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Leonard Cohen’s spirit still lives on Hydra island September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands.
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The hydrofoil skips over the deep blue waters of the Saronic Gulf, the azure sky burning overhead. Athens soon fades. Aegina, Methana, Poros, Hydra. The ferry nuzzles against the dock in the U-shaped harbour, and the few remaining travellers disembark.

Nothing moves quickly on Hydra. The day trippers wander slowly among the shops and cafes. There are no cars here, no trucks, but there are birds, and wires, now. Those staying wheel their noisy suitcases to the waiting line of donkeys and servants. Darkly tanned men hoist the luggage onto the beasts, and lead the guests to their hotels.

I wait until all are gone, leaning against a post at the end of the harbour. I’m not here for the paradise beaches, nor to dive the Aegean Sea. I’m here to find Leonard Cohen. It was from the idyllic island in 1965 that the CBC introduced the poet to his nation in Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen. On the poster for the film, he stands on a ship in Hydra’s harbour, dressed as a casual sailor. Five years earlier, at age 26, Cohen had bought a house here. “I live on a hill and life has been going on here exactly the same for hundreds of years,” he wrote to his mother.

But things changed. The long arm of modernity stuck its finger into Cohen’s bohemian backwater, and tall poles went up to hold the wires for the telephones. Cohen, saddened by this and catching sight of a bird resting on this strange, uncomfortable nest, wrote his legendary Bird on the Wire. “I would stare out the window at these telephone wires and think how civilization had caught up with me and I wasn’t going to be able to escape after all,” he later said.

It was also on Hydra that Cohen met Marianne; and from here he wrote So Long, Marianne, and the album Songs From a Room; the back of the CD is a picture of Marianne sitting at his typewriter in his house on Hydra.

I sit at a cafe, a few feet from the harbour, flipping through The Spice Box of Earth, peering over the ragged top. Eight rough fishermen grunt and drag a boat out of the clear water. Gulls wheel through the clear air, dreaming of scraps. Through his poetry, Cohen tells me he has not lingered in European monasteries. I don’t believe him, but it does give me an idea.

Beyond the harbour, houses climb a steep hill. I’ve heard a monastery sits at the summit. I finish the sweet Greek coffee, drop some euros on the table, put the poetry in my backpack, and leave the village. The path winds up a steep road. I pass a man and his donkey. The man is not sweating. Only tourists sweat in Greece. In the backyard of a whitewashed house, a rooster crows, while a mule and a dog ignore it. As I get beyond all the houses, the path narrows, branches. A hand-painted sign points me in the right direction. I smile.

The mountain is called Eros. Cohen must have smiled at that. I climb on, heat hovering in the air. I press through the hard bush and emerge on the summit, which has been cleared. A stone floor covers it. In front of me is a white building. The stones around the door have been painted to resemble brick. A prophet in a chariot pulled by four white horses rides over the door. Elijah, on his chariot of fire. Elijah, the fierce Old Testament prophet who heard the still, small voice of God. The climber of Mount Eros arrives at a Monastery. Cohen must have smiled.

I walk to the edge, seat myself on the wall. A tall monk in long black robes, long black beard and a black hat walks past me toward the chapel. I smile. He nods back, lost in prayer.

Below is the village; across the water is the mainland. The island has two other mountains. Stone walls crawl over them like chains. Clouds cover the distant peak, but here, the light is strong. Cohen wrote a poem called Hydra: “Pain cannot compromise this light,” he says. A small, nearly still breeze comes across the Gulf of Hydra. I inhale deeply as the sun presses down on me, setting everything a golden blaze. Cohen is here.

Source > The Daily News

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Briam September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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Ingredients >  
1 kilo potatoes
3-4 zucchini
2 eggplants
3-4 onions
3 green peppers
2-3 carrots
½ kilo tomatoes
finely chopped parsley
2 cups oil
salt and pepper to taste 

Method >
Clean the vegetables and slice in wheel shapes about the thickness of a finger. Mix them in a baking dish and salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the oil and a little water before putting in the oven. Bake at low temperature. 

briam.jpg

Spartathlon > Jurek wins second consecutive ultra-marathon race September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.
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American Scott Jurek won the 245.3km ultra-marathon Spartathlon race here on Saturday for the second year in a row.

The 33-year-old from Seattle timed 23hr 12min 14sec. Last year he clocked 22:52:13.

