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W O R L D

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www.odyssey.gr

A Little Town in Hungary

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May/June 2011

Art Living T he

of

Our annual hotel guide

Greeks in ancient Egypt

Lord of the Rings

Trade-Offs Greeks in Libya today

Rules of Engagement Also: Kalliope Lemos • Athens Altar-cations • Alonissos US$8/Can$9


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Creta Maris & Terra Maris Convention & Golf Resort Greece Crete, 700 14 Hersonissos • Tel: +30 28970 27000 • Fax: +30 28970 22130 www.maris.gr • e-mail: creta@maris.gr


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Candia Maris

Resort & Spa, Crete

Andreas Papandreou 72, 714 14 Heraklion - Gazi • Tel: +30 2810 377 000 • Fax: +30 2810 250 669 www.candiamaris.gr • e-mail: resort.crete@candiamaris.gr


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ODYSSEY

Contents

THE WORLD OF GREECE www.odyssey.gr Number 107 May/June 2011

Publisher ARTHUR DIMOPOULOS email: art@odyssey.gr

General Manager CHRISA VENETI email: chrisa@odyssey.gr

Editor DIANE SHUGART email: editor@odyssey.gr

Art Director KOSTAS PIPILIOS email: kpipilios@motibo.com

Publishing Consultant CATHERINA MYTILINEOU email: cm@odyssey.gr

58

Layout MOTIBO (www.motibo.com) Subscription Fulfillment Fulco Inc. Founder Gregory A. Maniatis

Odyssey’s annual hotel guide highlights establishments that offer a range of hospitality options, from sprawling resorts that are self-contained holiday villages to romantic boutique hotels, spa hotels, beachside bungalows, luxury villas, and self-catering apartments. It’s all about traveling in style.

The Art of Living 60

Romantic Hideaways

61

Urban & Urbane

66

Family Holidays

68

Sleek & Chic

70

Beach Style

74

Destination Resorts

75

Spa & Wellness

78

Just Like Home

On the cover: Photographer Cathy Cunliffe captures the essence of Greece–and a Greek island holiday in this image from Ikies Traditional Houses, a unique boutique hotel at Oia on Santorini.

4 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Co-founders Ioanna Markou / Claire Milonas Odyssey: The World of Greece (ISSN#1106-1146, USPS#019807) is published bimonthly, 7 issues per year. Copyright © 2011 by Odyssey Publications, Inc., 8280 Greensboro Drive, Suite 780, McLean, VA, 22102. North America, P.O.Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834. Tel.: (800) 943-5527, (703) 442-1443, Fax: (703) 748 1893. The annual subscription rate in the U.S. is $48, Euro 38 in Europe, payable to Odyssey Publications, Inc. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, articles, and artwork shall not be returned. Letters to the editor may be edited for publication and become the property of Odyssey Publications, Inc.; correspondence should include an address and telephone number. The opinions expressed in Odyssey are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Publisher, or Odyssey Publications Inc. Copyright © 2006, by Odyssey Publications Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reprinted or reproduced by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher. ODYSSEY: The World of Greece, and the ODYSSEY design are registered trademarks of Odyssey Publications, Inc. Send all orders, changes of address, and other inquiries to Odyssey, PO Box 3000, Denville, NJ, 07834-1236, USA, by e-mail: subscribe@odyssey.gr. Online subscriptions, renewals, address changes at: www.odyssey.gr. ATTENTION POSTMASTER: Please send changes of address to Odyssey Magazine, P.O. Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834-1236. Periodicals Postage paid at Rahway, NJ and additional mailing offices.


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12,Riga Fereou Street 単 85100 Rodos-Greece Tel: +30 22410 89700 単 Fax: +30 22410 24613 単 e-mail:info @ rodospark.gr 単 www.rodospark.gr


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Contents

53 features

36 Lord of the Rings

The Odyssey interview: Spyros Capralos

39 The Social Network

New research adds a twist to the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate. By Kathryn Koromilas

44 Trade Offs

Can ancient Naukratis, a colony formed by warring Greek city-states, be a paradigm for today? By Vicki James Yiannias and George D. Tselos

48 Our Town

Beloiannisz preserves a slice of Greek history in Hungary. By Marissa Tejada Benekos

53 Rules of Engagement

departments 8 8 10 12 26 28 32 33 118 120

By Diana Porter

6 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Editor’s note This issue’s contributors Chronika Diaspora Numerology: Culture Greekville: Cleveland, Ohio We Greeks: Erika Spyropoulos, Christiana Thanos Test Your GiQ: What is filoxenia? My Odyssey The Homer Survey: Sofka Zinovieff

reports & comments 13 14 15 16 18 21 24

Ancient accounts Turkey’s model for bilateral ties Back to the drachma? Box deliveries from Crete The dispute over the 12 gods’ altar Greek Americans and Greece Music in digital times

living & arts 93 98 100

By Iason Athanasiadis

84 Alonissos: The Sea’s Island

84

104 106 113

Living: Volunteering vacations Around Town: Mavilli Square Food & Wine: Keeping with tradition–sausages and vinegar elixirs The Arts Calendar Ars in brevis: Kalliope Lemos, the International Festival of the Aegean Media: The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, John Psathas’s Neo Zeibekiko, DVDs, CDs, Books


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info@cavotagoo.gr • www.cavotagoo.gr


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Editor’s notebook

Contributors

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Iason Athanasiadis, a journalist and photographer, has worked with PBS, BBC, Arte, the BBC Greek Service, and major print media reporting chiefly from the Middle East. He is currently based in Istanbul.

year has passed since Prime Minister George Papandreou publicly acknowledged Greece’s debt crisis and, with the incongruously gorgeous backdrop of Kastellorizo, appealed to the European Union and International Monetary Fund for a bailout. It’s been a year largely of confusion as Greeks have tried to come to grip with what it all means. Yet after twelve months of austerity, the headlines remain the same–and the figures still don’t add up. Amid the confusion and insecurity, Greeks seek comfort in what the familiar–and that includes the drachma, which most look back upon with nostalgia as they blame Greece’s current woes on the euro. It’s a fallacious belief, though, and one which would likely worsen rather than resolve Greece’s woes as Dimitris Katsikas explains in “A flip of the coin” (Reports & Comments, page 13). Solutions cannot be found by looking back, but rather by looking forward. And there is momentum here. Tourism, the backbone of the Greek economy, is showing a new energy–and this is due to the imagination and initiative shown by Greece’s hoteliers. In “The Art of Living” (page 58), our annual guide to Greece’s hotels, this is evident in the range of accommodations offered–from sparkling luxury resort-villages to cozy boutique hotels in converted traditional homes carved into the landscape. It’s also evident in the food and wine sector, which has begun to thrive on the ingenuity, experience, and entrepreneurship shown by small producers with big dreams– like Petros Economakis and Vassilis Vaimakis (“Keeping with Tradition”, page 100), and countless others like them, who are helping build ‘brand Greece’ through their products. It’s this energy and imagination that the government needs–not to harness but to free so that unfettered by the constraints of the moribund mentality of a large public sector, it can spur the Greek economy, and Greek society, forward. If the past twelve months were a year of realization or awakening, then the next twelve must be a year of change.

Stephanie Bailey, an artist and writer, lives in Athens and is a regular contributor to Odyssey. Marissa Tejada Benekos is a freelance journalist specializing in culture, art, travel and food. She is based in Athens. Angelike Contis is a journalist and independent documentary maker currently based in New York. Dr. Thanos Dokos is director general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). Ann Elder, a freelance journalist, splits her time between New Zealand and Greece. Alex Kairis is a graduate student who worked his way through college as a DJ. Penelope Karageorge, a freelance journalist based in New York, began her career in journalism at Newsweek and later worked as publicity director for People! magazine. She is the author of two novels, has published a poetry collection, and recently completed a screenplay. Dimitris Katsikas, research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), was recently elected Lecturer of International and European Political Economy at the University of Athens. Zaharo Laios lives in Cleveland. Melita Leouzis works in the travel industry. She splits her time between Europe and the United States. Niki Mitarea is a Greek food writer and restaurant critic for leading Greek newspapers and magazines. She is the author of Cooking With Wine. Vivienne Nilan, a journalist, is an avid reader who reports on the Greek literary scene. Julia Panayotou is a journalist based in Athens. Diana Porter, a frequent visitor to Greece, is writing a memoir of her years back-packing around Europe. She lives in northern California. Mary Sinanidis, a journalist, lives and works in Athens. Ari Stone, a journalist and political activist, is based in Washington, D.C. George D. Tselos is Supervisory Archivist and Head of Reference Services at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, a unit of the National Park Service. He holds a Ph.D. degree in History from the University of Minnesota. Menelaos Tzafalias is a freelance journalist based in Athens. He has a slight South African accent and has lived six years under communism. He has worked for the Independent and contributed to Public Radio International’s The World program. Vicki J. Yiannias, a writer and artist, lives in New York. She often writes on cultural tourism and her work as an illustrator has appeared in group shows in New York and in major media such as The New York Times Magazine.

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A digest of events in Greece and the diaspora

International THE EUROPEAN Commission and Turkey reach agreement on the return of illegal migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey. Under the compromise, the return policy will initially apply to Turkish immigrants only. THE EUROPEAN Commission and International Monetary Fund hastily issue a statement expressing “the deepest respect” for the “tremendous” fiscal overhaul Greece has undertaken in a bid to placate Greek public opinion, angered by EU-IMF officials’ suggestion that Greece sell off its territory and other assets to reduce its debt. After the furor dies down, however, the IMF reiterates the need for major reforms. CYPRUS President Dimitris Christofias says talks with the breakaway Turkish Cypriots “are not moving forward” but vows to persevere with fresh proposals. THE GREEK-run cargo ship Perseas is seized by pirates off the coast of Nigeria for ransom. The Ukrainian captain and Greek first engineer are released shortly afterwards. GREECE and FYROM prepare to argue their case before the International Court of Justice at the Hague. The two sides are due to meet at hearings starting March 21 over FYROM’s dispute of the validity of Greek objections to Skopje’s application to join Nato.

School of Law building in central Athens, demanding unconditional legalization. A smaller group had staged a similar action in Thessaloniki. GREEK police arrest a Palestinian student suspected of being a member of Fatah alIslam. An Italian newspaper reports the man, identified as Ghaleb Taleb, had been in Greece for months planning attacks in Europe. POLICE arrest and charge six people in connection of the radical anarchist group Nuclei of Fire after a raid on a suspected hideout yields explosives and notes detailing targets. Nuclei of Fire has claimed responsibility for sending booby-trapped packages to foreign embassies in Athens last November. MUSICIAN Manolis Rassoulis is found dead in his apartment in Thessaloniki. According to the coroner, he had passed away four days earlier. Rassoulis was sixty-five. The Crete-born musician had a seminal influence on contemporary Greek music. FRONTEX, the European Union agency charged with guarding the EU’s external borders, extends the mandate of a team of guards along Greece’s border with Turkey on a permanent basis. The 200-

strong force has been detailed to help Greek authorities stem the flow of illegal migrants across Greece’s borders. GREEK officials protest Turkish harassment of an Italian ship in the Aegean. The ship was exploring a possible fiber optic cable route from Italy to Israel with permission from the Greek government. MILTIADIS Evert, the former leader of the conservative New Democracy party, passes away after extensive hospitalization. A former mayor of Athens known for establishing private radio, Evert had a history of heart problems. He was 72. GREECE offers a 1.3-million-euro reward for information leading to the arrest of Vassilis Paleokostas, who became a celebrity after escaping prison twice in an audacious helicopter break-out. Paleokostas had been serving a sentence for robbery and kidnapping. THE NUMBER of deaths from the H1N1 flu virus climbs to 45, according to health authorities. In January, some 104 people were in intensive care after developing complications from the disease. GREECE updates its “basket of goods” used to calculate inflation, removing common light bulbs, ladies sweaters, and retsina

PROTRACTED work stoppages and strikes by public transport workers fail to persuade the government to withdraw a bill creating a metropolitan transit authority to oversee and coordinate public transport in greater Athens. Unions again walk out on strike and threaten continued stoppages after Parliament passes the bill. SOME 300 undocumented migrants agree to end their hunger-strike after a compromise is reached with the government. The migrants, who had arrived in Athens from Crete where they lived, had initially occupied a section of the University of Athens 10 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Eurokinissi

Greece

Controversial legislation that aimed to curb construction in conservation areas was withdrawn and amended in the wake of public pressure that caused many members of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) threatened political mutiny. The original legislation proposed by Environment Minister Tina Birbili would ban construction on lots smaller than 10 stremmas, or one hectare, bordering Natura 2000 sites. One argument opponents used was that construction would only be feasible for owners of large tracts while on islands like Tilos, a Natura site, where property is divided in small parcels, any construction would be impossible.


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from items described and representing “average household purchases”. New items added to the basket include espresso coffee, MP4 and Blu-ray players, GPS devices, low-fat cheese, baby wipes, diet biscuits, mouthwash, sun block, hair dye, and post-graduate education fees.

Olympiakos players celebrate their 6-0 win over cross-town rival Aek that essentially clinched the championship title for the Piraeus-based football club. But even the club’s die-hard fans acknowledge that the season has been disappointing, in terms of level of play and a slew of recent allegations about match-fixing and corruption. The claims prompted the government to ask the Greek Football Association to take over the championship’s operation from Super League, which is currently responsible for running it. ty. It also says some 100,000 people joined the ranks of the jobless in the fourth quarter of 2010. BOUNCED checks total 193 million euros in January 2011, according to media reports. Data from the state credit reporting

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THE HELLENIC Statistical Authority releases data showing that Greece’s economy had contracted by 6.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2010 compared to 5.7 per cent in the previous quarter. It attributes the drop in “the significant reduction” in consumer spending. THE EUROPEAN Commission formally asks Greece to change tax legislation that discriminates against funds held abroad by Greek residents. GREECE says it will waive airport fees for nine months as part of a series of moves aimed at rekindling tourism. All airports, except Athens, will not charge landing, take-off, and stopover fees from April through the end of the year, according to a report in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. UNEMPLOYMENT rates in the last quarter of 2010 rise to 14.2 per cent, up roughly four per cent from the previous quarter, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authori-

Eurokinissi

Economy

Archaeologists working at the Acropolis say they have identified five lost fragments from the Parthenon’s metope, or decorative frieze, embedded in the outer walls of the Acropolis. The fragments were found during a scan of the walls with a special camera mounted on a weather balloon. It’s believed that the fragments were removed from the temple and used as building materials in the eighteenth century when the Acropolis served as a fortress.

agency Teiresias sets the checks total value at 172.3 million euros, pushing private debt in 2010 over the two-billion-euro mark.

Sports CROATIAN authorities detain and charge nine football hooligans in connection with an attack on a bus carrying forty Paok FC fans to a Europa League match against Dinamo Zagreb last December. Four Greek nationals were injured in the attack. IAAF issues a two-year suspension against Olympic medalist Piyi Devetzi after the triple-jumper fails to submit for a doping test in May 2009 in Ukraine. Devetzi’s twoyear ineligibility ends on December 8, 2012. MEANTIME, the trial of Kostas Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou on charges of perjury continues with testimony from their coach, Christos Tzekos, who obliquely denied the charges claiming IOC bias against them. The two sprinters and Olympic medalists are accused of staging a motorcycle accident to avoid a doping test. UEFA launches an investigation into complaints by Manchester City players that lasers were being shone into their eyes during a Europa League match against Aris. May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 11


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Global Hellenism

Greek president, premier receive AHEPA delegation AHI to host Achievement Dinner on June 1 in Athens The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and the American Hellenic Institute-Athens Chapter host the 7th Annual AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Award Gala Dinner at the Grande Bretagne Hotel on June 1, in conjunction the our annual AHI delegation visit to Athens. The 2011 honoree is Marianna Vardinoyanni, an extraordinary individual who has distinguished herself by her support of numerous philanthropic causes. Past honorees have been: the distinguished former President of Greece, Constantine Stephanopoulos, Dr. Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, Alexandra Mitsotakis, Prodromos Emfietzoglou, Anna Synadinou-Marinaki, Lazaros D. Efraimoglou, Kitty Kyriacopoulos, Joanna Despotopoulou, composer Vangelis, Mrs. Niki Goulandris and Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis.

reek President Karolos Papoulias and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou received a delegation of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) on its annual visit to Greece and Cyprus in early April. During the Athens leg, the leadership of the AHEPA family, comprised of Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas, Daughters of Penelope Grand President Christine Constantine, Maids of Athena Grand President Kiki Amanatidis, AHEPA Canadian President Nick Aroutzidis, and Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, also met with the president of the Hellenic Parliament Phillipos Petsalnikos. In a first for AHEPA, Supreme President Karacostas addressed the Hellenic Parliament’s Special Committee on Greeks Abroad, which was attended by several members of Parliament led by Committee Chairman Ilias Karanikas and Secretary of the Committee Spyridon-Adonis Georgiadis. The supreme president provided an

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overview of AHEPA’s role in the community and how the organization has served as trusted bridge between the United States and Greece, the state of the Greek American community, and programs of mutual cooperation to benefit the diaspora. In addition, the nine-member delegation received a briefing on U.S.-Greece relations from American Ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith at the American Embassy. “We have been extremely well-received in Athens,” said Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas. “We are grateful to all parties that helped to make this leg of our excursion a fruitful and productive one. We look forward to continuing our work together to further enhance and strengthen relations between the United States, Canada, and Greece.” The delegation concluded its Athens leg with a roof-top reception hosted by the University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus. The university is AHEPA’s partner for its successful Journey to Greece program for college students.

Paideia Studies in Greece 2011-2012 Eligibility: GPA 2.5 The less expensive program a student can find in Greece or Europe with the strongest academic component.

Dates Fall/Spring semesters with an optional early/late program for History and Archaeology of Ancient Greece in Aiani and Dion (Mount Olympus) with a partial PAIDEIA scholarship.

Semester/Year Students can study at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Aristotle and Macedonia Universities in Thessaloniki, University of Aegean and National Center of Marine Research in Rhodes. Many classes are available.

Summer/Winter Intersession Students can study in Rhodes, Aiani/Dion, Thessaloniki, Athens, Delphi, Sparta, Ikaria, Kozani

Contact: Center for Hellenic Studies – Tel/fax: (860) 429-8518 • http://paideiaonline.org • paideia@snest.net or University of Connecticut – www.studyabroad.uconn.edu


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REPORTS & comments

The writing in the scrawl

This unimpressive clay fragment, measuring just two inches by three, is believed to be the earliest known written record in Europe–dating back to between 1450 and 1350 B.C. But this isn’t what’s most significant about this piece of a Linear B tablet found at Iklaina, near Pylos in the southwestern Peloponnese, by a University of MissouriSt Louis excavation. Michael Cosmopoulos, the dig’s director for the last eleven years, says the fragment and other finds at Iklaina “could potentially challenge what we know about the origins of states in ancient Greece. Not only does it push the origins of those states back in time by at least a century and a half, but the tablet shows that literacy and bureaucracy appeared earlier and were more widespread than we had thought until now.” May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

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reports & comments

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Paradigm lost On a visit to Greece in early March, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called for a new model in GreekTurkish relations free of the Islam-Christianity divisions that Eurokinissi

complicate bilateral disputes. But looking back on his visit, there’s little new to discern. By Thanos Dokos

Flagging relations? Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, speak to reporters at a joint news conference.

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nyone hoping that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu might be carrying some new ideas for improving bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey, was disappointed. This became abundantly clear from statements that Kastellorizo be excluded from any comprehensive or “package” agreement on the Aegean. Given that international treaties incontrovertibly include this island in the Dodecanese group, the Turkish official’s statement either does his own–undisputed–intelligence injustice or underestimates that of Greek officials. Overall, Davutoglu merely reiterated old proposals–that Turkey lift its casus belli in exchange for Greece’s commitment not to extend its territorial waters and that both countries submit flight plans for their fighter planes during sorties over the Aegean. The fact is that both countries have adopted different legal interpretations of both the obligations of stateowned aircraft entering a foreign Flight Information Region (FIR) as well as on the area of the air space itself. Until these differences are resolved–whether through bilateral negotiations or through some international arbitration body–there are ways to reduce tensions without either side backing off its legal positions. One example would be for Turkish fighters to submit flight plans to the Allied Joint Force Command headquarters in Naples. If Ankara truly wishes to turn the page in its relations with Athens, it could also stop the “cruises” by Turkish warships into Greek territorial waters–a violation of the spirit of the

law on innocent passage, which allows a ship to sail through a country’s territorial waters as long as this isn’t prejudicial to that country’s peace, good order, or security. It’s clear that Ankara is in no mood to make any kind of gesture towards Athens (which, in any case, isn’t compatible with Turkish negotiating strategy). But what does raise concern is that Turkey could become intoxicated by its heightened geostrategic importance (or its enhanced status relative to Greece) and thus not be disposed to agree to an honorable settlement aimed at fully normalizing Greek-Turkish relations. The Greek government has a complete picture of Turkish intentions from exploratory talks. If the “package” under discussion secures basic Greek interests, it should be examined without prejudice; if not, then we should preserve cordial relations, to the highest degree possible, through economic cooperation, at the level of citizen contacts and exchanges, and continue to support–conditionally–the continuation of accession talks between Turkey and the European Union (meanwhile observing Turkey’s transformation into an Islamic-lite regime). But Greece should also take care to maintain a relative balance in military forces–something that is feasible despite the cuts in defense spending. Greece also needs to cultivate regional alliances so it can capitalize on its diplomatic assets and develop a national strategy rooted on a basic consensus between the ‘rational’ political forces and what public sentiment supports.


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reports & comments

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A flip of the coin

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March 25 is the day Greece officially commemorates its independence. For many Greeks, it was more than coincidental that this year’s anniversary coincided with a critical

Eurokinissi

alks within the European Union on the European Stability Mechanism sparked new discussions on the future of the Greek debt and brought back to the fore various scenarios that hadn’t been heard since the International Monetary Fund had agreed to the Greek bailout. Chief among these was that Greece would leave the euro–a move advocated recently by a number of respected scholars, financial analysts, and institutions like the European Economic Advisory Group and Harvard University’s Kenneth Rogoff. Such talk was largely seen as a strong-arm tactic ahead of the EU talks, yet the argument for a return to the drachma has been made long before these talks began by such economics luminaries as Nuriel Rubini. Some Greek analysts have also jumped on the drachma bandwagon, especially as recent data offers little reason for optimism about the course of the Greek economy. The rationale for leaving the euro is that it would be accompanied by a devaluation of between twenty and thirty per cent. This would make Greek products more competitive and would therefore result in an increase in exports. Such an “external” devaluation would supplant the “internal” devaluation that is currently being attempted through wage cuts aimed at reducing labor costs, and would give the Greek economy some breathing space. At first glance, this is a promising argument. But it’s overly–and unreasonably–optimistic since it neglects basic factors that inject a large degree of uncertainty regarding the outcome of such a decision. These factors aren’t just economic but also political; they’re also linked to the institutional framework of the Greek reality which is often overlooked by economic analyses–especially by foreign analysts. Economic issues include the fact that Greek export activity is not particularly important as they comprise about seven per cent of GDP–one of the lowest percentages in the EU. Also, as it has been pointed out, Greek manufacturing relies on imported raw materials so the higher cost of purchasing them would at least partially cancel out the devaluation’s effect on the price of Greek products. Devaluation would make imports–which are far greater than exports in Greece–more expensive, thus reducing purchasing power further and causing a drop in living standards. And in terms of Greece’s debt, the effect of devaluation would be an immediate increase in its level as a percentage of GDP, undermining further the credibility of the Greek economy in foreign markets and making the prospect of a debt restructuring almost unavoidable. Leaving the eurozone would also have political ramifications and most likely trigger elections as the

The other side of the coin: bronze plaque commemorating the drachma, a currency many Greeks still refer to as “our money” when comparing prices to the euro.

government would seek to have its decision ratified at the polls. Given the current political climate, it’s unlikely any party would win enough votes to form a government, or a sufficient parliament majority to move ahead with the necessary economic reforms that the current government–which enjoys a relatively comfortable majority in Parliament–is having trouble implementing. This political uncertainty would be compounded by the fact that Greece would lose the credibility stemming from the European Central Bank’s monetary policy and the euro’s broader framework. This could lead to a protracted period of inaction on reforms which, in turn, could trigger a series of devaluations that would deepen Greece’s economic problems and send inflation skyrocketing. This situation would probably result in a “permanent” exclusion of Greece from the markets and therefore a perpetual need to be supported by the European Stability Mechanism. Thus, if leaving the eurozone aims at averting being placed in economic stabilization mechanisms and being subjected to economic surveillance, it’s highly unlikely that this will be achieved by a return to the drachma. Leaving the eurozone involves grave dangers–economic, political, and social–for the country, whose cost cannot be offset by the short-term– and far from certain–economic benefits that it might produce.

European Council meeting on Greece’s debt. And while some Greeks see a return to the drachma as a way of reasserting Greece’s independence, economists argue over such a measure’s effectiveness and desirability. By Dimitris Katsikas

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reports & comments

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Doorstep delivery The monthly, or weekly, parcel from the horio packed with fruit, cheese, olive oil, honey–anything in season–was common in most urban households as most Greek families extend back to “the village”. capital’s population become so urbanized that box schemes are taking root? By Julia Panayotou

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But has the Greek Pick and choose: seasonal produce is still plentiful at neighborhood street markets but many Greeks simply don’t have the time to shop.

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rganic produce box delivery schemes began in large urban centers in the U.K. and the U.S. like San Francisco, an outgrowth of the environmental movement aiming to limit food’s environmental footprint while also encouraging people to support local producers and consume more foods in season. In the U.K. alone, such schemes–which deliver a seasonal selection of fresh vegetables to your doorstep in a box–outnumber farmer’s markets. But Greek urbanites have greater access to fresh fruit and vegetables thanks to the weekly neighborhood street market, or laiki, where producers sell at stalls. And they receive regular goodie boxes from relatives in the village. Nonetheless, an organic box scheme launched in Athens has quickly built a loyal customer base–not least because produce prices are twenty to twenty-five per cent cheaper than at the market. Kostas Kremmydas, founder of Greece’s first (and thus far) only organic produce delivery scheme, Biobox, had been involved in organic farming for over a decade when he obtained his M.Sc. in Organic Farming. It was during graduate studies in Scotland that he saw how many organic farmers were selling their goods through box deliveries.

While intrigued, Kremmydas was wary initially. “In the U.K., deliveries began so consumers had access to organic products because it wasn’t easy for farmers to reach consumers. In Greece, there were so many farmers’ markets. People would go to the laiki to pick up their weekly fruits and vegetables.” Returning to Greece, he realized times were changing. One evening, while stuck in a particularly nasty traffic jam, he was struck by the idea of introducing box schemes to Greece. “I was working in Athens then, and whenever I would leave late to go home I would watch all the other people stuck in traffic at 7 p.m. I would think: ‘These people have families, they have to go home with groceries and cook. They didn’t have time to go to a farmers’ market–they didn’t even have time to think.’ Sure, they could run in and pick up something at the supermarket. But they don’t know where their produce comes from, who it comes from, how fresh it is.” Operating from Kissamos, Crete, Kremmydas launched his website as a direct link between consumers in Athens and organic farmers with their inseason and certified-organic produce. The website would replicate the traditional farmers’ market expe-


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rience but would be exclusively organic and devoid of middlemen. Online shoppers could inquire about, choose, and order produce at any hour of the day and have it delivered to their homes. Kremmydas says the delivery scheme brings the experience of the local, organic farmers’ market right to busy Athenian workaholics’ homes. Through posts on Biobox and emails, Kremmydas informs consumers about what produce is in season and available from organic farmers on Crete–and where each item comes from. He also makes recommendations. “Someone can come home late at night, sit at their laptop, and carefully choose what fruits and vegetables are in season for the family’s kitchen. They trust me. They know I offer fresh, organic produce.” Having produce delivered rather than selecting it the market or a store, says Kremmydas “is admittedly a modern and new concept for Greece”. Yet he has found consumers in Athens want to fit mindful eating into their busy schedules.

Indeed, more than 400 people have placed orders with Biobox, which processes between fifty and a hundred orders per week. There’s a weekly selection of thirty to forty types of organic fruits and vegetables on offer every week, as well as olive oil. Consumers also receive a crash course about what they’re ordering as Kremmydas’s weekly email includes information about organic farming in Greece and the farmers themselves. Consumers also receive a produce catalog as Biobox takes orders by email, fax, or phone. “I’m trying to cultivate an even bigger variety of crops. I always suggest in my emails when something is particularly good,” he says. Biobox’s Cretan oranges, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and the myriad local greens are all popular. “Many working parents want the best for their children,” he says. “They’re concerned about pollution, about pesticides. But while they start placing orders just for their children, soon they are ordering enough for the whole family.”

AGROTOURISM AND OU TDOOR AC TIVI TIES

Right in the centre of Crete, on Mount Psiloritis, which is the highest and most sacred mountain of the island. In this land where myth blends with history and nature amalgamates with the dream. On this mountain, with its rich geological and biological diversity, the rare plants, member of the European Geoparks.

In this region, in the village of Axos, in an area of 60.000 m2 we created the ENAGRON. Here we grow olive trees, grapevine, all kinds of fruit trees, vegetables and many herbs and aromatic plants with mild, natural and organic methods. Our farm has also many animals.

The ENAGRON offers high quality hotel services. We see in our visitors not just clients, but guests, our own people, whose wellbeing is important to us. It offers exquisite traditional Cretan gastronomy. We select the ingredients carefully and everybody can participate in the preparation of the meals.

Axos Mylopotamou Crete 740 51, Greece • Tel: 2834-061611 / 2810-285752 • www.enagron.gr • email: info@cretenatural.com

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Divine altercations Routine renovation work on a section of track between the Monastiraki and Thisseio urban rail stations unearthed the Altar of the Twelve Gods, one of the most

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t’s the afternoon of Saturday, April 9. Looking down onto the open-air tracks from a café at the corner of Adrianou and Ayiou Filipou streets in ancient Athens and its Monastiraki, I observe a section covered in plastic sheeting. Does the waiter, like me, know what’s un‘absolute center’. But derneath? “They’ve found an altar,” he says. “An ancient altar,” he adds dryly. I then pose the same even the gods question to a tourist couple who have been eating themselves couldn’t meze and drinking Mythos beer while gazing into each other’s eyes: Rodrigo Sanchez, 32, owner of a have created the melee printing business, and Barbara Kublea, 28, a psychologist. They hail from Santiago, Chile, and are on their European honeymoon; they have no idea what is triggered by the on the tracks below. I explain to them that it is the decision to rebury the Altar of the Twelve Gods, the center of Ancient Athens–a very important and holy place that used to be buried but now has come to light. They see this as site. a positive omen for their marriage and smile. I then By Menelaos Tzafalias ask a couple of young Greek women who are sitting at a nearby table and for the past half-hour have been discussing how hard it is to find work. “They have closed the metro line,” says one, almost apologetically. She may not realize it but the unearthing of the altar and the closing of the metro line are related. And have created a surprisingly complicated chain of events. Since February 12, when the Athens daily Kathimerini reported the altar site’s excavation, the government, members of the right-wing opposition, Altar-ed states: the the archaeological community, a construction comlocation of the altar on the pany, and hundreds of concerned citizens–ranging northbound track makes it from latter-day polytheists and battle-ready liberals to hard to find a compromise conservative nationalists and the occasional conspirthat won’t disrupt acy theorist–have engaged in exchanges of mutual commuters or disappoint suspicion and sometimes derision. those who want the altar Moreover, since March, a small group of protestuncovered.

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ers have not budged from the entrance to the Agora, which overlooks the site of the altar. They call themselves the “Citizen’s [sic] initiative to preserve the Altar of the Twelve Gods and of Mercy”. At the time of writing, more than 1,900 people have signed their online petition. They fear that the altar will irreparably be damaged if it is buried again so that the urban rail service, which now is limited, can resume full service. “We are here night and day,” says Odysseas Giannis Kontopidis a tall man with long grey hair, who acts as a representative for the group. To his friends he goes by the name of Echetlaeus, the name of a legendary figure from the Battle of Marathon. “How come Unesco has not intervened?” he asks, making a reference to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The value of the find is without question. “The Altar of the Twelve Gods in the Agora at Athens played a conspicuous part in Athenian topography and history as the central milestone from which road distances were measured and as a place for asylum for suppliants is clear from the literary tradition”. This quote is from the Hesperia Supplements, Vol. 8, 1949, an official publication of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, which conducted the Agora excavations and discovered the altar in 1934. After initial work, a part of the altar complex became–and remains–visible from within the site of the Agora. Archaeologists (serious ones at least) always knew that the rest of the altar site was under the rail tracks which originally had been laid at the end of the nineteenth century when archaeological concerns had less weight. (Interestingly, it was also a time when Greece was facing bankruptcy.) So if the altar was known to be there all this time, what is the fuss about?


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Construction of the overground rail (elektrikos) near Thisseio, in 1880 and today.

