Saturday, March 7, 2015


Τον περασμένο Φεβρυαριο ο Όμιλος InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®), μία από τις κορυφαίες επιχειρήσεις του ξενοδοχειακού κλάδου, αποκάλυψε τα “Μυστικά της Πόλης” – μία νέα καμπάνια της αλυσίδας των ξενοδοχείων InterContinental του Oμίλου IHG. Οι νέες Insider Εμπειρίες προσφέρονται σε συνεργασία με ειδικούς στους τομείς της γευσιγνωσίας, της τέχνης και της μόδας αναδεικνύοντας τα μυστικά της εκάστοτε πόλης.

Η αλυσίδα ξενοδοχείων InterContinental Hotels & Resorts ιδρύθηκε από την Pan American World Airways το 1946 και γρήγορα εξελίχθηκε σε μία από τις πρώτες παγκοσμίως. Η αλυσίδα στόχευε και στοχεύει στην παροχή εξατομικευμένων υπηρεσιών και αυθεντικών εμπειριών μέσω της γνώσης των τουριστικών προορισμών στους οποίους δραστηριοποιείται.

Ο Tom Rowntree, Αντιπρόεδρος της InterContinental Hotels & Resorts στην Ευρώπη δήλωσε: “Η αλυσίδα InterContinental Hotels & Resorts έχει 69 χρόνια εμπειρίας στην παροχή εξατομικευμένων υπηρεσιών και αυτό είναι το επίκεντρο της νέας διαφημιστικής καμπάνιας. Μέσα από τις νέες Insider Eμπειρίες που προτείνουμε, έχουμε τη δυνατότητα να αναδείξουμε την κληρονομιά μας, την γνώση μας για τους τουριστικούς προορισμούς καθώς και τις συνεργασίες που έχουμε χτίσει όλα αυτά τα χρόνια, βοηθώντας τους επισκέπτες μας να “ξεκλειδώσουν” τα μυστικά της πόλης την οποία έχουν επιλέξει να γνωρίσουν καλύτερα. Με μεγάλη χαρά αποκαλύψαμε τρεις νέες Insider Εμπειρίες στο Λονδίνο, το Παρίσι και το Τel Aviv και ανυπομονούμε να αποκαλύψουμε σύντομα και άλλες ανά την Ευρώπη.”

H καμπάνια της InterContinental Hotels & Resorts τα “Μυστικά της Πόλης” προβάλλεται στα έντυπα και διαδικτυακά μέσα καθώς και στα ξενοδοχεία της αλυσίδας στην Ευρώπη και την Αμερική, ενώ τα πρωτεία κατέχουν το Λονδίνο, το Παρίσι και το Tel Aviv με τρεις, πράγματι, αξέχαστες Insider Εμπειρίες. Η αλυσίδα έχει δημιουργήσει μία βινιέτα με σκηνοθέτη τον Marco Gentile και πρωταγωνίστρια το γνωστό μοντέλο Dioni Tabbers για να αποτυπώσει καλύτερα την ουσία και τη μοναδικότητα που κρύβουν οι νέες Insider Εμπειρίες.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Travelogue… with Bob Nicolaides

Student confessed the hoax bomb alarm to easyJet flight

 
The Bomb was a Hoax
A student has admitted making a hoax phone call claiming there was a bomb on an Hatji Ioannou’s easyJet flight from London Gatwick to Turkey.  Muhammet Demir, 20, of no fixed abode, called police shortly before 4.30pm on Tuesday September 9 and said he has seen a bomb on the flight destined for Izmir. At the time, the flight was taxiing on the runway with 170 passengers on board.

It was recalled and met by armed police. Police officers, Gatwick and airline staff, traced the call to 20-year-old Demir, who had been due to board the flight. Although they established it was a hoax, the incident still delayed the flight by three hours. Police forces around the country were notified and Demir was arrested as he tried to board a flight at Luton Airport.

The Turkish national admitted making the call but did not say why. At Brighton Magistrates' Court this week, Demir pleaded guilty to a charge of communicating a false message to cause a bomb hoax. He was remanded in custody and is due to appear before a crown court for sentencing on a date to be set.
Where Myths Come Alive
You want enchantment? Take the Venice to Istanbul 11-day Enchantment cruise onboard Holland America Line’s ms Zuiderdam and stop at Katakolon where you can be transferred by bus to Olympia, on to Nafplion and Athens, continue to Kusadasi, then on to Mykonos,  Rhodes, and Santorini before you head for the Dardanelles and end up in Istanbul.

Ancient Olympia
In ancient Olympia see the birthplace of the original and true Olympic Games, presided over a 40-ft satue of Zeus. The statue is gone but the temple ruins remain, along with the original marble starting blocks. In Delos, an isle adjacent to Mykonos reached by boat, you’ll see the mythical birthplace of Apollo and his sister Artemis (Diana) both children of Zeus and Leto.  Leto sought refuge on the island from the jealous Hera, Zeus’ consort, who was pursuing her. Poseidon anchored the floating island for the birth. Delos was declared sacred and ikt was forbidden for any mortal to be born or die on the island, which remains uninhabited today, occupied only by extensive ruins.

This  and many more sights on this trip the savings fare will cost you $1,999 with free cruise fares for third and fourth guests.   

 Hello Kitty Flights Now Headed To Paris Thanks To EVA Air

 
While the world wrestles with shock from the recent announcement that Hello Kitty is not a cat, a happier piece of news comes our way from EVA Air: cat or not, Hello Kitty planes will begin flying routes to Paris next month in celebration of Hello Kitty's 40th birthday (due to Kitty's youthful appearance, we assume this birthday is in cat years).
Kitty's Paris

EVA currently operates Hello Kitty flights between Taipei and Los Angeles -- besides featuring adorable Kitty scenes on the outside, the jets are tricked out to the Kitty max on the inside.