The race traces the classical route of Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon.

The Spartathlon is one of the world’s most gruelling races, running over rough tracks and muddy paths, crossing vineyards and olive groves, steep hillsides and, most challenging of all, the 1,200m ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. This year’s race started at the Acropolis in Athens on Friday and ended in the southern Greek town of Sparta. A record 323 runners participated in the 25th edition of the race.

The top 10 finishers > 1. Scott Jurek (USA) 23:12 2. Piotr Kyrulo (POL) 24:29 3. Valmir Nunes (BRA) 25:37 4. Jens Lukas (GER) 25:48 5. Markus Thalmann (AUS) 26:34 6. Eusebio Bochons (ESP) 27:40 7. Nobumi Iwamoto (JPN) 28:17 8. Takehiro Matsushita (JPN) 28:36 9. William Sichel (GBR) 29:01 10. Ryoichi Sato (JPN) 29:25

Greece > the most admired land on earth September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece.
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Greece is widely regarded as the place where the western civilization was born many centuries ago.

It is widely acknowledged as the guiding force that has driven the human civilization for over 2500 years now. It is also the place where three continents, namely Europe, Asia and Africa, and three varying climatic conditions submerge into one. These enthralling shades make it one of the most visited places on earth today.

Roughly 16 million tourists walk on its soil every year, thus allowing several hundred thousand Greek nationals to be employed by its tourism industry. Located at the southeastern fringe of the European peninsula, Greece is spoken of highly for its world class beaches, lavish hotels and the level of hospitality it offers. Hotels in Greece are an integral part of its tourism infrastructure, which earns around 15% of the nation’s entire GDP in revenues.

Rich visuals may be recalled; if one began examining how the events of Greece had benefited the world we are part of. It was Greece that first gave the idea of democratic governance almost 2500 years ago. The word “democracy” itself stemmed out from the Greek language, meaning the rule of the people. In spite of its initial doubts, the Greek democracy survived on and was later followed by many other states. Modern states are often seen mimicking the same federal structure that Romans established around 2000 years ago. However, it should be noted down for academic reasons that Romans were more of an autocratic regime, as their later years suggest. Only parts in and around Athens had democratically elected councils to look after their people.

Greece also gets known for having gifted the world with modern Olympic Games. It was Athens in 1896, where the first Olympic Games were organized after its modern-day revival. Olympic Games have since become a rallying point for the players and athletes from all over the world to compete and people from varying backgrounds to mingle with each other. Remains of the ancient Olympia stadium were excavated and restored in the middle of the 20th century. It is the same location from where the Olympic Flame starts its journey and gets carried to the game venues. These and many other exciting stories may suggest why Greece has been admired for ages now.

The world loves visiting Greece in huge numbers as a result, providing an immense boost to its tourism infrastructure. Its scenic Mediterranean coastline and the yearlong pleasing weather make holiday making fun and frolic. Athens, Peloponnese, Cyclades and Crete are some known cities carrying immense historic significance, where most travelers prefer heading on to. Hotels in Greece would be seen having high occupancy rates throughout the year, in this process, and one should plan their journeys in advance, for the same reason, to make their trips hassle free. Travelers can buy both cheap and high end accommodation from hotels in Greece, and also try to get best deals from tour operators, which include last minute holidays.

There is enough online support available for those who might be willing to book their accommodation from hotels in Greece. Sea-side resorts and self-catering apartments should also be taken into consideration apart from prime hotels in Greece for garnering accommodation. Planning out in advance should make your Greek journey memorable, since there were plenty of activities to be entertained from apart from visiting the usual heritage sites.

The following travel agency, based in Crete, may be found to be of assistance to you > AmazeTravel.com, 46 Karaiskaki Street, Nea Alikarnassos, Crete, tel 2810 229000, fax 2810 229010, http://www.amazetravel.com/index.htm

Greece’s Red Bull Donkey Cross Honda September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Racing & Motors.
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For Red Bull Donkey Cross winner Thodoros Antoniadis, his Honda was “the vehicle that fits him best.” And no, we’re not talking about a motor bike. Reliable and all-terrain, robust and economical: Thodoros Antoniadis was extremely satisfied with his Honda at the Red Bull Donkey Cross.

thodoros_antoniadis.jpg  And rightly so: the donkey with the unusual name helped the Greek motocross pro to win the most unusual event that the Greek island Sifnos has ever experienced. In the contest, which wasn’t to be taken too seriously, but was technically extremely challenging, 16 contestants competed against each other, alternating between motocross machines and donkeys, in a race over steep, narrow passes, steps, over rough and smooth.