Virtual reality presentation of the altar by the Foundation of the Hellenic World

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On February 14, Spyridon Adonis Georgiadis and Athanassios Plevris, parliamentary deputies representing the right-wing Laikos Orthodoxos Synagermos (Popular Orthodox Rally, Laos) opposition party, submitted a parliamentary question about it to the culture minister, Pavlos Geroulanos. They wanted an official response as to why the urban rail operator ISAP, part of the Athens metro system, wanted to hastily rebury such an important find, claiming that “archaeologists” wanted to either raise the track or move the site elsewhere. “We didn’t discover anything new,” says Nikoletta Divari-Valakou, the culture ministry’s director of prehistoric and classical antiquities. A proposed overhead bridge, she adds, would be “a disaster”. In the weeks that have followed, the government has tried to balance the concerns of some of its citizens with the need for the vital Piraeus-Kifissia line to become fully operational again as service along the route has suffered disruptions for months. Last August, the ISAP line’s underground section between Monastiraki and Attiki (including the Omonia hub) was closed for renovation. This was part of the complete refurbishment of the mostly over ground line which cuts through the Greek capital’s center. Sections of the track originally laid in the late nineteenth century were being replaced and tunnels reinforced. The project, which had been tendered in spring 2008, was due to be completed by the summer of 2009; it hasn’t. From Monastiraki to the south, the track is above ground. During the works, just one track was in use between the Monastiraki and Thisseio stations and shared by trains moving in both directions. All renovation work was overseen by culture ministry archaeologists, who also had the opportunity to examine

known finds and document new discoveries. At times, work continued around the clock so that the ISAP line could be returned to service as quickly as possible– and so that the archaeologists weren’t blamed for delaying the project. Excavation and documentation work at the ontrack site of the Altar of the Twelve Gods started last September and had been completed by January. The original plan called for the contractor to rebury the site–a common archaeological practice–and start work on the other track. It was then that the trouble started. First, there were press reports alleging a “new” discovery was being buried in order to appease the contractor’s interests. On a less conspiratorial level, other reports alleged that the contractor was about to rebury the site in a way that would damage it. There was proof of neither claim. But on February 14, the Central Archaeological Council–the culture ministry’s advisory body on protection of archaeological and historical sites–ordered the contractor to halt work at the site. Following deliberations, the archaeological council ordered the contractor to cover the site with sand, gravel, and lead plates and to ensure that the railcars passing over it would not cause any damage. Then, in early April, the government also set in motion plans to move that section of the line underground and then open the altar site to the public. This will take years to complete, but it’s a start. Meantime, however, work on the MonastirakiThisseio line was halted again–this time by court order. The temporary injunction was filed by citizens’ group against the order to rebury the altar. It came just as six of them were arraigned for “obstructing public transport” after being arrested the day before while trying to stop the contractor.


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Greece is (always) the word For most Greek Americans, love of country and its people always trumps any negative impressions of

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Greece in the media. Yet as the largest segment of American tourism to Greece, they’re not only informal tourism ambassadors but also a gauge of the year’s

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ong before Greece became a tourist destination, Greek Americans packed enormous trunk-like suitcases, tied them securely with rope, and headed for the horio (village) in the summer to renew ties and shower relatives with gifts. Today, the cousin no longer packs a short-wave radio as a gift, but Greece remains a lure and love of country trumps negative images on the news. Indeed, this summer Greek Americans could be traveling to Greece in record numbers to reinforce the mystic bond with Hellas; in March, Delta Airline had already sold out tickets bought with travel “points”. Tourism is Greece’s main industry–and Greek Americans account for the largest segment of summer tourism, according to Chryssanthos Petsilas, head of the Greek National Tourism Organization in the U.S. “In the summer, between 150,000 and 250,000 Greek Americans visit Greece. Greek Americans are our heart and our spine!” According to Petsilas, this year Greece has made a huge effort to reach out to Greek Americans, sending out crews to talk to visitors and creating a promotional campaign, “You in Greece”. Greece has tried to lower hotel prices and created themed tours that address specific interests like wineries, cuisines, monasteries, or eco-tourism. A special effort has also been made to communicate with Greek Americans through the community or-

ganizations like the church as well as the media and internet. Petsilas points to three interesting trends in GreekAmerican tourism this year. The first is led by the jet set, which is rediscovering Greece and buying up property or building homes on small, undeveloped islands like Antiparos. The second is the mass arrival of Greek American Jews seeking to explore their roots on the Jewish Heritage Tour. The third is the new dynamic brought to Greek tourism by a new surge of third-generation Greek Americans, mostly young urban professionals, seeking to embrace their Hellenism. “Their fathers and grandfathers worked hard to realize the Greek dream, educating their children. This third generation of Greek American children is well-educated, and they speak a lot about the country and their positive experiences. They come to Greece, and they bring their friends. They are doctors and lawyers, in the media, in a high level of business. They are our ambassadors,” says Petsilas. At an American Hellenic Institute networking party, hosted by Col. Andonious Neroulias at Manhattan’s Avra restaurant, several young Greek Americans are eager to share their views on summer in Greece. “I go to Livadi in the southern Peloponnesus for three weeks. What’s the draw? The beauty, friends, and family. My village is great. A lot of people work in

influx of visitors from North America. And it seems that this year, many Greek Americans are planning their holidays in Greece as usual. By Penelope Karageorge

For the Marinos family, summer visits to Stafidocampos include reunions with family, including yiayia, and visits to nearby sites like Ancient Olympia. May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

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Athens and come back in the summer. It’s gorgeous. It’s also expensive. Why should a Greek village be more expensive than New York City?” wonders Mike Banagos, a commercial mortgage manager. Family and the Greek lifestyle are also the draw for Kalliope Constantaras, a twenty-nine-year-old teacher and poet. She plans to summer on the island of Leros. “Fires and strikes don’t get in the way. I go by myself and meet up with parents, relatives, friends. I swim, sail, write, talk to people, and drink a lot of ouzo. Greece renews me. It’s the place where I feel whole.” Dean Polites, also twenty-nine, is a wealth manager; he will visit a friend in Kyparissia. Single, Polites plans to “enjoy the beach, practice my Greek, and after that I want to party. I have no qualms about the economy. I’m bringing my money and I’m spending it. I’m helping. Along with the Greek language, I’m learning Greek dances. I definitely have a Greek soul.” Alexander Elios, who has a mixed Greek and Italian background, and his mixed Greek and Mexican wife, plan to spend their honeymoon in Greece. “Culturally, I have an issue with people who look at me as an American,” he confides. “They used to talk about Iraq and grill me. But there’s no place like Greece to enjoy the sun and the water. I’m looking forward to seeing my family, eating a lot, relaxing, and swimming. I’m not a party animal, but I like to go to lounges and drink in moderation. I’m getting married in July and will probably do another ceremony in Greece.” For many Greek Americans, summer holidays in Greece are integral to their lives. George Marinos, a food designer for Kraft Foods, will return to his village of Stafidocampos, near Pyrgos in the Peloponnese, delights in seeing his children “socialize, experience the outdoor life, and bond with their cousins. When I go back, I take long walks and go to the places where I used to go with my father and brother. This is precious to me and as the years pass becomes more powerful. As a child, when you experience something, it’s very special because it’s for the first time. There’s the excitement, and the emotions. As you grow up, your life becomes more complicated and you always refer to that time when your senses were strong, and there’s no end to the world, and you’re very optimistic.” Patras-born Marina Chassapis, a consultant on business strategies and planning, has lived most of her May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

life in the United States. She met her husband Costas, now a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology and director at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, on their first day at City College. For the Chassapis family, visiting the island of Lemnos has become a vital annual tradition. They stay with Costas’s mother in Myrina, the island’s capital, which is noted for its Venetian castle, cobbled streets and authentic, non-touristy atmosphere. “We go back every summer because it’s our roots. And for my son, Gregory, his tie with his grandmother is important. My son considers himself a Greek born abroad! It’s a great way for him to live in Greece as a Greek. He has friends, a whole crowd of young people he hangs out with. The Greek culture is a very, very important part of my son’s life. We’re not giving him a trust fund, but we hope we will have left him with a legacy of the Greek culture,” Chassapis says. “For my husband, it’s the only place where he can completely unwind. Many of his friends have become my friends. The people he went to high school with are all over the world, but many return in the summer. There are parties and reunions, along with trips to the beautiful beaches of Lemnos. I find a lot of improvement as the years go by. I think there’s more wisdom. I think the people are wellread, maybe too well-read. It’s hard to keep up. They know a lot more about current events than your average American. They know all about film and art.” John Rellas is a retired judge from Baltimore and Naples, Florida. He and his wife Faye, a retired teacher, are two gregarious, engaging personalities and first-generation Greek Americans. They visit Greece frequently and for long periods. They manifest great love of the country and its people along with a critical sensibility honed on their many visits. “We’ve made a number of trips to Greece, which we love very much, but it has a number of faults which should be corrected,” says Relias. “Number one: when we go to restaurants, they don’t give us a menu, nor do they present an itemized bill. Last summer they gave my cousin the check. When he asked the manager why they were charging double, the manager said he ‘thought the Amerikanos would pay’.” He finds Greeks’ lack of respect for the queue disturbing. “We were on a trip and going through a cafeteria line. People kept pushing in front of us. I said, ‘For God’s sake, there’s food enough here for everyone.’ I once commented that perhaps schools should stop teaching about Aristotle, Pericles, and Socrates, and start teaching kids how to be polite.” Says Faye Relias: “These things happen and mainly because they know you’re an American. Maybe it’s our clothing. But they have made a lot of money on the American tourists. They should take better care of them, because a lot of them don’t want to come back, the way they’re treated. And that’s important.” The energetic Rellases have traveled all over Greece, explored its monasteries as well as its beaches.


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Inveterate golfers, they appreciate the new courses being built. “It’s a universal game, and a good senior sport.” Their great joy continues to be sharing time with family. Says John: “We have very wonderful relatives. First cousins. They can’t do enough for you. When we go to their homes, I can relax. I feel good. I feel like I’m one of them. I don’t have to worry about anything.” Bob Shaw, president of Inkwell Solutions, a printing company in Manhattan, will be visiting Greece with his wife Emilie, daughter Nicolette, a student at Columbia University, and young son, Harry. Shaw’s mother is Greek, and his wife’s “all Greek”. For Shaw, a big part of the trip is meeting or traveling with friends and family. The Shaws travel north to the mountains, to Mykonos, and to Athens. Regardless, a trip to Greece always begins and ends at the Athens Hilton. “We like where it’s located. The breakfast is wonderful. You have the beautiful outdoor pool, the biggest outdoor pool in Athens. We like the location. We like to walk to Kolonaki. You’re away from the craziness of Syntagma Square. I would never go to Greece and not stay at the Hilton. Flying in, I look forward to staying there. It’s a luxurious hotel, and they treat you very well. It’s not that expensive. There are some very good deals. We like to relax. We stay there for two or three days. We don’t want to start rushing on the road. We’re on vacation.” After Athens, the Shaws will take a high-speed ferry to Mykonos, rent a car, and find their favorite locations

John and Faye Rellas

out of town. “We stay at a pension in Tourlos, the Makis, that I discovered before I was married. It’s pretty. We can watch the boats coming in the morning. And there’s a great beach.” He also recommends Fokos, and Ftelia “where there’s a great restaurant”. Wherever they travel in Greece, Shaw and his wife consult with the locals. “They know where to go, where to eat. You have to tap into that to get the real experience. You need to talk to the people.” As to what he likes about Greece: “I respond to the sheer beauty of the country, the visual experience. The contrast. The green mountains with their Swiss-like villages, and the blue and white islands. The big highlight is our friends and relatives. The parea (group) you’re involved with. The people who share your travels with you. That’s the real Greek experience. The people. They are Greece.”

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The bandwidth played on On the millennium’s eve, the music industry found itself on the verge of sweeping changes brought on by the rapid growth of the internet and digital media that has resulted in a merger of audio and computing technologies. It was the next step in the progression from mono to hifidelity to Dolby sound, from vinyl (a storage medium based on physical vibration) to audiocassette (magnetic) to CDs and mini disks (digital), from gramophones to home stereo systems to portable players. But then physical media disappeared: storage and players merged into a single device, the MP3 player that stored compressed data. By Diane Shugart

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Bye-fidelity: Size once mattered, but no more. The small single grew into the album, which shrunk into the compact disk and then disappeared into the air in the form of compressed data. Begi

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hange’s effects are often summed up in the catch-all phrase “generation gap”, but when it comes to music there’s a definite divide. It’s between those of us who added shelves to bookcases to accommodate a growing collection of LPs and CDs and those who add external hard drives to their personal computers to accommodate a growing collection of MP3s; it’s between those whose backpacks were weighed down by tapes and CDs for our portable music players and those who can fit almost all their music on a device the size of a business card. I confess: I like the convenience of an MP3 player, but I miss “touching” the music–the ritual of pulling a vinyl LP from its sleeve, carefully wiping it, placing it on the turntable, blowing dust from the needle, then waiting for the barely perceptible sound of its contact with the record’s outer groove.

Listening to music was an activity, like reading a book; it wasn’t just sounds on in the background, like having the stereo or radio blaring while you worked, cooked, or walked. That distinction doesn’t seem to exist today. Most teens just laugh at the idea of buying a CD; they just download whatever they want. And few understand the idea of listening to an album, start to finish; the ‘mixed tape’ now rules in the form of an MP3 play list. Digital media has changed the relationship between music and audiences around the globe, but in Greece, which lagged other Western countries in internet penetration, these changes were more sudden. And their impact is only slowly being felt on the broader culture as music, always as communal as the village feast, is now being pushed into the realm of the personal. But the first wave of change has already swept the music industry. For some, the MP3 file–the format used to digitally encode audio data–marked the end of an era, an era defined by the concept of the album, the modern evolution of classical music’s symphonies. “I think we’re shifting back towards the single track,” says Socrates Soumelas, a record producer and content manager for Vodafone’s full track digital download service. This shift, he adds, has been taking place over the last fifteen years. “In the 1960s, we had the 45-rpm singles, then recording artists turned to the album and began making ‘concept albums’, complete with gatefold sleeves and inlays; these were like small works of art. With the first digital era, along came CDs and things became smaller again. The album lost its ‘art’ aspect so the consumer started thinking about music as ‘music’ again. Then came this obscure thing (that’s not even a ‘thing’..) called the MP3 and people started listening to music on their personal computers. So, first you lost the visual aspect of the album and then you lost the hi-fi aspect. A generation has grown up that doesn’t know you could enjoy music like this, so they don’t care any more. And this does away with both the need for the artistic and the physical aspect of the album.” “Personally, I don’t like the shift away from the album,” says singer-songwriter Dimitris Panagopoulos. “Some people say that when songs were released on 45s as singles, with one song on the front side and one of the flip side, this was better than an album because each song had to stand on its own and wasn’t couched in an album. I disagree. I like to give work a unity, for it to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I don’t want the listener to hear just one song.” But sometimes that’s all listeners do hear any-


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way. Panagopoulos himself is a case in point. Although he has recorded and released five albums–and commands a group of loyal fans–he is known to most Greeks for a single song, “Avra” (Breeze), off his 1988 debut album. Digital technologies didn’t just break down the album: they broke down some of the barriers to the recording industry. New software and the internet made recording cheaper, accessible to almost any band with access to a personal computer. Bands began appearing out of nowhere on entertainment-oriented social networking websites like MySpace.com. And while the mere act of uploading songs doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be heard, it did make it easier for bands to find an audience. In Greece, it gave alternative bands enough access to audiences and exposure to push them closer to the mainstream. “But in the end, what reaches people is what is marketed and promoted. Those who get airplay will sell–like they always did,” says Panagopoulos. “The potential for being discovered is tiny. The exploitation of the internet to promote those being marketed is disproportionately greater. Once again, it’s the industry-advertised artists that are benefiting.” A decade ago, no one quite understood what the disappearance of physical media would mean for the music industry. Retail was the first to feel the change, although in Greece record store sales have also been hit by the inclusion of CDs as newspaper premiums and, most recently, by CD releases in direct-to-kiosk formats. Since digital technologies appeared, the record industry has been obsessed with piracy. The first war was waged against CDs; nothing was gained except the realization that the CD which they sought to protect wasn’t the product but its storage format. In the second war now being waged against illegal downloads, their attention has shifted. “Our interest is now in RTPs,” says a record company executive. The Real-time Transfer Protocol is a packet format used in streaming audio and video. “It’s more expensive for the consumer, but there’s greater income for record companies as it cannot be pirated.” Having addressed sales, record companies also began looking at ways to exploit digital technologies. This shift from the album, says the executive, makes it easier for record companies to test the waters for new artists or new projects. “Say you have an artist whose last CD was a moderate success. He wants to release his new work but doesn’t want to cannibalize it, so it’s released as a digital single instead.” Ironically, while digital technologies are credited– or alternately blamed–for the changes sweeping the

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music industry, these are actually being fomented by television and how this medium is starting to use digital technologies to shield itself from their effect. This goes hand-in-glove with the record industry’s marketing strategy which is, as Soumelas notes, that record companies don’t market music, they market artists. The renewed popularity of talent shows, which in Greece especially dominate private channels’ programming, has placed television in the bird-dog seat of music marketing. Whereas radio was once the primary vehicle for promotion as airplay was free if DJs liked a song while the cost of TV advertising was prohibitive, television is now the main vehicle for promoting new artists. “With television ‘talent shows’, you have instant stars, but you don’t have hit songs. The talent show winner is a household name, but he/she doesn’t have a song to match it,” says Soumelas. The problem is that the record company is committed to the winner–the prize is a recording contract–but has no way of predicting that winner. To capitalize on the show’s momentum, the record company has to act fast, but writing and producing a song for a specific voice takes time; so does distribution. “What we’re seeing now–and this has been totally helped by the digital, non-physical product–is that record companies pick a contestant to invest in. This isn’t expensive as they don’t need to pay for advertising and don’t need to have an album. All they need is a song; once you have the singer, all you need to do is record it,” says Soumelas. “And in the last six months, we’ve seen that you don’t even need radio airplay any more as consumers go straight to Youtube.com–almost immediately after the show–and enjoy the videos.” Soumelas sees a new wave of change as record companies turn their attention to distribution in the digital age. “People want access to the internet–and that’s what they’re willing to pay for. You cannot have access to the internet without an internet service provider. So the thought is that the record industry will go the way the film industry did with television and movies on free channels. That is, record companies will just sell the license to distribute their music and will charge a monthly fee for this that will be passed on to the consumer,” he says. So where does that leave the Greek record industry? On the brink of another change that will redefine Greeks’ relationship to music. “The product has changed. The artistic element of the product has changed. How the product is marketed has changed. Now I think its distribution will change, too.” May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

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328,000 0.8 196,000 0.7 180,000 0.7

Quantifying culture Can culture be measured? Certainly the number of theaters, art galleries, cinemas, and readers are indicators, as well as the number of film records, and books produced and tickets or books sold. The European Union took a slightly different approach, looking at culture in terms of how many people are employed in the arts–that is, writers, journalists, sculptors, painters, composers, musicians, singers, choreographers, dancers, actors, directors, and other related jobs. The U.K. (6.8%), Ireland (6.6%), Finland (5.6%), and Cyprus (5.5%) led the EU27 (3.8%) as countries with the highest percentage of students studying the arts. And, for good measure, it also looked at cultural goods as imports and exports: again Cyprus ranked in the top five EU exporters of cultural goods (along with the U.K., Estonia, France, and Latvia) while Cyprus and Greece both ranked in the top five importers along with the U.K., Ireland, and Austria of cultural goods.

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May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

102,000 0.5 37,000 0.2 23,000 0.5 17,000 0.9

Source: European Commission: “European Cultural Values�.

0.7

total number in EU27 employed in the arts (incl. journalism) employment in the arts as percentage of employment in the EU27 number of Germans employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total German employment number of British employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total British employment number of French employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total French employment number of Spaniards employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total Spanish employment number of Turks employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total Turkish employment number of Greeks employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total Greek employment number of Irish employed in the arts employment in the arts as percentage of total Irish employment Eurokinissi

1,482,000


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Cleveland Located on Lake Erie’s southern shore just slightly west of the Pennsylvania border, Cleveland is a manufacturing town whose blue-collar character has been the backdrop of a surprising number of films, including Jules Dassin’s first American film in two decades. And what many also don’t realize is that it’s home to a sizeable Greek American community since the late 1800s. Data contributed by Zaharo Laios

T

he Hellenic Preservation Society of Northeastern has documented the history of Cleveland’s Greeks, with an identifiable community in the city emerging around 1870. Cleveland wasn’t a destination for most Greeks arriving there but rather a transit point for seamen seeking work on the Great Lakes; stalled, for various reasons, they stayed. Their numbers grew; the Boliver Road area was soon known as “Greek Town” with some thirty-odd Greek-operated businesses established there. By 1920, the city’s

Greek population had hit five thousand, most living in the neighborhoods around the Church of the Annunciation, which had been founded in 1919. Today, the Annunciation is one of four main Greek Orthdox churches in Cleveland and they remain at the center of the local Greek American community’s activities, organizing celebrations on Greek national days on October 28 and March 25, running evening Greek schools, and, of course, hosting their annual festivals.

nity Commu

Church of the

Church of Saint

s Constantine

Annunciation

and Helen

28 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Church of the Annunciation 2187 West 14th Street, Cleveland; www.annunciationcleveland.net The city’s oldest Greek Orthdox church was built in 1919 although a congregation had formed in 1910 and a formal church had been established at the corner of West 14th Street and Fairfield Avenue in 1912. The church’s school was founded in 1924. As the oldest church, it holds its festival first, kicking off the season on Memorial Day weekend. Church of Saints Constantine and Helen 3352 Mayfield Road, Cleveland Heights, tel. 216 932 3300; www.stsconstantine.com Founded in 1957, this church met the real need for a parish to serve the city’s eastern suburbs. The church was built on property acquired in 1953 and built with funds raised from the community for this purpose. Today it sustains a num-

ber of organizations and projects, including the Philoptochos Society and, of course, hosts an annual festival. St Demetrios 22909 Center Ridge Road, tel. 440 331 2246; www.saintdemetrios.org The parish was established in 1960 Greek Americans in western Cleveland expressed the need for a church that was more centered on the community in which they lived and was hosted in the Rockport Methodist Church until sufficient funds could be raised for construction. St Paul Greek Orthodox Church 4548 Wallings Road, North Royalton, tel. 440 237 8998; www.stpaulgoc.org Although in the Pittsburg metropolis, St Paul’s has been the church serving Cleveland’s southern suburbs since 1966. It, too, hosts an annual festival–this year on July 14-17.


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Dining There’s an old joke that goes like this: “What happens when two Greeks meet? They open a restaurant!” The joke likely started in Cleveland where there are dozens for every mood and appetite, whether that’s a gyro on the run or a formal dinner. Greek Express The Arcade, 401 Euclid Avenue, Suite 5, tel. 216 357 2960 Shopping downtown and struck with a sudden craving for souvlaki? This is the place to head. The Greek Express serves up a tasty gyros, as well as spanakopitta and other Greek dishes. The menu is mixed, though, with a generous sprinkling of Middle Eastern and Indian dishes, like curries. Greek Isles 500 West Saint Clair, tel. 216 861 1919 A restaurant singled out by professional restaurateurs is a safe bet to try, and the Greek Isles was voted Best Authentic Greek Restaurant by Estiator, the trade magazine of Greek Americans in the food industry. Open for lunch and dinner, it offers a satisfying range of Greek taverna foods, a selection of which can be sampled in appetizer or dinner platters. Nikos’s on Detroit 15625 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, tel. 216 226 7050 A favorite among locals, Nikos’s offers a solid menu of Greek fare, with a few Middle Eastern dishes added too. Regulars rave about the saganaki–not to be missed–and the gyros. Greek Village Grille 14019 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, tel. 216 228 4976 It’s phone number is a mnemonic: 228.GYRO. That says a lot about the Greek Village Grille whose gyro and souvlaki taste like they were made in Monastiraki. It’s so good, diners are offered the option of adding gyro meat to any salad. Very hungry? Take the Mount Olympus Gyro Challenge–a 15-inch pitta wrapped around three pounds of gyro (one pound each of lamb, chicken, and pork), 1 cup of tomatoes, 1 cup of onions, 1 cup of tzatziki, and one order of fries. The Mad Greek 2466 Fairmount Boulevard, tel. 216 421 3333 This is the place to go for Greek food on the East Side. Regular diners recommend dolmades, spanakopitta, avgolemono soup, and Greek meatballs, but if you feel like departing from standard fare, there are also steamed mussels, a variety of flatbreads, and range of sandwiches like the kasseri melt.

g Shoppin Athens Pastries & Imported Foods 2545 Lorain Avenue, tel. 216 861 8149 This is the place to head if you’re looking for that elusive ingredient for a Greek recipe. There’s good quality olive oil, a range of canned goods, Greek wine, spices, and condiments, as well as fresh-baked pastries. May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 29


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THE

CIVILIZED

GOSSIP

COLUMN

WEGreeks Erika’s world For Erika Wilhelmine Knickmann Spyropoulos art and philanthropy represent sharing oneself and are lifelong expressions of giving back to a world that provided her with a stage to reflect and share. Spyropoulos’s art is a glimpse of a profound and meaningful world opposite the personal devastation surrounding her during the nascent stage of her life growing up in war-torn Germany. Just as the physical canvas draws on paint to form that expression, her art draws from a well spring of life experiences that date back to a time even before she was born. Her scenes convey a host of emotions and moods: romantic, playful, melancholic, panoramic to riveting in her portrayal of striking figures from an ancient past; mythical portraits of characters frozen in time, the sea and its beauty melded with myth, fantasy and color. There are also Greek themes which stem from her marriage to entrepreneur Theodore Spyropoulos. Both are striking figures worthy of capturing on the portraits she draws. Erika was born in Stroebitz, south of Berlin, and grew up in Kaltenkirchen, a small town north of Hamburg. She is a descendant of the mid-nineteenth-century poet and writer Theodor Storm. By the end of the second world war her talents had blossomed–her appreciation of art, music drawing, embroidery, knitting and sewing would serve her throughout her life. She then went to Hamburg to study fashion, design, architecture, and painting at the prestigious Meisterschule fuer Mode in Hamburg. Family friends in Sweden invited her to visit and stay. There, she earned a living teaching German to young people and painted by night; neutral Sweden had been lightly touched by the war and Stockholm was a magical place for young adults. When not working she and her friends would frequent many of the popular Bohemian night spots. A favorite was the Latin Club, a haunt of artists and young people seeking to distance themselves from the past. It’s here that she met an engineering student from Greece. One glance from across the room was enough to spark a romance that shines bright to this day. “At the end of the evening, he brought me home, kissed my hand, and said good night, never to be seen again. Several weeks later, as fate would have it, we again saw each other back at the 32 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Paintings from the sports series for the Athens 2004 Olympics

Latin Club. This time was going to be different; I had no plans of letting him get away. We ended up dating for several months until he proposed and we moved to Hamburg.” They were wed at a simple civil ceremony at Hamburg City Hall. “There was no white dress, no reception or sentimental vows. I wore my own handmade suit, had a run in my stockings, and do not even have a picture of that special day.” He worked at the Hamburg post office until he got the call to go back to Greece to serve in the Navy at the large shipyard installation at Skaramangas; she moved in with his family. “I did not speak Greek, nor could they understand German or English. I never enjoyed so many Indian love stories in the open air movie theatre or shopped at so many colorful markets as I did while in Greece.” The walled garden filled with fruit trees and a tiny old hut served as a backdrop for Erika’s painting and craftwork. She began to teach again but also took lessons herself to learn the Greek language–and cooking. Ted was transferred to a desk job in Athens and moonlighted at the Athens Courier, a small German newspaper. The Spyropoulos family was about to grow: their daughter Mariyana, now an elected official in Chicago, was born in Germany while Ted finished his military service. The young Spyropoulos family decided it was time for new opportunities and headed to America to join some of Ted’s family in Chicago.

In the United States, they started a small petroleum company that grew to become T.G.S. Petroleum, a company manufacturing petroleum products for companies that included CITGO and Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Clark Products, and CAM2. They sold part of the company and its assets to U.S. World Fuel Services and still retain part of their wholesale distribution activities. Success has provided time to spend on other interests, sports, gardening, reading and painting. Erika’s work can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the U.S., Australia, Europe, and, of course, Greece. She was awarded the prestigious Bicentennial Art Award for a mural depicting the “Spirit of 1776” and her work has been featured at the Beverly Art Center, Gold Coast Art Fair, and other venues. Exhibits showcasing her work include the Southwest Area Cultural Arts Council, Australian Exhibition Center, the Treasury in Chicago, and Kourd Gallery in Athens. She and her husband are also very active with many philanthropic endeavors benefiting the Greek community in the U.S. and Greece. “Priorities change overtime. I am thrilled that over the years people are delighted to have acquired my creations, paintings, icons, memory rooms and crafts.” The world is indeed a better place owing to Erika’s art and good works–she is the embodiment of “endless possibilities.” Ari Stone


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a d a y w i t h ...

Christiana Thanos producer and director of The Lucky Girls There is no typical day for me, except perhaps for Saturdays. These are for catching up on life and Lucky Girls–a sixteen-minute documentary about a Greek Orthodox orphanage in Kolkata, India. I had been a volunteer there since 2004 and the experience changed my life in so many ways–including the changes brought to my life by this film. Monday to Friday, the regular workweek, I balance work related to the film with my job as Assistant Director of Development at the USC School of Social Work. But the commute there and back, my lunch hour, and evenings are occupied by Lucky Girls–answering emails, giving interviews, replying to screening requests, and, of course, outreach work to support the orphanage. But I’m happy to bask in Lucky Girls and its appeal. Saturdays are special. I start the day by letting myself sleep in. I’m a firm believer in getting the sleep your body needs. As I wake up, I try to gauge the weather outside at the same time I turn to reach for my smartphone. I always check first for emails from Vimeo telling me how many views Lucky Girls had the previous day. After that, I get out bed, pull open the curtains in my Los Feliz 1920s-style studio to let in the light. I put on my running gear, grab my cell phone, switch it to Pandora’s M.I.A. station, and go for a run around the neighborhood. While I am running, I always try to figure out how to make each day seem like Saturday, and before I figure out the answer, I decide to treat myself to a berry, banana and almond butter smoothie at the Nature Mart–or I make one myself at home. Once back at my apartment, I stretch, clean my apartment, do the dishes and tidy up from any clutter left from the week. I then toast some Trader Joe’s blueberry waffles and treat myself to my once-a-week coffee, TJ’s Breakfast Blend with soy creamer, sit by my sunny window that overlooks nothing but an alley and begin working.

I send out all donation thank you emails, update our blog, and try to tweet if anything interesting comes up. I am constantly on g-chat with Kiki Amanatidis, the Grand President of the Maids of Athena, or emailing back and forth with our PR expert, Pamela Spyrs at InSpyrs PR about new developments. I then go through old emails from the previous week and provide volunteers information for scheduling screenings, answer questions people may have about the orphanage, conduct interviews, and seek out opportunities and partnerships with businesses, churches, universities, and individuals. I go through my turquoise Moleskine notebook for notes I’ve jotted down throughout the week like where I may have met someone who I’d like to engage with and sort through new ideas about fundraisers. At the same time, I am constantly burning copies of Lucky Girls, and designing more promotional materials. By the time I’m finished, it’s evening. Again Saturdays are special because in the evenings I either catch up with friends or, most likely, drive home to visit my family–that is, my sisters, their husbands, my nieces and nephews, and my father. At home, we eat because what else do big fat Greek families do together? I laugh over fights in the kitchen about what types of greens to use in spanakopitta, the temperature to cook something, or the proper knife to cut with. Each person in my family is a better cook than the other. At the end of the night, I turn my computer back on and finish up any remaining work or meet some friends out.

Test your

G iQ

What is philoxenia? he warmth with which Greeks utter “kopiaste” as they usher their guest (even a stranger) into their home. The pride and joy with which food and drink is shared with guests who are not allowed to leave the table until stuffed. The authenticity with which the host will insist on making a gift to his guest of any item on which the guest makes more than one positive remark. Angelos Seferiades, KIHLI Hotel Enterprises

T

he idea of “hospitality” has deep roots in Greek culture. It’s not about politeness but it is almost like a code of honor. It was considered sacred in ancient Greece when welcoming someone into your home–or accepting someone’s hospitality–had special meaning. Homer’s Odyssey has a lot about philoxenia. James Bianchi, Classics student

T

reek hospitality is very different from how I was raised; sometimes it seems pushy but it’s only a special way of caring. I like the way Greeks always share whatever they have. Laura Macauley, tourist

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May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 33


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100 issues

100 reasons not to miss a single one! Odyssey has its finger on the pulse of Greece and the Greek diaspora, with reports and commentaries about contemporary culture, politics, business, and more. Explore the country with travel features, learn what's happening in the diaspora, plan your next visit with our annual 'art of living' hotel and restaurant listings and summer guide. And look for our surveys on Greek food and wine trends, Greek courses around the world, real estate and doing business.


