats for a fast paced, adrenalin pumping ride on the water

Imagine the bounciest bouncy castle or a bucking bronco that rears into the air partnered with a level of speed that makes the fillings in your teeth quiver – welcome to the latest adrenalin soaked water experience currently on offer.

Tiger Boats is a British owned operation that promises (and certainly delivers) a white-knuckle experience second to none, using two fully-licensed, rigid, inflatable boats that are currently the fastest mode of water transport on offer for thrill seekers.

Powered by a 450 twin 6cc 225 horsepower Yamaha engine these 8.5 m long boats have been specially adapted to indulge the inner speed freak of 14 passengers. Before you swing your leg over the long, rigid saddle that extends from prow to bow and strap your feet into the safety harnesses, you are given a short, but rather blunt safety talk. Skipper Russ Blondfield didn’t mince his words as he told us the speeds we would be traveling at then explained it was important not to stand ram rod straight or the G force could damage our lower backs. We should always try to relax the top half of our bodies, to bend the knees slightly at all times and use only thigh/calf muscles as shock absorbers and to bend in and out of corners just like on a motorbike.

There was one moment when I thought I might just chicken out, when Russ said “We will also try and get some air under the boat”. In my innocence I inquired exactly what that meant, only to be told by a snotty 15-year-old standing next to me on his fifth ride in five days, that’s when he goes full out with the throttle and the boat lifts right out of the water.

Holding fast to my life jacket, I nervously boarded. You have to be quite agile to swing your leg over the ‘saddle’, but trying to do this within such a confined space only marks those who have either had ballet training or are under the age of 12. The now smirking youth forced me to contort stiff limbs into position, and we were off. Gripping the safety handles on each side of the saddle offered some comfort as we sedately eased out of the harbour for a short ‘nursery’ run to see how we liked it.

The engine whirrs like it’s about to explode as you thunder across the waves, pounding the breakers, while nothing prepares you for being on the receiving end of an instant face lift while rocketing along the shore line with hotels passing by in a blur of concrete. The G-force had my three chins traveling sideways and my ears felt as if they had been pinned to the back of my neck. So much for the ‘nursery’ ride. When asked if we now all felt okay to go for ‘the burn’, I could only manage a strangled whimper. Within two seconds we were off again.

These boats can push out enough water per second on a speed run to fill the average swimming pool in under a minute, but, the inflatable collar that surrounds the boat means no danger comes from water being shipped aboard. Comforting though that may be, the 270? spins and the hydroplaning effect make this a really wild ride, and the great thing is you don’t feel sick, because your brain is far too occupied with holding on. Our party was soon baying for more.

Getting a bit of air under the boat means exactly that, you rocket along and then ‘whoosh’ the prow is out of the water and what follows is the water equivalent of a rollercoaster ride, ending with the ‘thump’ of an extreme vertical impact as the boat hits the water again.

This activity may not be ideal for the weakly constituted, but being aboard a projectile traveling at alarming speeds does deliver an almighty, glorious and much-needed high octane rush to the adrenalin flow. I staggered off the boat having lost 75 per cent of my IQ, legs shaking, fingers still in the hold on tight formation vowing I would just have to repeat the experience; I had at long last found my speed fix.

These rally cars of the sea may have a huge commercial fan base, but it’s not just from hardcore thrill fans seeking new kicks, they are used in a more serious manner by rescue services, law enforcement agencies and the military because of their speed, sturdiness and unique maneuverability.

According to skipper Russ’ business partner Nick Bilton, without paying customers on board the boats can reach speeds “way, way over what we currently offer to clients. You need to be accustomed to being on the boat at really high speeds so we stick to a medium speed line when dealing with clients – we don’t want to terrify them. We aim to thrill, offer fun, not danger but we both took one out one day and went from the harbour to Yeroskipou beach in 1.40 seconds, so that’s pretty quick”.

Tiger Boats > Tel: 99 665753 (Louise Bilton), Paphos Harbour. Price: £15 for adults, £12 for children (under 16s have to have an adult sign a permission slip for them to board and if younger than 12 they should be accompanied by an adult). Tiger Boats also offer a less adrenalin pounding coastal tour for 1.5 hours for £22.

Cyprus meets North Africa in food August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Food Recipes.
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Halloumi is a cheese indigenous to Cyprus, traditionally made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, it’s similar in texture to mozzarella and has a beautifully salty flavour. The real secret of halloumi however, is it’s high melting point, which makes it an excellent cheese for grilling or frying.

My usual foray onto the food world yielded a delicious recipe for Halloumi and couscous salad.

Couscous consists of grains of semolina wheat and is the primary staple food of much of North Africa, in fact in much of Algeris, eastern Morocco, Tunisia and Libya it is simply known as “ta’aam” which just means food.