“I’ve been racing for 22 years, but I’ve never won,” Antoniadis said happily and joked “I guess I’ve found the vehicle that fits me best!” He and his 15 rivals had to complete three rounds on Greece’s most traditional mode of transport. No easy feat, if you’re used to accelerator throttles, disc brakes and combustion engines.

The race started on September 22 at 5 p.m. on the main square in Apollonia with a one kilometer-long course on the back of a donkey. During this, the battle for the lead was the least of the participants’ problems, just staying on the backs of their swaying and not the most cooperative mode of transport was a great enough challenge.

The distance that the riders had to cover on the donkey lasted a whole kilometer before they were able to change to a more familiar saddle: on motocross machines, a combination of a scramble, trial and enduro race had to be overcome. The highlight of the circuit: a stairway consisting of 80 steps, which had to be conquered uphill.

The riders sprinted to the finish line again on their donkey’s backs. Coming in second after Antoniadis in the final round was George Zahariou, although his donkey Jane twice didn’t find the prescribed route all that binding. Christos Alexiou came third on Pitsa. The folly also inspired the crowd: more than 3000 spectators made the journey especially for the race.

Source > Newspirits Extremsport Magazin

Going to the movies in Athens September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Greece, Movies Life Greek.
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From the currently playing movies at the Athenian theaters, our selection >

Ratatouille

ratatouille_movie.jpg  Animated family comedy directed by Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava, featuring the voices of Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano, Brian Dennehy.

A French country rat in Paris to idolize his favorite chef, must pally up with a new guy if he wants his delectable palate to be satisfied.

Currently palying at various cinema locations in Athens and Greece. Enjoy!

Rémy the rat, in the new animation film Ratatouille, but do you know what the word means? The word ratatouille comes from “ touiller”, the French word meaning “to toss”.

The recipe originates from the area around Nice. It is essentially a poor man’s dish, making something sustaining from the glut of vegetables that grow in the region from about mid-July to late September. The original ratatouille niçoise used all the classic healthy Mediterranean vegetables: courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. Aubergine’s more recent addition to recipes is a happy one as it adds a smokiness and complexity to the dish. 

The secret of the recipe is to fry the vegetables in batches so that they don’t stew. The idea is to get a syrupy, densely flavoured dish, with each vegetable contributing its own taste to the collective plate. The recipe’s success at feeding a family cheaply means that over the years it has been adapted by neighbouring countries.

In Greece the briam is cooked with potatoes; in Malta the kapunatais a classic pairing with fish; in Italy, caponatacan be transformed into a pasta sauce, perfect for leftovers. The Spanish sometimes eat their pisto on little rounds of toasted sourdough bread, serving it with manchego cheese for deliciously healthy tapas. Ratatouille is great hot, served with rice, or at room temperature as a side dish, with fish, sausages or lamb. 

Find the Greek recipe for Biam, under our “Recipes” category!

What’s On > in Athens September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Festivals, Music Life Greek.
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Theodorakis Orchestra Concert, Saturday and Sunday
The Mikis Theodorakis Popular Orchestra will join forces with well-known Greek singers and artists for two three-hour concerts with the parallel screening of artworks, in aid of those stricken by the recent fires, at the Herod Atticus Theater. Tickets are available at the Hellenic Festival box office, 39 Panepistimiou Street, Athens, tel 210 3272000.
At the Ancient Herod Atticus Theater, Acropolis, Athens, nearest metro station “Acropolis”.

Multiculturalism Festival in Athens > To Sunday
The Anthropos Greek Center for the Promotion of Volunteerism is organizing a mini-festival with concerts, dance, video screenings, photography exhibitions, international delicacies, workshops and more at Heroon Square in Maroussi, in collaboration with various NGOs and immigrant communities.
For information call 210.883.8914, or visit www.anthropos.gr

Guided Walking Tour of Athens > Sunday
The Friends of the Australian Archaeological Institute are organizing a guided walking tour of central Athens’s Byzantine monuments with Dr Stavros Paspalas, which will start at the Aghia Triada Church, 21 Filellinon Street, near Syntagma Square, at noon on Sunday.
AAIA, for information call 210 9243256.