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Lord of the

S

A decade ago, with Greece in the throes of planning the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Hellenic Olympic Committee was constantly in the limelight. Two Olympiads later, circumstances have changed Greece’s priorities and pushed the Games from recent memory. But their legacy lives on, as Spyros Capralos, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, notes in the Odyssey interview.

pyros Capralos is angry. Of course this doesn’t show from his demeanor or in the politely emphatic way he makes a point, accentuating it with a slight sweep of his arm. His anger is understandable. As president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee he is an a better position than most to appreciate the value of Greece’s Olympic legacy–and how it has been squandered. This legacy is something he can’t avoid: his office, on the fourth floor of the Hellenic Olympic Committee headquarters in Maroussi overlooks the Olympic Stadium, or OAKA, and has a view to the former International Broadcast Center, now a shopping mall for luxury brands, and the former Main Press Center where the Ministry of Health was relocated. “I am angry,” he says. The remark comes at the end of a conversation about how former Olympic facilities are being used. A specif-

36 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

ic example he cites is the Olympic Sailing Center at Ayios Kosmas, along southern coast of greater Athens, which he says has been turned over to elite athletes, who don’t make use of the facilities there, rather than to new athletes, with hopes for winning medals at the London Games next year but have nowhere to train. “Hosting the Olympics was a fantastic idea–and the Games were very successful,” says Capralos, bristling slightly as he recalls suggestions frequently made in the media, and private conversation, that the Olympic Games which Athens hosted in 2004 saddled Greece with its huge debt. “The Olympics cost roughly billion euros–including all infrastructure projects, construction, and everything else designated an ‘Olympic project’ under the law that was passed to facilitate them,”


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Rings

Eurokinissi

Spyros Capralos, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, guides visitors around the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Games were held.

he says. “If hosting the Games cost eight billion euros, then how can you blame the Athens Olympics for a national debt of 350 billion euros? The cost of hosting the Games is just two per cent of that figure–and that’s just their cost, without subtracting revenues from taxes, VAT, or income tax from new jobs created. Therefore, I don’t think the cost of the Athens Olympics was huge compared to so many other things.” He also reminds that the infrastructure works completed for the Games, such as the suburban light rail network and the Athens ring road, continue to benefit the capital’s residents and have significantly reduced commute times. Upgrades in telecoms and power networks are also part of the Olympic legacy that have improved Greeks’ lives. Indeed, he adds, if there is any blame that stems from the

Olympics it is the fact that their legacy has not been fully exploited to Greece’s best advantage. “It’s as if after the Olympics, Greece turned the page and forgot about their success. Greece did not really benefit from the momentum the Games created.” For Capralos, who served as Secretary General of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games as well as executive director and deputy chief operating officer of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, this is a big regret. His experience in the private sector–including ten years with Deutsche Bank (Bankers Trust Company) in Paris, New York, Milan, Athens, and London, and a stint as president of the Federation of European Securities Exchanges–squandering such invaluable capital is an unforgivable waste of resources. “We’ve lost a lot of the ‘good name’ the Games created for Greece. The Olympics and the winning the European football championships–because it all happened that year–gave Greece a fantastic image,” he says. But the Games left a more tangible legacy than just something as elusive as image. For one, Capralos notes, that it helped upgrade the labor pool as everyone who worked for the Olympics, directly or indirectly, acquired new experience and work skills–most notably a different work mentality. But this hasn’t been utilized in the work force or the public sector; ironically, these skills and this expertise has been recognized by foreign companies and organizations, many of which have employed former Athens 2004 staff. “Another negative is that some permanent sports facilities were built, especially for less popular sports, and at the time no one gave any thought to how they would be used after the Olympics or considered the cost of maintaining and operating these facilities afterwards,” he says. “The third big mistake was that no proper legislation was put in place about how the Olympic properties would be used after the Games.” Of course not all of the former Olympic venues or facilities have fallen into disuse. Some buildings have been leased, others are being May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 37


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Let the Games begin! The president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee hands over the Olympic torch to mark the start of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

used by the state, and some like the rowing center at Schoinias are used for their sport. The Olympic Stadium in Maroussi is also used for sporting events, concerts, and other activities–something that other former Olympic cities have not managed. Yet, as Capralos notes, “to speak of this now, seven years after the fact, is ridiculous.” But the 2004 Olympics left yet another legacy for Greece: it highlighted Greece as a force in athletics among smaller countries. It also created an expectation of Olympic medals among Greeks. Greek athletic achievement peaked at the 2004 Olympics, where Greece won a record sixteen medals–six gold, six silver, and four bronze. This incredible feat was the result of a concerted policy and effort whose effects were first seen in the 1996 Olympics, when Greek athletes returned from Atlanta with eight medals–four gold and four silver–and the Sydney Olympics where, in 2000, Greek athletes won four gold medals, six silver, and three bronze. But this level of achievement was not sustained–for a number of reasons. In 2008, at the Beijing Games, Greek athletes won four medals–two silver and two bronze. Reviewing the statistics, Capralos’s remarks that it’s as if after 2004, Greece simply turned the page and relegated the Olympics to the past. It’s this part of the Olympics legacy that Capralos, as head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, must safeguard as well. While the Hellenic Olympic Committee doesn’t run individual sports–that is the task of their respective federations–it is responsible for presenting the country’s best athletes at the Olympics and, of course, educating the public on the Olympic ideals and what Olympism brings. Capralos, as president, has shown imagination and initiative in this area, with projects such as the opening of the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held, to the public. But it’s Greece’s ability to sustain its high Olympic achievement that concerns Capralos most. “In the last twenty years, the Hellenic Olympic Committee has received funding from the Greek state for Olympic preparation. For the lead up to the Beijing Olympics, from 2005 to 2008, we were given thirty million euros. This same amount was promised by the previous government to cover preparation for the London Olympics,” he says, noting that the total sum was to have been given to the committee over a period of four years–eight million euros in the first and fourth years, and seven million euros in the second and third years. “In 2009, we received eight million euros; in 2010, we took a major hit because we received zero.” The “hit” was the result of the economic crisis sparked by Greece’s spiraling debt. “Yes, Greece’s financial condition is dire, and 38 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

when the state doesn’t have funds to cover pensions and salaries, then Olympic preparation seems a luxury. But to go from thirty million euros to zero is something the state should’ve reconsidered.” The economic crisis has, of course, taken its toll on sport in ways other than simply a lack of government funds for Olympic preparation. One example: spending cuts have affected maintenance of training facilities like swimming pools. Efforts are, of course, being made to raise funds from the Greek private sector–although it, too, has been hard hit by the economic crisis. The Games’ international sponsors are also being approached. But the fact remains that the training program already lags as Olympic preparation is part of a long process, of which the four-year cycle between Games is only a part. At first glance, most Greeks would likely agree. But the seven or eight million euros–or four, if that sum was to be halved, for example– yield a high, although intangible, return on investment. This includes a sense of national pride. “There isn’t a person who does not swell with pride at the sight of the flag or the sound of the national anthem being played at the Olympics.” Sport–especially athletics and Olympic sport–is also vital creating positive role models for society, especially young people. In short, sport is a source of inspiration, something Greece today both lacks and desperately needs. “Sport is important for society–training and exercising for the body but also for the mind. If young people stop training, they will end up slumped over at cafes,” says Capralos. “Not everyone becomes an Olympic champion, but it’s good to encourage the better athletes to go for championship sport because they then become role models.” There are other incentives that spur youth towards Olympic sport that cost relatively little but which have been abandoned. These include grade-point bonuses from medals in regional or international competitions for high school students seeking university admission. Another is civil service posts for athletes winning Olympic medals or attaining certain levels of international rankings. But like so many other things, these privileges or incentives were abused. “In the past, the Greek state awarded Olympic medalists a lot of privileges. But that switched from black to white too. These incentives were suddenly withdrawn. And this killed elite sport,” says Capralos. “When top level athletes compete, they have to be 100 per cent focused on their sport. So it’s important to know that if they succeed, all the time they have spent training will yield some benefit, that at least they will have a job.” O


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The

Nicholas A. Christakis

New research adds a twist to the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate on how character and behavior are shaped. Harvard Medical School’s Nicholas Christakis says obesity may be influenced by your social network. Kathryn Koromilas reviews the research that suggests that maybe t’s not that “you are what you eat” but that “you are what your friends eat”.

Jordan Makarof

Social A Network

happy life–an ancient Greek philosopher once observed–is one in which you are surrounded by true friends. I always remembered this adage, and lived my life by it, but recently, something very odd occurred. I ended a friendship that was making me…unhappy. Actually, the friendship was also making my friend unhappy. In fact, our unhappy friendship was also making our other close friends unhappy. And more than that, our unhappiness was making our parents unhappy, too. My father, for one, had come down with a terrible flu, citing daughter-related stress as the cause, and my friend’s mother had developed a similar physiological ailment and her doctor cited daughter-related stress as the root cause of that, too. So, what had happened here? How could our friendship have caused unhappiness when–according to our Greek ancestors–good friends would only ever bring happiness? To be fair, it wasn’t the friendship itself that was the original cause of our unhappiness–it was a work situation. Work had made my friend unhappy. She confided in me. I became unhappy. We both languished in our unhappiness. We told our families about it. We languished some more. And so on, and so forth. That’s when I heard about Nicholas Christakis, a modernday Greek American physician and social scientist from Harvard and his decades-worth of research on how friends in social networks influence us. Christakis confirmed something that my friend and I had already begun to intuit–that we were directly affected by our mutual unhappiness and that, much worse, we were affecting others. In an interview with Wired.com, Christakis explained, “you could have two happy friends or two unhappy friends, and it matters. We are affected by what’s going on around us.” But Christakis had found something more than that. He found that it isn’t just our friends who influence us. In fact, it is our friends’ friends and even our friends’ friends’ friends who also influence us. This could mean–my friend and I pondered in horror–that the effects of our unhappiness could have had repercussions far beyond the people we knew. My friend’s mother’s friend could have become unhappy and my father’s friend’s friend could have also become unhappy. When my friend and I finally realized just how our unhappiness had spread from one person to the next person, as if it had become viral, we made the only virtuous decision we could make. We chose to sever our friendship and to take a long break from each other. She chose to leave her job. I chose to exercise. And we both chose to move in new friendship circles. We did this for our own good. We did it for each other’s good. We were, after all, genuine Aristotelian friends for we truly cared about each other’s happiness. For Aristotle, there were three types of friendships: the first was based on mutual usefulness and the second on mutual pleasure. The third type was both useful and pleasurable but had its roots in a mutual desire for the good of the other, that is, friendship for the sake of friendship. It was this third type of friendship that we knew we had, even though we could not understand how it could have deMarch/April 2011 I ODYSSEY

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Obesity in face-to-face network, 2000

volved into something so mutually unbeneficial. Anyway, it was for the sake of our friendship and for the good of the others in our immediate social network that we had to part ways. It was the only moral choice we could make. Aristotle would surely have been proud.

O

ne thing we have all inherited from the ancient Greeks–Aristotle in particular–is the belief that our happiness depends on ourselves. We might be social beings, actively engaged in the activities of family, friends and acquaintances, but the choices we make–or so we believe–are largely of our own volition and far beyond the influence of others. It is from the ancient Greeks that we have inherited the belief that we are the masters of our choices, our beliefs, our behaviors, our successes and failures, even of our own tastes for music and food. But Christakis’s research seems to overturn everything we inherited from Aristotle. Christakis has discovered that we are not as independent as we think and that our friends and their friends exert a greater influence over our choices than we could ever have previously imagined. There’s a modern Greek adage that goes “show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are”. It’s not far from the mark. Take my unhappy friend. Had I introduced you to her, you would have seen just how unhappy I was. Had she introduced me to you, you would have seen just how unhappy she was. Yes, we were one and the same. Aristotle had said that we were each like our other selves. But according to Christakis, it’s not just “birds of a feather that flock together”. It isn’t simply that we are similar to our friends, but that we are genetically predisposed to choosing them. In a 2010 paper published as “Correlated Genotypes in Friendship Networks”, Christakis and his colleagues found that “genotypic clustering in social networks” exceeded “what might be expected solely from population stratification.” What does this mean? This means that we may not only resemble our friends in terms of sharing similar traits, tastes and behaviors, but we might also share genetic similarities. That is, we might well resemble them on a “genotypic level”. The implications of this are far-reaching, but interesting to note ever so briefly. Evolution theories, no less, says Christakis “should take into account the fact that humans might, in some sense, be metagenomic with respect to the humans around them”. In short, we are less in control of our tastes and behaviors than we have, up until now, thought. In his book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives co-written with James Fowler, Christakis de40 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

bunks the classical myth of the individual and challenges our beliefs about how we come to hold our ideas, develop our tastes, emotions and relationships and succumb to bad health behaviors. For Christakis, the central node of influence is no longer the individual, but rather the social network itself. Now Christakis’s social networks are the age-old social networks–not the online social networks we tend to think of these days, although influence is ruled by social proximity rather than geographical proximity, so a genuine Facebook friend will also be influential. In an interview with Wired.com Christakis discussed the rules of social networks, beginning with the fact that human beings deliberately make and remake their social networks all the time. So, in the first instance, we create the social network in which we desire to interact. We chose our friends. Second, the social network in turn shapes us, because our position in the network and our immediate friends impact significantly on a variety of factors in our life. In a 2007 study entitled “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years” published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Christakis writes that the fact that “people are embedded in social networks and are influenced by the evident appearance and behaviors of those around them suggests that weight gain in one person might influence weight gain in others.” And it’s not just our immediate friends who might impact on such factors as our weight (or our happiness or our ability to quit smoking) it is also the friends of our friends who also impact on such factors. For example, I am fiftyseven percent more likely to become obese if a friend of mine is obese, but also approximately thirty-odd percent more likely to become obese if a friend of a friend becomes obese, and so on.

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ur friends can make us fat? That’s precisely what Christakis has found. Of course, most of us would argue that obesity is the result of a series of voluntary and free choices–we choose to eat and eat and eat and we choose not to be physically active–no one forces us. In our society, the obese individual claims sole responsibility for becoming so. But Christakis’s findings potentially change just how much blame we can justly and–even morally–assign to each individual obese person. For even interacting socially with obese friends might alter our level of tolerance towards being obese (or our tolerance towards other social behaviors such as smoking and exercising). And what’s more, Christakis suggests that “physiological imitation” might result, that is, areas of our brain that “correspond to actions such as eating food may be stimulated if these actions are observed in others.” In short, Christakis might soon go as far as showing that causes of obesity might be infectious. So, what does this all mean? For Christakis, this means that we should rethink the way we view health disorders, for one. In Christakis’s networks of influence, the individual can no longer be held solely responsible for his or her good or bad social and health behaviors. The fact that we are embedded in social networks means that our behavior spreads over “a range of social ties”. The implications are interesting. Christakis suggests that obesity, for example, should no longer be seen as a clinical problem that each individual patient must address with his/her physician, but rather, as a public health problem. What Christakis envisions is that medical and public health bodies must intervene and care for connected individuals because “health improvements in one person might spread to others.”


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At first, this scenario does not seem very Aristotelian at all. How does individual lifestyle choice fit into Christakis’s model? What if an individual does not choose to deal with his or her obesity? What if the individual does not see obesity as a problem? And if he or she does see obesity as a problem, what about room for individual moral responsibility for the choices made and for one’s influence over friends? What, in short, of the individual in the social network? Christakis’s findings show one thing: that we are not as independent as we might like to think and that our tastes for food and music and movies, our beliefs about the world around us, our health behaviors and our emotions are all subject to the influences around us. In Connected, Christakis understands that “such a loss of control can provoke especially strong reactions” in us when we discover that not only our neighbors, but also strangers, can and do influence our behaviors and outcomes that have moral overtones and social repercussions.” Strong reactions, indeed. For our intuitions about ourselves and our friendships are still largely Aristotelian. That is, we still believe that our beliefs and behaviors are not only controlled by us, but that it is our ethical responsibility to be in control of our lives, our health and our happiness, as socially connected individuals. I wondered what my own friends would think about this shift in perception that Christakis’s findings bring to light and wondered how they would see their own level of responsibility within their friendships. So, I posed the following scenario to them: You have become friends with a person who is pleasant company,

a truly good person, who truly seems to care for your happiness, and is also a motivating and positive presence in your life. This person is obese. As your friendship develops, you realize that you are putting on weight. This is because you tend to spend time together eating well and experimenting with new food, which is fatty and rich. In fact, you are not just putting on weight, you have become fat and you are well on your way to becoming obese. What do you do? First of all, ask yourself: is this relationship still a friendship based on mutual care for the good of the other? Or has it stopped being that? Was it ever that at all? Then consider: Do you end this friendship? If so, why? If not, why not? This is what my friends had to say: Rose Manousaridis, a principal of a public school and a passionate promoter of public education, told me, “if I had become obese in this friendship at no point would I transfer responsibility to the ‘friend’ or the relationship.” Rose believes, after all, that she chooses what she does and how she conducts herself. “If, however,” she continued, “my choices in the relationship–be they not to go to cafes or to go to the gym instead of going to Maccas–became a source of conflict in the relationship and the ‘friend’ did not accept my personal choices then I would relinquish what was never obviously a friendship.” Kathy Koustoubardis, a teacher in intellectual disabilities and resident of Sydney’s inner-west, echoes Rose’s concern that this may not be a genuine–in the Aristotelian sense–friendship but rather one based on mutual pleasure. “It’s not the real deal,” she said. “Funni-


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Obesity in Facebook network

ly enough,” Kathy continued, “I was involved in a similar friendship… [But that] was never a true friendship–according to Aristotle–because there was no equal power in the friendship, as [my friend] had an agenda. In reference to getting fat, it suited her for me to gain weight as well because it reassured her and her insecurities. A true friend who cares for you would be concerned for your health and your needs.” Nick Rodintsis, a Sydney resident and law student, was confident that he would not end the friendship. “No, I wouldn’t end it,” he said. “Once I have identified the problem I would make decisions to address it. I would try to adjust my own behavior and stop eating excessive and poor food. I would also sensitively deal with the topic with my friend and express the need that we both need to change our behavior.” Nick’s intuition was that truly caring for his friend was at “the core of being a good friend.” Costa Triantafyllou, a Sydney-based banker, says “no! I wouldn’t end the friendship based on me becoming overweight or obese because I don’t believe that my friend would have influenced me to become fat, as you say. The decision to eat and drink and not look after myself would have been my decision and I wouldn’t blame my friend. I believe that we are able to decide what is right or wrong for ourselves and we shouldn’t be influenced by friends or anything else for that matter.” My friends’ responses here all show one thing, quite clearly, and something with which none of us would ever think to disagree. That is, these days we most definitely tend to see friendship as a very private thing–something that occurs between two people, sometimes a few more, but something that is surely governed by the people involved. Within our friendships we still believe that we are morally responsible for our own behavior and for the well-being of our friends. This is clearly Aristotle’s legacy. But Christakis’s findings show that our friendships do impact far beyond our own personal sphere. In fact, our friendships are significant in the public sphere. This is why Christakis calls upon state health bodies to intervene in what he sees as public health problems. For treating illness in one person means that the others who are connected to that person also benefit. “Getting people to lose weight or quit smoking encourages their friends to do likewise,” he says, and similarly “treating depression in one man makes those around him happier.” Happier and healthier citizens can only mean a happier state. 42 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

his is not an altogether new conception. Even Aristotle saw friendship as having a far-reaching social influence when he talked about civic connectedness. In Book VIII of his Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle wrote that friendship seems to “hold states together” and that “lawgivers” seem to care for it even more than for justice itself. In fact, ancient Greek civic life depended heavily on the institution of friendship. Aristotle strongly believed that we should care about our community and that we should invest in a sense of civic connectedness. That is, if one cared about the types of relationships they had with others, then one would have to care about the virtue of civic affection, as Mark Vernon in The Meaning of Friendship explains so well. People should care that others live well, for if others in your community are happy and healthy, then you will also be. What Christakis proposes then, is indeed, very Aristotelian, even while it seems to remove individual moral responsibility from the network. He calls upon health authorities to deal with health issues, in order to benefit the rest of the network. The logic must be this: If individuals necessarily live in social networks and the network itself is the organism that influences behavior then the state must surely intervene and solve health problems for one well-connected individual, because helping this individual will help others socially connected in the network. Christakis understands the ethical issues at stake here. In a 2008 paper entitled “Interpersonal Health Effects Thus Raise a Troubling Moral Question: Should We Value the Well-connected More?” published in BMJ, he ponders the possibility of whether the health care system should “favor people whose treatment is more likely to also benefit those around them.” At first glance, this sounds awfully like the age-old system of nepotism, or as the Greeks are so well familiar with, meson. But what more is nepotism than a type of social network that gives advantage to friends and close relatives by those in the same network with more power and influence? This is the system that offers employment, social and health benefits to those connected to the network and also secures that benefits and favors will be returned helping the network to flourish even more. It’s a perfectly functional system and, within the framework of Christakis’s research, not so morally reprehensible at all. For behind its seemingly unjust structure, it is really about caring for the well-being of those in one’s social network. Not that Christakis is advocating a system of nepotism. But he is saying that the well-connected already have access to “more and better care.” People with connections get better medical care because they tend to find better doctors and as a result have better overall health. Social networks, then, are “fundamentally related to goodness.” Social networks then are ethical systems. And so, in Christakis’s words, “what the world needs now is more connections;” and in Aristotle’s, “without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” But Greeks already know this, anyway. Meanwhile, my friend and I are reunited. And we are happy. And those around us are also happy. O


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Lagos Mare Hotel in Naxos island, is an elegant A class boutique hotel with cubistic Cycladic architecture, comprised of 38 luxuriours rooms and suites, ideally situated 7 minutes walk from the endless sandy beach of Agios Prokopios, near to a wide range of services, but away from the crowd. Housing warmly decorated, spacious and contemporary accommodation consisting of stylish rooms with refined furniture, a sophisticated decor and a serene, relaxing atmosphere, Lagos Mare will make you feel as if you were home. This authentic family-owned Greek island hotel is the perfect combination of Greek Naxian hospitality and distinctive personalized service. Aiming to the comfort of its guests, Lagos Mare Hotel features a wide variety of exceptional hotel facilities and services including 2 swimming pools, 1 kid’s pool, a fitness room, a Sauna and Hamam area, a pool bar, free wi-fi, impressive reception areas and of course the authentic Naxian cuisine of our “1924” restaurant with the renowned Dimitris Skarmoutsos, to be head consultant chef.

Agios Prokopios, Naxos, Cyclades Islands, Greece • Tel. + 30 22850 42844 • Fax: + 30 22850 42845 www.lagosmare.gr • info@lagosmare.gr


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Trade Offs

Greek aryballos/Musee du Louvre

Amasis/Agyptisches Museum-Berlin

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The ancient Greeks founded colonies around the Mediterranean but Naukratis differed in one important way: the settlement was established by not one, but several Greek city-states in an early first step towards the emergence of a Greek national identity. Vicki James Yiannias and George D. Tselos look at this ancient emporion, or trading point, and center for cultural exchange as a possible paradigm for the modern world.

t’s a hot, hot, sunny day at the water’s edge, where red lotuses float and the sacred ibis wades. Bamboo and papyrus rustle–if there’s any breeze at all–and little gulls of the river swoop low. It is 680 B.C. and we are in Egypt, on the Nile, in Naukratis. It is probably not a place the Greek traders from twelve seafaring city-states who are here really think of as “home”; it’s a special kind of settlement of traders, licensed by Pharaoh to do business with Egypt’s interior and which enjoyed special privileges. Huge amphorae of fine wine, succulent olives, and rich olive oil like no other, as well as wood and silver, come in on their ships while the cargo that goes out on those same ships is grain for bread to satisfy the growing populations of the Greek city-states.

This trade rolls smoothly along–and so do the relationships between these traders. Seven of the city-states have even pooled their resources to build a magnificent shrine here, the Hellenion. But at home, their respective city-states are often in conflict with each other and sometimes at war. At Naukratis, trade for mutual benefit keeps tempers even; it’s a win-win situation. Yes, Naukratis is a unique settlement. Naukratis has been identified at the present-day site of Kom Ge’if, about eighty kilometers southeast of Alexandria, and was discovered in 1884 and initially excavated by the British archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie in 1884. It’s been the subject of research by several scholars, most recently Dr Alexander Fantalkin

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at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology who sought to explain how warring Greek tribes came to form a settlement together–and in the midst of Egypt. But the ancient Greek colony also poses a question for contemporary times: can this cooperation between warring Greek city-states in founding Naukratis, which lasted several decades, be an example of how modern states with hostile relations can benefit from each other’s resources? Apostolos Digbassanis, Greek Trade Commissioner in New York, answers in the affirmative. “Trade comes to support people’s needs. In a broader sense, it can transfer not only goods but also values like democracy, peace, ideals, and culture which, again in a broad sense, are so much in need for many countries.” But by drawing attention to Naukratis, Fantalkin’s research has triggered a debate on whether Naukratis can serve as a model for peaceful cooperation in today’s world.

Private enterprise From the Greeks’ earliest beginnings, starting with the Mycenaeans circa 1650 B.C., the Mediterranean Sea played a crucial role in their lives. Who were these ancient traders and what were their lives like? The Phoenicians from the west coast of what’s now Syria and Lebanon established the first organized trade on a mass scale–and dominated commerce from 1200 to 800 B.C. Homer describes Odysseus’s occasional role as both a trader and a pirate–a dual role attributed to many ancient seafarers engaging in trade–but it’s clear from both Homer and Hesiod, the ancient Greek poet of rural life, that traders were often viewed with suspicion by both the aristocracy and the peasantry as rootless adventurers, not tied by allegiance to their place of birth, and motivated only by money. It would then seem that bad practices like plundering or seizing captives for ransom or sale on the slave block would be a natural progression. Despite their ill repute, long-distance traders played an essential and growing role in the life of the civilizations along the shores of the Mediterranean. Largely as a result of population growth and land scarcity, many city-states saw groups of their citizens leaving to form new settlements. These settlements were sometimes called “colonies”, but the term is misleading. Not having the concept of our modern “nation-state” the ancient Greeks–who referred to themselves as Hellenes–owed their allegiance to political units called “city-states” or poleis, towns or small (by today’s standards) cities with their surrounding agricultural hinterlands, whose common kinship was a “Greekness” based on language (albeit with various dialects), a shared polytheistic pantheon of gods, and a broad similarity of customs. Despite their common culture, the poleis were in frequent competition and conflict with each other–quite often their neighboring poleis over land, but also trade and resources. The huge expansion of new settlements, most commonly along the seacoast, resulted in a similar expansion of long-distance trade, almost exclusively in the hands of private merchants, with governments being marginally involved. By the time of Naukratis’s founding, traders were becoming more and more vital in the economic life of the Mediterranean region as a result of the expansion of Greek settlements. Greeks had engaged in trade with Egypt as far back as the Mycenaean era, but had never achieved a foothold there. By the middle of

‘How could a whole series of Greek cities which were often quarreling with each other actually agree year after year on the appointment of officials from their midst who were to take charge of affairs in a distant port in Egypt? There is no parallel to such a complicated procedure in Greek history!’

the seventh century B.C., there is evidence of a new role for them as Greek mercenaries living in Egypt (who may have been pirates, as well). Various ancient sources describe them as being commissioned by Pharaohs in their dynastic struggles or serving as Pharaonic bodyguards who may have been sent to assist allies of Egypt in conflicts elsewhere in the Near East in the early sixth century B.C., but they were not involved with trade. For decades, Classical scholars and archaeologists have disputed the date of the establishment of Naukratis as an exclusively Greek “port of trade”. The physical evidence from excavations at Naukratis (including shards of amphorae stamped with the date and point of origin or ownership of the container) places the Greeks there in the late seventh century B.C. during the reign of Pharaoh Psammetichus I. Herodotus sets the date of the settlement’s founding at 570 B.C. under the Pharaoh Amasis, but this may have been motivated by a desire to glorify Amasis. “Reorganization” may be the key word in clarifying this disputed chronology. The consensus now seems to be that Naukratis was established first as an Ionian Greek “port of trade” for merchants from Miletus and possibly Chios, sometime between 620 and 610 B.C., then “reorganized” under Pharaoh Amasis in 570 B.C., to include merchant representatives from a dozen Greek poleis: Samos, Chios, Teos, Phocaea, Clazomenae, Rhodes, Cnidus, Halicarnassus, Phaselis, Aegina, and Mytilene. In addition to the Greek population, the colony had a sizable non-Greek population which may have been Egyptian laborers or slaves. But the key question to exploring the possibilities for Naukratis as a model for peace today looms: how and why did the notoriously fractious and competitive Greek city-states work together cooperatively over so many decades? As M.M. Austin, Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of St Andrews, wrote forty years ago, “how could a whole series of Greek cities…which were often quarreling with each other and, even in the face of a major threat such as that of Persia, were incapable of any coherent plan of action, actually agree year after year on the appointment of officials from their midst who were to take charge of affairs in a distant port in Egypt? There is no parallel to such a complicated procedure in Greek history!” More recently, another historian, Sir John Boardman, Emeritus Professor at the University of Oxford, speculated that the merchants formed a community “indifferent to the interstate rivalries at home, bound firmly by a common interest in trade with the foreigner, in a word, in making money.” Fantalkin is the latest to offer an explanation. He posts the intriguing new theory that the kingdom of Lydia (whose best-known ruler was Croesus, as in the phrase “rich as Croesus”), based in westMay/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 45


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central Anatolia during this era, was responsible for the establishment of Naukratis. The kings of Lydia sought recognition and legitimacy from the Greek elites on Greece and in Ionia by establishing a presence at both Delphi and Ephesus; they militarily dominated the Ionian citystates, forcing them to pay tribute and sent Greek mercenaries to assist the Egyptian Pharaoh Psammitticus, who directly preceded Pharaoh Amasis. Fantalkin’s theory indicates that because trade with Egypt would increase the Greeks’ ability to pay tribute to Lydia and that Lydia’s alliance would be strengthened with Egypt, Lydia made the Greeks an offer they could not refuse: cooperate in a “port of trade” in the Nile delta which would benefit the Greeks, Egypt, and Lydia. It makes sense. Then again, some might disagree. “I am highly skeptical of Mr. Fantalkin’s thesis,” says Kurt Raaflaub, Professor Emeritus of Classics at Brown University, “... I consider it unlikely that these cities could be pressured into doing something that they did not want to do anyway just because it was in their own interest. Naukratis was established by the Egyptian pharaoh because he wanted to control foreign access to Egypt and tax profitable trade.” Little is known about the actual trade operations at Naukratis or the internal governance of the trading colony partly because both nature and man have intervened in what might have been forthcoming from modern archeological investigations. First, the northern section of the ancient town, where the trade operations were centered, now lies under nearly fifty feet of water; second, over the centuries, the local Egyptian peasants “mined” the area for the mud bricks which comprised the ruins of Naukratis to use them for fertilizer. What we do know is that Naukratis was governed by representatives of the various Greek city-states that the Egyptians authorized to trade there. Whether these representatives were elected locally from among the merchants or chosen in the various city-states and sent to Naukratis is not known with certainty. The Canopic, or western branch of the Nile, where Naukratis was located, was about sixty-five kilometers up river from the sea coast. It is unlikely that the seafaring trading ships could have sailed directly upriver, especially as with each passing decade, the flow of water in this branch of the Nile began to diminish. Incoming and outgoing trade goods may have been loaded onto shallow draft vessels for transport to and from seashore where larger ships awaited. Naukratis was so successful in bringing in a substantial income by way of tribute or other payments to the governors of Egypt that despite the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525 B.C., the new rulers found it profitable to continue its special role as a “port of trade”. Eventually in the fourth century B.C., long after its founding, Naukratis became a city-state in its own right and lost its special character. By the time Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 and established the city of Alexandria, as the Canopic river branch began to shift its channel, Naukratis’s glory days were gone.