 Think Hello Kitty luggage tags for every passenger, Hello Kitty headrests and drink coasters, Hello Kitty soap in the lavatory and in-flight meals where every last melon slice, cheese piece and dessert cake is shaped like Hello Kitty's adorable head.

The new Paris flights will add in new Hello Kitty silverware, new Hello Kitty placemats and a new Hello Kitty menu (cat croissants, perhaps?). They'll fly from Taipei to Paris three times per week starting on Oct. 29.

According to the London Daily Mail, Sanrio reps say they designed the Hello Kitty flights to "make flying fun and spread happiness among passengers all over the globe."

 

Jet-ski crash killed a newly-wed on Greek Island

A British man, reported to have been two days into his honeymoon, has been killed in a jet ski crash on the Greek island of Santorini. Kingston-upon-Thames estate agent Jeremy Hope, 39, is reported to have collided with another jet ski driven by a friend, who had been at his wedding.


Jet ski kills groom
According to latest reports, the newly-wed continued sunbathing after the accident was later airlifted to hospital in Crete when he started to feel unwell. He died of severe head and chest injuries on the way. The friend, 29, was detained at Athens Airport as he tried to fly to visit Mr Hope in hospital. He was arrested, along with the owner of the jet ski hire company, and both are due to appear in court today, when they may be charged with negligent homicide.

Mr Hope and his bride Sarah Greaves, 29, were believed to be staying at four-star Antinea Hotel, a short walk from the beach.

 
Google to help small tourism business in Greece

 
Internet giant, Google, has done it again. This time, they have extended a helping hand to Greece's tourism industry, by initiating management courses for 3000 tourism related businesses. In an attempt to promote tourism in the dainty island of Crete, Google has made it a point to help small businesses flourish in the city.

Google help
Google has proved that nothing is impossible, especially when there is a will to accomplish a certain task. In order to help small companies setup their business successfully, Google will launch the mission in September. Depending on the success of the program, the methodology would be rolled out to benefit other prominent sectors.
This way Google is expected to help the Greek economy, which has been struggling to break free from the iron clad chains of recession. Industry union, Sete, reported that the whole economy is hoping to finally be able to move on after the bitter episode of economic reforms and recession. Google is said to make full use of their Google My Business and Google AdWords program in order to bring visibility and power to the companies struggling to leave a mark on the Internet.
What’s in it for Google? Google is one of the biggest Internet search providers in the world currently. The company has also been known to invest heavily in its philanthropic initiatives all throughout the world. Given the mutual interest related to the growth of the Greek economy, Google hopes to expand its horizons as the Greek economy flourishes over the oncoming years.

The Greek authority is currently expecting to welcome around 21 million tourists by the end of the year 2014. With the advent of the tourist season, the Greek Government can expect a whopping increase in the number of jobs available in the market over the oncoming months.

Manu, Peru: Is tourism harming remote tribes?
 
A pressure group is urging tourists to refrain from unsolicited contact with un-contacted tribes around the world, following reports of increased encounters with tribes in Peru. Visitors to the rainforests of the Manu National Park in Peru are being urged not to take part in “human safaris” aimed at providing voyeuristic sightings of members of the country’s last surviving un-contacted tribes. The call for restraint comes from Survival International, a pressure group fighting for the rights of tribal peoples worldwide. And it follows hot on the heels of disturbing reports of an increase in encounters between outsiders and the uncontacted Indian tribes of Peru.
Last weekend, a missionary travelling in a tour company’s boat along the Madre de Dios river bordering the national park left clothes and food on the banks intended for members of the un-contacted Maschco-Piro tribe. At the same time, news emerged of an incident in May involving six Maschco-Piro women who entered a tourist lodge deep in the national park itself and removed metallic cooking pots. “We are very nervous about these developments and are urging all tourists to remain clear of the affected areas,” said Rebecca Spooner, Survival International’s campaigner for Peruvian tribal people. “These people have no immunity to diseases we take for granted such as flu and measles – diseases that can be contracted through wearing our clothes. Such gestures may be well intended, but there is a real risk that through unsolicited contact, an entire people could be wiped out.”
The Manu Biosphere Reserve in the western part of the Amazon is one of the world’s greatest primary rainforests and home to more than 1,000 birds, 15,000 plants, countless types of trees and rare mammal species such as the jaguar and the giant river otter. Most visitors are more than happy to spend their time enjoying the spectacular scenery and the extraordinary scents and sounds of the forest. But there is an inevitable frisson about knowing that deep within that rainforest there are a number of “un-contacted” tribes, peoples who, while not wholly oblivious to the world around them, have chosen to keep themselves apart.
The main threat to Peru’s estimated 15 un-contacted tribes comes from illegal loggers and miners wanting to exploit the resources on their lands. But there is a huge danger from curious tourists too – encouraged by companies that offer trips in which, they suggest, there may be a sighting of loin cloth-wearing tribes-people. “Two years ago we first started getting reports of companies seeking to 'sex-up’ their tours by offering possible sightings of tribes-people and we made a huge complaint,” said Spooner. “The laws were tightened forbidding publicizing such tours or using images of the tribes people on websites.
Operators were also instructed not to stop if tribes-people were sighted along the banks of the Madre de Dios. Survival International is concerned that “human safaris” in Peru could escalate to the level of the extremely damaging tours through the Jarawa reserve in the Andaman Islands of India and is urging a temporary halt to tourist activity in the Manu National Park – and the affected neighboring areas until the situation stabilizes. Responsible tourist companies in the region are already heeding many of the guidelines and advising clients that itineraries may have to change at short notice should further tribal sightings be reported.
“We are very aware of the dangers to un-contacted tribes of diseases visitors from the outside world may carry and if we are asked not to take our groups into the national park then we don’t,” said Quinn Meyer, the founder of Crees, a wildlife research centre in the Manu which aims at promoting a sustainable future for the region, and which last year started running tours. “If one of our boats did spot some un-contacted tribes on the river bank we would immediately turn around. We would never treat it as a photo opportunity. “Besides there is also a danger issue for us. The last thing we’d want is for one of our guests to be shot at by a bow and arrow.”
Archaeologists Return to Zante for Philip II of Spain shipwreck