Ingredients >
1 large onion
1 courgette sliced
1 red pepper
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
handful of raisins
1 pint vegetable stock
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 block halloumi cheese
500g couscous

Method >
Roast your sliced courgette and red pepper. Peel the pepper when roasted and chop.

While the vegetables are roasting, put the couscous and raisins in a deep bowl, add 1 pint of warm vegetable stock and stir vigorously so that the water is absorbed evenly. After 10 minutes, when the couscous has become plump and tender, add the three tablespoons of olive oil and rub the couscous between your hands to air it and break up any lums.

Fry the onion in a pan, when the onion, courgette and pepper are ready, add them and the coriander to the couscous and mix through thoroughly.

While preparing the couscous you should also slice the halloumi into nice large flat pieces and place under a medium grill, turning when nicely browned.

To serve simply place the couscous on a large serving platter and lay the slices of grilled halloumi on top.

Cyprus heralds high-jumping hero Kyriakos Ioannou August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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Cyprus basked in sporting glory yesterday after its high jump athlete Kyriakos Ioannou secured bronze  at the world championships in Osaka, the country’s first ever track  and field medal.

The achievement of the 23-year-old Cypriot is considered even  more remarkable as Cyprus, with a population of under one million, only sent a two-person team to the Japan games.

Plaudits have been pouring in since Ioannou made his mark on the  men’s high jump scene, clearing 2.35 metres, on Wednesday.

“Kyriakos Ioannou’s achievement is the biggest international  success by a Cypriot athlete in the history of track and field…  he’s made us proud,” said a written message from Cyprus President  Tassos Papadopoulos.

The high jumper was splashed across every front page of the  Cyprus press on Thursday, sharing more sombre headlines on the  killer forest fires in Greece. 

“Our Kyriakos leaped above the flames,” trumpeted the Greek-language Politis newspaper. The mass-selling Phileleftheros called it a “leap to the top of  the world” while Simerini agreed “Kyriacos takes Cyprus to the  summit”.

Cyprus remains a football-mad country but it has produced the  occasional star in other sports, tennis ace Marcos Bagdhatis being  a prime example. Ioannou himself began his early sporting career as a goalkeeper,  later switching to high jump but says he “cannot be compared” to  his, for now, more famous countryman Bagdhatis.

The IKEA phenomenon arrives in Cyprus August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Shopping.
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Known for cut good value furniture that has an almost cult following, the store that has seen stampedes caused by extre special offers finally reaches Cyprus’ shores

Recently, during my summer vacations this month in Cyprus, I saw it, in all its blue and yellow glory; IKEA is coming to Cyprus, I shrieked! Two weeks down the line and things are already getting out of hand with female money spenders keeping their passion for buying at bay, new homeowners leaving their apartments and houses unfurnished, all waiting for September 6 when IKEA finally opens its doors in Nicosia…

IKEA is one of those brands you know whether you’ve actually been to a store or not. Unlike other home furnishing brands, IKEA is famous for modern, utilitarian furniture and accessories at ridiculously low prices. You would think that the quality is bad since it’s so cheap but the success of IKEA comes down to one simple and quite brilliant scheme: rather than being sold pre-assembled, which means extra costs in shipping and storing, they figured that an unassembled bookcase would cost less to ship rather than an assembled one! It’s as simple as that and so IKEA’s main slogan was formed: ‘We do our part, you do your part and together we save money’. “Flat pack distribution methods allow for easier transport via public transport from the store to your home for assembly,” explains Constantinos Mourouzides, Manager at IKEA Cyprus. And although IKEA has been slammed repeatedly in the past for its supposedly impossible assemblies, when purchasing a retro lacquered white table for Cy£19 I say it’s worth the ‘impossible’ task!

IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943 by Invgar Kamprad. Originally, the store sold pens, wallets, picture frames, table runners, watches, jewellery and nylon stockings; practically anything Kamprad found a gap or need he could fill with a product at a reduced price. Then, in 1947, furniture was added to the product range and in 1955 IKEA began to design its own furniture. At first, Kamprad sold his goods out of his home and by mail order but eventually a store was opened in the founder’s nearby town.

It’s been a whirlwind since then with over 255 stores opening around the world and Kamprad becoming one of the richest people in Europe.

And now it’s Cyprus’ turn to be included in the list. Fourlis Group, based in Greece, is the local franchisee of IKEA (with the rights to operate IKEA in Greece and Cyprus), which will also be part of The Mall, another exciting project opening in the area of Latsia. “The store here in Cyprus covers 20,000m² area and will boast 6,500 different products,” said Mourouzides. As with all IKEA stores, the ‘one-way’ layout will be adopted at the Cyprus store.