Trading for peace Naukratis ended centuries ago, but can its exceptional record of peace through trade exist today? Perhaps it already does. “I think in many respects it does. I think when it comes to business there are very creative ways for overcoming political differences, 46 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

The ancient Greek colony poses a question for contemporary times: can this cooperation between warring Greek city-states in founding Naukratis, which lasted several decades, be an example of how modern states with hostile relations can benefit from each other’s resources? and they are overcome on a daily basis, through neutral jurisdictions and other relationship structures. I don’t think really it does impede on trade to the degree that one might think. When you have significant issues like official embargoes, and so forth, that’s something different, but you’ll find that even there, there are often exceptions,” says Aristos Constantine, Trade Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in New York, although he emphasizes that he’s uncomfortable with hypothetical scenarios. In a speech at Georgetown University in 2010, Ambassador Dimitrios Marantis qualifies the role of trade, pointing out “developing countries’ long-term sustainability and development cannot rely on trade preferences alone. Developing countries must become more competitive by reforming domestic policies and strengthening ties with each other...”. Digbassanis suggests that the Naukratis ideal of cooperation between neighboring entities lives on in new forms. “In today’s world, countries are using their bilateral agreements with other countries and their memberships at multilateral schemes, NAFTA, OECD, WTO, EU etc., as well, in order to promote their trade and cooperation, not necessarily only with their neighboring countries but with countries located far from their borders but considered important for their economy, i.e., the US Trade Agreement with South Korea.” Expressing positive feelings about what Greece is doing in the way of carrying out European Union policy, Digbassanis says that “for Greece, a long-time EU member-state, this is very significant as her geographical location and the dynamics in the region–the Balkans, the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey–are challenging, for instance, illegal immigration, and of grave importance for the economy, and consequently business, culture, tourism exchanges, expansion. To that end, Greece is always promoting EU policies and programs aiming to enrich further the cooperation with all her neighbors.” Perhaps what might be interpreted as an optimistic final thought on the Naukratis question–and on the world in general–is Constantine’s feeling that “everybody has to find their own way forward, if you like. And we see that things tend to trend toward equilibrium. It might seem like a long time, in our short life span, but eventually things self-correct, because they have to. If you look at what’s going on in the Middle East now, and what’s going on anywhere else, if something is problematic to the extent that it becomes unacceptable to the populace of a country, then those things will change. They will be changed by a shift in perception, or by more volatile action...but it will change. When you look at China, we see a tremendous shift in a very short time in terms of opening their markets up and becoming an ever-increasingly bigger player in the world market. Everything is cyclical. Do I think that there is anything that could or should be done that isn’t, at this point in time? Not really.” O


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In the heart of Hungary, a small piece of Greece’s history lingers. It’s the town of Beloiannisz, which was founded and built in the early 1950s by Greek communists fleeing their country at the end of the Greek Civil War. Marissa Tejada Benekos visited this fading outpost whose Greek population has dwindled from 1,850–that is, nearly all its inhabitants–to just of one-fourth of the town’s current 1,185 inhabitants who doggedly preserve the Greek flavor of this village. 48 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY


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Our Town H Road signs marking the town’s limits in Hungarian and Greek; typically, most street signs in the town are written in both languages

risztosz Pletser’s Sunday routine is unlike most other Hungarian teenagers. For him it’s a day dedicated to playing traditional Greek music on his bouzouki. “I’m surrounded by Greek influences. My father first taught me how to play my bouzouki. My mother dances all of the traditional dances and she taught me those too. I listen to Dalaras, Glykeria, Mitropanos. I love rebetika,” he explains in fluent Greek as he carefully rests his bouzouki, secured in a black carrying case, on the seat next to him. We sit across from each other as our train prepares to depart from Budapest’s Southern Railway Station, Déli p΄alyaudvar. We are about to embark for his hometown called Beloiannisz, sixty kilometers away. It’s a town Hungarians also know as Görögfalva, or the “Greek village”. As the train pulls away, the sun begins to lower onto the neoclassical buildings that neatly line the blocks of Hungary’s capital. Over the next hour the landscape completely changes as the train charges into the gentle rolling hills of Hungary’s Transdanubian plain. “I really enjoy learning Greek. I’ve taken lessons since I was in kindergarten,” says Hrisztosz as he settles into his seat, sitting straight and tall in his navy blue parka. He adjusts his rectangle framed glasses as he explains how this weekend two-hour commute is just like his daily commute into Budapest, since Beloiannisz doesn’t have a high school.

“Beloiannisz is part of my Greek heritage,” he says firmly. Constructed from 1950 to 1952 by dedicated volunteers, Beloiannisz was settled by communist refugees escaping the Greek Civil War. The town is named after the Greek communist and resistance fighter Nikos Beloyannis who was executed in Greece in April 1952, around the time when the village was being completed. Among those fleeing to Hungary was Hrisztosz’s grandmother, Sophia Solomou, who arrived in Hungary as a young girl. Alone and scared, she eventually found a safe haven in Beloiannisz. In the sixty years since then, the political climate has evolved for both Hungary and Greece. The communist idealism that may have brought the refugees here and was the unifying force for the town’s existence simply isn’t evident any longer. But the children and grandchildren of those very refugees have evolved into a small but proud Greek community making every effort to maintain their Greek heritage in the only ways they can.

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he train stops next to a small red station house in Ivancsa, the town next to Beloiannisz. Here, Hrisztosz’s parents, Katalin Takacs and Istvan Pletser, await our arrival in the family’s white mini-van. The blue and white stripes of a Greek flag dangle from the rearview mirror. They’ve come out to offer their warm welcome in the May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 49


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The town’s typical railcarstyle homes and a street sign written in Hungarian and Greek

midst of a cold crisp winter afternoon and are eager to share their unique story. Hungary’s countryside continues to appear impressively vast, stretching out before us as we drive into town. The surrounding plains are a camouflage mix of light browns and greens, seemingly bare from the winter chill but beautifully highlighted by the setting sun’s gold and orange tones. In minutes we arrive at the village entrance. The welcome sign, like every sign that will follow it, is written in both Hungarian and Greek. A small and tidy white-washed Greek Orthodox church sits immediately off the side of the road near the entrance. It’s the latest addition to the village, built in the mid-1990s. “We were so proud during the opening ceremonies,” says Katalin. “The whole place was full of people who were christened Greek Orthodox. I was one of them, and eight months pregnant at the time. I like to say sometimes that both Hrisztosz and I were baptized here.” We stop at a small cemetery lined with tombstones engraved with Greek names lettered in the Greek alphabet. Continuing, we drive pass rows of Beloiannisz’s distinctive simple, bunker-like homes. Thin brown trees frame each street bestowed names that could be found in any Greek neighborhood including the 25th of March Street, dedicated to Greece’s Independence Day. We all climb out of the van at the main square: a grey stone-laid plateia. Surrounding it is the pre-school, elementary school, and cultural center. A solid upright, square stone monument is chiseled with Beloyannis’s stern profile. We walk away from the square into one of the only two café-bars in town. A television set on brackets over the bar blares a Hungarian soccer game as we take some seats and warm up with hot beverages. With her hands wrapped around her mug, Katalin smiles easily as she kindly offers some lemon juice to add to the steaming cups of tea placed before us. “I have half-siblings who now live in Greece. I am the only child from my mother’s second marriage to a Hungarian. So I am her only half-Greek child,” explains Katalin, her warm eyes crinkling. “I may have been born as a Hungarian girl here but it was a great asset to also be Greek.” By the end of the 1950s, the first group of ethnic Hungarians moved into the village. In 1980, when Katalin was eight years old, she says more than half the town spoke Greek. Today, Beloiannisz has a handful of full-blooded Greeks. The latest census shows the population numbers just over 1,000 residents with fewer than one in four 50 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

claiming themselves to be Greek in origin. Nevertheless, Katalin says it’s important to preserve the Greek culture how she can. “I feel it’s important. With my generation I noticed the whole village was becoming Hungarian. In fact, when I met my husband Istvan, who is Hungarian, we agreed our child would have a Greek first name at least. While it is pronounced Hrisztosz”–she says stressing the distinct intonations of the Hungarian language–“in Hungarian, it is Christos”–she says switching to her Greek accent. “We think it suits him well.” “Yes it’s because we both have Hungarian last names,” Istvan adds. “I am proud of her heritage, so we are proud.” “The Greek roots we are so proud of really all started with my mother. I don’t know much about what happened when she arrived. That’s because she doesn’t want to talk about it with anyone. What she went through at the time, having to escape from Northern Greece, I couldn’t begin to understand. She was just sixteen.” In fact, some eight thousand refugees came to Hungary from Greece as a result of the civil war that erupted after the end of the second world war, and Beloiannisz took in a good number of them. When Katalin’s mother Sophia arrived, like other children without their parents, she was escaping death and starvation. Children whose parents were in the Communist Party were sent by their families to Eastern Europe near the end of the civil war; families were thus separated for years and some members never saw each other again. “I don’t know exactly what route she took to get here since she won’t talk about it. But what I do know is that my mother’s world fell apart when her family separated,” says Katalin. “When she met her sisters again she was 60 years old. She relived the pain all over again.”

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n the early years of the metapolitefsi, or restoration of democracy after the collapse of the seven-year dictatorship in 1974, the Communist Party of Greece, which had been outlawed after the Greek Civil War, was legalized. Shortly after winning the 1981 elections, Andreas Papandreou’s socialist government allowed former communist fighters to return to Greece and offered state pensions to those who had fought in the resistance. As a result, Beloiannisz’s population dwindled dramatically as nearly half of its residents– 700 out of a population of 1,800–took advantage of this opportunity to return home. “I remember that time and I remember thinking that many had already died by then so it didn’t really matter. My mother had the op-


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From left to right: The younger members of the Pyrgos troupe performing Greek dances as part of the October 28 ‘Oxi day’ activities commemorating Greece’s refusal to accept a surrender ultimatum from Mussolini in the second world war. Hrisztosz Pletser shows Hungarian audiences Greek dance steps–and demonstrates bouzoukia patrons’ one-time custom of smashing plates.

portunity too but I was already ten. My brothers went back to Greece; my mother chose to stay here. She made a life here.” And Katalin and Istvan are doing the same. They say they loved growing up in the village. “It was safe, people were social and there was this Greek culture that tied everyone together, no matter how Greek or Hungarian you were,” says Istvan. “I was born in the early 1970s and as I grew up it was natural for people to dance to Greek music. Everyone went to the cultural center to learn, this was our entertainment. It was a completely different life. As everything began to change, I knew it would be harder for my son to keep the Greek culture but he does. He was never forced. I think he feels it and for that I am very, very proud.” Maintaining the ties are a way of life for those who choose it, in a place Katalin says has few possibilities for the next generations to come. “This is a basic town and there is nothing here today. Everybody is poor. There is no pharmacy, no butcher,” continues Katalin who commutes four hours a day by bus to work at a supermarket in the nearby town of Torokbalint. “The village can only support the nursery and primary school in the hope that more families won’t move away. There used to be a taverna with Greek food to get pita gyros but the owner died and no one took it over.” She says daily life remains quiet with retirees regularly organizing events at the cultural center. Children meanwhile organize football games nearby at the field where both plastic goal posts are painted with the Greek flag.

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ommunism may have been the spur for creating Beloiannisz but today communist ideology is hardly a factor. “In my view, the last thing I could recall to somewhat tie us to that time was our water tower–it was made of concrete and had a five angle communistic star. It was demolished in the 1980s,” says Istvan. In its transition to a village without political ties, Beloiannisz has become somewhat of a fading memory of one of twentieth-century Europe’s most wide-ranging political migrations. Katalin and her family say that today culture more than politics is what truly identifies Beloiannisz today. “I am the dance teacher of the town and have learned all the dances since I was quite young. I love it and I love my students.” In her spare time she volunteers to teach more than sixty chil-

dren in Beloiannisz –roughly eight out of ten are purely Hungarian, with no Greek roots at all. Five years ago, she and Istvan, who plays the bouzouki, they started Pyrgos, a choral and dance troupe. “Pyrgos is named after the ‘white tower’ in Thessaloniki. We chose this to send the message that it is not possible to demolish us,” explains Istvan. “After all, we are a tower. We are strong.” “Our group actually became quite famous,” Katalin says, proudly noting how they have toured in Germany, Hungary, and Greece. “When we perform in Greece we always hear how proud they are to know there is a dance group in Hungary representing Greek culture. There is this pride to know that we are maintaining the culture abroad.” With no financial backing other than revenues from ticket sales, Katalin and Istvan say it can be difficult at times to figure out how to provide costumes and plan for expenses, but agree it’s worth the effort when children see the shows and want to join too. “My son is the idol at these performances. A small child will come up to him afterwards and ask him to teach him the same solo dancing.” The group also has a website–www.portal.pyrgos.hu–where Istvan posts photos and videos of events and updates articles about the town. The content is uploaded in both Hungarian and Greek. “Our family truly preserves the culture,” says Katalin. She pauses, then adds: “you know, it’s work. Today, culture is not given when you are part of the diaspora here; you have to learn about it in your own way, but we are dedicated. We are a real Hungarian Greek family who loves the culture of Greece.” “By paper we are Hungarian but we all feel Greek with a Greek life style,” adds Istvan. While the dedication remains strong for the Takacs-Plester family, Katalin can’t help but express concern that their commitment isn’t enough. “When Christos has kids one day I am sure they’ll ask, ‘why do you have a Greek name?’” says Katalin. “The future of the village is a concern but in the end we know Beloiannisz is important to Hungarians. We are a special town, with a new kind of meaning from what it started as. When the media comes, our Greek dance and the music is the center subject now.” As for Hrisztosz, he says he has always been proud to be from such a unique town in Hungary, a town that molded his identity. “Although I’m not all Greek–because my father is Hungarian– Beloiannisz allowed me to grow up in Greek culture and it’s because of this O I feel the Greek in me and always will.” May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 51


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Mohamed Bengouzi stands next to a bombed tank belonging to the brigades loyal to Libyan leader Moamar Qadhafi on a beach 150 kilometers west of Benghazi in western Libya

Rules of Engagement A human rights campaigner’s arrest in February sparked a revolt that has since plunged Libya into civil war as anti-government forces seek to oust Moammar Qadhafi from power–which he seized in 1969. While the world focuses on the diplomatic effects of its outcome, Iason Athanasiadis, in Benghazi, looks at how events touched the lives of two people–a Greek businessman living in Libya and a Greek-born Libyan who quit journalism school to go back to cover these events. May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 53


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t was as Libyan government tanks creaked into place a mere 500 meters from his house in Benghazi that Kanakis Mandolios began questioning his own judgment. It was February and Libya was descending into civil war. As Benghazi’s foreign community stampeded out, the sixty-five-year-old Mandolios, a Greek from Egypt, obstinately refused to leave, insisting that forces loyal to Libyan President Moammar Qadhafi would never take the capital of eastern Libya. Now, they were a short stroll from his house and his neighborhood resonated to their ferocious bombardment. “That day, you could smell the gunpowder from the rocket batteries pounding Benghazi from several kilometers away,” Mandolios said as he reclined in the patio of the Swedish Consulate in Benghazi, the only diplomatic representation to be kept open by its consul and an oasis of calm in a panicked city parceled into checkpoints and daubed with anti-regime graffiti. “There were explosions everywhere–it seemed as if about Benghazi was about to fall.” But it was there, 500 meters from Mandolios’s house, that the tanks stopped their advance. Rebel fighters ambushed them, infiltrating their lines and hitting them hard with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire. Their attack forced a retreat to a desert staging post outside Benghazi where they were pounded mercilessly by coalition aircraft. Benghazi had been saved. That Libya’s second largest city and the nucleus of the revolt that swept the oil-rich North African country did not surrender itself to Qadhafi’s troops was due to a last-moment cliffhanger vote in the United Nations Security Council. It imposed a no-fly zone over Libya that ostensibly protected Libyan civilians but also acted as a military ‘Big Brother’ providing cover fire as they regained their lost advantage and pushed back westwards.

Another diaspora Mandolios is a dapper man with an open face quick to crease into impish laughter. He is known around Benghazi as a paragontas (a ‘factor,’ or well-connected insider). His construction business prospered in Qadhafi’s Libya and it is set to continue its success in the post-Qadhafi reality thanks to impeccable connections with the rebel leadership. Mandolios’s ability to coexist with shifting realities makes him part of a long Greek tradition of adapting to fluid power relationships that enabled minority Greek communities in the Middle East to survive and flourish. To be a Middle Eastern Greek is to be a study in adaptability. The first example of Hellenes safeguarding their minority status by intuiting volatile power shifts and going with the flow first appeared in St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. Its museum treasures a letter allegedly issued and signed by the Muslim Prophet Muhammad that permitted Sinai’s Christian monks to pursue their religion without fear of persecution. Fast forward a millennium to the wealthy trading neighborhood of Fener in Constantinople–traditionally the home of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate–where the Greeks were the bankers, ambassadors and fixers of the Ottoman sultans. In the harem, Balkan–especially Greek–women were prized for their beauty and produced the odd sultana too. Before the onset of nationalism fragmented the multicultural Mid54 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Mohamed Bengouzi (far left) takes cover from incoming shells on the frontline close to the city of Ajdabiyah, 160 kilometers from Benghazi in eastern Libya

dle Eastern mosaic in the twentieth century, Greeks used their merchant marine fleet to transport goods in and out of the region and their construction companies to build roads, airports, palaces and military bases. The deceased John Latsis was a fluent Arabic speaker whose business success was as much founded on his personal friendships with Middle Eastern despots as on the quality of his services. It is not by chance that he issued the first interpretation of the Koran in Greek, a luxury vanity publishing tome whose limited edition is sought after by collectors. If Latsis and Mandolios represent the swan song of a fading era, Mohammad Bengouzi heralds the new, multicultural Greece that emerged in the past thirty years. Whether wealthy Beirutis fleeing the Lebanese civil war, Syrians and Libyan students at Athens University, poverty-stricken Egyptians or Sudanese and Somalis fleeing instability, hundreds of thousands of Arabs and other Middle Easterners have washed up on Greek shores searching for a better future. Twenty-six-year-old Bengouzi is a Libyan who was born in Athens and grew up there, only visiting his parents’ homeland four times in his life. By his early twenties, he already possessed the so-called Greek dream: a steady job, his own flat, a car, and a string of girlfriends. But his activism in the anti-fascist movement and an urge to become a foreign correspondent pushed him to enroll in journalism school. When the Arab revolts rippled out of Tunisia last December, Bengouzi was in the last semester of his course. With something approaching desperation at his inability to move, he watched from the wrong side of the Mediterranean as the greatest story of his lifetime swept over Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen. “I was coming down with depression because the revolutions were passing me by,” he said, sitting in a Turkish restaurant in Benghazi, one of the few still to remain open in the war-torn city. “My teacher was jibing me–a little sadistically–that I was missing my great opportunity.” One day, Bengouzi decided enough was enough. He quit his school, sold his motorbike to fund his trip, and went to Libya. Once there, and despite established Greek TV journalists rebuffing his offers to work as a translator, he persevered until a writer for the Greek daily Eleftheros Typos took him on as an assistant.


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‘You don’t learn journalism at school, you learn it in real life. And so Libya has become the best school for me.’ Mohammad Bengouzi

“You don’t learn journalism at school, you learn it in real life,” he says. “And so Libya has become the best school for me.” But if civil war-torn Libya is a fine journalism school, then the streets of Athens were ideal preparatories for covering conflict. Bengouzi learned to make Molotov cocktails and take precautions in a riot situation during the December 2008 street protests over the shooting of a schoolboy, Alexis Grigoropoulos, by the Greek police. A year later, he was arrested under the controversial law banning the wearing of hooded tops and became active as a translator for the Arab immigrants which he claims were framed as looters by the Greek police who planted stolen electronics on them. “I’ve seen both hyper-democracy in Greece and hyper-dictatorship in Libya,” he said. “Too much democracy kills: the farmer ought to be able to democratically say what he wants… but he cannot democratically shut the highway I use to get home.” As he witnessed anti-Qadhafi fighters wrapped in bandoliers going to the front only to return home dead, Bengouzi came to the realization that nothing can be achieved without true toil and sacrifice. “If you want to overthrow the system, you can’t march on November 17 [the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against the junta] and then head over to McDonalds for a Happy Meal, nor do you strike two days of the week, then hang back home the rest of the time,” he says. “True democracy is not just talking but acting too.”

City under fire As anti-regime crowds ransacked police stations and assaulted the notorious Kataeb (the military bases belonging to Qadhafi’s private brigades in whose underground dungeons ordinary Libyans were tortured and disappeared), tens of thousands of foreigners resident in Benghazi streamed out. Mandolios coordinated the departure of 40,000 Chinese workers on Greek-hired ships, smuggling at least one Greek journalist in on a boat coming from Crete. “There was no question of any of us being spared if we were caught by Qadhafi’s troops,” Mandolios says. “By definition, having stayed behind when everyone else had left meant we were endorsing the revolutionary council.”

Nor would it have helped Mandolios’s case that he knew personally the two top members of the council: Abdolfatah Younis, the former interior minister and premier military commander and Jalal Abdolsoltani, the council chief and former justice minister. In fact, Mandolios had sought their help a year before when a relative of Qadhafi’s sought to confiscate some properties he owned outside Tripoli. With their help, Mandolios fought back and succeeded in having his chief persecutor jailed–a rare achievement in a country run like a mafia state. Mandolios’s roots in Libya run deep. His grandfather was an islander from Symi who crossed to the Ottoman mainland in 1905 in search of work, then headed with his family south to Egypt, fleeing the Turkish vengeance at the 1919 Greek invasion. He was born in the Egyptian port city of Ismailiyyah in 1956 and grew up speaking Egyptian Arabic, whose accent he still holds. A week before the destructive 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Mandolios’s father moved the family to Libya to work on a construction project. Pan-Arabism, nationalization policies, and the rise of Islamism were already taking their toll on Middle Eastern Hellenism as tens of thousands of Greeks abandoned lush seaside villas in Alexandria and emigrated to Greece. Mandolios bucked the trend by returning to Libya after studying shipping at the Athens Polytechnic. In Libya, he got into construction and set up an international school that became a multicultural oasis in a deeply homogeneous Muslim country crippled by an international embargo. During those harsh years, Mandolios honed his skills at divining the moves of Libya’s mercurial leader. Already as of the late 1990s, he was predicting Qadhafi’s shock 2003 reconciliation with the West. He even remained blasé over Cyrenaica’s startling uprising. “Libya was declared an independent state in 1951, 500 meters from the courthouse [that is the hub of the current revolt]; the 1969 revolution was carried out in Benghazi and eastern Libya has continuously paid the most blood tax,” says Mandolios. “To the extent this country has a political life, Benghazi is its political laboratory.”

On the frontlines Bengouzi ducked and rolled in the ground as a shell slammed into the sand a hundred meters away from him. It was his welcome to the frontline on his first day in battle. He was unarmed–more because of a lack of weapons than a commitment to journalistic ethics. His companion was a Russian-speaking Greek journalist who was a veteran of several conflicts in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and central Asia. With them was a bear of a man known as one of the top Russian conflict journalists. He certainly dressed the part: combat boots, camouflaged military pants, and a beret. Bulging belly notwithstanding, the Russian journalist resembled the Spetsnaz special forces more than a scribe. Whenever an explosion was heard, he would race towards it instead of taking cover, shielded only by a disproportionately delicate little video camera. Pointed at the carnage and concerned with neither steadiness nor focus, his lens sucked in the chaos of rebels ducking for cover or returning fire, with the Russian all the while mumbling a furious commentary in Russian to himself. Bengouzi had arrived at the front in a small van driven by one of the rebels. The other passengers were a lanky American journalist who specialized in embedding with the U.S. military in Afghanistan and his Islamist fixer from Egypt. The unlikely union between the AmeriMay/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 55


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‘There was no question of being spared if we were caught by Qadhafi’s troops… [staying behind] meant we were endorsing the revolutionary council.’ Kanakis Mandolios

Kanakis Mandolios stands in the remains of a makeshift barricade close to his house in Benghazi, eastern Libya. One of only two Greeks who refused to leave Libya as military brigades loyal to Leader Moamar Qadhafi approached Benghazi, Mandolios witnessed the armoured columns approach to within 500 meters from his house, then be bombarded by coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya.

can and Egyptian was strictly one of convenience: the penniless Islamist had met the non-Arabic speaking journalist at the Libyan border. In return for a roof over his head, he agreed to serve as his ears and tongue. As the rebels trucks pushed forward and then back along a stretch of highway in the desert, Bengouzi simply failed to find any frame of reference for what he was experiencing. “It’s one thing to play this in Call of Duty and another to live it in real life,” he marvels, referring to a shoot-em-up videogame famous for its realism. “An RPG in real life is terrifying: you shit yourself just from the whiz it makes as it shoots off.” When a prodding rebel advance was violently reversed in a glittering eruption of mortar explosions, Bengouzi ran back to safety so fast that he vomited up his lunch. “I’m now assured that this is what I want to do,” he says with exhilaration once he is back in the van. Dusk descended and the day-trippers and war tourists returned to their cars, cradling the day’s precious cell phone videos in their palms. At the minivan, the Russian journalist hesitated before announcing, in heavily-accented English: “I will stay here tonight.” He listened to none of the entreaties of the assembled to return with them to Benghazi, that the night in the desert was cold and that he neither spoke Arabic nor had a blanket or cigarettes. Turning on his laced-up heels, he disappeared into the gathering dusk, soon lost in the throng of heavily-armed fighters milling around. As they drove back to Benghazi, a Muslim resistance hymn played on the radio, supposedly composed by Islamist prisoners in the notorious Abu Slim prison for political detainees. We will stay here till the pain goes / We will stay here till we triumph Bengouzi was lying back in his seat, musing on his day’s brushes with death. “I remember something that my departed father said: when you die, all that counts is the name you leave behind.” He didn’t say it but looked as if he wanted to add that it would be a shame for him to die without having made his own name yet. 56 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

A week later I bumped into him once again at Cairo airport as we checked in for the Olympic flight to Athens. A torrential spring storm drenched us to the bone as we rushed across the piste to the airplane and then took off, plunging away from the desert into stormy clouds. At passport control in Athens, Bengouzi headed for the non-European Union passports line and showed his Libyan passport to the surly policeman manning the booth. Despite a lifetime spent in Greece, he has yet to receive citizenship.

The day after Libya may be plunged into civil war but the outlines of Mandolios’s privileged reality still hang together. His Austrian wife and daughter left Benghazi for Europe early on in the civil war and he moved into communal living with six others Westerners. In his temporary residence, life retains some pleasures: communal dinners in the Swedish consulate; a glass of wine and a cigarette at sunset in the cloistered terrace from where the rat-tat-tat of accounts being settled in the city below fades into inaudibility; and day trips out to Hellenistic gems like the city of Cyrene. But the threat of an uncertain future hangs heavy over Mandolios, especially as news mounts from neighboring Egypt that Islamist groups–who also prove to be the rebellion’s hardest fighters–are strengthening their hold. “It’s possible that these Arab revolts could lead to an Islamic arc being created from Morocco to Saudi Arabia,” Mandolios notes. “But what can we do about it aside from installing another Qadhafi? We can only weaken the fertile soil in which these weeds grow by improving people’s lifestyles and giving religion a back seat in public life.” One thing is certain as far as Greece is concerned: a post-Qadhafi Libya, whether Islamist or neo-liberal, will never again maintain the kind of close relationship with Athens as it did in the 1980s, political and business, as part of then-premier Andreas Papandreou’s policy of cultivated Greece’s relations with Arab states. That was the decade when Greek construction companies regularly broke the international embargo to build military bases and close diplomatic ties led to the signing of the agreement ending the Libyan intervention in Chad at plush beach resort at Crete’s Elounda. Like neighbors Turkey, anxious to safeguard its massive fifteen billion dollars of Libyan investments, Greece is juggling its diplomatic options in the face of an Anglo-Franco-American axis determined to see the end of Qadhafi. If little Greece appears insignificant before these interests, then what of the handful of Greeks caught in the din of this confrontation? “I hope that the new Libya that is created is an inspiration for tolerance and multi-culturalism,” says Mandolios as he looks out over night-time Benghazi. But the process by which a pro-democracy protest turned violent uprising and then dissolved into civil war does not engender hope for the future. O


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annual hotels guide

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Art Living The

of

Athens & Environs Arion Resort & Spa (€€€€€ p. 75) Athenaeum Intercontinental (€€€-€€€€ p. 61) Divani Caravel (€€€-€€€€ p. 63) Electra Palace Hotel (€€€, p. 62) Grande Bretagne Hotel (€€€€€ p. 62) Grecotel Cape Sounio (€€€€€, p. 76) Metropolitan (€€€€, p. 64) O&B (€€-€€€ p. 69) Periscope Hotel (€€€-€€€€, p. 62) Semiramis (€€€€€ p. 68) Sofitel Athens Airport (€€€ p. 63) The Margi (€€€, p. 72)

Thessaloniki & Environs Capsis Bristol (€€€-€€€€ p. 63) Les Lazaristes (Stavroupoli, €€€ p. 63) Porto Carras Grand Resort (Sithonia, €€€-€€€€ p. 74) The Met Hotel (€€€, p. 69) Saronic islands Bratsera (Hydra, €€€ p. 60) Orloff Resort (Spetses, €€-€€€ p. 70) Poseidonio Grand Hotel (Spetses, €€€€ p. 64) Residence Kiafa (Hydra, €€€€€ p. 80) Rosy’s Little Village (Agistri, €-€€ p. 66) Sto Roloi (Poros, €€-€€€ p. 78)

Mainland & Peloponnese Aldemar Olympian Village (Pyrgos, Peloponnese, €€€€, p. 71) Amalia Hotel Kalambaka (Theopetra, €€€ p. 68) Grecotel Olympia Riviera Resort (Kyllini, Peloponnese, €€€-€€€€€ p. 75) Hotel du Lac (Ioannina €€-€€€ p. 64) Kinsterna Hotel & Spa (Monemvasia, Peloponnese €€€€ p. 78) Papaevangelou Guesthouse (Megalo Papingo, Zagori, Epirus €€ p. 61) The Romanos (Messenia, Peloponnese, €€€€€ p. 74)

Villa Condessa (Epidaurus, Peloponnese, €€€€€ p. 80) Northern Aegean Islands Argentikon (Chios, €€€€€ p. 75) Hotel Pyrgos of Mytilene (Mytilene, €€, p. 65) Marnei Mare (Samos, €€€€ p. 79) Evia & Sporades Alonissos Beach (Alonissos, €€-€€€ p. 72) Apollon Suites (Evia, €€-€€€ p. 66) Blue Suites (Skopelos, €€ p. 79) Thermae Sylla Spa (Evia, €€€€ p. 76)


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properties–something unheard of two decades ago. But our lifestyles have also changed since then–and so has our readership, with many younger professionals who are just starting their careers and families. So we’ve diversified the list more, both in terms of price and holiday interest–which, of course, often overlaps: romantic hideaways for couples as well as poetic souls who revel in beautiful, tranquil surroundings; urban but also urbane properties that exude elegance; accommodations suitable for families; sleek & chic hotels for hip travelers; hotels and resorts with the casual beach house atmosphere; hotels built around spas; resorts that are destinations themselves; and villas or apartments for travelers who place a premium on independence. The trend is for lodgings in small, traditional inns and we’ve included a number of these scattered throughout. Enjoy!

Cavo Tagoo

iving is, indeed, an art. But as with art, everyone differs as to what is the ideal holiday. For some, it’s shaking off the work-day lethargy and revving up with sports, for others it’s flopping down on a sand beach for a week–or more. When Odyssey first began publishing its annual “Best Hotels” guide, travelers’ options were largely limited to a choice between large resort or brand hotels and the humble rooms for rent. Compiling the list was much easier. But all that has changed. Since the 2004 Olympics, Greece’s hospitality industry has blossomed with choices–glittering, sprawling resorts that embrace three or more accommodation options within their grounds, apartment suites, boutique properties that combine unique settings with personal service. Even the humble domatia have changed, with air conditioning and a TV as standard at most

Cyclades 5 Hermoupolis (Syros, €€ p. 65) Cavo Tagoo (Mykonos, €€€€€ p. 70) Elies (Sifnos, €€€€ p. 71) Hotel Del Mar (Milos, €-€€€ p. 79) Ikies Traditional Houses (Santorini, €€€€€ p. 60) Lakki Pension (Amorgos, €€ p. 72) Liostasi Hotel & Spa (Ios, €€€-€€€€ p. 76) Mykonos Grace (Mykonos, €€€€€ p. 61) Naxos Villas & Suites (Naxos, €€€€ p. 72) Patriarca (Sifnos, €€€ p. 70) The Tsitouras Collection, Santorini, €€€€€, p. 70)

The Windmill (Kimolos, €€€-€€€€, p. 61) Yria Resort (Paros, €€€-€€€€ p. 68) Ionian Islands The Aigli 1800 (Lefkada, €€€-€€€€, p. 64) Corfu Luxury Villas (Prinias, Corfu, p. 80) Emelisse Hotel (Kefalonia, €€€ p. 60) Grecotel Daphnila Bay Thalasso (Corfu, €€€€ p. 65) Kythera Irida (Kythera, €€-€€€ p. 71) Pavezzo Country Retreat (Lefkada, €€€ p. 60) Paxos Beach Hotel (Paxoi, €€ p. 66) Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel (Ithaki, €€€ p. 69)

Porto Zante Villas & Spa (Zakynthos, €€€-€€€€ p. 76) Thodora Apartments (Kefalonia, €€ p. 78) Crete Aldemar Royal Mare Thalasso (Hersonissos, €€€€, p. 78) Castello City (Iraklio, €€ p. 65) Cressa Ghitonia (Sitia, p. 80) Creta Maris Convention & Golf Resort (Hersonissos, €€€€, p. 74) Elounda Peninsula All-Suites Hotel (Elounda, €€€€-€€€€€ p. 75) Enagron (Axos, €€-€€€, p. 66)

Irini Mare (Ayia Galini, €€ p. 68) Mythos Suites Hotel (Rethymno, €€-€€€, p. 80) Out of the Blue Capsis Elite Resort (Iraklio, €€€-€€€€ p. 74) Villa Andromeda (Hania, €€€ p. 65) Dodecanese Elysium Resort & Spa (Rhodes, €€€, p. 72) Melenos Lindos (Rhodes, €€€ p. 70) Petra Hotel & Suites (Patmos, €€€ p. 71) Rodos Park Suites & Spa (Rhodes, €€€€ p. 76) Spirit of the Knights (Rhodes, €€€ p. 61)

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like air conditioning and DVD players. The hamam, or Eastern steam bath, is perfect for relaxing and rekindling intimacy. Hotel services like cleaning, breakfast, massages, aromatherapy, steam bath and restaurant for light meals round out the hospitality. www.pavezzo.gr Katouna, Lefkada, tel. (0030) 26450 71782 €€€ Rooms: 9 villas (sleep from 2 to 6 persons) 

Ikies Traditional Houses







Romantic Hideaways Ikies Traditional Houses Ikies is a new generation boutique hotel, something you might see in a movie and envy. Each of the “oikies” (Greek for “home”) in the group is built on a separate level, creating the illusion of dice tumbling down the cliffs into the caldera. Each one also boasts a terrace with a spectacular, and unobstructed, view of the volcanic islets rising from the caldera and towards Oia itself. Interior design amplifies Cycladic elegance, with vaulted ceilings and painted floors. Reclining futons on the decks invite guests to sip cocktails and simply soak up the view. Intuitive service, Coco Mat bedding, and branded natural cosmetics are some of the details that complete the Ikies experience. All houses are equipped with wireless internet, iPod speakers, and satellite TV–and all enjoy the personalized service from staff who will happily arrange activities from treks or horseback rides to sailing. www.ikies.com Oia, Santorini, tel. (0030) 22860 71311 €€€€€ Rooms: 11 



Pavezzo Country Retreat Truly deserving of the term “retreat”, this tranquil estate is an excellent hideaway for couples who want to slip away for some quality time alone. Each villa is independent (including fully-equipped kitchenette) for complete privacy and has been beautifully renovated to combine elements of traditional rustic architecture with modern amenities

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Emelisse Hotel

Emelisse Hotel Just as Fiskardo’s cove has offered harbor to yachts, the Emelisse Hotel is a haven for travelers seeking a casual, yet cozy and cosmopolitan resort. Love seats set around the pool deck are perfect for snuggling while enjoying the picture-postcard view over cocktails as you relax into a daily routine that combines swimming, sightseeing, activities like snorkeling or cycling, or even pampering at the Elemis Emelisse Day Spa. A range of guestrooms, including family apartments and maisonettes, are decorated in earth tones and natural materials that complement the landscape. www.arthotel.gr/emelisse Emblissi Bay, Fiskardo, Kefalonia, tel. (0030) 26740 41200 €€€ Rooms: 64

Bratsera This renovated mid-19th-century sponge factory oozes the sort of charm that appeals to travelers with eclectic

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tastes. Exposed stone walls and wood-beam ceilings are set off by wrought-iron or canopied beds, table lamps with marble bases, and cozy terraces screened by profusions of bougainvillea. Relax poolside in the porticoed courtyard, a small haven of tranquility from the island’s excitement. www.bratserahotel.com Hydra, tel. (0030) 22980 53971 €€€ Rooms: 26 

Mykonos Grace Overlooking the sand beach at Ayios Stefanos just north of Mykonos Town, this cozy boutique hotel places a premium on pampering, offering several room types with plunge pools, a private day spa, and intuitive service that anticipates individual guests’ needs. Comfort comes first, with ample guestrooms that seamlessly blend traditional island architecture with chic design. King-sized sun beds on the poolside deck create the aura of an open-air lounge for sunbathing or sipping cocktails.

teriors–cool, relaxing, and casually luxurious with fine linen, discreetly positioned flat-screen televisions, branded cosmetics, and, of course, verandas or balconies with stunning views. Two larger suites sleep up to four persons, while three smaller ones are ideal for couples.

www.mykonosgrace.com Ayios Stefanos, Mykonos, tel. (0030) 22890 20000 €€€€€ Rooms: 31

www.kimoloshotel.com Kimolos, Cyclades, tel. (0030) 22870 51544 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 5









Mykonos Grace



Spirit of the Knights

Papaevangelou Guesthouse

Experience medieval Rhodes in this exclusive eco-friendly boutique hotel located within the walls of the Knights’ fortified city. Yes, the building dates from the Crusaders and is a small museum itself, housing artworks from the Near East, hand-crafted furniture, and exquisite carpets from Persia and Turkey. Each suite is individually laid out and decorated, while shared areas such as two courtyards and a bar enhance the feeling of privacy.