 
The Shipwreck
A 16th century shipwreck that had been located in the eighties two kilometers off the port of Zakynthos island will be again in the focus of Culture Ministry's archaeologists studies. The 20-meter-long, vessel that shipwrecked near the port of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea most likely participated in the 1571 Naval Battle of Nafpaktos, one of the most important sea battles in world history.

The shipwreck, the only one discovered in Greece that dates back to the era of Philip II of Spain, was found in the 1980s by local speargun fishermen and in the 1990s it was studied by Greek archeologists in cooperation with Oxford University scientists. The part of its hull that was pulled out of the sea has been covered by geotextile to protect it from being eaten away by worms within the framework of an innovative method created by the Athens’ technological educational institutes (TEI).

However, the research has been interrupted four years ago. The archaeologists will stay on Zakynthos for approximately a month while in the research team participate divers that will dive in the area of the shipwreck in order to find and reveal the other part of the ship that is still under tons of mud.


Archaeological finds
Byzantine Grave Unearthed in Thessaloniki
A grave dating back to the Byzantine period and human remains were unearthed during works for the installation of underground waste containers along Thessaloniki's downtown Agia Sofia Street, it was announced on Wednesday.


The findings were located after workers dug a hole that was just one meter deep. According to deputy mayor Thanassis Pappas “the working crews found traces of a Byzantine wall, a Byzantine grave and a small vessel, most likely dating back to the 14th century AD. A second grave, partially destroyed by underground utility networks, with a human skeleton in it, was also found”.

The works for the installation of underground waste containers are carried out in the presence of archaeologists.      




 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

                                                                                        


Travelogue… with Bob Nicolaides

 

Join in on an India Exploration
Join Swan Hellenic’s Minerva in the Omani port of Muscat still a very elegant town   with very fine houses’ as observed by Portuguese admiral Alfonso de Albuquerque in the 16th century.
Spend the following two days cruising the Arabian Sea settling into the stateroom and enjoying introductory talks by your guest speakers, anticipating the sights to come. Gandhi’s birthplace, Porbandar, is in the state of Gujarat. See colorful markets, as well as the mid-19th century ‘haveli’ of the Gandhi family. Follow the traditional route of the spice traders south to Mumbai. Admire the city’s elaborate Victorian architecture where you’ll see Colonial relics such as the Gateway to India, or discover the  daily life and fascinating work of the dabbawalas. In the ancient trading town of Mangalore explore the Hindu Gokarnatha Temple or discover two spectacular and rarely visited Jain Temples at Moodabidri and Karkala. Spend two days in Kerala recognized as one of the most serenely beautiful states in India, discovering communities and the riverine life of rural India on a backwater cruise. Round the very southern tip of India to Tuticorin, offering a rare opportunity to discover the charming little city of Palaymkottai, before concluding your cruise in Colombo, capital of Sri Lamka.

Russia will send more tourists to Support Cyprus economy

Russia-Cyprus talks
The crisis in Ukraine and the Cyprus problem were among issues discussed on Thursday between President Anastasiades and Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexey Meshkov.  
Meshkov said they had an “important meeting” and that they confirmed the “excellent relations” between the two countries. “We are going forward. We want to send more Russian tourists to Cyprus and we will keep in touch and work together”, he added. Asked if they discussed the crisis in Ukraine and the Cyprus problem, Meshkov replied, “Of course”.  

 

Athens marks return of Neolithic artefacts

A low-key event was held in downtown Athens with Greek and German officials to mark the successful return of over 10,600 Neolithic objects taken out of Greece illegally during World War II.

The objects include pot shards, stone tools, obsidian and flint blades and bone material that were dug up illegally between June and December 1941 by Nazi occupation troops, in an effort to claim that northern peoples, ancestors of Greeks, had an established presence in Europe from prehistoric times.

The event at the Culture ministry's Directorate of Registration and Protection of Cultural Material was attended by the German ambassador, the director of the Pfahlbaumuseum - which was instrumental in the return - and Greek and German archaeologists. Culture and Sports Minister Konstantinos Tassoulas also attended and spoke of the efforts of archaeologist Angelica Douzougli to locate the missing artefacts.

Douzougli, an honorary ephor of antiquities whose doctoral dissertation led to the discovery of the material, spoke of how her search began in the 70s, from a prehistoric archaeology seminar at the University of Nuremberg, Germany, where she was studying and where her interest focused on agricultural and animal breeding communities of Thessaly.

The materials repatriated on Monday come from several sites in Thessaly, an area in central Greece that has yielded a richness of Neolithic material. Most of it can be traced to the Visviki Magoula, or tumulus, dated to between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago. The Visviki material was packed in 28 boxes, 5 of which were returned to Greece in the 50s.

The material will be housed for now at the National Archaeological Museum, which also has the material from the 50s. The study of the material will be augmented by photographs from the 40s showing modern lake communities of Thessaly in and around Lake Karla (no longer extant) which resemble those of Lake Constantia, in Germany, recreated by Germany's Pfahlbau Museum Unteruhldingen - focusing on Stone and Bronze Ages - which assisted in the repatriation of the material. "Unfortunately, the most important material, 8 boxes that remained in Volos in 1941, is now lost," museum director Gunter Schoebel said.