This basically means that customers will follow a specific pattern of shopping. “Each IKEA is built in exactly the same way, enabling the customer to walk through the store via the furniture showroom, market-hall that consists mostly of accessories and then to the self serve warehouse where they can collect their flat packs and then to the cashiers station for payment,” explains Mourouzides.

Another aspect IKEA is known for is the multiple showrooms designed to give the consumer an idea of how various products work together. “Things can get difficult when you’re trying to figure out if that bed looks good with that nightstand, so I love visiting the showrooms in IKEA, which are basically huge home furnishing exhibitions,” said Mary Tabithou, a UK IKEA regular. Stretching out on a bed, seeing how many people you can fit on that couch or letting your children pick out what they like while you get a pretty good idea, has made IKEA a comfortable favourite. “And it’s not just the basics,” added Tabithou. “Their showrooms look like proper rooms with pictures, books and other little finishings.” Each room is individual with varying colours and themes, so no matter what your age or specific tastes, you’re bound to find something to get excited about.

But it’s not just about seeing, testing and experiencing; all of IKEA’s employees working inside the store are trained to be able to assist customers in whatever way necessary. “All IKEA staff undergo full training in order to completely understand the IKEA philosophy and ensure the best possible service to the customer from whatever their post,” explains Mourouzides. “For example, members of the IKEA Cyprus Team spent several months training and working on site at the Athens and Thessaloniki stores.”

Sceptical about the products’ longevity or quality? “It’s like it’s too good to be true, I know, so you’ll try and find anything wrong with them but in all honesty, I’ve had my desk, TV cabinet, bedside table and chest of drawers for years and they’ve lasted,” says Laura Iasonos. Apparently, all IKEA products are submitted to rigorous resistance tests to ensure they can withstand everyday occurrences within a household meaning drawers opening 10 times a day and children jumping on beds and couches. The practicality and durability of all products is as important to IKEA as the design and style. “While most retailers use design to justify a higher price, IKEA designers work in exactly the opposite way,” an IKEA representative said. “Instead they use design to secure the lowest possible price. They design every IKEA product starting with a functional need and a price, then use their vast knowledge of innovative, low cost manufacturing processes to create functional products, often co-ordinated in style.”

So what happens when you see something you really like? Well, you look at the tag that’s attached to the product and jot down the following: item number, colour, price and aisle number. You’ll notice that around the store small pencils and paper are available, so you can write down your list of purchases and simply pick them out once you’ve arrived at the warehouse.

Another IKEA highlight that those with young children will appreciate is the play area and equipped rooms for mothers and babies. “Every IKEA has a children’s play area, where parents can leave their young ones in trusty, experienced and trained hands and enjoy their shopping experience,” says Mourouzides. “Also, there are rooms equipped with couches and a peaceful environment for mothers who wish to either breastfeed or change nappies.” In-house first aid rooms are also part of the layout and most importantly an extensive cafeteria with a 260 people capacity. “The cafeteria will offer Swedish food including the world famous Swedish meatballs as well as local and international food,” he added.

IKEA may be known for its brilliant cheap designs and home solutions but it’s also known for the chaos and traffic it causes.

Although chaos is expected on September 6, the 800 parking spaces, should, hopefully, be enough! As for delivery: “Although it is easy, due to the flat package designs to literally take your furniture home with you the same day, IKEA does provide a full delivery service for those who require it, at a small additional cost,” explained Mourouzides. And for those who really don’t know their way around a screwdriver, the store will also offer and installation and construction service.

IKEA will open on September 6. 190 Old Road, Nicosia-Limassol, Nicosia. Tel: 22 502502, Fax: 22 502599, email: cs.cyprus@IKEA.com.cy. Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 09.00-20.00, Wednesday: 09.00-15.00, Saturday: 09.00-19.30

An idea of IKEA >
– The company name is a composite of the first letters in Kamprad’s name in addition to the first letters of the names of the property and the village he grew up: Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd. This acronym is incidentally similar to the Greek word oikia meaning home and to the Finnish word oikea meaning right or correct.
– It has been estimated that one in 10 Europeans are conceived in an Ikea bed.
– When an IKEA opened in April 2000 in Emeryville, California, the traffic was so severe that traffic lights had no effect and the local police were forced to manually direct traffic daily for three months!
– In Tempe, Arizona, the nearest off-ramp to the store was closed off by police because of severe traffic and some people attempted to park their cars on the Interstate and hop the fence.
– The Edmonton, North London store opened at midnight, February 2005 and attracted over 6,000 visitors due to huge opening discounts. People were crushed as a result of the rush and the store closed after 30 minutes and re-opened the next day.
– In Saudi Arabia, three people were crushed to death when IKEA offered a limited number of free $150 vouchers.
– IKEA was named one of the 100 Best Companies for working mothers in 2004 and 2005 by Working Mothers magazine. It also ranked 96 in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2006.
– IKEA has opened stores in over 40 countries.
– IKEA contributed 1 euro to UNICEF from each soft toy sold during the 2006 holiday season, raising a total of 1.75 million euros and also provided furniture for over 100 ‘bridge schools’ in India and Liberia.
– IKEA employs over 104,000 employees.
– In Hong Kong, where shop space is limited and costly, IKEA has opened three outlets across the city, which are part of shopping malls.
– Ingvar Kamprad, who is a dyslexic, found that naming the furniture with proper names and words rather than a product code, made the names easier to remember.
– IKEA’s popular catalogue was first published in Swedish in 1951. The catalogue is now published in 27 languages for 36 countries and is considered to be the main marketing tool of the retail giant.