What could be more romantic than a secluded mountain retreat over one of Greece’s prettiest gorges, the Vikos. Papaevangelou Guesthouse is in Megalo Papigo, one of Greece’s loveliest villages that looks to the towering peaks of Mount Astrakas. Inside and out, Papaevangelou’s is everything you’d imagine such a retreat to be, with stone exteriors, guestrooms with exposed woodbeam ceilings, hand-stitched throws and fireplaces. This cozy feeling is rounded out by the proprietors’ doting and the marvelous breakfast spreads with home-made jams, breads, and more.

www.rhodesluxuryhotel.com Alexandridou 14, Rhodes Town, tel. (0030) 22410 39765 €€€ Rooms: 6

www.hotelpapaevangelou.gr Megalo Papingo, Zagori, Epirus, tel. (0030) 26530 41135 €-€€ Rooms: 10

The Windmill Lounging on the veranda at The Windmill is like floating on a cloud into a world of blue. This beautifully renovated mid-nineteenth century windmill takes advantage of this site chosen for these buildings to show off views of Kimolos and the Aegean Sea. It’s a good choice for travelers who want to experience an unspoiled island as Kimolos retains all of its Cycladic flavor, with cozy sand beaches and bougainvillea-shaded cafes in white-washed passages for lazy games of backgammon. The simple lines of The Windmill’s exterior set the tone for guestroom in-

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Urban & Urbane Athenaeum Intercontinental The Athenaeum Intercontinental is among the preferred addresses for business travelers–and for good reason. But it’s location midway between downtown and beaches also makes it a good choice for sightseers or a city break. All guests enjoy premium amenities like butler and valet

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service and the modern, chic environment that is the hotel’s signature. Loosen up in the gym, spa, pool, drink or have a meal at Premiere, worth visiting as much for its award-winning Mediterranean cuisine as for its stunning Acropolis views. www.ichotelsgroup.com Leoforos Syngrou 89-93, tel. (0030) 210 920 6000 €€€-€€€€ Rooms 543 











Grande Bretagne Hotel The Grande Bretagne holds a place in Greek history as the site of various landmark events. It’s also held as the standard of luxury and elegance, even after a radical basement to roof renovation. Guestrooms exude aristocratic charm, with antique style furniture and bespoke details creating a unique ambience. Its tea salon and restaurants are also the meeting place for the country’s business and political elite, making the Grande Bretagne a true power address in the capital, with all the requisite amenities, from fine dining to a day spa that gather the capital’s rich and famous. www.grandebretagne.gr Vas. Georgiou Ave, Constitution Square, Syntagma, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 333 0000 €€€€€ Rooms: 321 







Periscope Hotel



distance), beaches, the port at Piraeus, and airport. Standard amenities like internet, complimentary bathrobes, and mini bar in all guestrooms are “upgraded” to Jacuzzi bathtubs and other extras in suites. After a day’s sightseeing, guests can relax on the premises over drinks or dinner at one of two restaurants or the bar. www.electrahotels.gr Nikodimou 18-20, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 337 0000 €€€ Rooms: 155 







Periscope Hotel

Electra Palace Hotel

Electra Palace Hotel This five-star property offers a downtown location and views of the Acropolis from all superior rooms. It’s wellsituated for public transport to all sights (many in walking

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Designed by the Deca Group of Architects, Periscope combines ergonomics with an urban aesthetic that’s perfectly in tune with the needs of the demanding twentyfirst-century traveler. Rooms have a modern vibe, with all the attendant comforts and conveniences–satellite TV, CD and DVD players, free internet access, wireless phones, automatic blinds, electronic safety deposit boxes, mini bar, complimentary slippers and bathrobes, laundry and dry cleaning services, and room service. For a view over the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill, book a Junior or Penthouse Suite. Periscope’s draw is its location amid Kolonaki’s boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and bars. But you can

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also dine in–the lounge bar and restaurant are a popular venue among locals too. Its name, by the way, was inspired by the rooftop periscope through which guests can survey Athens. www.periscope.gr Haritos 22, Kolonaki, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 729 7200 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 21

Divani Caravel Conveniently located on the city center’s rim away from the congestion, the Divani Caravel has proved a top choice for business and leisure travelers. Natural materials, mainly marble and wood, in the lobby set the standards of elegance for guestrooms and suites, which are furnished with designer fabrics, original paintings, and modern oak furniture that combined create an environment that is both luxurious and comfortable. Two Executive Floors have special amenities for business travelers, including a private lounge, and conference or meeting facilities for up to 2,000. Pack a swimsuit as few people can resist a dip in the indoor/outdoor swimming pool with breathtaking views over the city to the Acropolis. www.divanis.gr Vas. Alexandrou 2, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 720 7000 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 471 











Sofitel Athens Airport

Yades Heritage & Hospitality Hotels as well as Historic Hotels of Europe. An elegant marble staircase sweeps guests from the reception lobby up to sixteen classicallydecorated rooms and four suites. Antiques, handmade oriental carpets, glossy timber floors and handcrafted furniture adorn the rooms. Somewhat surprisingly, they also come with internet connection. Start the day with a lavish buffet breakfast in a sun-washed atrium before heading out to explore the nearby museums, historical sites, markets and stores. www.capsishotel.gr Oplopiou 2 & Katouni, Thessaloniki, tel. (0030) 2310 506 500 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 20







Sofitel Athens Airport The airport location makes the Sofitel a good choice for visitors planning to spend one or two days in Athens as a city break or before or after an island vacation. Transport to downtown and the ports at Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrio make it ideal, especially for those with very late or very early flights in and out of Athens. Guestrooms and suites offer a range of comforts, including “customized sleeping” for a more comfortable rest. The hotel also offers a choice of restaurants, meeting space, indoor pool, fitness center, and spa. www.sofitel.com Athens International Airport, Spata, tel. (0030) 210 354 4000 €€€ Rooms 345 











Capsis Bristol Housed in what was once the city’s main post office, the Capsis Bristol is situated in the center of Thessaloniki’s fascinating old town. Constructed in 1870, the two-story building, considered a sterling example of nineteenthcentury architecture, was almost lost in a terrible fire that ravaged the city. The Bristol is a member of Greece’s

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Les Lazaristes A former tobacco warehouse converted into a beautifullyappointed, contemporary five-star property in a quiet yet centrally-located part of town, Les Lazaristes is a brilliant new addition to the Thessaloniki hotel scene. Its lightfilled guestrooms and suites have been designed to make one feel totally at ease. Lines are clean and color schemes simple: camel and cream, black and white, a dash of animal print here and there. In the penthouse, which enjoys views of the Thermaikos Gulf, one can relax in the bedside hydromassage tub. Culture vultures will feel right at home in art-savvy Stavroupoli, as the Moni Lazariston cultural centre, National Theatre and National Museum of Contemporary Art are but a stone’s throw away. A frequent shuttle bus whisks guests downtown in just seven minutes. Facilities include fully equipped meeting and function rooms, a VIP lounge, piano lounge, pool and a la carte restaurant. www.domotel.gr Koloktroni 16, Stavroupoli, Thessaloniki, tel. (0030) 2310 647 400 €€€ Rooms: 74 



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teriors are a harmonious blend of marble and woodwork– the natural elements of the surrounding landscape. Many guestrooms offer spectacular views over the lake. www.hoteldulac.gr Akti Miaouli & Ikkou, Ioannina, tel. (0030) 26510 59100 €€-€€€ Rooms: 139 



The Poseidonio Grand Hotel Stepping through the doors of the Poseidonion Grand Hotel is like walking into another era. This elegant building, which has graced the island’s waterfront promenade for over a century, recalls the days when it played host to European aristocracy, a slice of the French Riviera transplanted to the Saronic. Completely refurbished, including a new wing, the Poseidonio Grand reopened in 2009. Accommodation choices range from garden or sea view deluxe rooms, an open-plan Tower Room with a panoramic view, luxurious suites and the totally private Pool Suite. Two restaurants–both summer counterparts to award-winning Athens restaurants–a bar, and spa round out the experience. www.poseidonion.com Dapia, Spetses, tel. (0030) 22980 74553 €€€€ Rooms: 52    Closed November-March Metropolitan

Metropolitan Ideally located between the two main business centers of Athens and Piraeus, the Metropolitan hotel also makes an excellent base for sightseeing as it offers complimentary transfers to and from central Athens. Spacious guestrooms and executive suites and tastefully furnished and fitted with all modern conveniences such as high-speed internet as well as extras like an electric trouser press and separate dressing room. Dining options include the La Trocadero restaurant overlooking the garden, rooftop La Veranda with its refined Mediterranean cuisine, and the casual Atrium Café for light meals. The Metropolitan also has conference space and meeting rooms awash in natural light.

The Aigli 1800 This pretty boutique hotel in the heart of Lefkada Town is something of a local landmark as the late eighteenth-century building was the site of a critical meeting of the revolutionary council at the start of the Greek war of independence. Beautifully renovated and transformed into sumptuous suites, each individually decorated according to a color or other theme with four-poster beds, comfortable sofas, and the little details that set this boutique hotel apart like Jacuzzi, hand-made mattress with toppers

www.chandris.gr Leoforos Syngrou 385, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 947 1000 €€€€ Rooms: 374 











Hotel du Lac Set next to the picturesque Lake Pamvotis, Hotel Du Lac is an Ioannina landmark. The five-star hotel is built in the style of a traditional mansion and framed by thick lawns and lush gardens that conceal a conference center and day spa. In-

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The Poseidonio Grand Hotel

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5 Hermoupolis Housed in a recently renovated nineteenth-century mansion, this cozy hotel is steeped in the old-world charm of Ermoupolis’s Vaporia quarter. It is located opposite the Apollo Theater–the famed Syros opera house that is a small-scale replica of Milan’s La Scala–and a great base for exploring Ermoupolis and Ano Syra. Rooms are simply decorated with small flourishes like brand-name natural cosmetics and bedding–and optional massage on request. www.5hermoupolis.gr Northestrom 10 & Korai, Ermoupolis, Syros, tel. (030) 22810 89001 €€ Rooms: 5 

Castello City Comfortable and stylish, the Castello City Hotel is conveniently located near Iraklio’s center, making it a perfect base for exploring the city and nearby sights like Knossos. There’s a restaurant on the premises and some conference space too. www.castellohotels.com Leoforos Martyron 62, Iraklio, tel. (0030) 2810 251 212 €€ Rooms: 68

Hotel Pyrgos of Mytilene



treated with aloe vera, and kitchenette, and patio gardens. All this makes it a good choice for a special holiday and the Lefkada location recommends the hotel for combining days at the island’s gorgeous beaches with exploratory forays into the western mainland. www.theaigli.gr Pinelopis 4, Lefkada, tel. (0030) 6986960000 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 9 

Hotel Pyrgos of Mytilene Old-world elegance meets modern comforts in this early twentieth-century neoclassical mansion in the Mytilene’s Sourada quarter. Turret and curved steps that sweep up to the entrance set the tone for interiors tastefully decorated with antiques and period furniture. Guestrooms offer garden or sea views, while the junior suite occupying the turret has a view over the rooftops to the town. Sample local cheeses, honey, and jams at the lavish breakfast buffet in the drawing room or veranda before setting off to explore the island. www.pyrgoshotel.gr El. Venizelou 49, Mytilene, tel. (0030) 22510 46681-2 €€ Rooms: 12

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Villa Andromeda Villa Andromeda rises at the edge of a broad bay, just a 12-minute walk from the center of Hania–ideal for guests seeking a location that is central but also by the sea. The 19th-century neoclassical mansion was fully renovated in 2004. Suites include separate living area and sleep between two and five people; they’re equipped with mini bar and coffeemaker. Breakfast is served in the suite, on the terrace, or poolside in the walled garden with sundeck. www.villandromeda.gr Eleftheriou Venizelou 150, Hania, tel. (0030) 28210 28300 €€€ Rooms: 8 



Family Holidays Grecotel Daphnila Bay Thalasso This resort seems designed for relaxing family holidays, combining club facilities for kids and teens, a full-service spa, water and other sports with the ease of an all-inclusive holiday. Set on a shaded, gently sloping private cove on an expansive bay, the hotel offers a range of accommodations from double to assorted bungalows. PineIndoor Pool •

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Enagron

shaded beach, two open-air pools and separate children’s pool plus heated indoor spa pool, choice of restaurants and bars keep guests from wandering too far although the Dassia location is excellent for exploring Corfu Town and the rest of the island. www.grecotel.gr Dassia, Corfu, tel. (0030) 26610 90320-22 €€€€ Rooms 260 













Enagron There’s nothing more relaxing than getting back to nature. Enagron, a 50,000-square meter estate of olive groves, vineyards, vegetable gardens, offers guests the opportunity to witness–or join–farm activities such as distilling raki or tasting olive oil at the press and experience authentic Cretan cuisine and nature. The setting is gorgeous, with Mount Psiloritis rising in the background and the Mylopotamos river watering Crete’s abundant flora– enticing for hikes, botanical walks, or donkey rides through the countryside. Thirty-two apartments, in twelve independent buildings, offer a range of accommodations, from studios to three room suites that can sleep from two to six people, while there’s also separate conference space for meetings or business retreats. www.enagron.gr Axos Mylopotamou, Crete, tel. (0030) 28340 61611 €€-€€€ Rooms: 32 

www.paxosbeachhotel.gr Gaios, Paxos, tel. (0030) 26620 32211 €€ Rooms 42     Closed November-March

Apollon Suites Apollon Suites combines the amenities of a resort hotel with the convenience of studio apartments, something families find especially welcoming. All guestrooms have small kitchens and a private patio or balcony with views over a pretty beach that’s just a few meters away. A good choice for combining a restful beach holiday with a base for sightseeing Evia and the mainland. www.apollonsuiteshotel.com Karystos, Evia, tel. (0030) 22240 22045/8 €€-€€€ Rooms: 36     Closed November-March



Paxos Beach Hotel Though the largest isle of the Paxi group, Paxos is diminutive compared to nearby Corfu and, accordingly, €€€€€ 300+ euros• €€€€ 150-300 euros• €€€ 100-150 euros• €€ 50-100 euros• € under 50 euros

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Paxos Beach Hotel maintains this proportion to the larger island’s sprawling resorts. Set on a beachfront location just a 15-minute walk from the main village of Gaios, it’s a good choice for travelers who want a restful holiday. Guestrooms are comfortably yet modestly furnished and equipped with little extras like a mini-fridge and coffee/tea maker. Room types range from standard rooms to junior bungalow suites–all with private verandas, sea views and a small living area even in the standard rooms. There’s a children’s playground for young guests and tennis, table tennis, and mini golf for the adults.

Rosy’s Little Village Nestled in a pine forest by the sea, Rosy’s Little Village has the atmosphere of an island village yet is conveniently located near Athens on the island of Agistri, accessible All rooms have air conditioning and TV unless otherwise noted; rate brackets are based on a double room in high season


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Amalia Hotel Kalambaka Imagine throwing open your curtains to the spectacular sight of the Meteora rocks and their clinging monasteries. This alone would be enough for any guest, but add a range of modern conveniences like wireless broadband, mini bar, and flat screen television with the more personal service of a smaller establishment, and the Amalia Hotel is a winner. Guestrooms are tastefully furnished in soft pastels and earth tones and have balconies with views to the Meteora or Theopetra rocks. Its location recommends it as a base for exploring central and western Greece, as well as for meetings at the adjacent conference facility. Amalia Hotel Kalambaka

from Aegina, just opposite the Piraeus coast. It’s a good choice for families–with three of the rooms designed for parents traveling with children–with activities like sailing or cycling. And, as a little perk, mountain bikes are offered free to guests so they can explore the island. www.rosyslittlevillage.com Agistri, tel. (0030) 22970 91610 €-€€ Rooms: 16     Closed November-March

Irini Mare The hotel comprises seven two-story buildings set in a Mediterranean garden on the foot of a hill that gently slopes into the beach, just 100 meters away. The décor is modern, yet timeless with emphasis on comfort and function rather than design. There’s a swimming pool and poolside bar offering light snacks, as well as separate children’s pool and play area.

www.amaliahotelkalambaka.gr Theopetra, Greece, tel. (0030) 24320 72216 €€€ Rooms: 172 







Sleek & Chic Semiramis Karim Rashid, who was commissioned to design this hotel, created a property that is deservedly described as a work of art. Indeed, the Semiramis is the sort of place you might book into even if you live in Athens just for the experience. (Indeed, its location in the lush Kifissia suburb recommends it as the base for a more leisurely stay than one with a sight-packed itinerary.) Guestrooms–including pool bungalows and a spectacular penthouse suite–

www.irinimare.com Ayia Galini, Crete, tel. (0030) 28320 91488 €€ Rooms: 97    Closed November-March

Yria Resort Set about 100 meters from the beach’s edge, this modern resort is equally suited to rekindling romance or a family reunion. Choice of pavilions and villas–or a private estate with a private swimming pool–create an intimate atmosphere that is your refuge from Paros’s liveliness. Guestrooms are tastefully decorated to mimic living areas of homes rather than a hotel. Kids are pampered with a special menu and other extras–but adults are too, with a day spa, gym, tennis courts, and choice of two restaurants. www.yriahotel.gr Parikia, Paros, tel. (0030) 22840 24154-8 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 60 









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Semiramis

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feature post-modern furnishings whose colors and designs were deliberately chosen to compose specific scenes. The result is an environment that provokes the senses as it embraces culture, design, and art and transforms them into an ultimate hospitality experience with such creature comforts as plasma screen TVs, maxi bars, soundproofing, and complimentary bathrobes. www.yeshotels.gr Charilaou Trikoupi str., Kefalari, Kifissia Athens, tel. (0030) 210 628 4400 €€€€€ Rooms: 51 









The Met Hotel The Met Hotel, the newest member of CHANDRIS HOTELS & RESORTS is located in the new harbour area of Thessaloniki, only 1.8 km away from Aristotelous square in the city centre. With an exquisite combination of unique location, modern architecture, and high-end luxury The Met Hotel launches an avant-garde hospitality concept in the city of Thessaloniki. Dining at the Met in a stylish yet relaxed atmosphere discover flavours from International and Asian cuisine at Avenue 48 and CHAN Restaurant Bar, respectively that blend gently into the vibes of the city’s nightlife. The Met offers 212 guest rooms, 10 fully flexible meeting rooms as well as a state of the art Spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and a fully equipped fitness centre. The 22-meter long rooftop swimming pool and the spectacular Sky Bar with breathtaking 360 de-

The Met Hotel

grees view of Thessaloniki, make any ordinary day become a day to remember. www.themethotel.gr 26is Oktovriou, Thessaloniki, tel. (0030) 2310 017000 €€€ Rooms: 212 











O&B O&B, originally Ochre & Brown, gets its edgy urban style from its location in the heart of the Greek capital’s historic center. Explore the Acropolis and other ancient sites by day, then plunge into the downtown nightlife after dark. Guestrooms boast hi-tech sound and video equipment, marble bathrooms, and sleek, sophisticated décor that oozes urban cool. www.oandbhotel.com Leokoriou 7, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 331 2940 €€-€€€ Rooms: 11 

Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel Located away from the town’s bustle, Perantzada Hotel is housed in the pale blue neoclassical building designed by the renowned nineteenth-century architect Ernst Schiller. Its façade’s reserve is relieved by playful interiors, with design accents by Philip Stark, Varner Panton, Tom Dixon, and Ingo Mauer. Guestrooms, including six in a newly acquired mansion, combine the old-world elegance of high ceilings and four-poster beds with vivid pastels and eyecatching contemporary details like bamboo ladders instead of the usual towel racks in the bathroom. www.arthotel.gr/perantzada Odyssea Androutsou, Vathi, Ithaki, tel. (0030) 26740 33496 €€€ Rooms: 19 

Perantzada 1811 Art Hotel

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mix to create a cozy and somewhat edgy ambience. There’s a shared kitchen for preparing snacks and a small dipping pool that’s more suited for cooling off while sunbathing than actual swimming. The house is located in the middle of the village in a generally quiet area within easy reach of several tavernas and transport to beaches. www.patriarca.gr Apollonia, Sifnos, tel. (0030) 22840 32400 €€€ Rooms: 6   Closed October-April

Melenos Lindos Cavo Tagoo

Orloff Resort The Orloff Resort fuses indulgence with simplicity in everything, from the minimalist lines of the hand-crafted furnishings to the branded herbal toiletries in the bathrooms. This 19th-century mansion has been cleverly converted into a boutique hotel, offering guests a range of choices that includes suites, maisonette, and separate two-story five-bedroom house. All this is set within a private compound where you can relax and enjoy services such as massage and aromatherapy treatments. www.orloffresort.com Paleo Limani, Spetses, tel. (0030) 22980 75444 €€-€€€ Rooms: 22 and 1 independent house 





Cavo Tagoo Built amphitheatrically on an impressive natural cliff with a view to the poster-perfect town and glorious sunsets, Cavo Tagoo raises barefoot chic to an art form. Splashes of bold color play off the soothing white in airy guestrooms individually designed and decorated for form but also function. Indulge the ultimate holiday fantasy: a private infinity pool. Though just a short walk from Mykonos Town, Cavo Tagoo has so much to offer–from day spa to a restaurant created by a chef with two Michelin stars in his cap–that guests loathe to leave this hideaway.

Terraces inlaid with pebble mosaics are just one detail illustrating how this boutique hotel has distilled elements of traditional Lindian architecture into a unique expression of luxury and simplicity. Tastefully furnished rooms combine decorative flourishes like hand-painted ceilings and wood-panelled walls with function, offering modern amenities like mini bar in a rustic-inspired setting. Factor in lounge bar, roof garden, restaurant, and in-house massage service for hospitality that incorporates comfort and design. www.melenoslindos.com Lindos, Rhodes, tel. (0030) 22440 32222 €€€ Rooms: 12

The Tsitouras Collection This late-eighteenth century mansion at the heart of the Tsitouras Collection is not just a boutique hotel but a showcase for the artifacts collected over the years by historian and art lover Dimitris Tsitouras. “Guestrooms” are suites or small ‘houses’ that accommodate from two

www.cavotagoo.gr Mykonos, tel. (0030) 22890 20100 €€€€€ Rooms: 80 





Patriarca Design takes center stage in this beautifully restored 17th-century village home. Island architecture, antiques, funky chandeliers, whitewash and bold primary colors €€€€€ 300+ euros• €€€€ 150-300 euros• €€€ 100-150 euros• €€ 50-100 euros• € under 50 euros

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The Tsitouras Collection

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Aldemar Olympian Village

(House of Sea) to six (The TC Villa) guests and have independent living areas and individual décor. Lunch and dinner are served on the Maria Callas Terrace by arrangement–one party is served at a time to preserve privacy and the menu is customized with the chef. An added touch: linens and china (as well as room linens) all bear the hotel’s trademark wreath and are available for sale, along with a range of personal and household items. www.tsitouras.com Firostefani, Santorini, tel. (0030) 22860 23747 €€€€€ Rooms: 6 houses 

Aldemar Olympian Village Revel in the casual luxury of a beachhouse lifestyle at this ultramodern complex of autonomous bungalows, plush suites, spacious apartments, and beautiful guestrooms arrayed along a gorgeous stretch of sand coast on the western Peloponnese. Pad along landscaped garden paths from bungalow to beach to pools and enjoy the pure pleasure of choice, in restaurants, bars, and activities–from water sports and tennis to a relaxing massage at the full-service spa. It’s also a good choice for families, too, with specially-fitted guestrooms, playgrounds, organized activities, and mini buffets. In between days at the beach, visit Ancient Olympia and other sights in the Peloponnese. www.aldemarhotels.com Skafidia, Pyrgos, Peloponnese, tel. (0030) 26210 82000 €€€€ Rooms 288 









Elies This complex of bungalows and villas sprawls over some 50,000 sq. meters that fan out from the sheltered sand beach at Vathi. Guestrooms, suites, and villas with private pools are elegantly furnished in casual chic beachhouse Restaurant/dining facilities •

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Petra Hotel & Suites





www.eliesresorts.com Vathi, Sifnos, tel. (0030) 22840 34000 €€€€ Rooms: 32 

Beach Style



style. Light meals are served poolside while the resort also boasts a gourmet restaurant that organizes olive oil tastings in keeping with the resorts name (“elies” is Greek for olives) and the 200-year-old olive trees on the grounds. There’s also a spa, fitness center, and tennis courts.

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Designed like a small village, Petra sits slightly back from the beach–a private, luxurious microcosm where guests are discreetly pampered at every turn. Revel in the privacy of villa-like accommodations while enjoying the services of a hotel run by proprietors who take hospitality personally. The austerity of the architecture’s clean lines complements the landscape’s stark beauty that is part of the island’s spirituality. Indulge in a hydromassage, lounge by the pool, or pad down to the beach for relaxation between touring the island’s sights. www.petrahotel-patmos.com Grikos, Patmos, tel. (0030) 22470 34020 €€€ Rooms: 12    Closed November-March

Kythera Irida This tastefully appointed new hotel (completed 2009) straddles the line between comfortably familiar and overly designed. Guestrooms–a choice of doubles, maisonettes, or suites–are airy and spacious, with wonderful sea views from private balconies or terraces, while suites boast extras like hydromassage cabins. A buffet breakfast is served in the salon, while refreshments and drinks are served in the bar. A good base for exploring the island and lounging on the beach, just a few meters away. www.kythera-irida.gr Ayia Pelayia, Kythera, tel. (0030) 27360 34273 €€-€€€ Rooms: 30 

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Elysium Resort & Spa

The Margi Not strictly a beach hotel, it is an ideal choice for travelers who want to explore Athens but also work on their tan. Located in the chic coastal suburb of Vouliagmeni, it’s just a short walk from the beach–perfect for a swim before or after hitting the museums and other sights. Spacious, well-appointed guestrooms and suites have sea views and the extra comforts one expects from a luxury hotel. Relax by the pool, nosh on finger food at the patio bar, or sample refined Greek cuisine at the in-house restaurant on days when you’d rather stay in. www.themargi.gr Litous 11, Vouliagmeni, Athens, tel. (0030) 210 892 9000 €€€ Rooms: 88 











Alonissos Beach Like a cozy little village, Alonissos Beach Bungalows & Suites Hotel snuggles unobtrusively on the island’s unspoilt landscape. More of a retreat than a base for exploring, the complex combines bungalow accommodations (there are seven suites) with spa comforts, including a special menu to complement the palette of Asian and European therapies. With restaurant, playground, sports facilities, pool, bar–and, of course, one of the island’s prettiest beaches–it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave. www.alonissosbeach.com Chrissi Milia, Alonissos, tel. (0030) 24240 65115 €€-€€€ Rooms 93      Closed November-March

Naxos Villas & Suites Better-suited for longer holidays than short stays, these suites and villas accommodate between 4 and 8 guests. Apartments are fully fitted, with kitchens equipped right down to espresso machines, boast two bathrooms, €€€€€ 300+ euros• €€€€ 150-300 euros• €€€ 100-150 euros• €€ 50-100 euros• € under 50 euros

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Jacuzzi, private pool and veranda, while amenities range from branded coffee to bathrobes and slippers. The hotel’s philosophy blends self-catering with traditional hospitality, with guests served breakfast “at home”. A good base for exploring the island, as Stelida is just two kilometers from harbor and town and an easy walk to the long sand beach at Ayios Prokopios. www.naxiancollection.com Stelida, Naxos, tel. (0030) 22850 24300 €€€€ Rooms: 10 



Elysium Resort & Spa With Kallithea’s superb sand beach at its feet, the Elysium Resort & Spa is a good choice for anyone whose idea of a vacation revolves around days laying on the sand and frolicking in the surf. The beach is at the feet of this sprawling resort, which is also conveniently located near Rhodes Town and a good base for visiting sights like Lindos. Spacious guestrooms and suites, with private balconies and unobstructed views, are furnished for comfort but an eye to elegance. There’s a choice of restaurants and cafébars, range of sports like tennis and beach volleyball, day spa for added rejuvenation, and fitness club for a workout. www.elysium.gr Kallithea, Rhodes, tel. (0030) 22410 45700 €€€ Rooms: 330 











Lakki Pension Extending inland from the beach at Aegiali, Lakki Village is a complex of white-washed bungalows housing studios and apartments linked by paths framed by fragrant flowering bushes. Rooms are comfortable, clean, and prettily furnished–and functional enough for longer stays. The compound is a good choice for families with young All rooms have air conditioning and TV unless otherwise noted; rate brackets are based on a double room in high season


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The Romanos

Creta Maris Convention & Golf Resort

children, who are easily contained on the grounds. There’s a passable taverna on premises for those whose idea of the perfect holiday is meandering between pool and beach. www.lakkivillage.gr Aegiali, Amorgos, tel. (0030) 22850 73253 €€ Rooms: 35     Closed November-March

Destination Resorts Creta Maris Convention & Golf Resort A vacation wonderland rather than a resort, this property sprawls over a sweeping bay edged by a sand beach. Shaded footpaths wind through landscaped gardens and small piazzas connecting the bungalows, swimming pools, main building, conference center, bars, traditional kafeneion, and sports facilities in this holiday village. While adults enjoy water sports, golf, mountain biking, or are pampered at the spa, children can enjoy their own sports and recreational activities at the Asterias Club. www.maris.gr Limin, Hersonissos, Crete, tel. (0030) 28970 27110 €€€€ Rooms: 534 













This Luxury Collection property is all about sumptuous beach living, with a sparkling new resort, pristine beach, Amazoe spa, championship golf course at The Dunes, swimming pools, gourmet restaurants, and one of the prettiest locations in the Peloponnese. Choice accommodations are infinity suites, each with their own infinity pool– and a view to match. The resort is clevery angled on a natural slope, for unobstructed views from guestrooms, verandas, and restaurants. The Sandcastle offers activities for children aged between five and twelve years, while an innovative service, the Cocoon, offers baby-minding services for infants from eight months old. Dining choices add to the variety, with a 1960s’ style diner and separate restaurants serving Middle Eastern, Japanese, and Sicilian food–and, of course, Greek, featuring local products. www.romanoscostanavarino.com Navarino Dunes, Costa Navarino, Messenia, tel. (0030) 27230 96000 €€€€€ Rooms: 321

Porto Carras Grand Resort “Sprawling” doesn’t begin to describe this resort, which is actually a holiday town with thalassotherapy spa, 18hole golf course, conference facilities, casino, marina, and vineyard that produces some of the finest wines. Guests may select their accommodations from three hotels–the Meliton Deluxe Thalasso & Spa Hotel, the Sithonia Thalasso & Spa Hotel, and the Village Inn–or the exclusive Villa Galini guesthouse whose seventeen suites have hosted luminaries like Salvador Dali and Rudolf Nureyev. For the sporty, there’s a diving center, nautical club, range of water sports, mountain biking, jogging trails, and courts for volleyball, basketball, tennis, and more. www.portocarras.com Sithonia, Halkidiki, tel. (030) 23750 77000 €€€-€€€€€ Rooms: 971, Suites: 17 













Out of the Blue Capsis Elite Resort Among the newer of the large resorts extending along Crete’s northern coast, Out of the Blue occupies a private peninsula framed by a sprawling botanical garden. The resort embraces four different hotel concepts, spanning main building guestrooms to bungalows and private pool villas. All this is set among ponds, waterfalls, sports facilities, a small private zoo, a mythology-themed fun park inspired by the Minoans, and spa. The resort also boasts three beaches, seven bars, and nine restaurants–two run by chefs with two Michelin stars each. www.capsis.gr Ayia Pelayia, Iraklio, tel. (0030) 2810 811 112 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 465

The Romanos



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Elounda Peninsula All Suites Hotel Situated on an elevated peninsula, the Elounda Peninsula All Suite Hotel enjoys magnificent views of the stunningly beautiful Mirabello Bay. Greece’s only all-suite seaside hotel, it offers a range of accommodations from twolevel Collection suites to the junior suites with private pools, and the Grande Suite–an attractive two-bedroom complex with indoor and outdoor pools plus its own jetty. Add a selection of restaurants, including the award-winning Calypso, a waterfront bar, full service spa with a program of visiting yogis, a 3,000-square-meter “children’s world”, access to a nine-hole golf course and open-air cinema at the adjacent sister-resort, and it’s holiday that’s hard to beat. Argentikon

www.eloundapeninsula.com Elounda, Crete, tel. (0030) 28410 68250 €€€€-€€€€€ Suites: 50

Arion Resort & Spa Located on the Astir Palace complex, the Arion sits on one of the Mediterranean’s prettiest peninsulas with spectacular views of the Saronic Gulf. The contemporary and classic blend harmoniously in surroundings as luxurious as the natural environment but with the casual elegance of a prime beach resort. Guestrooms and suites delight the senses with creative touches like sliding glass windows for seamless transitions from outdoors to indoors. Bungalows offer the ultimate in privacy, yet with the fivestar hospitality and amenities of the resort that includes a spa and award-winning gourmet restaurants. And as Vouliagmeni is just a half hour’s drive from Athens, it’s easy to combine sightseeing or business with a thoroughly relaxing holiday.