Ministry officials reviewed the directorate's efforts to repatriate material stolen during the WWII occupation, including 26 cases handled by the bureu involving 1,158 objects, 41 boxes with Hebrew manuscripts and other paleolithic findings. Director Suzanna Houlia-Kapeloni said that of all the cases, objects were returned to Greece by Germany (12 instances), Austria (3), Switzerland (3), Italy (2), United States (2), Britain (2), Australia (1) and Bulgaria (1).

 The ministry's director of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, Maria Vlazaki, said the repatriation of the material was "a double cause of joy...as German, Greek and Austrian archaeologists worked closely together to make this happen."

Minister Tassoulas referred to the symbolism of the gesture, noting that such moves contribute decisively to the strengthening of bilateral ties.

Plane was hit by lightning as it was coming in to land

 

Passenger on board the flight said it was 'absolutely terrifying.' An easyJet, owned by the Hadgioannou conglomerate, has been struck by lightning today while flying with 156 passengers on board. Travelers on board the flight from Bristol to Barcelona were left terrified when the bolt shook the plane, causing many to burst into tears.

The Airbus A319-111 was forced to land at Spain's Reus Airport due to thunderstorms when the lightning strike happened. Passengers then were bussed back to their destination more than an hour away. Izzy Ferris, 19, who was on board the flight, said: ‘We were just flying over Barcelona and this

The flight, from Bristol Airport, was due to arrive at Barcelona International at 10.10am local time. But, just minutes before landing, the plane was struck by the freak storm. It is thought the airport is currently closed, with many other planes also forced to land at Reus. Other passengers took to Twitter to speak of their horror.

A spokesman for easyJet said the plane had been diverted due to storms and had been struck by lightning on its descent. 'The aircraft is equipped to safely withstand lightning and at no point was the safety of the flight, passengers or crew on board compromised,’ added the spokesperson.

'A full inspection of the aircraft will be carried out in due course.'
Airbus to patent bicycle-style aircraft seat


 

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus wants to patent a design for a tiny bicycle style seat for commercial jets. The design features a retractable seat with a small backrest fixed to a horizontal bar with no headrest, tray table and little legroom. The European patent submission says the design is simply to reduce the bulk of an airline seat, enabling airlines to fit in more paying passengers. The application states: "To increase the number of cabin seats, the space allotted to each passenger must be reduced." 

The airbus prpoposal for airplane seats
Airbus said there are no plans to put the idea into production, but simply to safeguard intellectual property. "Many, if not most, of these concepts will never be developed, but in case the future of commercial aviation makes one of our patents relevant, our work is protected," said Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn. "Right now these patent filings are simply conceptual."

This follows a report published last week looking at the possibility of 'standing seats' for short range aircraft. The study suggested passenger numbers could be typically increased by 21% while ticket prices could fall by as much as 44%.

 

The year of Sarajevo: War history tours

 

A Sarajevo cemetery
Bosnia is out of the World Cup - but just getting there was a huge achievement. Now the country hopes to build on it by encouraging more of us to visit - and we should.

Sarajevo, the capital, is perfectly safe. The one drawback is that there are no direct flights from the UK. The best connection is with Croatia Airlines via Zagreb then a walk of about 50 yards to the next aircraft. From the Heathrow boarding gate to my hotel took four hours.

'Our war is something that many foreign people can relate to as it was fairly recent and Sarajevo often appeared on television news,' says my guide Lorenc. It did indeed. The images of Snipers Alley, hardship and suffering touched many of us deeply at the time. The Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s lasted three and a half years and around 11,000 people died – the exact figure will never be known.

Today, war history tours are the best-selling excursions in Sarajevo. Near the airport, the Kolar family handed over their family home to local defenders. The Sarajevo War Tunnel known as 'the tunnel of hope' is another popular attraction. Oh, and the shopping is good, too, with plenty of bargains.

The beautiful bazaar is a covered market on the site of the old caravanserai (or inn), built in 1543 by the city’s greatest benefactor, Gazi Husrev Bey, with stonework crafted by artisans from Dubrovnik in neighboring Croatia. Silks and incense have been replaced by jewellery, mobile phones and designer bags. The Vuitton and YSL wares are especially impressive. 'Are they genuine or fakes?' I ask. 'We have both,' comes the reply. On Ferhadija Street, the Saraj Bursa tailor’s shop offers to make suits by hand for around £90 and most shops boast 30-40 per cent discounts all year round.

With the local fast food 'cevapi' - delicious meatballs with kamjac (cream cheese) in a special spongy pitta- type bread - priced at £1.70 and a G&T at the five-star Hotel Europe bar around £2, Sarajevo takes your weekend break budget a long way.

Guidebooks focus strongly on Sarajevo’s ‘east meets west’s split identity. Domes remain where Ottoman hammam baths once steamed, and nowhere else in Europe have I seen mosques, Catholic and Orthodox churches, synagogues, religious schools, cocktail bars, internet cafés and restaurants in such cheek by jowl profusion. You can walk unhurriedly from one end of the pedestrian-friendly city to the other in an hour. It’s worth stopping at Egipat, an exquisite cake shop run by Ana Ristovski Korac who lost her husband during the siege.

Ana has become a symbol of the new Sarajevo, and she’s all smiles as she describes visits by Bill Clinton and Penelope Cruz. She insists I take a box of cream macaroons for my journey home. At the base of a building I pick out a ‘Sarajevo rose’. These are concrete scars caused by the explosion of mortar shells during the horrific years, and are painted red lest anyone ever forgets.