Wines from Linos Winery at Omodos, Cyprus August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Cyprus, Wine And Spirits.
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Rodis Herodotou comes from Lapithos and served for years in the police force. Since 1974 he has lived in Limassol, buying a storehouse in the middle of Omodos village. The name given was Linos, which in Greek translates as big store house for making wine. His first wine was made in the late 70s. After 1991 he bought land outside the village, to the south, and built new premises, a new winery with all the latest technology and a house he now lives in.

N/V Anely’s, Linos Winery, Geographical Indication Limassol, Alcohol Volume 11% has been certified by Lacon to be made from grapes that have not been treated with fertilizers or pesticides. Slightly pale and yellow green in colour, the nose is grassy, herbal with sweet geranium and lemony citric aromas. Light to medium bodied, crisp and slightly acidic but with a good mouth feel with a faint hint of minerals, grapefruit citric fruit and a pleasant, not too lingering, tart finish. Served at 8-10 degrC, this wine will match spaghetti in creamy mushroom sauce.

The Grenache based N/V Linos Ros? Dry, Geographical Indication Limassol, Alcohol Volume 12% is intense, clear, strawberry in colour with a fruity nose of strawberry and cherry followed by delicious mocha herbs and spices. Moderate, light-medium palate, dry with good acidity, earthy, orange peel and racy watermelon aromas. It will enhance summer outdoor meals, pork chops and spare ribs in particular, equally appealing to have a glass on its own at 9 degrC.

2003 Linos Cabernet Sauvignon, Geographical Indicaton Limassol, Alcohol Volume 13%. We applaud the effort on this single red varietal, intense, deep red typical of Cabernet with concentrated blackberry and blackcurrant, dark chocolate, a hint of sage and black olive. The tannin is soft but substantial on this medium to full bodied wine. Not terribly complex, balanced with medium blackcurrant fruit and a touch peppery. Enjoy now with roast beef or slightly chilled at 16 degrC with lasagna.

Laser acquires Burger King franchise in Cyprus August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Food Cyprus.
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Laser Investments Public Ltd announced the acquisition of 100% of King Franchises Ltd., the Cyprus franchise holders of Burger King Restaurants in a deal valued at 3.6 million euro or CyPounds 2 million through a share issue.

Laser Investments will issue 9,147,246 new shares of nominal value CyPounds 0.035 and current price of 0.40 euro per share to acquire the total capital of King Franchises Ltd. amounting to 1,785,981 shares of nominal value CyPounds 1,00 (1,71 euro) each.
King Franchises Ltd operates five Burger King Restaurants in Cyprus and is planning to open two more by the end of 2008. The agreement is subject to certain approvals that must be secured before its finalization on October 15, 2007 and the EGM approval for the issue of shares.

The acquisition of King Franchises Ltd (Burger King Restaurants) is in line with the Laser’s strategy for a further development in the sector of leisure and food since the company already represents Coffee Beanery of US in Cyprus and Europe. The Board of Directors believes that the acquisition will contribute significantly to the Company’s future profitability due to the business synergies with its existing activities.

Habitat to find a new Greek home August 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Shopping.
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Within two months Habitat, the furniture and housing equipment retailer, may be operating again in Greece.

Its UK-based parent company is negotiating with Athens-listed firm Yalco-Constantinou about the possibility of operating Habitat in a new format. Free from the burdens of its previous owners, Habitat will take the form of a shop-in-shop within department stores, rather than as a chain of independent outlets, at least at the beginning. Yalco-Constantinou is planning to supplement its own Omnishop chain of 47 stores in Greece with Habitat products, with special corners at department stores such as Notos Galleries Home, Hondos Center and even Germanos to follow. The Greek firm intends to increase the Omnishop chain to 70 outlets by 2010, but recognizes that the Habitat brand image has declined considerably among local consumers due to its previous owner’s bankruptcy nine months ago.