Grecotel Olympia Riviera Resort The Olympia Riviera Resort unfurls along a gorgeous twokilometer stretch of beach with thick, gold-colored sand and soft rolling dunes edged by pines. Sprawled over a stunning 1.9-million-square meter estate, the resort is reached down a private road shaded by eucalyptus and elm trees. With three glittering resorts to chose from–the exclusive Mandola Rosa villas and suites, the dazzling

www.starwoodhotels.com Astir Vouliagmeni Resort, Apollonos 40, Vouliagmeni, Athens, tel. (0030) 890 2000 €€€€€ Rooms: 123 plus 55 bungalows 













Argentikon It’s a fairy tale setting–a sixteenth-century palazzo with luxurious suites featuring antique four-poster beds and solid silver cutlery at the breakfast table. Lush Mediterranean gardens frame the palazzo and two guesthouses marked by the original occupants’ family crest over arched doorways. The 32,000-sqm Argentikon Estate is one of the most exclusive accommodations in the Aegean, combining medieval Genoese architecture with 21st-century conveniences like spa, massage room, business center, and gourmet restaurant. www.argentikon.gr Kambos, Chios, tel. (030) 22710 33111 €€€€€ Rooms: 8 

Elounda Peninsula All Suites Hotel



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Olympia Riviera Thalasso, and the deluxe Olympia Oasis– guests can enjoy a privileged lifestyle that includes a prime location, luxurious guestrooms, a range of sports, gourmet dining at six restaurants, seven tropical and cascading pools, meeting rooms, children’s pools and play areas, and the separate spa in Greece. The Olympia Convention Park on the estate offers 5,000 sqm of conference and meeting space with natural lighting and additional accommodations for delegates. www.grecotel.gr Kyllini, Peloponnese, tel. (0030) 26230 64400 €€€-€€€€€ Rooms: 616 













Spa & Wellness Rodos Park Suites & Spa Recently renovated, this hotel is the perfect blend of elegance and luxury with warm service and efficiency. It’s a new generation boutique hotel, with the personalized service of a smaller establishment and amenities, like meeting rooms and spa, of a larger resort. Guestrooms range from business rooms to themed suites, each individually decorated with exquisite taste and furnished with modern comforts like Jacuzzis. In exquisitely peaceful surroundings, the Rodos Park Wellness Spa uses holistic therapies and massages. All different treatments combine the latest in technology, cosmetology, aromatherapy and ancient Chinese therapeutic philosophies. The natural ingredients used are often local to the hotel. Along with spa therapies and treatments, the spa offers salon services and fitness facilities.

Rodos Park Suites & Spa

www.rodospark.gr Riga Fereou 12, Rhodes Town, tel. (0030) 22410 89700 €€€€ Rooms: 59 











Grecotel Cape Sounio Visitors always remark on the special energy that seems to flow around the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio–and this feeling certainly permeates this luxury resort set in its full view. This setting and it’s unique layout–all guestrooms are independent bungalows and villas set amphitheatrically with a view to the temple–enhance the rejuvenating effect of the Elixir Spa, a remarkable octagonal glass-walled structure set among the pines. Juice bar, spa restaurant, and beauty salon round off the experience of its special treatments that combine healing philosophies and ancient beauty rituals. The resort’s understated elegance, from villas with private pools to choice of gourmet restaurants, perfectly complements the beauty of the landscape for a true retreat. www.grecotel.com 67th km Athens-Sounio Road, tel. (0030) 22920 69700 €€€€€ Rooms: 154 











Porto Zante Villas & Spa Porto Zante combines the privacy of an independent villa with the round-the-clock hospitality service of a hotel. The complex occupies a private sand beach on a secluded bay and includes a spa and thalassotherapy center. The décor is eclectic, with objects by Casa Armani and original art by Greek painters. www.portozante.com Tragaki, Zakynthos, tel. (0030) 26950 65100 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 5 villas 







Thermae Sylla Spa Thermae Sylla plays on the Edipsos’s ancient reputation as a spa town to add the adjective “Wellness Hotel” to its name. Indeed, few guests book here without intending to indulge in one of the rejuvenating spa treatments. Laid out with the buildings ringing a central courtyard with pools and fountain, the hotel exudes an old-world grandeur that is oddly relaxing. Subdued colors and soft lighting in guestrooms and lounges subtly underscore the spa’s role as a place to regain balance long before you hit the volcano steam baths. www.thermaesyllaspa-hotel.com Poseiodonos 2, Loutra Edipsou, Evia, tel. (0030) 22260 60100 €€€€ Rooms: 106 







Liostasi Hotel & Spa Ios isn’t the first place that springs to mind as a place to relax, but Liostasi belies the island’s counterculture and €€€€€ 300+ euros• €€€€ 150-300 euros• €€€ 100-150 euros• €€ 50-100 euros• € under 50 euros

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clubbing reputation. Magnificent views over the harbor and the Aegean vie with facilities like an open-air Jacuzzi and details like giant bean-bag cushions by the poolside bar and a spa offering customized beauty treatments. Guestrooms feature private verandas, sea views, and extras like bathrobes and branded bedding. Grandma’s Restaurant serves features home-made jams at breakfast and fresh fish plus a solid wine list for lunch or dinner. And once you’re rejuvenated, why not hit the beach clubs? www.liostasi.gr Hora, Ios, tel. (0030) 22860 92140 €€€-€€€€ Rooms: 30 



Kinsterna Hotel & Spa

Aldemar Royal Mare Thalasso

The Kinsterna Hotel and Spa, a superbly restored 13th-century mansion, is full of beauty, history and luxury. Its name comes from the Byzantine word for the centuries-old cistern around which it is built. Today this historical cistern not only provides one of the many relaxing scenic settings at the hotel, it also irrigates surrounding lush vineyards, olive and citrus groves of beautiful Monemvasia. The hotel has privileged views of Monemvasia Castle and the impressive blue expanse of the Aegean Sea. Guestrooms and suites combine the best traditional elements with modern creature comforts. The accommodations have been stylishly restored and designed to reflect Monemvasia’s romantic and authentic character. The Kinsterna Spa, located in the heart of mansion, is said to acquire a special mystical energy from the cistern. It offers a purifying hammam (steam bath), temperature controlled whirlpool, wet and dry treatment rooms and water paradise cabins. The Kinsterna Hotel & Spa has been honored by Conde Nast Traveller in its

Kinsterna Hotel & Spa

Hot List 2011, ranked amongst the 65 best new hotels in the world, in over 31 countries. www.kinsternahotel.gr Ayios Stefanos, Monemvasia, Peloponnese, tel. (0030) 27320 66300 €€€€ Rooms: 27 







Aldemar Royal Mare Thalasso Ideal for combining sightseeing with total rejuvenation, the Royal Mare Thalasso offers 4,000 sq.m. dedicated to headto-toe pampering, with hydromassage pool, ‘Zen’ massage area, fitness center, natural solarium, and beauty center that can be enjoyed ‘a la carte’ or as one of a range of two-, four-, or six-day specialized programs. Guest accommodations are at the Aldemar Royal Mare, a luxury resort with spectacular landscaped gardens, private beach, choice of restaurants, and range of sports activities. The complex is perfectly situated for visits to Knossos and Iraklio as well as other famous Cretan sights. www.aldemarhotels.com Limenas Hersonissou, Hersonissos, Crete, tel. (0030) 28970 27200 €€€€ Rooms: 341 













Just Like Home Thodora Apartments Open year-round, Theodora’s is a good base for exploring the island. The studio apartments are clean, quiet, and set among a lovely garden with views over the Ionian. The self-catering accommodations, with fully-equipped kitchenette, are pleasant, with added amenities like bathrobes and slippers. www.thodorahotel.com Sami, Kefalonia, tel. (0030) 26740 22650 €€ Rooms: 22

Sto Roloi Sto Roloi’s seven villas and apartments are ideal for independent travelers seeking accommodations with an “at

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Marnei Mare

home” feel. Three beautifully renovated houses set in town are available separately as apartments or combined for families or friends traveling together. Individually decorated with local antiques, each apartment offers modern amenities like hydromassage shower cabins and verandas with views over the town and narrow strait separating the island from the Peloponnese–a sight that inspired Henry Miller, among other writers. www.storoloi-poros.gr Poros, tel. (0030) 22980 25808 €€-€€€ Rooms: 7 apartments

Blue Suites Set right on the beach, Blue Suites is a good base for travelers who want to combine sightseeing with days of just splashing in the surf, as it is roughly the same distance from Skopelos Town and Glossa. Though small, it offers a range of simply decorated yet pleasing self-catering accommodations, from double rooms to a maisonette, which all are equipped with a small kitchenette.

Marnei Mare This private estate spills over a shaded peninsula between two sand coves and consistently ranks among Greece’s top villas. Three individually-furnished villas are the ideal retreat, offering privacy amid a 14-acre organic farm while staff provides discreet service. Exteriors are stuccoed in natural colors to complement the landscape, with terraces and barbecue area for outdoor living; interiors are fitted with modern conveniences. Two of the villas have three bedrooms, one has four–all with en suite bathrooms. And all the villas offer sweeping views of the mountains and sea. Marnei Mare also offers holistic programs featuring shiatsu, reiki and Thai yoga as well as macrobiotic menus. www.marneimare.gr Karlovassi, Samos, tel. (0030) 22730 30830 €€€€ Rooms: 3 villas Hotel Del Mar

www.spyroucom.com Panormos, Skopelos, tel. (0030) 24240 22227 €€ Rooms 17 



Hotel Del Mar Located just off the beach at Pollonia, a fishing village on the northeastern tip of Milos, the Hotel Del Mar offers a range of guestrooms that can accommodate up to seven people. Accommodations are clean, crisp, and comfortably furnished with small separate living areas and fullyequipped kitchenettes. www.delmar.gr Pollonia, Milos, tel. (0030) 22870 41440 €-€€€ Rooms: 10    Closed November-March

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that are organized every summer in the ancient theater of Epidaurus, located at only 15 minutes from the villa. www.whitekeyvillas.com Epidaurus, Peloponnese, tel. (0030) 210 721 5530 Rates on request: villa has 7 bedrooms and sleeps 13 





Corfu Luxury Villas These three villas–Rossa, Blue, and Bianca–are the nextbest thing to owning your own luxury holiday home on a Greek island. Located at Prinias, about 15 kilometers from Corfu Town, these villas offer a refined Mediterraneangarden setting with stunning views, an almost private cove at their feet, sun decks for relaxing, and luxurious amenities like a private swimming pool attached to each, fully-equipped kitchen, satellite TV, and individually decorated interiors. www.corfuluxuryvillas.com Prinias, Barbati, Corfu, tel. (0030) 26610 28330, (0030) 6946112390 Rooms: 8 person/villa 

Mythos Suites Hotel

Cressa Ghitonia Mythos Suites Hotel An excellent base for travelers who like to split their holiday time between sightseeing and the beach, Mythos Suites Hotel is a renovated sixteenth-century mansion in Rethymno’s old Venetian quarter. Guest accommodations sleep from two to four persons and either open onto a patio or have a small balcony; some suites have a small kitchenette for independent travelers, but all guests benefit from the availability of room service and breakfast buffet. www.mythos-crete.gr Plateia Karaoli 12, Rethymno, Crete, tel. (0030) 28310 53917 €€-€€€ Rooms: 15 



Villa Condessa This Tuscan-styled villa is set on a 400-acre estate above the historic village of Epidavros, on the Peloponnese peninsula, a 1.5-hour drive from Athens. The olive groves, stone walkways dotted with cypress trees, and vineyards that surround the villa are all encircled by a private forest offering total seclusion from the outside world. While set in a private location with exclusive access to an enormous country estate, the beautiful beaches of Epidavros are just a 10-minute drive away and resorts such as Hydra, Spetses, Nafplio, Poros, and Porto Heli can be easily reached within less than an hour. From here guests can enjoy a day trip to many archaeological sites such as Mycenae, Tyrins, and Corinth or attend one of the numerous plays

€€€€€ 300+ euros• €€€€ 150-300 euros• €€€ 100-150 euros• €€ 50-100 euros• € under 50 euros

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This hotel is actually a reconstructed village quarter comprising sixteen houses, suites, studios and rooms, with a restaurant, swimming pool, and day spa as added amenities. Every house has its own history–one was an wine press, another an olive press, a third a cobbler’s shop–so each has a different layout. The original architecture has been retained but interiors are prettily decorated in earth tones to create a relaxing, comfortable setting that matches the view of the Cretan Sea. www.hotel-crete.gr Sfaka Sitias, Lasithi, Crete, tel. (0030) 28430 29040, (0030) 6979112482 Rooms: 16 





Residence Kiafa Discreet service makes guests feel “to the manor born”–although this nineteenth-century mansion belonged to a sea captain rather than a medieval knight. Beautifully renovated in the 1992 to maximize traditional architecture with a modern aesthetic, the Resident Kiafa offers spacious, lightfilled quarters punctuated by exposed stone walls and wood floors. The villa is set high over the town, away from the tourist bustle and with a magnificent view of the sea and Peloponnese coast. It’s a perfect base for a reunion of family or friends and includes an independent guest room at the end of the garden–and a private pool for villa residents. Services include grocery shopping and daily cleaning. www.yadeshotels.gr Kiafa, Hydra, tel. (0030) 210 364 0441 €€€€€ Rooms: sleeps 6-8 persons All rooms have air conditioning and TV unless otherwise noted; rate brackets are based on a double room in high season


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The mission of the Onassis Foundation (USA) is to disseminate information about Hellenic civilization throughout the United States of America and Canada. By cooperating with universities, colleges and art institutions in Greece and throughout America, the Onassis Foundation (USA) promotes bilateral cultural relations.

ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTER

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES

In carrying out the mission of the Onassis Foundation (USA), the Onassis Cultural Center, opened in Fall 2000, is the venue for presenting cultural and artistic activities concerning ancient, Byzantine and modern Hellenic civilization. Invited participants may be Greeks and nonGreeks inspired by Hellenism. Activities include art exhibitions, theatrical and dance performances, musical events, lectures and poetry readings and film screenings. Following their presentation at the Onassis Cultural Center, these activities may tour other cultural and art institutions in the United States and Canada.

In carrying out its mission, the Onassis Foundation (USA) runs a University Seminars Program that places eminent professors and scholars (Senior Visiting Scholars) from the United States and abroad at Universities throughout North, Central, and South America for the purpose of offering public lectures, seminars and courses on topics related to all periods and aspects of Hellenic Civilization. In the Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture, the Oxford University Press publishes original scholarly work first presented in the University Seminars Program. The Onassis Foundation (USA) also organizes international conferences on Classical and Hellenic Studies.

Olympic Tower • 645 Fifth Avenue – Entrances on 51st and 52nd Streets New York, NY 10022 •Tel: (212) 486-4448 •Fax: (212) 486-4744 www.onassisusa.org • mailto: info@onassisusa.org


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The Sea’s

All photos by Eurokinissi

At the edge of the Northern Sporades group, Alonissos remains off the beaten path of tourism. But this island, whose name derives from the Greek ancient Greek for sea, als, harbors many pleasures, at sea and on land, for travelers who want to relax and get back in tune with nature, as Diana Porter found.

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Island

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I Early Byzantine church on the old village’s square was built on the ruins of a castle destroyed by an earthquake.

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am standing on the deck of a large passenger ferry chugging its way over the sea. The water below me is deep blue, almost indigo, and the sky above is brilliant, almost blinding cerulean. A slight breeze blows a stray strand across my eyes and in the seconds it takes to brush it away, something shiny breaks the water’s surface, then disappears. Or did I imagine it. I stare intensely at the horizon, scanning the sea for splashes of foamy white but its surface remains smooth, unwrinkled. Ladi. Olive oil–that’s what the Greeks call the sea when it’s still. Ladi. My Greek holiday is ending. It’s been five weeks already but I feel as if I’ve just arrived. I can never get my fill of Greece. My friends have stayed behind on Skopelos, but I’ve decided to spend four days of my last week here exploring a new island. Alonissos. There’s something musical about its name that draws me to it–that, and the promise of a few days of solitude. After weeks surrounded by the starkness of the Mani, in the southern Peloponnese, and some of the Cyclades, the Sporades’ lushness is like a balm. Mihalis, a man from the kafeneion who has appointed him-

self our unofficial guide and guardian on Skopelos, assures me that the only thing I’ll find on Alonissos is quiet. This suits me fine. The trip between the two islands is disappointingly short; I like to savor the journey. The Aegean fascinates me, a sea deservedly rich in mythology. The Northern Sporades–as the archipelagos of Skyros, Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, and a host of smaller isles mostly north and west of Alonissos are called–go back to the primal myth, creation. I love the Greeks for their mythology, for the way they interpreted the mysteries of life and their world, how in the most primitive times they expressed the profound philosophical questions that still preoccupy our minds through these wonderful stories. Yes, as I peer at the horizon, I can see how this archipelagos of islands may have been created by a tantrum or a fight waged high above among the gods and that these isles are rocks or mountains that fell to the sea below as they were being hurled across the sky by Titans and the Cyclopes. Geological science offers a more credible explanation but I like to visualize the gods’ rage,


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feel their fury. It’s far more inspiring to think of a volcano, like the small dormant one on Psathoura, one of the isles off the coast, as one of these warring Giants exploding after being crushed or trapped under a rock by Heracles. My imagination is not calmed by learning that there’s a cavern on Gioura called the Cave of the Cyclopes.

A

lonissos is the sort of island whose discovery you want to shout to the world, then clamp your hand over your mouth as it forms its name; it’s a treasure you want to share with all your friends, yet at the same time you feel strongly compelled to guard knowledge of its existence like a closely-held secret for fear the island will be spoiled by the sheer number of prospective visitors. But Alonissos has been spared such onslaught by its geography, which has placed it at the end of the string of islands known as the Northern Sporades, ensuring that only those who truly appreciate its detachment from the other is-

lands’ bustle and its largely untamed beauty land on its shore. There’s not much that has been written about Alonissos’s history, but the island wears its heritage proudly in the name of its main port, Patitiri (which means grape press), and its agriculture, grapes. Both are a silent nod to the island’s ancient roots as a colony established by Staphylus, a mythical ruler of Crete. His name is Greek for grape, stafyli, and not coincidentally he was said to be the son of Dionysus, god of wine. Skopelos has claimed the demi-god’s presence for themselves, as he is said to have landed at a cove near Skopelos Town where a Bronze Age tomb was found. Nonetheless, it’s Alonissos, or Ikos, as it was known in antiquity, that had the reputation for winemaking. The island continued to produce good wine through the 1950s, when most of the vineyards were destroyed by diseases that killed off all the vines. Evil never happens alone, as the locals say, and this was followed by a severe earthquake in 1965 which severely damaged Palea Alonissos. Evil is caused by envy, the evil eye or to mati and it’s Alonissos’s fate to have been en-

Horses and donkeys are used for transport and work like collecting trash as the old hora’s narrow, cobblestone lanes are inaccessible to cars. May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 87


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Palea Alonissos

vied by its neighbors, even back in antiquity, for while it was sparsely populated even then, its soil was graced by important visitors, like Peleus, the father of Achilles.

T

he thing to do on Alonissos is hike. I’ve arrived prepared: swimsuit, a change of jeans and tops, hiking boots and socks, sandals, camera, and notebook are all I’ve brought. Hiking can, at times, be a matter of necessity, as when you’ve lingered at a taverna in Patitiri long after the last bus to Hora has departed and all taxi drivers have retired for the night. But it’s also a source of deep pleasure as the topography offers just the right amount of difficulty to make a hike challenging but not overly strenuous. The island is covered in Aleppo pines, oak trees, brushwood, junipers, and other flora, rare and common. Paths lead over low bluffs covered in scratchy phrygana offer breathtaking views over the archipelagos, rewarding you with virgin coves offering their waters for a cooling dip. Of course you went hiking, say my beach-

bar bound friends when I describe the island to them after we’re reunited: what else is there to do on an island with scant nightlife and no archeological or other sights. What else would you want to do, is my rejoinder. The baguette-shaped island covers an area of 65 square kilometers and has a coastline that, if traced, runs for 82 kilometers. Alonissos’s “short” ends are located along a roughly north-south axis, with its western coast open to the sea and its eastern coast guarded by the Peristera islets. A low mountainous ridge–its highest peak barely rises to 480 meters–forms the island’s spine. Patitiri, the port at the southern end, is linked to Yerakas, the northernmost point, by a single road. These two points, Patitiri and Yerakas, are just nineteen kilometers apart–an indication of the island’s size and scale. Yet Alonissos feels anything but cramped: indeed, one of the joys it offers is the pure pleasure you feel just simply being outdoors. Time and space seem curiously altered on Alonissos. Stepping off the boat onto the small dock at Patitiri, you have the eerie sensation of having also taken a tiny step back in time. This May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 89


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impression is at odds with the visual data: Patitiri is a new village, built from the ground up from the mid-1970s. Since then, it has spilled over a blunt headland into the resort-village of Rusum Yialos and further still towards Votsi. Island cottages, if they ever existed at these sites, have given way to two- and three-story villas with ample balconies or flat-roofed box-like buildings prevalent in rural towns on the mainland. Yet the modern building frames seem somewhat quaint, as if the rhythms of day-to-day life on the island have yet to catch up with the faster-paced lifestyle represented by these very modern facades. This old-worldly aura is much stronger in Hora or Palea Alonissos, as the old capital is known. The difference in spatial relationships are also

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more pronounced. Hora hovers on a hilltop above Patitiri. By road, it is separated from the port by three kilometers; on foot, it is a thirty-minute hike up an old stone-laid, graded donkey trail that zigzags up an incline with terraced fields and small clumps of pines. But the walk actually far longer than a half hour for no one makes it up without pausing several times along the route. These frequent stops, ostensibly made for a short rest are actually to take in the view of Patitiri, snug in its cup-shaped harbor, from different perspectives and heights. Looking up at Palea Alonissos from Patitiri, the old hora (as Greek islands' principal villages are called) looks as if it is reclining against the rolling peaks that comprise the tailbone of the is-


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land's spine. It's not until you've reached the old village that you realize how precipitously Palea Alonissos is poised on the bluff and how tightly built it is, especially compared to Patitiri's casual sprawl. Palea Alonissos is located high on the island’s southern tip, and this location gives Hora a panoramic view of the sea. In medieval times, there was a small fist-shaped tower here whose function was not unlike that of the lookout’s perch high on the mast of old clippers and other ships. The view is made even more striking by the contrast between the vista's expansiveness and the confinement of the maze-like passages. From the second century B.C. until Greece gained independence, the island passed from the hands of

one conqueror to another as the Aegean’s dominion passed from Rome to Constantinople, and then to the Franks, Venetians, and Turks. The fortifications were built under Byzantine rule and the village of Palea Alonissos grew slowly around them as the island’s inhabitants settled in the area outside its walls. The tower's asphyxiatingly narrow alleys are still entered through two portals that have been preserved and restored. The old, split-level homes contained within the medieval walls have been faithfully restored, down to the slate shingles used for roofing–a detail lacking in the island's newer homes whose roofs feature mass-produced clay tiles. The island's population, estimated at around 2,500, is concentrated in the southern headland,

The beach at Ayios Dimitrios

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from Patitiri to Votsi. Several smaller settlements are scattered over twelve kilometers along the eastern coast as far as the fishing hamlet of Steni Valla. All have fine beaches, but are also excellent starting points for short hikes to more isolated coves where the combination of shingle, shallow water and dense fringe of pines that reaches to the water's edge creates an astonishing palette of blues and greens. Steni Valla is hemmed in by Peristera, one of several islets sprinkled in the sea to the east and north of Alonissos. Thus shielded by the northerly winds, Steni Valla has the tranquility of a lakeside resort, and is a popular anchorage, for sailboats touring the Sporades. An excellent site for swimming is the adjacent Ayios Petros cove which, like all great places on Alonissos, is just a short hike away.

S

wimming is the other pleasure Alonissos offers. Its beaches aren’t the long sandy coastlines

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found on islands like Naxos or Ios, nor do they have the cosmopolitan buzz of the beach clubs on Mykonos or Paros or Skiathos even. But the sea is cool and pristine. The thirty-odd isles and rock outcrops off the coast of Alonissos–Peristera, Kyra Panayia, Gioura, Psathoura, Piperi, to name some of the larger ones–comprise the National Marine Park of Alonissos, the largest protected marine area in Europe. The rarity of this marine habitat–which includes the flora and fauna of the islets–was highlighted by a German zoologist and director of documentaries about animal life. The park’s total area is mostly sea, but human presence is severely limited on land as well. The marine park is most identified with the Mediterranean monk seal, or Monachus monachus, and, indeed, Piperi, the species’ most important breeding site, is at the park’s core. But these are not the only rare species found within its embrace: the Capra aegagrus ssp. Dorcas, a species of wild goat, survives only on the islet of Gioura. O


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LIVING & the arts

Lending a hand here was a palpable energy in the room. Young people from around the globe were joined in a vision of what they could do to make the world a better place, offering their services to help in any number of ways, from disposal of human waste in Mongolia to teaching kids in Kenya or assisting at a documentary film festival in Iceland. “Three things to remember,� interjects Christos, a member of the audience during the Elix presenta-

Eurokinissi

T Volunteers joined Coast Guard divers to clean up the seabed in the small harbor at Tolo, a seaside resort near Nafplio.

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Volunteers join municipal cleaning crews to clear trash from the park by the Athens Conservatory as part of World Earth Day activities.

tion. “It is best not to go with a friend as volunteering means different things to different people and is based on team spirit rather than isolating yourself with your friend. Also make sure you book extra [travel] dates so that you can travel after you finish volunteering as you are bound to make friends and want to see more places. And it is good to know that you are there to help and not on holiday.” “There are programs for those who do not wish to live in tents, for ‘seniors’ over thirty-five years of age, for teens who can attend their own work camp, even families,” says Judith Wunderlich-Antoniou, volunteer program coordinator for Elix. “The work camps are as cheap as they are versatile. “We’ve even had one young man come to Greece to help us paint schools with just twenty euros in his pocket.” Elix is a non-government organization that promotes volunteerism and organizes international programs for voluntary work and exchanges, enticing young people with the opportunity to “go around the world–and make the world go round”. But most NGOs warn that volunteerism shouldn’t be seen as an inexpensive way to travel to exotic places, although foreign travel is one of its benefits. Indeed, there’s a lot of self-fulfillment in a vacation that combines sightseeing, an opportunity to experience a foreign culture, and philanthropy. 94 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Just as Greek youth begin to see volunteerism as a way to experience the world, a growing number of diaspora Greeks are looking to volunteerism to learn about Greece and make a meaningful contribution to their ancestral land. Elix also acts as a clearinghouse for programs in Greece, with the list growing every year as volunteerism takes hold. Some of the longest-running Greek volunteer programs are linked to the environment. “Being in nature while helping save wildlife is a unique and different experience, and whole different way of viewing the place you visit,” says Maria Stylianou, media spokesperson for Arcturos, a Greek environmental organization active in animal conservation, especially the brown bear. “I applied to volunteer after my parents told me about the Archelon scheme to save the Caretta caretta sea turtle, which they saw while on holiday in Rethymno, Crete, last year,” says university student Charli Elizabeth Bevan. “I decided I wanted to do something with my summer that was a bit different and not the normal Eng-


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Archelon volunteers track endangered turtles in the sand.

lish ‘clubbing’ holiday. I felt that the experience would be a personal challenge to complete, and it would help me grow as a person as well as help the organization, the community and, of course, the animals.”

Live your myth in Lesvos Island at Clara Hotel!

Avlaki Petra, 81109 Lesvos tel.: (0030) 22530-41532, 41533 • fax: (0030) 22530-41535 www.clarahotel.gr • clara@otenet.gr

Volunteers benefit most when they join a program that dovetails with their interests. So do organizations. “Ideally, we prefer volunteers to have a purpose when coming. Yes, there are beautiful beaches and sunny days, but we don’t want peo-

“CLARA HOTEL” is a B' Superior Category Hotel, located in one of the most famous and scenery places in Greece. Our hotel, which in 2008 was totally renovated and also constructed new rooms, is located in Avlaki in Petra, at one of the most traditional villages in Lesvos Island. All of our rooms (Standard Double rooms, Superior Double Rooms Apartments with kitchen and Suites), are aphitheatrically built in Greek Local Architecture Style, in a 14000 square meters amazing land. Enjoy your Breakfast or your meals, in our beautiful decorated Dining room or at our exquisite Veranda with a breathless view towards the Aegean Sea and the castle of Molivos. You can enjoy yourselves at our Swimming Pool, with a cocktail from the Pool Bar or have lunch or dinner in our Tavern by the Pool. We, at the “CLARA HOTEL” are certain that the superior quality of our amenities, excellent service and friendly environment, will allow you the most unforgettable vacations you ever had.


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Tree-planting at Ancient Olympia helps regenerate trees and grasses destroyed by summer fires a few years ago.