Life has changed beyond recognition for the Bosnian capital, but its past is never far away.

The capital of nudism has a decline in interest

MANY Germans still love to bask naked on the beaches of Spain and France but at home, long the land of the all-over tan, the nudist movement is in decline. For almost a century, German sun-worshippers have been known to rip off their clothes at the first sighting of the country’s all-too-rare summer rays. Especially since the carefree 1970s, naturists, unencumbered by clothing and their parents’ prudish mores, have frolicked in the buff on beaches, lakes and in city parks.

The trend was especially popular in the former communist East Germany, whose people celebrated it as a rare expression of personal liberty in an otherwise highly oppressive society. But times are changing for the movement known in German simply as “FKK”, short for Frei-Koerper-Kultur or “free body culture”. “Society is changing,” laments Kurt Fischer, president of the German Federation of Naturist Clubs (DFK).

The energetic septuagenarian has been counting membership forms and says total numbers for Germany’s 145 clubs have fallen two per cent a year to about 40,000. Followers of the bronze cult are now ageing fast. The largest contingent is currently in the 50 to 60-year-old bracket, and members under 25 have become rare.

Fischer blames radical changes in people’s working lives, with irregular hours making it hard to commit to FKK clubs and associations. “Twenty years ago almost everyone had the weekends off,” he said. “Now in almost all jobs, we must be flexible and free time is dictated by the employer.

“This is a problem for organizations that have their own structures and that want to bring people together for an event at a specific time.” From bowling to table tennis and even sailing holidays in Greece, the FKK clubs offer a wide range of outdoor activities and competitions. But rival leisure opportunities have also exploded in recent decades. “People no longer want to commit,” said the DFK president. “They say ‘one weekend I do this, another weekend I do that’.”

This is especially true for younger people who are far less likely than their parents to strip off their trunks or bikinis in public, in part because they regard fashion as a crucial marker of group identity. “Skateboarding is trendy, but skateboarding stark naked, no!” laughed Fischer. Young people with immigrant backgrounds and from Muslim cultures, where the unclothed body remains taboo, have proven impervious to the lure of nudism.

Paradoxically, “uncommitted” naturism, such as taking a dip in a lake in one’s birthday suit, is still going strong in Germany. “It has become natural, it’s part of a lifestyle where we want to reconnect with nature,” said Peter Zellmann of the Vienna-based Research Centre for Leisure and Tourism. “We no longer need to be part of an association, of a structured organization.” In Munich, the capital of the conservative and mainly Catholic southern state of Bavaria, the largest city park, the Englischer Garten, has a space reserved for naturists.

Many a foreign tourist strolling through the green space has been stunned to come face-to-face with exposed female breasts, not to mention disrobed men playing frisbee. The same goes for the windswept beaches on the Baltic and North Sea, which are strictly divided between swimwear and “fabric-free” areas.

When summer comes to Europe, between eight and 12 million Germans still engage in nudism, said French geographer Emmanuel Jaurand, author of a comparative study on the naked cult in Germany, where nudism has been legal since the 1920s, and in France where it was authorized only in 1956. In his study, Jaurand concluded that Germany remains committed to “urban public nudity that is uninhibited and quiet” and “detached from any sexual connotation”.

 

Restoration of Frankish Tower on Acrocorinth

The restoration works of the Frankish Tower on the Acrocorinth (Corinth Acropolis) are rapidly progressing. The restoration is financed by NSRF funds and is held by the 25th Byzantine Antiquities Ephorate working group.
The castle was declared a Byzantine monument in 1922.
The Acrocorinth hill was fortified from the antiquity and its walls are connected with the walls of the city of Corinth and with the important ancient harbor of Lechaion.


 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


As The World Churns

By Bob Nicolaides

Greek Presidency’s visual identity designed by Beetroot Design Group won a bronze in the category “Brand implementation” of European Design Awards as announced at a ceremony in Cologne.….A Greek sports writer told an Olympic committee member: “The Greek economy couldn’t stand the Olympic Games. I’m not saying the crisis was caused by the Olympic Games, but the Olympic Games has a part of responsibility for the Greek economic crisis.”The Salamis, NJ Cypriot Association along with the Cyprus Society of Greater Phila, commemorated the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus on July 20 1974, with a Service at St. George Church in Hamilton NJ, on Sunday, July 27th. A luncheon followed at the kC Prime restaurant….…The worldwide Kite-surfing competition for the International Cup taking place at the Greek owned Palm Royale Soma Bay in Egypt’s Red Sea with Greece participating, ended early in June …

 

Stephanopoulos: Achievements
George Stephanopoulos recently garnered one more honor in that he will be from here on the head anchorman ABC News….…. Paraskevi Kolovos along with her coleagues in the scientific group of Harvard achieved the regenaration of a  damaged ceratoid coat through a new method with the help of  vlastic cellules. The team was able to transplant these human cellules on blind mice with tremendous success…..Vasos N. Papagapitos is co-President at Travel Dynamics International…Nick Pappas of Cherry Hill, the chronicler for the Greek Parea, slipped and fell while swimming in his native Patras where he was vacationing breaking  his ankle. I believe that’ll cost him some future swims even if the season is not a washout….My long-lost childhood friend John Lartides who lives in London, Ontario, a schoolmate and part of the theatrical group back in our days in Egypt, tells me that as he passed through many cities in the US he opened restaurants, but the experience he had at a Canadian village was unique. You see he opened a sandwhich shop and no sooner that he was in business, someone opened at the Stephanopoulosnext corner selling the same wares. He  added burgers and hotdogs and so did his competitor. Then he figured he’d have an edgeif he added pizza, which he did. No sooner he did that his competitor also featured pizza. So there was no other choice for him but to move on somewhere else that the competition won’t be that fierce…

 


Grammenos: Participates in concert
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a delightful movie about a group of young adults from the US spending the summer on the island of Santorini….John Kapelos has a role in The Deep End of the Ocean,a social drama about an Italian American family whose middle child disappears in a hotel in Chicago and is found nearly ten years later living in the neighborhood as the son of a Greek man. There is Greek dancing and many twists in this gripping story produced by Steve Nicolaides who’s no relation to me ….