Volunteer programs in Greece

ple to come just for a holiday,” says Theoni Karkoulia, spokesperson for Archelon. Chloe Jennings, a student from Wales, decided to join Archelon in order to enhance her knowledge of turtles. “I’m doing a marine biology degree this September and wanted to experience volunteering/conservation as I thought I’d benefit from it.” Most volunteers from abroad have also had volunteering experience at home. Karkoulia says there is far more respect for such ventures in

Archelon Sea Turtle Protection Society. Programs on the islands of Zakynthos and Crete (Rethymno) and in the southern Peloponnese (Lakonia). There’s a participation fee of €30 per adult/€15 per child; participants provide their own tent, sleeping bags, food, etc. Details and applications online at www.archelon.gr

Arcturos Volunteer opportunities at the conservation organization’s Environmental Center, public awareness campaigns, as well as fieldwork and research programs. Volunteers aged 18 to 25 years can assist for six to twelve months through the European Voluntary Service financed by the European Union. Information at www.arcturos.gr

Corfu Donkey Rescue Volunteers work at the shelter for injured donkeys and learn basic veterinary work; minimum two-week commitment. Volunteers pay their own expenses (food, accommodations, etc.) but reduced rates offered at selected local hotels. Details at www.corfu-donkeys.com

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other countries. “I think volunteering has a lot to do with culture and tradition.” She hopes Greeks will begin to note the benefits of volunteering, not only for the cause they’ve joined but as a way of acquiring skills. “Oftentimes, we are asked for certificates of participation to be used as part of volunteers’ professional qualifications.” Chances are, however, that even those who do come for just the holiday, usually cannot help but be influenced by the cause itself. People like Despina, a shell-painter, has volunteered for a number of causes around Greece ranging from animal conservation programs run by Arcturos and Archelon to Hamogelo tou Paidiou (Child’s Smile) and Therapeutic Riding Association of Greece at Goudi. “You see the development and the impact that the horses have on a handicapped child and you feel proud to be part of this,” she says. “I cannot say that my volunteering activity has influenced my work, but my daily life has benefited as a result of it.” Mary Sinanidis

Earth, Sea & Sky

Institute for Youth

The organization is dedicated to the conservation of Ionian habitats, especially the National Marine Park around Zakynthos. Participation fee for a two-week program set from €503 but includes food and accommodations. Apply at www.earthseasky.org

State organization under the General Secretariat for Youth lists a number of cultural exchange programs at www.ify.gr

Elix Acts as clearinghouse for volunteer programs and work camps around Greece for a broad range of causes and organizations, from tree planting to painting schools in economically depressed areas and clearing hiking paths around monasteries. Participation fee of €100; room and board generally offered. Check programs at www.elix.org.gr

Hellenic Ornithological Society HOS activities extend beyond bird-watching with opportunities in bird watching and ringing to legal, photography, and public outreach at a number of unique sites around Greece. Participation fee varies by activity, although usually includes space at the HOS camp. Online form at www.ornithologiki.gr helps pinpoint interest area and region.

Katelos Group Conducts research and conservation projects on the Ionian island of Kefalonia. There’s a participation fee of €30 per week. For details check www.kateliosgroup.org

Therapeutic Riding Association of Greece Volunteers accepted throughout the school term and are needed to clean horses and help children. Read up on this interesting initiative at www.trag.gr

Volunteers for Peace This international organization also lists volunteer opportunities in Greece; most projects are for volunteers over 18 years of age, but there are some for youth aged 15 to 17 years. Participation fee includes room and board. Listings at www.vfp.org


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Mavilli Square

W

hen the plans for the new City of Athens were outlined by Stamatis Kleanthes and Eduard Schaubert in the early nineteenth century, Leoforos Vassilissis Sophias was not included in the network of grand boulevards that spread, spoke-like, from the Royal Palace. This may go a little way towards explaining why this strip, which lazily curls north from Syntagma towards Ampelokipi, has no name–and hence no distinct identity. Sandwiched as it is between Kolonaki, Lykavittos, Pagrati’s northern tail, Ilisia, and Ampelokipi, it is identified in sections by various buildings along its route as “Evangelismos”, “Hilton”, and “Megaro Musikis”. Yet it has a special role as the symbolic showcase for the image the Greek capital hopes to project. When first laid, Leoforos Vassilissis Sophias symbolized the city’s development outward towards what now comprise the Greek capital’s suburbs Wealthy merchants, many from the diaspora, built grand homes along the boulevard. These opulent mansions date to the first wave of internal migration from village to city and were beacons of the prosperity urban society enjoyed. (Sadly, few of these neoclassical gems still stand, among them the former homes of the Benaki and Stathatos families that house, respectively, the Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art.) The second wave of internal migration coincides with the development of the boulevard’s northern extension in the 1950s. Leoforos Vassilissis Sophias was now a showcase for contemporary architecture–and post-Civil War Greece’s move away from its past towards “European” modernity. The first building to attempt this was the Athens Hilton. Completed in 1969, the hotel had stirred tremendous controversy since groundbreaking almost a decade earlier. Opponents of the project fiercely denounced it as “foreign” and “offensive” because it punctured the Athens skyline and thus competed against the only other landmark visible from a distance: the Acropolis. Its sleek, modernist style was a sharp contrast to the 1920s apartment buildings and was such a radical departure from Greek architecture that the artist Yannis Moralis was commissioned to decorate its western façade. (By breaking with ar-

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chitectural tradition, the Hilton inspired experimentation among architects with projects along the boulevard. Examples of these new trends include the black granite and glass building with a rococo outline that houses the design offices of Ilias Barbalias across from the Athens Concert Hall; apartment buildings designed by Nikos Valsamakis at Number 86 and Number 129, and the building at Number 75.) The completion of the first wing of the National Gallery of Art around the same time created a sort of symmetry on the block. The Gallery was designed by the same team of architects that had created the Athens Hilton. Their design had been selected through a competition held in 1957, but construction had been delayed by bureaucratic tangles over where the Gallery would be built. These buildings brought balance to the boulevard, whose architecture had taken a definite turn towards the avantgarde with the completion of the U. S. Embassy. Designed by Walter Gropius, founder of the celebrated Bauhaus school, the grid-like building features the geometrical forms and smooth surfaces characteristic of this architectural style. Gradually, other buildings began to fill the space; plans for a park next to the Army Hospital were originally laid in the early 1960s around a statue of the statesman Eleftherios Venizelos commissioned from the sculptor Yannis Pappas. Named Eleftherias Park in honor of the political detainees tortured by the Military Police at an interrogation facility to the rear of the grounds, this was the first park purposely designed by a landscape architect (Panayiotis Vokotopoulos). A small museum dedicated to Venizelos is housed within the Eleftherias Park Arts Center behind the statue. A more recent edifice is the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Moussikis), whose construction was staggered over a period of two decades. The idea for a concert hall had been first broached in the 1950s; soon after land for the project was secured from the Greek government and the Friends of Music Society, founded by Alex Triandis, began fundraising. Early contributors included the conductor Dimitris Mitropoulos, who donated the proceeds from


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his concerts with the Athens Philharmonic Orchestra. Appropriately, one of the auditoriums has been dedicated to his memory. Finally completed in 1991, the Athens Concert Hall is not just impressive on the outside. Its superb acoustics have been praised by world-renowned artists who have performed on its stage. One innovation is the geometric shape of the main concert hall, which also allows for balconies to be adjusted according to the sound requirements of each performance. Although the boulevard extends to Ampelokipi, where, after the intersection with Leoforos Alexandras its name changes to Kifissias, for most Athenians it ends mentally at Plateia Mavilli. It’s a place I associate with music–jazz, funk, rock–and poetry, the sort of place I imagine Burroughs, Kerouac, and Ginsberg might have made their stomping ground. It’s a place with a special vibe, especially late in the day or at night; a place where Athens still feels familiar. Public spaces have their own dynamic within cities. Expansive, carefully designed and landscaped plazas are quite often deserted, empty vessels of an architect's vision that no one else shares. Just as inexplicably, are crowded with people. Plateia Mavilli, dedicated to one of Greece's minor poets, Lorenzos Mavillis, is one of those public spaces that seduces you. The “square” was not designed as a meeting point; the triangular plaza was shaped to guide traffic turning off Vassilissis Sophias but became the focal point of the surrounding neighborhood–and, in one sense, the city’s nightlife. Plateia Mavilli rouses just as the rest of the city lays its weary head on the pillow. It’s rarely the place you set out to go but it’s always a place where you end up. Nightlife hotspots come and go according to the fickleness of fashion, but Mavilli has not only survived, but has done so without succumbing to nightlife trends. Indeed, if Vassilissis Sophias is about change, then Mavilli is about continuity–which is what makes it the most “European” part of Athens. (This continuity begins at Mike (Dimitriou Soutsou 9), the corner patisserie that defied the Greek tradition of syrup-soaked sweets and introduced Athenians to lighter and sugar-free desserts. And

while its offerings have since become much trendier, Mike hasn’t vamped up its image by changing its décor or desserts.) In a city that’s so trend-conscious and which has expanded, geographically and socially, at such a pace that it has completely lost its cohesion, Mavilli is a cultural compatibility test. A rule of thumb: if you’re a “Mavilli person”, suggest it as for a date: if the other person demurs, doesn’t know it or afterwards doesn’t like it, you might not be a good match after all. “Alternative” best describes the Mavilli ambience. That, and its easy mix of people of different ages, social class, and political leanings. Part of the continuity it offers is that it is as popular among a certain type of high school or college student as it is among their parents. In the warmer months, especially, this mix is most evident as the older “indoor” patrons occupy seats on the pavement and the plateia itself, mingling this way with the younger “outdoor” patrons standing around or perching on whatever ledge they can find. It’s this refusal to be typed that defines Mavilli, a stubborn independence of trends that can be seen in its bars. Yes, there are eateries along the triangle–and Jima’s Ginger a few meters up Dorylaiou–but it’s the bars that define Mavilli. The oldest is Lora (Dimitriou Soutsou 7) which, fittingly, attracts the most regulars, especially from the neighborhood, and perhaps inspires the most intense conversations. On Mavilli’s other side are Flower (Dorylaiou 2), which has branched out from bar snacks to food, and a few doors down Briki (Dorylaiou 6), my favorite not least because its music never disappoints with its capacity to surprise. Real drinkers don’t dine: they nosh. Mavilli is true to its reputation for near the triangle’s point is a cantina, or trailer, with what connoisseurs of the kind claim is the best vromiko– slang for the greasy souvlaki, sausage sandwiches, and like foods sold by street food vendors outside football stadiums. I’m told that Mavilli’s cantina has added crepes to the menu as a nod to the younger generation: sometimes youth just doesn’t respect tradition. Diane Shugart May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 99


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Keeping with Tradition Petros Economakos

The Sausage Link

followed the family

The sausage sizzles on the barbecue; the smell and sound of it cooking hint at its flavor, a temptation few can resist. “I come from a family of butchers who have honed their art since the days of the Ottoman empire. My grandfather founded the butchers’ association and I followed in the family footsteps,” says Petros Economakos, a jovial man who believes in adhering to tradition. And he manages just that with his business that makes sausages and cured meats according to traditional sausage recipes of the southern Peloponnese. The idea for the business started simply enough. Having run out of excuses not to bring home the sausages his wife would occasionally demand as he didn’t trust their quality, he decided to make his own–a process he had watched since childhood and a skill he had known for years. The only thing missing was the recipe, which he asked his father to hand down. “He tried to discourage me, telling me it’s very fussy. But I insisted.” That was in 1975. Economakos learned the secret spice mix, experimented with other flavors, and started producing small batches of sausages by hand for his butcher shop. “Over time, I adapted the old recipes to current needs and now use less salt.”

tradition of becoming a butcher, but used the experience to open a small cured meats business. Vassilis Vaimakis turned his oenologist training to utilizing a wine byproduct, vinegar. Niki Mitarea spoke with these enterprising Greeks who have found success through Greek food traditions. Sizzlin! Smoked pork and sausages are flavors that are easily paired with other flavors. Siglino in carbonara instead of bacon adds oomph; it also goes well with trahanas. Try adding a some thinly sliced smoked pork to fasolada about 30 minutes before removing from the stove. Sausages go well with fasolia gigantes and home-made pizza. A simple yet incredibly flavorful dish is Greek-style baked potatoes with sausage.

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These few sausages were the beginnings of what has become a successful family business. “In 1995, I left the butcher shop and opened the small sausage plant in the center of Kalamata. My wife was always at my side and now my sons, Yorgos and Panayotis, are too. The sausage plant uses the same traditional methods for making sausages that Economakos learned from his father. Traditional methods are also used to make other cured meats (pasto) like siglino, the smoked pork from Mani. “We use raw Greek pork which I buy from regular suppliers. I

Bekri meze with sausage Ingredients 1.5 kgs (3.5 lbs) pork sausage 1/2 kg. (1 lb) mixed bell peppers, julienned 1 kg (2 lbs) ripe tomatoes, squeezed 1 cup olive oil 1/2 tsp. brown sugar pinch of chili flakes 1/4 cup red wine salt and pepper to taste

Sausage and Bean Casserole Fry peppers in 3/4 cup olive oil. Add tomatoes, sugar, chili flakes; simmer over low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until sauce starts to thicken. Cut sausage into thin slices. In a separate frying pan, heat just enough olive oil to prevent sausage from sticking. Cook sausage over medium heat. When done, add wine, stir; add sausage to sauce. Cook sausages in sauce for about 15-20 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

Ingredients 2 cups small broad beans 1 cup olive oil 3 spicy sausages 1 onion, mined 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 large tomatoes, cubed 1/2 tsp. sugar salt and pepper to taste


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make the sausage with lean meat from which the nerves have been removed, like bon filet. The intestine is natural. The siglino is cured with salt: we don’t use any preservatives. Mani has a long tradition of salt curing. It’s smoked using olive and Kermes oak wood and flavored with aromatic herbs like sage and mastic picked on Taygetos’s slopes so the meat has the flavor of the mountains.” Biting into a sausage you can taste the flavors of these wild mountain herbs–nonmastiha producing species of the mastic bush or lentisk, schinos in Greek, grow around the country–mingle with the taste of orange rind and spices. “I use just the right amount of spices and cut the meat into large bites. I get quite a few English and French tourists in my shop and when they try the sausage or the pasto and they murmur with pleasure. I have fanatic customers–and that gives me joy and encouragement.” For now, Economakos’s products can only be bought in Greece. He’s been approached to export his products to Cyprus and Germany but he has declined because he doesn’t have the production capacity. “I make about 100 tons of sausages a year/ I have one oven where I smoke them now, but plan to build an infrastructure of between three and five ovens so I can expand production to new products like traditional soutzoukaki and pikhti.” Economakos is a firm supporter of follow-

Soak beans overnight. Boil in plenty of water for about 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to oven-proof dish. Heat oven to 180oC (350oF). Combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Add to beans and stir to distribute evenly. Score sausages and arrange in dish. Cover and cook in the over for about an hour, stirring and checking liquids occasionally. When done, remove cover, turn off heat, and let beans cook in hot oven for about 10 minutes more.

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ing tradition in culinary matters. The combination of using traditional methods of food preparation and maintaining high standards of quality are the ways to succeed–and to grow. “We get school visits and I always advise young people to stick with tradition,” he says, blaming parents who pushed their children into the public sector for Greece’s current economic woes. “People who struggle to remain true to tradition deserve our support because it’s their faith that preserves local culture and history.”

Off the wine In the early 1980s, oenologist Vassilis Vaimakis was “personally responsible” for upgrading production at the Amyntaio and Zitsa wineries, but this vineyard veteran decided to follow a slightly different path and take on the product that wine becomes: vinegar. “As odd as this may sound, it’s as hard to make a good vinegar as it is to make a good wine,” he says. But he adds that making vinegar offers a freedom that wine doesn’t. “You can make a good vinegar without any intervention. any additive. All you need is a good culture, knowledge of how microorganisms act, and patience during the ageing process so that you don’t discard something that is developing well.” Vaimakis’s family has been involved in food production since the late nineteenth century. In 1995, while director of the Zitsas winery, he sensed an opportunity as the only vinegar available commercially was mass-produced. He and his wife Katerina thus decided to make a career turn towards a product that traditionally held a high position in Greek households, which usually made their own. “To make our vinegar, we use the traditional Epirus grape varietals Debina and Vlahiko. The grape mass is heated to break down the membranes and release the grape juices into the must. This is a process we’ve devised and have patented. The must is separated from the solids and transferred into old oak barrels for fermenting.” This can takes an average of ten to twelve months, after which the vinegar is aged in oak and chestnut barrels for about five years “to soften the 102 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

flavor and develop aroma”. Vaimakis believes vinegar is a “product of the future. It plays an important role in health, which science backs up. It helps remove toxins from the body, regulate the metabolism and control weight with its action on intestinal flora–in other words it’s a natural probiotic product–

and is a dietary element for those with diabetes type B. In Japan, vinegar is held in such esteem that there are stores that sell only vinegar-based products.” Vinegar-based elixirs were a natural next step for Vaimakis. These elixirs are blends of vinegar with the nectar of small berry fruits like sour cherries and cranberries that form a sweet-and-sour base for herb extracts to develop their flavors. Elixirs are used to dress salads “but also on grilled meat, ice cream, sweets, chocolate, and baked fruit. They can be drunk with crushed ice and are ideal alcoholfree digestives.”


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The Arts Calendar And the Orpheus goes to… New films from Greece and Cyprus, including Lea Sinzer’s I Vardia tou Pelekanou (Pelican’s Watch) about winemaking on the island of Santorini, will be screened at this star-studded four-day event, now held for the fifth consecutive year. The highlight is, of course, the presentation of the Orpheus Award, named for the Greek poet and “father of songs”. Check the festival website for program details. Los Angeles Greek Film Festival June 9-12 • Los Angeles, www.lagff.org

Pelican’s Watch directed by Lea Sinzer/produced by Nico Manessis

Constantinos Parthenis, The Resurrection/Sotheby’s

Celebrate art in this open art festival that brings together artists from all disciplines and non-governmental organizations. This year’s theme is “Smile in the Mind” and the deadline for submissions is May 18. Venues include Technopolis, Vrysaki, the @Rouf art space, and the Eliart theater. Athens Fringe Festival June 20-26 • Athens Check www.fringefestival.gr for events and venues.

John Bock, Palms

Fringe benefits Shine a light Sixty works, mostly sculptures and installations, from the collection of Dimitris Daskalopoulos, present a focused survey of some of the most important artistic developments since the 1980s. Eminent contemporary artists like Martin Kippenger and Robert Gober are featured alongside new talents like Paul Chan in the first large-scale exhibition of one of the world’s most significant private collections of contemporary art. The Luminous Interval: The D. Daskalopoulos Collection Through September 11 • Museo Guggenheim Bilbao Avenida Abandoibarra 2, Bilbao, Spain Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; admission €11

Rock steady! Going, going, gone Works by twentieth-century masters like Constantinos Parthenis, Yannis Tsarouhis, and Yannis Moralis go on the auction block at Sotheby’s spring sale–and are expected to command high prices, following the record set last November by Tsarouhis’s Soldier Dancing Zeimbekiko. The Greek Sale May 9 • Sotheby’s 33-34 New Bond Street, London, tel. (+44) 20 7293 5000

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Rock-climbing isn’t for everyone, but if you are a fan of the sport, the Aegean islands and Greek mainland are a climber’s paradise. Join or watch some 300 climbers scale the island’s incredible surfaces. Side events include a bouldering and photography competitions, and treasure hunt. 4th Rock Climbing Festival May 18-22 • Kalymnos For details contact the Municipal Tourism Organization (tel. 22430 59056)


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Omiros, Annunciation (oil on canvas)

Painting faith Byzantine art focused exclusively on Christian themes, but faith has also been a subject for modern artists. The Byzantine and Christian Museum now puts on permanent exhibit its impressive holdings of religiousthemed works by Greek artists like Fotis Kontoglou, Yannis Tsarouhis, and Lambros Gatis as well as European artists like Emile Gillieron and Francesco Novo. Byzantium and Modern Art Indefinitely • Byzantine & Christian Museum Vas. Sofias 22, tel. 213 213 9572 M Evangelismos Tuesday-Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday 1:30 p.m.-8 p.m.; admission €4

Paper dances New York-based artist Carol Wax draws inspiration from ordinary, household objects– sewing machines, electric fans, cameras, toys–and artifacts from early industrial production for her mezzotints and mixed media drawings. This new exhibition features 100 works in which she explores these objects’ symbolism through their shadows and forms. “Artifacts of early industrial manufacturing, discarded shards of recent technology, and kitsch of any era reveal a great deal about our materialistic culture and changing attitudes toward the ‘stuff’ in our lives,” she says. Dance of Shadows: Worls by Carol Wax Through June 19 • Herakleidon Experience in Visual Arts Iraklidon 16, Thisseio, Athens, tel. 210 346 1981 M Thisseio

Anniversary celebrations The Athens Concert Hall marks the twentieth anniversary of its opening this year with a series of concerts, exhibitions and other events celebrating its contributions to the Greek capital’s cultural scene. Relive performances staged during the past two decades with exhibits of costumes, set designs, and other items in the foyers, including a rare exhibition entitled “Maria Callas and La Scala” (through May 8). Twenty Years April 15-16, 8 p.m. • Athens Concert Hall Vas. Sofias & Kokkali, tel.: 210 728 000; (M) Megaro Moussikis Tuesday-Saturday 1 p.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. -7 p.m.; admission €6

Continuing exhibitions The artist’s eye Works by internationally-renowned artists who lived and worked in Greece during the twentieth century offer their unique perspective on the country. From the elegiac meditations of British artists John Craxton and Ben Nicholson in the 1940s whose paintings and drawings respond to the landscape and mythology of the Greek islands, to the painterly approach of Brice Marden whose series of works on marble from 1981 appear like fragments of ancient structures transformed into abstract painting. Also included in the exhibition is the work of Lynda Benglis, two Greek-born artists–Lucas Samaras and Jannis Kounellis–who left Greece at a young age, and Martin Kippenberger whose monumental MoMAS (the Museum of Modern Art Syros) is being shown in Greece for the first time. The Last Grand Tour April 15-October 10 • Museum of Cycladic Art Neophytou Douka 4, tel.: 210 722 8321 M Evangelismos Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; admission 7 euros.

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Minting myth Myth and Coin, a joint exhibition of the National Archaeological Museum and the Numismatic Museum, looks at how myths were depicted in currency. The exhibition features 261 coins from Alpha Bank’s Numismatic Collection–ranked among the world’s most important collections of ancient coins–alongside 71 coins from the Numismatic Museum’s holdings, and 79 sculptures, vessels, and other artifacts from the collection of the National Archaeological Museum. The coins are grouped according to five themes, based on the scenes depicted–the gods of Mount Olympos, mythical beings, the demi-god Herakles, secondary deities, and heroes.

Myth and Coin April 15–November 27 • National Archaeological Museum / Numismatic Museum Patission 44, tel.: 210 821 7724 M Omonia / Panepistimiou 12, tel.: 210 364 3774 M Panepistimio Monday 1:30 p.m.–8 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; admission 7 euros / Tuesday-Sunday 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

The objects of history In 1923, Greece and Turkey signed a convention on the exchange of populations that also provided for communal property of both communities to be moved. This exhibit, organized by the Benaki Museum and sponsored by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, features ecclesiastical silverware, embroidery, icons, liturgical manuscripts, and books from the sacristies of the churches and monasteries of the Greek-Christian populations in Asia Minor, Pontos (Black Sea), and eastern Thrace. Inscriptions, dedications, and the workmanship itself shed light on the culture of these communities. The exhibition is published in a beautifully-produced catalogue. Relics of the Past February 3-July 24 • Centre Orthodoxe du Patriarcat Œcuménique Geneva May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 105


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Creating by candlelight

n a nutshell, the Dark Ages, which followed the decline of the Roman Empire, was a period defined by economic and social instability and mass migration. The definition could easily apply to today. Judging by recent world events, it is clear that the twenty-first century is not entirely stable. Rather than being carved in stone or marble, contemporary reality is one defined by online information databases that could disappear at the flick of a switch, where borders have become nothing more than a mere formality, and warfare is waged in the name of populations that might not have agreed to such action in the first place. In these troubled times humanity has taken a backseat, something that concerns artist Kalliopi Lemos. We meet at the New Benaki Museum, where her latest trilogy Navigating in the Dark commenced in January and will continue at Rethymno, Crete, from May 6 to August 27, culminating at the Crypt of St. Pancras Church in London, from October 1 to November 30. “There is no trust between people and no trust in the systems that define our societies; hence comes the idea that we are all navigating in the dark,” Lemos observes. “Darkness is the age we are going through; the loss of trust, the loss of confidence, and the loss of feeling. My suggestion is get inside yourself and find humility and understanding to understand the person opposite you.” Lemos is an artist firmly rooted in the narrative of human history. Her work is often described as investigations into spiritual and physical migrations. Having lived outside Greece for forty years with a base in London, she has a cultural affinity with Japan, where she was introduced to Ike-

Blade Boat

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bana, Japanese flower arrangement, which she has studied for some fifteen years. With an international background, Lemos clearly connects to the world on a universal level that goes beyond nations and borders. “I feel that what I need to say about a subject sometimes needs to be expressed in different places of the world in order to give different viewpoints and different nuances,” she admits. Navigating in the Dark follows a previous trilogy from 2006 to 2009, that started in Eleusis, traveled to Istanbul, and ended in Berlin, a location as symbolic as the works exhibited. Focusing on the politics of forced migration, the sculptural installations in all three locations were made of boats Lemos had found washed up on the coast of her birthplace Chios since 2003 and which had been used by migrants crossing the sea from Turkey into Greece. The trilogy was a comment on a humanitarian crisis that remains an issue not fully acknowledged from the standpoint of the European Union despite the alarming statistic that ninety per cent of all detected illegal border crossings into the European Union come through Greece. As such, while the locations of Istanbul and Athens illustrated the problem, the choice of Berlin as the conclusion to this trilogy expressed a need to recognize immigration as a collective responsibility that might result in a viable solution. “The final sculpture was erected in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in order to acknowledge that there is also the rest of the world to think about,” Lemos says. “The immigration problem has escalated and

Boats full of secrets (2009)


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Hairy goddesses

Europe has had the attitude that they will close the door but it doesn’t work… We cannot close our eyes when the boats bring people across–how can we?” This overt political intention has been subdued in her current show, as Lemos turns her attentions to the personal, although in its introspection, there is a political dimension. Looking at the New Benaki Museum installation featuring a wooden platform upon which four separate sculptures surround a central hexagonal beehive-like pond containing steel faces and volcanic rocks emerging from the dark water, the use of symbolism in form and material demands contemplation. On using volcanic rock Lemos explains: “I chose it firstly from the color since it matches the rust of the steel but also because it comes from the centre of the earth. It is like bringing out what is inside and inviting the viewer to meditate on that.” From a composition of twelve rings with twelve turquoise-colored, bronze, winged phalluses, a seed with a stalk pushing triumphantly into the light, a flaccid, worm slit open to reveal the rust

within it, to a tepee-like womb prised apart to reveal a dynamic core. “I chose the materials for their earthy qualities and not their industrial qualities. I haven’t used stainless steel or hard steel–I am using mild steel. Although it is a tough material in terms of hardness, as soon as it hits the air it starts rusting.” Pointing to the worm-like sculpture she shows how the interior has been left exposed to the elements. “It expresses humanity and fragility to show that something that looks strong is also fragile... [the sculptures] are aging as we are in life.” Indeed, regardless of class, color and creed, fragility connects us all. But that doesn’t mean fragility is a weakness. In part two of Navigating in the Dark, Lemos presents an installation in the seventeenth century Mosque of Ibrahim Khan in Rethymno, Crete, once a Venetian fortress church. The central sculpture comprises of three papier-mâché goddesses with bodily protrusions displayed inside a steel and Perspex egg with slits that, should you look through them, reveal the goddesses reflected and multiplied. On one side of the May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 107


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Salt Head

egg are seven white, plaster boats Lemos calls Blade Boats placed horizontally, and seven black, wooden boats standing upright on the opposite side, which Lemos describes as souls full of secrets who connect the earth with the sky. Completing the composition is a tree trunk carved into the shape of driftwood behind the egg, upon which twelve human heads made of salt are presented. Symbolically, the installation can be read in myriad ways. On salt, Lemos notes that “on the Greek islands, boats and salt are combined; it’s everyday life for us. Also in the Bible, Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt; salt is also purifying; it is also the remnants when everything evaporates. When you take those remnants and shape them into heads you symbolize the journey of life.” The use of salt harks back to the common fate of many of those who traveled in the boats Lemos uses in her work. Yet as Ariel sings of a king’s death in a sinking ship in Shakespeare’s Tempest; bones become coral, and eyes become pearls. In death, everything connects back to the earth, sea and sky. Perhaps this totality is the root of all spirituality, no matter what god we choose to connect it to. The fact that Lemos calls the sculptures of salt heads “Odysseus’ Boat” exposes another level to Navigating in the Dark that reveals an autobiographical element to the exhibition narrative. As Odysseus was sent into the darkness of the underworld to re-emerge into the light–a common theme in ancient epic - Lemos expresses her own experience as a traveler of the world. Describing London, she says “a lot of people complain about this grayness here, but I think you get used to it. Eventually I found it very useful as a way to get into myself and concentrate. The joy of the light when it comes out is amazing!” She laughs, explaining that the city was a place that offered her “a space to grow, enter myself and find all this wealth that I can now express with my work.”

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Thus the fact that Navigating in the Dark was conceived in London, there is continuity in that it physically culminates in London, which Lemos likens to “the passage of sun god Amun-Ra when he rises from the east goes down in the west, under the earth.” In the vaulted, underground burial space of St. Pancras Church, Lemos will place three boats, all stripped of paint, and filled separately with snakes, human figures and crows made of steel. “I wanted to symbolize all three elements of the passage of life. The first boat is concerned with the wisdom of the earth and matter, the second is the middle zone of human beings walking on top of the earth, and the third are the crows that fly in the spiritual world, also thought of as mediators,” she explains. Nearby, a hive-like space will feature white paper sculptures of bees hovering in the air that symbolize souls in the non-material world. And thus ends the cycle. Looking back at the primordial black pond at the Benaki Museum, to the salt faces of Rethymno, and the paper bees in the London crypt, the cycles expressed in Navigating in the Dark act as powerful reminders that life is an individual journey that plays out on a collective stage. “Inside we are all the same, but we have been raised and conditioned by different places that we have lived in our lives,” Lemos muses. “But deep down I believe in the collective conscious; inside we are all great: nobody is lesser or greater, nobody is richer or poorer; we are all the same–this is the beauty of life.” Indeed, as Nikos Kazantzakis once wrote, we emerge from the abyss and we end in the abyss and we call the luminous interval life. Perhaps if we recognized the light within ourselves and responded to it in kind, the world would be a much brighter place. At the same time, if we also recognized that an end is also a beginning, we might find the capacity to cultivate a brighter future. Stephanie Bailey


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Nights at the opera

Renato Zanella

Peter Tiboris

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he International Festival of the Aegean has become a fixture on the annual summer events calendar of the Cyclades–and one of the driving forces in the revival of the Apollo Theater since its reopening a decade ago. Launched in 2000 and now presenting its seventh consecutive season, the festival continues to extend its embrace beyond opera to theater and dance. “The first Festival in 2005 included two performances of Barbieri di Sevillia–the first opera performance in the Apollo Theater in 105 years–and two concerts involving eigty-four performing artists and staff,” says festival founder and director Peter Tiboris. “In six short years it has gradually evolved to two full weeks of opera, oratorio, symphonic, theater, and ballet. In 2008 we will move to three weeks of performances.” This year’s fully-staged opera will be Verdi’s La Traviata, with Tiboris conducting the Pan-European Philharmonia, from Warsaw, Poland, and a cast of singers including Natalia Ushakova, soprano (Violetta Valery); Marissia Papalexiou, mezzo-soprano (Flora Bervoix); Josephine Delledera, soprano (Annina); Israel Lozano, tenor (Alfredo Germont); Frederick Burchinal, baritone (Giorgio Germont); Joseph Brent, tenor (Gastone); Brent Davis, baritone (Il Barone Douphol); Benjamin Dawkins, bass (Il Marchese D'Obigny); Richard Block, bass (Il Dottor Grenvil); Bradley Trammel, tenor (Giuseppe, servo di Violetta); and Theodore Moraitis, bass (Domestico di Flora and Commissionario). Director and choreographer, Renato Zanella, will stage the work and Vinicio Chieli will create the lighting design. The performances will take place at the festival’s primary venue, the Apollo Theater, which is modeled on the Teatro de la Scala in Milan. La Traviata, says Tiboris, was chosen because of “the genius of Verdi”. “The unifying theme of this and all of our festivals is ‘variety’ and ‘international artistic excellence,” adds Tiboris. “From year to year, I am seeking only the best, world-class artists to appear in this idyllic setting. Although in this particular season one could combine the tragedies of La Traviata and Rose and Medea’s Choice.” Olympia Dukakis will perform a staged reading of Rose on July 19 and 20. It is about a woman whose life began in a tiny Russian village and moved to Warsaw's ghettos and a ship called The Exodus, and finally to the boardwalks of Atlantic City, the Arizona Canyons, and Miami Beach. The award-winning work was written by Martin Sher-

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man, directed by Nancy Meckler, with lighting design by David Lander. Medea’s Choice, a world premiere ballet presentation based on Mikis Theodorakis’s 1991 opera score, has been choreographed by Renato Zanella. It features Maria Kousouni of the Greek National Ballet in the title role, with Danilo Zeka, Franziska Hollinek and Eno Peci of the Vienna State Opera, and Sofia Pintzou of the Deutsche Opera Berlin. “The company of performing artists and staff– production, publicity, management–is 538 and most will be in Syros from a minimum of two weeks. They come from twenty-four different countries,” says Tiboris, commenting on the size, as well as the artistic scope, of the festival. An evening of all choral music will feature guest conductor Janet Galv΄an leading children’s groups from the United States, Canada, and Greece; guest conductor Earl Rivers conducting music for women’s chorus; principal guest conductor Tim Sharp conducting John Rutter’s Requiem; and a special finale of Greek music conducted by guest conductor Irene Messoloras. Choirs from California, Oklahoma, and Texas will perform a “Sunset Concert” of a cappella sacred music at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. Tiboris will lead an evening of music by Mahler and Dvořák, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler in 1911. He will conduct Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Dvořa΄ k’s New World Symphony, Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and selections from Mahler’s Symphonies No. 4 and No. 5 with soprano Eilana Lappalainen. Orff’s Carmina Burana and highlights from Theodorakis’s Zorba suite will be performed “Under the Stars” at Miaouli Plaza with Tiboris conducting Myrsini Margariti, soprano; Paul Zachariades, male mezzo-soprano; and Frederick


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Burchinal, baritone. Marissia Papalexiou, mezzosoprano, is performing in the Zorba Suite. Approximately 350 choral singers from the U.S., Canada, and Greece, from 28 choirs, will be represented in this event. Rounding out the festival program will be the Second Annual Greek Opera Studio Gala Concert, a program founded by the soprano Eilana Lappalainen. The singers will perform opera scenes as well as Act I from Puccini’s La rondine. A glance at the program is a temptation to book a two-week stay on Syros. Even Tiboris would have a hard time signalling out performances to attend. “Highlight? Which of your children do you love the most? There are many highlights–too many to count but certainly the first-ever move to the Miaoulli Plateia for a 400-voice Carmia Burana is the most interesting new addition and, of course, the world-premiere ballet of Medea’s Choice,” he says.