Back in June, the end of the Greek Presidency of the European Union was marked with a concert by Tetraktys String Quartet with Dionysis Grammenos, called the European Young Musician of the Year on the clarinet. The concert was under the auspices of Ambassador Michel Spinellis and the invitation was extended by the president of the Alexander S. Onassis Benefit Foundation Dr. Anthony S. Papadimitriou. The musical evening was held at the Zankel Hall of Carnegie Hall on June 5th  and was free of charge…


Nicolaides Steve: Movies
Ziavras: In Hatzidakis tribute
“The Last Vespers for Manos Hadjidakis, 20 years later”, a musical tribute on 20th anniversary of the death of the eminent Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis was held, June 13 at the Center of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Artistic Director, vocalist and narrator Yanna Katsageorgi presented a unique evening with five extraordinary artists performing his poetic and unconventional songs as the composer intended them to be performed. Yanna was joined by sopranos Julie Ziavras, Alexandra Skendrou, pianist Panos Chrisovergis and guitarist Spiros Exaras. The concert is a reminder of the legacy left by Manos Hadjidakis, an artist whose whole life was an act of resistance to injustice and repression. His social conscience, civic responsibility, creativity, free spirit and kindness are values that are necessary more than ever at this critical juncture in Greek history. The tribute included some of his most beloved songs from Pornography, Absurd, Captain Michael, Big Pink, Blood Wedding, Street of Dreams, Reflections, Immortality, Ballads of Athena Street and more….

 

 


 

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Travelogue… with Bob Nicolaides

 

MedCruise general assembly held in Spain

 

The latest developments in the sea cruise industry and its prospects were examined in the 44th MedCruise (Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports) General Assembly in Castellon, Spain. Among the issues discussed were sustainable development, creation of “green ports”, implementation of innovative solutions and practices and the strengthening of international cooperation.

MedCruise president & Piraeus Port Authority SA (PPA SA) general director Stavros Hatzakos stated that “cooperation can be more effective when the ports of the Mediterranean and neighbouring adjoining seas act collectively”.  MedCruise represents over 100 ports in the Mediterranean and adjoining seas, namely, the Black Sea and Red Sea.

Hatzakos has been elected MedCruise president in 2012 and the association's HQ has been moved from Barcelona to Piraeus.  The MedCruise General Assembly launched on May 21 welcomed three new members, the ports of  Istanbul, Taranto and Trabzon, as well as two new associate members, the port of Allegra, Montenegro and the Association of Danish Ports.

 

 

The World’s Best Ocean treasure for nature lovers

 

Besides its massive size, the oceanic sanctuary in the South Pacific is home to a vast array of marine life, hosting 48 different shark species, 25 mammal species, 19 nesting bird species and five sea turtle species, including the endangered green turtle.

Its ocean floors are illuminated with more than 1.1 million acres of the vibrant coral reefs that give the sea its name, and its waters provide 3,000 tons of fish to New Caledonia’s inhabitants.

New Caledonia is no stranger to record-breaking sites. Located about 3,000km east of Australia, the remote French territory is home to the Grand Lagon Sud, the world’s biggest lagoon and a Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as to the world’s second largest double-barrier reef, after the one in Australia.

But besides these awe-inspiring locations, New Caledonia also has some of the richest biodiversity on Earth, which is why its government and conservation experts are taking measures to protect the natural treasure before there is a serious threat.

Currently, illegal fishing is the only concern, but potential increases in ship traffic from Queensland, Australia, and the continuance of deep-sea oil mining could harm the aquatic park in the future. Over the next three years, the park will be separated into zones, some of which will be open to economic activities like fishing and tourist activities like snorkeling and swimming.

The park’s preservation marks a historic moment in marine conservation and adds another wondrous site to New Caledonia, making this the perfect time to plan your next South Pacific adventure.

 

European tourist visits to Iran up 240%

 

The entry of European tourists to Iran has risen 240 percent between April 9 and May 10 compared to the same period last year, Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization Director Masoud Soltanifar said on Saturday. Most of the 4- and 5-star hotels in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, and Kashan have been fully reserved by European tourists for the next six months, the IRNA news agency quoted Soltanifar as saying. Iran may be set to return to the top of “must-visit” lists for 2014, the Financial Times said in a report in January.

 Its attractions have never been in doubt -- from ski resorts to beaches, stunning Islamic architecture, ancient archaeological sites, and superb food. Now, tour operators are hoping the thawing of political relations with the west following the election of Hassan Rouhani as president will give travelers the reassurance they need to return. Rouhani’s administration has announced plans to ease visa requirements to increase visitor numbers and increase annual income from tourism from $2 billion today to $10 billion. 

On Thursday, May 15, Iranian Intelligence Minister Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi said that development of the tourism industry should be taken seriously, since it can be one of the cornerstones of the “resistance economy” proposed by the Supreme Leader. “Serious attention should be paid to the issue of tourism, and as one of the pillars of the resistance economy… it can be a matter of special attention,” Alavi told a meeting of people active in the tourism industry. He went on to say that tourism is one of the many apparatuses for familiarizing the world with “our revolution”, a reference to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. “Our view and the direction in the Ministry of Intelligence is to remove problems and hurdles for the promotion of tourism,” he added.

 

Greece projects 21.2 million tourist arrivals in 2014

 

Foreign tourists visiting Greece this year are expected to add up to a record 21.2 million, including cruise visitors, Andreas Andreadis, the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), said.

The head of tourism professionals in the country explained that demand is growing far above the original estimates, and that the figures to be recorded this year had been set as the targets for the next four years. He added that in this context investments for the creation of more top-category hotel units need to be accelerated while the infrastructure of regional airports needs upgrading.

Good News Tourism for Greece
Andreadis expects cruise passenger arrivals to remain at last year’s levels – 2.2 million – and even considers SETE’s latest estimate for 19 million international tourists as “rather conservative,” having recently revised the figure from the previous forecast for 18.5 million. Athens alone is set to receive some 750,000 more visitors than last year, which is indicative of the momentum that the Greek capital is enjoying.

Demand from Russia is expected to drop by no more than 5 percent, while visitors to Greece from the Ukraine are expected to decline by 50 percent. Cruise companies have reduced their schedules for the Eastern Mediterranean but are operating larger vessels, while they are already preparing to increase the number of cruise liners sailing in the region next year.

In order to satisfy future demand for beds in Greece, SETE has set a target for the creation of an additional 250,000 by 2021 at high-category hotels (four- or five-star), of which some 150,000 will be new and 100,000 will come from the upgrade of the existing capacity. This will require the implementation of investment programs adding up to 24 billion euros. Some 3 billion of that is expected to come from the state and the rest from the private sector. Another key point is the creation of new installations at regional airports, some of which are easily saturated during peak times in the summer season in terms of handling flights.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Travelogue… with Bob Nicolaides



 

 

1Q Figures Encouraging for Greece’s Tourism

 


The Parthenon
The economic crisis in Greece had an enormous negative impact on the Greek hospitality industry between 2010 and 2013, with an estimated loss of €2.5 billion across the board, €820M loss felt by the hotels in Athens alone. The country however is seeing both a primary fiscal surplus which was unexpected, and a rebound tourist movement towards the end of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014. Hotels are experiencing a surge in occupancy rates with business tourism showing impressive gains.

 

Athens has been showing signs of recovery since May 2013 and the first quarter of this year shows the trend continuing. Occupancy levels reflect a 32% rise and the RevPAR for this period is up 20.6%. In addition, there appears a realization of 30% increase in conferences taking place in the country. These improvements in key areas offer hope for the Greek hospitality industry across the entire current year.

 

Guinness World Record: Amazing base jump from Burj Khalifa

 

Skydive Dubai has set a new Guinness World Record after Soul Flyers World Champions Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet took an 828 metre leap off the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

The pair set Dubai's latest record-breaking title when they performed the feat on Monday, setting off orange flares on the way down.

Jumping high.
Skydive Dubai said the jump was only possible with the construction of a 3x1m platform at the very top of the pinnacle, which it described an immense task in itself. The structure, which was spotted by residents and tourists last week, took three days to install, with challenges faced due to weather constrictions limiting the time available for construction, the company said.

It said measures were in place to ensure the Dubai pinnacle did not get damaged. “On behalf of the entire team and myself, I would like to thank HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Sports Council for giving us the opportunity in making this project a reality,” said Nasser Al Neyadi, president of the Aero Sport Federation and chairman of Skydive Dubai. “Skydive Dubai has become a pioneer in regards to aerial sports and will continue to strive in setting more new world records.”

As part of preparations for the base jump, Fugen and Reffet completed a series of training jumps off Lauterbeunnen Mountain in Switzerland over a week, which is almost the same height as Burj Khalifa. This was followed by base jumping out of helicopters in Dubai to ensure they were ready for the leap off of the world’s tallest building. “This was the jump of a lifetime and an achievement of three years of hard training. I am glad we landed successfully, accomplishing a lifelong dream,” Fugen said. Reffet added: “This was my best jump by far. It was a dream come true.”

In April, Skydive Dubai, which opened in 2010, broke the Guinness World Record for the smallest parachute jump. “As always, Skydive Dubai prides itself on the 100 percent safety record and the Burj Khalifa jump is no exception”,said Alan Gayton, general manager, Skydive Dubai, The Palm Drop Zone. “This success is due to the ‘practice make perfect’ method of training that we always follow and the 100% dedication of everyone working on this project.”

 

The most expensive restaurant of the world- Ibiza Sublimotion

 

As well as world-class clubs and luxury villas, the party island of Ibiza is soon to be home to the most expensive restaurant on the planet. The new Hard Rock Hotel, opening in Playa d'en Bossa on May 18, will be launching Sublimotion - an ‘unparalleled gastro-sensory venture’ where a 20-course meal will set diners back £1,235 a head.

Expensive you say?
Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero is behind the five-star resort’s exclusive concept, which aims to take 12 guests at a time ‘an experience for all the senses’. Combining food, art and technology, the menu, which is yet to be unveiled, promises to create a ‘complete and unprecedented emotional experience’ at the first Hard Rock Hotel to open in Europe.

A spokesman explained: ‘The dishes will cause a stir among the most neglected senses; from moments of humour, pleasure, fear, reflection and nostalgia, diners will be wandering through a world of sensations from the North Pole where they will enjoy a cold snack that they carve on their own iceberg or to the baroque Versailles where the elegance of a rose is sure to melt in their palate.’ Guests will dine in a unique space that will recreate a titillating atmosphere for all the senses, with‘state-of-the-art’ systems creating a ‘vivid setting transcending human senses’.

Roncero, Spain’s most famous chef, will also be launching the 3,00-seater Tapas restaurant Estado Puro at the Hard Rock– set to be the biggest luxury hotel in Ibiza - when it opens next month. He said: ‘We are very excited about the opening of Sublimotion and believe our guests will enjoy a culinary experience they’ve never previously encountered. ‘We are so delighted to be working with Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza in one of the most international islands in the world.’ Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza will include 493 rooms, boasting suites with private pools, ocean-front balconies and outdoor Jacuzzis. VIP services, including access to some of Ibiza's most exclusive clubs and restaurants, will also be offered to guests.

Abel Matutes Prats, CEO of Palladium Hotel Group, said: ‘This commitment to gastronomy, entertainment, technology and luxury fits perfectly with Hard Rock’s passion to keep music at the forefront of each initiative, as well as Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza’s standing as a music-inspired innovator in one of the world’s most renowned music capitals. ‘Catering to a new wave of modern travelers seeking unexpected, yet exceptional encounters, we’re thrilled to provide a journey of the sense that promotes music culture.’

Who wishes to visit the top cemetery tourism spots?

 

For ideas on planning a trip around this original concept, just follow the guide provided by Hotels.com. Cemetery tourism, though macabre by definition, certainly isn’t gloomy or dull. All the rage in Japan, the idea of travelling to cemeteries – whether to visit the grave of a favourite celebrity, artist or historical figure or simply to admire the tombstones – is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. For ideas on planning a trip around this original concept, just follow the guide provided by Hotels.com.

Frequently Visited Cemetary 
According to the website, which specializes in hotel price comparisons, one of the most affordable cemetery tourism destinations is Palm Springs, where Frank Sinatra is buried at the Desert Memorial Park. The average nightly rate for a double room is €81 (around $112).

Next on the list is Buenos Aires in Argentina, home to the Recoleta cemetery. Though not necessarily famous, most of the wealthy bodies buried here commissioned particularly elaborate tombstones which are definitely worth the trip. A hotel stay near the destination costs €84 ($116) per night on average.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Berlin is one of the most affordable destinations, with the average hotel room costing€85 ($118) per night. At the Dorotheenstädtisch-Friedrichswerderscher Friedhof cemetery, visitors can place flowers on the tomb of the playwright Bertolt Brecht and the sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, among others.

Finally, no list of the world’s most prestigious cemeteries would be complete without a mention of the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris. Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are just a few of the notable personalities laid to rest here. Tourists can expect to pay more for their stay, however, as a double room is priced at €131 ($181) per night on average.

Herod Atticus Odeon ranked 2nd in list of world's leading theatres

 

OTTAWA (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli) The Herod Atticus Odeon beneath the Acropolis is the second-best place in the world to watch live performances, according to a list appearing in a special supplement in Canada's "Globe and Mail" newspaper.

Herod Atticus Theater; On Canadian List is #2
Dealing more specifically with the use of privileges from credit cards under the headline "Top venues for live theatre," the list presents the best venues in the world for live theatre, dance and music.

As regards the Herod Atticus, there is a reference to its history, while it is termed the best example of an authentic Greek amphitheatre and is described as "the perfect location where modern music meets with the ancient atmosphere." It is the ideal of all artists, the report says.

Topping the list is England's Minack Theatre, Porthcurno and it is followed by the Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens, the Sydney Opera House, Milan's La Scala, New York's Carnegie Hall, Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre and other famous venues around the world.

 


Cyprus keeps itself away from Eurovision rant

 

 

Cyprus tourism chiefs have distanced themselves from an "offensive" rant on social media by a director of one of the island's leading travel companies following last Saturday's Eurovision song contest. Joelle Watkins, a senior manager in global marketing at Travelport, wrote to the Cyprus Tourism Organization to complain after seeing the post on her Facebook feed on Saturday night.

Louis Loizou, an executive director of the Louis Group which has interests in hotels and cruise ships, allegedly wrote that it was "offensive and a disgrace" that Austrian drag queen Conchita had won the contest. He ranted: "Returning home last night I saw who won and that is when I said "the world as we know it has come to its end"."

Eurovision tiff
Loizou, a Cypriot who apologized to his Greek-speaking friends for writing in English, added: "I know Eurovision is supposed to be getting funnier and more peculiar each year but this is offensive and a disgrace….The way it is going there will be murderers crooks & pedophiles taking part! Shame, shame, shame to all involved in choosing [sic] these performers and for those who voted and those who accepted them.

He later updated his Facebook status, saying: "It seems that my status on the winning performance at this year's Eurovision was largely misunderstood. I have many gay people in my circle of friends and I am very proud to have them as close friends.

"Therefore, in no way should that status be interpreted as homophobic. I do apologize if, in the spur of the moment, I chose some very inappropriate words when writing it. In no way did I intend to offend anyone. I merely wanted to express that taste wise, and in particular the beard element, was for me over the top."

But his apology came after complaints from colleagues in the industry and after Watkins had written to the CTO to complain about the "deeply shocking, offensive and discriminatory" comments. She added: "Please can you advise whether or not these deeply shocking, offensive and discriminatory comments reflect Cyprus's policy towards the LGBT community and whether you endorse them?

"As the national tourist board of the Republic of Cyprus we welcome all visitors, from all walks of life, and it is our media communications policy to continue to promote Cyprus as a desirable holiday destination. "The friendliness of Cypriots is legendary. Our tourism partners continually provide distinguished and professional levels of service year on year. Cyprus respects gender differences and preferences and complies fully with all related European laws and regulations."

Watkins has also written to Hilton Hotels& Resorts as the Louis Group owns the Hilton Cyprus and is the managing agent for the Hilton Park Nicosia.