7th Annual International Festival of the Aegean Syros, Greece July 12, 14, 16 at 9 p.m. Giuseppe Verdi 's La Traviata

MYTHOS SUITES • HOTEL

a small "OASIS'' in the center of Rethymnon Old Town

July 13 at 9 p.m. Choral Gala July 15 at 6 p.m. Sunset Concert at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church July 15 at 9 p.m. An Evening of Schubert, Mahler, and Dvořák commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Gustav Mahler's death in 1911 July 17 at 10 p.m. Carmina Burana “Under the Stars” at Miaouli Plateia July 19, 20 at 9 p.m. Academy Award-winner Olympia Dukakis in a staged reading of Rose July 22, 23, 24 at 9 p.m. Medea’s Choice (World Premiere Ballet Presentation) July 25 at 9 p.m. Second Annual Greek Opera Studio Gala Concert

12 Karaoli Square, Old Town, Rethymnon, 74100, Crete Tel: +30 28310 53917 • Fax: +30 28310 51036 www.mythos-crete.gr • e-mail: info@mythos-crete.gr


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arts reviews

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From invisibility to inclusion atrick, a gentle Italian teenager with autism, cannot speak but he can use a computer to communicate his thoughts. How I Am, a documentary by Ingrid Demetz and Caroline Leitner, shows him spelling out his need for the harmony and tranquility of nature and his yearning for friendship and acceptance. The film was screened in March at Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in the “Challenging Perceptions” tribute of thirty-one works from around the world featuring people with developmental disorders and other conditions. The tribute was intended, in the words of festival director Dimitris Eipides, “to help us cross the distance from prejudice to understanding”. That distance can be formidable when society ignores or excludes anyone different. “If we respect people who are different, they will do us the honor of allowing us into their world,” argued Yanna Kalogeraki at a panel discussion during the festival. She has seen the absence of respect in a system starved of qualified staff, infrastructure, and ideas. What’s Eating Dimitri?, directed by Valerie Kontacos and Yannis Missouridis, tracks Kalogeraki’s pursuit of a fair deal for her son, who has an intellectual disability. Access to real education in appropriate buildings and a chance at employment and independence seem unattainable. Dionysis is a paraplegic with a mild intellectual disability. At the age of thirty-four, he lives with his mother. Addressing the camera in Marina Danezi’s short film The Trap, he knows that the alternative, and perhaps his future, is in a catchall facility where people with vastly different needs are bundled together without trained help, attention or stimulation. The quality of policy and infrastructure differs from country to country, but one constant is the reliance on family as carers and advocates. British Columbia now offers better services than Greece does, but progress only came after persistent pressure from parents, explained Canadian director, Marianne Kaplan. She speaks from experience. Her film The Boy Inside is about her son Adam, who has Asperger Syndrome. The same applies across the border, according to Daniel Habib, who made Including Samuel about his son who has cerebral palsy. He explained how the disability rights campaign started in the United States “when people crawled out of their wheelchairs and up the steps of the Supreme Court”. Families are also, increasingly, documenting their stories. Parents, siblings and other relatives

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made many of the films screened in the tribute. What's Eating Dimitri They have exceptional access, which can clinch funding, explained Kaplan. They are driven by other concerns as well: the need to make sense of what is happening and to record the joys as well as the struggles. And, crucially, they give a voice to people who are too seldom heard. While officialdom casually offloads responsibility onto families, inspired teachers and arts practitioners often step up with creative outlets that promote social integration. Elias Lafuente, director of Danza Down in Madrid, gently draws out the best from performers in Elizabeth Wood’s documentary Dancing with Down. He explains why dance is so important to the participants: “it is a tool that helps them feel integrated in the world. It gives them We the Cyclops emotional tranquility, enables them to feel more sure of themselves, helps them not to feel invisible, to open up.” Nikos Alevras reveals the pleasures of rehearsing and putting on a play in Performance, while children at the Special Vocational education and Training School of Alexandroupoli use myth to explore difference in We the Cyclops, directed by Maria Economou. The band leader in Jim Bigham and Mark Moorman’s documentary For Once in My Life cajoles, encourages and leads musicians with a variety of physical and mental conditions to a resounding triumph at their first major gig. Performance If the arts foster personal fulfillment, so activism can improve external conditions. Habib sees inclusion as the answer. Insisting from the get-go that his son attend mainstream school, Habib and his family fight every barrier. They enlist technology: Samuel’s super high-tech wheelchair enhances May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 113


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THE BEST INTERNATIONAL GREEK MUSIC CHANNEL GREEK HITS TOP 10 BY MAD

Οι Δυο Μας Σάκης Ρουβάς

mobility and activity. They bring teachers and classmates on board: “to his classmates Samuel is somebody with interests, not ‘that kid in the wheelchair’,” Habib said. When he asked a group of twenty kids to come up with a campaign, “in two days they had produced a mission statement”. The fruit of their proposal is a campaign that challenges the idea of normality by redefining what’s normal. Vivienne Nilan

Concertsi

The work is a fresh take on the original Zeibekiko which Psathas composed on commission for the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble in Amsterdam in 2004. The Auckland concert was filmed. “My vision is to have this concert tour in many countries. With Manos and Petros I feel we have a team that can present the best of what Greece has to offer in the international concert arena. We are hoping to perform the work again in 2012, either in New Zealand or Greece, but this is tentative and the planning is in the early stages.” Born of northern Greek parents in New Zealand in 1966, now professor at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, Psathas is noted for cuttingedge contemporary compositions. He enjoyed a world-wide audience for the music he composed and arranged for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

REVIEWED BY ANN ELDER Call Me Claydee & Dimension X

Μια Από Τα Ίδια Μιχάλης Χατζηγιάννης

Κομμένα Πια Τα Δανεικά (Meme Pas Fatigue) Αντώνης Ρέμος

Άσε Με Ελένη Φουρεϊρα

MAD WORLD SUBSCRIPTION

AUSTRALIA: Call the UBI World TV customer service centre on 1300 400 800 or visit www.ubiworldtv.com & www.madworld.gr

Greek-New Zealand composer John Psathas was over the moon with the resounding success of his ambitious Nea Zeibekiko featuring Athens-based clarino-player Manos Achalinotopoulos and percussionist Petros Kourtis at the Auckland Arts Festival in March. Taking up the entire evening program, the new purpose-written fifteen-part work encompassed a kaleidoscopic variety of traditional Greek music, from that composed for a fifth-century-B.C. ode by Pindar to the final frenzied maenads dance by Psathas himself, on the way including renditions of plangent old Greek songs (To Ponemeno Stithos Mou from the islands and Yanni, To Mandili Sou from Epirus), “Tecmessa’s Lament” from a version of the tragedy Aias, of late antiquity, a sober Byzantine Doxastiko, and of course a Hymn to the Muse. Appropriately, right towards the end, Anthony Neonakis from Wellington, lithe as winged Ermis, leapt up on stage from the auditorium and between violins and footlights, took up dancing the zeibekiko, the intensely expressive, contemplative solo dance usually reserved for men. A standing ovation raised the roof of the wellfilled town hall. A string of encores followed. Stimulated by the enthusiastic response, the two musicians flown in from Greece seemed tireless, clearly benefiting from the sensitive conducting of Hamish McKeich, experienced at presenting contemporary music and, as Psathas intended, everready to allow the soloists room for improvisation. Fine backing by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra was an essential ingredient of the event.

Filmi REVIEWED BY ANGELIKE CONTIS

I’m Dangerous With Love Directed by Michel Negroponte. Featuring Dimitri Mugianis. 80 minutes.

How does a Greek American end up becoming a shaman? Find out in this documentary featuring former musician and heroin addict Mugianis, who specializes in taking people through the same controversial therapy that he credits with saving his own life. Ibogaine is the name of the powerful African medicinal plant that Mugianis administers, albeit illegally, to those who’ve tried everything else to break deadly habits. Nick Pappas and Joni Wehrli co-wrote the script where the director, as always, narrates and appears in the film. In one scene Negroponte takes hallucinogen ibogaine to try to quit smoking. Viewers follow highly charismatic Mugianis for three years as he grapples with the past, works undercover with suffering addicts and finds fulfillment in West African healing spirituality. It’s all set to great tunes by Brooks Williams and Mugianis too. There’s no heroin chic here. Negroponte half-jokes that the name of the film could have been “Vomit.” Front Row Features’ April release includes extra interviews.


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Dogtooth Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. With Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Aggeliki Papoulia, Christos Passalis, Mary Tsioni, Anna Kalaitzidou. 94 minutes.

Catch the lean, stylized Greek film with teeth that was nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. Being open to interpretation is the genius of this highly disturbing, elusive parable set in what appears to be a luxurious Attica villa. But instead of being the site of social decadence, the home with high walls, a swimming pool and a healthy green lawn is the site of plenty of antisocial behavior. Mom and Dad have kept the kids under wraps within its walls, lying about just about everything involving the outside world –from airplanes to cats (which they say are public enemy #1) to the meaning of words themselves. In that retro-furnished world that includes a locked-up dial telephone, the family tension grows among their child-like teen/20something daughters and son. Violence and a hot, angry thirst for rebellion color this study in control.

Musici

It’s a good track–good enough for one to hope this might be a new direction he’ll explore.

THE BEST INTERNATIONAL GREEK MUSIC CHANNEL GREEK HITS TOP 10 BY MAD

Mystiko (Secret) Melisses. Universal. (12 tracks, playing time

Melisses, a pop-rock band with a definite retro look that borrows elements from Franki Valli and Madness, took everyone by surprise with their first hit “Kryfo” (Hidden). Instead, their record company (rather cleverly) promoted it with “Lonely Heart”, the album’s only track with English lyrics. This catchy soft dance track is pure pop–which the group will no doubt refine as their talent and discography develops. It’s the only engaging track on the album which proves one point, with such different offerings as “Epikyndina Filia” (Dangeous Kisses) and “Tha Ertho Konta Sou” (I’ll Come Near You): while this band has its feet planted in pop-rock, it has yet to define its sound.

Books

Baby It's Over (MadWalk 2011) Helena Paparizou

Miles And Miles Cyanna

REVIEWED BY MELITA LEOUZIS

Aromata & Chromata: A Crash Course in Greekness By Dr George Gekas. 278 pp. Wecom Press

REVIEWED BY ALEX KAIRIS

Eho Ena Schedio Themis Karamouratidis. Lyra. (19 tracks, playing time 58:06)

Eho Ena Schedio, a live recording of Themis Karamouratidis’s concert at the Theatro Kappa last October, is a showcase for the new generation of Greek musical talent. Composer Themis Karamouratidis’s music creates an ambience that alternates between melancholy nostalgia and soaring hopefulness. The same mood is echoed in the lyrics by Karamouratidis as well as his frequent collaborator Yerasimos Evangelatos and others. Equally captivating is the voice of Natassa Bofiliou, another emerging new talent, is featured on three tracks. All three command the listener’s attention, making Eho Ena Schedio a great listening album, the sort of thing you might put on late at night with the lights dimmed. Only one track breaks the mood; ironically, it’s “There She Goes My Beautiful World”, which, yes, is in English. It’s faster than the others, with a stronger, catchier beat that highlights Karamouratidis’s diversity as a composer.

“It’s a heavy load being Greek,” notes the author in the introduction to Aromata & Chromata. Scents & Colors of Greece. A Crash Course in Greekness. And, indeed, it is. The question of “who is a Greek” and “what identifies Hellenes” is one troubling not only the diaspora, but Greeks in Greece today and this volume doesn’t lighten that load–or simplify things–with its enumeration of Greeks’ achievement. Or does it. Gekas, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Business Management, is quite clear about what he identifies as Greekness. “Being ‘Greek’ is a matter of mentality. It is a matter of an upbringing respectful of Greek culture.” As an overview, the volume is handy to have around, as it covers practically everything Greek from mythology through the 1821 independence revolt, and cultural elements like the taverna and the evil way. Even if you feel all this is familiar territory, there’s a worthy cause behind the book: proceeds from sales are being donated to Toronto’s Greek community schools.

Turn Back Time Mark F. Angelo Feat. Onirama

Ιδιαίτερη Σχέση Rous

Tonight (MadWalk 2011) Playmen & Claydee Feat. Tamta

MAD WORLD SUBSCRIPTION

ASIA–AFRICA: Call +612 9776 2222 or visit www.ubiworldtv.com & www.madworld.gr


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Greece at your fingertips The dialling code for Greece is +30. All fixed line numbers have 10 digits and begin with 2. Time is GMT+2. Travel information is also available online from the Greek National Tourism Organization website, www.visitgreece.gr

Emergency Numbers Police .....................................100 Ambulance..............................166 Fire dpt ..................................199 Coast Guard ...........................108 Road Assistance......................10400 European Emergency ...............112 Drug Squad.............................109 Tourist Police ..........................171 or 210 171 SOS Doctors (Athens).............1016 Express Service.......................1154 Poison Center ........................210 779 3777 Directory Inquiries...................11888 International Operator.............139

Airports Athens International Airport (tel.: +30 210 353 0000) can be reached by car, metro (www.ametro.gr), suburban rail (www.trainose.gr), or bus (www.oasa.gr) from Athens and Piraeus. Real-time flight information and airline contact numbers are available on the airport’s website, www.aia.gr Taxi fare to or from central Athens has been set at 35 euros. Thessaloniki’s International Airport Makedonia (tel.: 2310 985 000) is reachable by bus (www.oasth.gr), car, or taxi. Its website offers real-time flight tracking and other information (www.thessalonikiairport.gr) Other international airports: Iraklio.....................................2810 397800 Cephalonia .............................26710 29900 Kos.........................................22420 56000 Rhodes ...................................22410 88700 Samos ....................................22730 87800 Zakynthos...............................26950 29500 Domestic airports: Leros......................................22470 22275 Milos......................................22870 22090 Myconos.................................22890 79000 Naxos.....................................22850 23969 Paros......................................22840 91256 Santorini.................................22860 28401 Siteia .....................................28430 24424

Ports Athens is served by three ports, Piraeus (tel.: 210 414 7800, reached by subway, bus, and car), Rafina (tel.: 22940 28888, by bus or car), and Lavrio (tel.: 22920 25249, by bus or car). Other main ports: Alexandroupoli .......................25510 26468 Volos......................................24210 76720 Igoumenitsa ............................26650 29235 Iraklio.....................................2810 244912 Thessaloniki ............................2310 531645

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Kavala ....................................2510 223716 Patras.....................................2610 341002 Rhodes ...................................22410 22220 Hania .....................................28210 98888 Chios......................................22710 44433 Ayios Constantinos .................22350 31759 Kyllini .....................................26230 92013

Road Tolls Greek highways are toll roads, including the Athens ring road or Attiki Odos. Tolls vary according to the road and are posted at toll booths. Roads designated with green signs and the E-prefix are part of the European road network.

VAT & Receipts Embassies & Consulates Australia.................................210 870 4000 Canada...................................210 727 3400 Cyprus....................................210 373 4800 Ireland....................................210 723 2771 New Zealand ..........................210 692 4136 South Africa ...........................210 610 6645 United States of America ........210 721 2951 United Kingdom ......................210 727 2600

All businesses, including kiosks and taxis, are required to give receipts. VAT is included in prices and as from July 1, 2010, has been raised to 23 per cent on most items. There is also a reduced rate of 11 per cent that applies mainly to food, medicine, and other vital goods. VAT on books and newspapers is 5.5 per cent. VAT is also charged on services, for example, plumbing or electrical work.

Store Hours Getting Around Athens is served by a network of buses, trolleys, trams, metro (subway), electric train, and suburban rail. Tickets are available from metro stations, bus ticket kiosks at terminals, automated vendors at tram stops, and some kiosks. Tickets must be validated before boarding. Fare schedules are posted in metro stations. Pets are not allowed on public transport; bicycles are allowed on the suburban rail in the last car and there is a pilot program to allow bikes on the metro. Attiko Metro www.ametro.gr OASA (Urban bus network) for route information tel.: 185 or www.oasa.gr Proastiakos (suburban rail) route information tel.: 210 529 7777 or tel.: 1110 or www.trainose.gr Trams route information www.tramsa.gr Thessaloniki is served by an extensive network. Fare information and schedules from www.oasth.gr Domestic travel: By air via Olympic Air (www.olympicair.gr) and Aegean Airlines (www.aegeanairlines.gr). By sea check with a ticket agent or harbor police for companies serving your destination. The websites www.ferries.gr and www.greekferries.gr have route information while major operators also have online schedules and bookings: Hellenic Seaways (www.hsw.gr), Blue Star Ferries (www.bluestarferries.gr), Anek (www.anek.gr), Aegean Speed Lines (www.aegeanspeedlines.gr), Sea Jets (www.seajets.gr) Superfast Ferries (www.superfast.com), and Minoan Lines (www.minoan.gr). By train via Hellenic Railways (www.ose.gr and www.trainose.gr) or call 1440 for recorded schedule in Greek. By bus via KTEL (tel.: 14505, premium charges apply). In Athens, terminals vary according to destination; information is available from 210 512 4910.

Stores are closed on Sundays, except in tourist zones. Smaller enterprises generally follow the custom of staying closed on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons; supermarkets, department stores, chain outlets, and malls generally operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but this varies slightly by season so check posted hours. Banks are open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; some banks operate evening and Saturday hours at selected branches.

Pets Pets must be fitted with a microchip and an EU “pet passport” or veterinary certificate. Pets are not allowed on public transport or in public offices. Most taxis will allow small pets provided they are in a carrier; there are special “pet taxi” operators in large cities who charge extra for the service. Pets are allowed on boats, but it’s always good to check when booking. Admission to cafes and restaurants is at the owner’s discretion; check hotel policy when making reservations.

Smoking Smoking is banned in all public buildings, public transport, and indoor spaces such as offices, cafes, and restaurants.

Holidays Official holidays are January 1 (New Year’s), January 6 (Epiphany), Ash Monday (Kathara Deftera, movable, 41 days before Orthodox Easter), March 25 (Independence Day), Easter (movable), Easter Monday (movable), May 1 (Labor Day), Pentecost (movable, 50 days after Easter), August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin), October 28 (National day), December 25 (Christmas Day), December 26 (Boxing Day).


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Prime Sites

@ 0DYSSEY

http://www.sofitel.com

A 5-star experience close to Athens Airport.

http://www.harmonyresorts.gr

Harmony Boutique Hotel located in the most popular holiday spots of Rhodes.

http://www.yeshotels.gr

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Enjoy the Cretan hospitality in a legendary hotel.

http://www.aldemarhotels.com

An ideal family vacation destination in a ultramodern complex.

W%DUUHWWªV*UHHFH7UDYHO*XLGH 0DWwww.greecetravel.com

Five work-of-art hotels strategically located in Athens.

http://www.rodospark.gr 0DWWªV*XLGHLV,QIRUPDWLYH(QWHUWDLQLQJDQGDOPRVWDVIXQDVEHLQJLQ*UHHFH,QFOXGHV WKH$7+(166859,9$/*8,'(*UHHN,VODQGUHYLHZVZKHUHWRHDWZKHUHWRVWD\ZKDW WREX\DQGKRZPXFKWRSD\3OXVDUWLFOHVVWRULHVDQGJUHDWSKRWRV0DWWDQVZHUV\RXU TXHVWLRQVE\HPDLODQGWHOOV\RXWKHEHVWZD\WRSODQDQGHQMR\\RXUWULS 9LVLW0DWWªVRWKHUZHEVLWHVDWZZZDWKHQVJXLGHFRP‡ZZZDKLVWRU\RIJUHHFHFRP RUHPDLOKLPZLWKTXHVWLRQVDWPDWW#JUHHFHWUDYHOFRP

Exclusive accommodation with a blend of luxury and warm service in the heart of Rhodes town.


my odyssey

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Finding Sarakini

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fter having gotten lost once in the mountains and deciding, with some trepidation, to venture out onto those narrow, twisting, unpaved roads again, we found ourselves in front of a house we had driven past before. We remembered it because of its bird-shaped chimney vent. This time, however, there was a woman sitting on the porch at the side of the house. Before, there had been no one, as it had been earlier in the day, and everyone had been taking the customary afternoon nap. It had taken several years, and many wrong turns, to get to this point. This was my third trip to Greece in search of Sarakini, the village where my grandfather, the man whose name I carry, was born. I had found the name of the village in the baptismal records of the Greek Orthodox church in America where I was baptized, as were my father, and his brothers and sisters. I found the certificate for one of my aunts, on which my grandparents had written the names of their home villages. Three years before this trip, on my second journey to Greece, I had, with a bit of difficulty, and some harrowing mountain driving, found a village named Sarakini, but it turned out to be the wrong one. I learned that there is more than one Sarakini in Greece, just as there is more than one Springfield in the United States. This trip began more auspiciously. I had chanced upon a Michelin map of just the Peloponnese, and Sarakini, tiny Sarakini, was actually on the map. Once in Greece we followed the map to Karitena, where there was a sign indicating that Sarakini was a mere ten kilometers away. We set off in the direction the sign pointed, and wound up lost in the mountains, with no evidence of human habitation in sight, except for the occasional scrambling goat on the side of the road. I managed to find my way back to Karitena, where my wife and I struggled with the dilemma of whether to set off again and risk getting lost in the mountain wilderness in the dark, or to give up and go on, abandoning the search for the village that had been the primary reason for our journey of almost 6,000 miles. My wife and I went back and forth a bit before hope prevailed over fear, and once again we set out up the mountain. 118 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

It was later in the day, and there were people here and there. One kind young man managed to communicate to me that I should follow him to make sure I went the right way. He led me up to where there was a turn to the left, pointed down that way, and assured me that I could not miss Sarakini if I drove in that direction. I thanked him and proceeded to make the left turn, driving along exactly the same route I had pursued previously when we had gotten lost. Soon we came again to the cluster of houses that included one with a bird-shaped chimney vent we had noted before. Soula, the woman sitting on the porch beside the house, got up from her chair and walked up the hill to our car. I asked her, as I had asked so many others recently, where I might find Sarakini. She pointed toward the ground and informed me that here, this was Sarakini. Soula spoke some English, and as we continued to converse, the combination of the sparse amount of Greek that I knew and the much greater amount of English that she knew made some real communication possible. After very little conversation, Soula invited us to walk down the slope to her house and have some coffee. I turned to my wife, Margie, and she told me that we should say “no”. “You don’t understand,” I explained to her, looking at the mountains surrounding us and feeling strongly that we were deep in the heart of Greece, the real Greece, and remembering what my parents by their words and actions had instilled in me from my childhood, “hospitality is sacred here. We have to accept.” So we left our ten-year-old son, John, asleep in the back seat of the car and walked down to the house. Once the coffee was in front of us on the table, I began to explain the little I knew about my grandfather’s background, such as when he had left Sarakini to come to America. Soula seemed to know who I was talking about, to be making connections. She also said that she had some zucchini cooking, and asked if we would like some. Once again, Margie said we should decline, and, once again, I reminded her of the sanctity of hospitality in Greece and accepted. Yes, Soula had zucchini cooking. And lamb,


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By Peter Theodore

and potatoes. She brought out plates full of delicious food and asked me what I wanted to drink, beer or wine. I said wine, and her husband led me around to the side of the house to show me the barrel of his wine from which he filled a metal pitcher. We returned to the table to eat, and to continue our conversation. Meanwhile, Soula’s husband had begun walking through the village, talking with people as he went along. There seemed to be a bit of a stir arising. People were now moving about near the house, gazing our way as they passed by. Suddenly, there was an elderly couple approaching us. The woman seemed to have tears welling up in her eyes, and she was holding something in her hands. She walked up to me and handed me what she was holding, a photograph of three young men, and said to me, “Παπουλι σου.” “Your grandfather,” and there he was, standing, in the center of the photograph with two other men seated in front of him, my grandfather Panagiotis as a young man. I soon learned that my grandfather had left a sister, Sophia, behind when he had come to America. (I noted as I heard this that my father’s sister, the older of two daughters in the family, was named Sophia.) This man was Sophia’s son, Christos, my father’s first cousin, and the woman was Maria, his wife. Christos and Maria took us all (our son John was awake now) to see the house where my grandfather was born, to actually stand in the room where he was born, to look out from the house toward the mountains and try to imagine my grandfather standing there as a young man, marveling at how he managed to leave that tiny village and make his way to America. Back at Soula’s porch, with the aid of Soula’s English, Christos and Maria told me that I had cousins here in Greece, living in Nemea, and that we should go see them. This posed a bit of a problem. In two days, we had to be in Zakynthos, and then we were returning to Athens to catch a plane back to America. It soon became clear to me that the only time we had open to drive to Nemea was now. We arrived at about eleven that night, and

where we met a group of cousins who were waiting for us. We hugged a lot, very excited to see each other. Words were limited, as none of my cousins spoke much English. There were three generations of us, my father‘s first cousins, their children and me, and our children. We had dinner together, and they put us up for the night. The next day we met still more cousins, and all of them implored us to stay longer. We managed, somehow, to get quite a bit communicated in spite of the immense language gap that existed between us. Despite all the impassioned pleas for me to return and stay longer, it was eight years before I was able to do so. My Greek was still not very good, but it had improved, and this time, some of my cousins’ children were old enough to have learned English, and to serve as intermediaries in our conversations. I am forever grateful to those children, whom I refer to now as my nieces and nephews, for enabling me to have long conversations with my cousins and really begin to get to know them. It was the beginning of what has been an ongoing time of getting to know them better, of becoming a part of their families and their lives, and of all of them becoming a part of my life and of who I am. For the past several years, I have been fortunate to be able to return every year, and it seems that each year I meet more people who are a part of my family, and each year I become closer to the ones I have known. I have also been privileged to experience Greece more and more as part of the family and not as a tourist. A couple of summers ago I attended an outdoor recital put on by the local schoolchildren in Nemea to watch my cousin Sophia’s grandson perform some traditional folk dances. The next day I attended a baptism at a mountaintop monastery in Arcadia. After the service, there were lambs roasting on spits in the village plateia, and music for dancing in the street. The most treasured memory for me from that event is when they brought the newly baptized baby into the plateia for the party, and I was the first person given the privilege of holding him in my arms. O

my odyssey

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The author's grandfather (top) and his cousins in the village.

May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 119


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Page 119

By Peter Theodore

and potatoes. She brought out plates full of delicious food and asked me what I wanted to drink, beer or wine. I said wine, and her husband led me around to the side of the house to show me the barrel of his wine from which he filled a metal pitcher. We returned to the table to eat, and to continue our conversation. Meanwhile, Soula’s husband had begun walking through the village, talking with people as he went along. There seemed to be a bit of a stir arising. People were now moving about near the house, gazing our way as they passed by. Suddenly, there was an elderly couple approaching us. The woman seemed to have tears welling up in her eyes, and she was holding something in her hands. She walked up to me and handed me what she was holding, a photograph of three young men, and said to me, “Παπουλι σου.” “Your grandfather,” and there he was, standing, in the center of the photograph with two other men seated in front of him, my grandfather Panagiotis as a young man. I soon learned that my grandfather had left a sister, Sophia, behind when he had come to America. (I noted as I heard this that my father’s sister, the older of two daughters in the family, was named Sophia.) This man was Sophia’s son, Christos, my father’s first cousin, and the woman was Maria, his wife. Christos and Maria took us all (our son John was awake now) to see the house where my grandfather was born, to actually stand in the room where he was born, to look out from the house toward the mountains and try to imagine my grandfather standing there as a young man, marveling at how he managed to leave that tiny village and make his way to America. Back at Soula’s porch, with the aid of Soula’s English, Christos and Maria told me that I had cousins here in Greece, living in Nemea, and that we should go see them. This posed a bit of a problem. In two days, we had to be in Zakynthos, and then we were returning to Athens to catch a plane back to America. It soon became clear to me that the only time we had open to drive to Nemea was now. We arrived at about eleven that night, and

where we met a group of cousins who were waiting for us. We hugged a lot, very excited to see each other. Words were limited, as none of my cousins spoke much English. There were three generations of us, my father‘s first cousins, their children and me, and our children. We had dinner together, and they put us up for the night. The next day we met still more cousins, and all of them implored us to stay longer. We managed, somehow, to get quite a bit communicated in spite of the immense language gap that existed between us. Despite all the impassioned pleas for me to return and stay longer, it was eight years before I was able to do so. My Greek was still not very good, but it had improved, and this time, some of my cousins’ children were old enough to have learned English, and to serve as intermediaries in our conversations. I am forever grateful to those children, whom I refer to now as my nieces and nephews, for enabling me to have long conversations with my cousins and really begin to get to know them. It was the beginning of what has been an ongoing time of getting to know them better, of becoming a part of their families and their lives, and of all of them becoming a part of my life and of who I am. For the past several years, I have been fortunate to be able to return every year, and it seems that each year I meet more people who are a part of my family, and each year I become closer to the ones I have known. I have also been privileged to experience Greece more and more as part of the family and not as a tourist. A couple of summers ago I attended an outdoor recital put on by the local schoolchildren in Nemea to watch my cousin Sophia’s grandson perform some traditional folk dances. The next day I attended a baptism at a mountaintop monastery in Arcadia. After the service, there were lambs roasting on spits in the village plateia, and music for dancing in the street. The most treasured memory for me from that event is when they brought the newly baptized baby into the plateia for the party, and I was the first person given the privilege of holding him in my arms. O

my odyssey

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The author's grandfather (top) and his cousins in the village.

May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY 119


the homer survey

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Sofka Zinovieff Where do you consider home? Some say home is where you hang your hat, others that it’s where you hang yourself. For me, it has been many places, but for the last ten years, a rented apartment overlooking the sea in Vouliagmeni, south of Athens.

What would cause you to stay away from home for 10 years?

If eating a Lotus could make you forget just one thing, what would you want to forget? I already forgot.

Greed prompts Odysseus’ men to unleash the strong winds that blow their ship off course. If Homer were writing today, what would these winds be a metaphor for? The distractions of consumerism.

To be with the ones I love.

Who are the Laestrygonians today? How do you define fidelity?

Big bankers.

Staying true.

What were the Sirens singing? Which idea are you most faithful to? Sofka Zinovieff is the author of Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens and Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life. Her forthcoming novel, The House on Paradise Street, is set in Greece and will be published in the U.K. and Greece, early in 2012.

Staying close to my daughters and husband while keeping a sense of freedom and independence.

Which modern figure, male or female, would you identify with Penelope? Aung San Suu Kyi, for her patience and faith.

If you were casting The Odyssey today, which real-life or literary figure would you choose for the role of Antinous?

Which would you try to avoid, Scylla or Charybdis? I’d rather get sucked to the bottom of the sea than be eaten alive, but I’d put my bet on avoiding Charybdis and cheating Scylla, as Odysseus did.

What’s The Odyssey’s lesson for today?

Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a good revolting suitor.

That the same old things apply today just as they did then–love, war, adventure, temptation and fidelity, with the domestic details of daily life running inextricably alongside them.

Is beauty like Calypso’s a trap?

What is your Ithaca?

Of course, and for the beauty herself as well as the beholder.

It tends to be whichever book I’m working on, though each winter it becomes the island of Patmos, where I go in the summer.

What’s a modern-day equivalent of Circe’s mesmerizing powers? Air-brushed celebrities and stars.

‘Arete’ is Greek for virtue. Which do you value most? Which is overrated? Wisdom. Honor.

Odysseus is both cunning and strong. Which trait would you choose? Cunning.

What’s your biggest temptation? Pottering about in my garden instead of sitting at my computer.

What disguise would you adopt if you wished to pass unnoticed? A false moustache, a fedora, and a man’s suit would be fun. 120 May/June 2011 I ODYSSEY

Songs of ecstasy that drive you mad.

Which do you think is most important, the journey or the destination? The journey is given its significance by the destination, but of course, Cavafy and Homer were right to suggest that you have a good and above all, interesting time along the way. O


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“As soon as I knew I wanted to study abroad, I wanted to come to Greece. Of all the programs I looked at, ACG seemed the most accessible to study abroad students, while still offering the most authentic Greek experience. I liked the idea of actually studying and living among Greeks.” Deborah Cunningham, Fall 2010 Study Abroad Student Take it from Deborah: When you study abroad at DEREE – The American College of Greece, you’ll have the opportunity to experience full cultural immersion. Because with over 2,500 Greek students plus international students from 55 other countries, you’ll get to know the country and culture in a personal, firsthand way.

DEREE offers a wide range of courses—more than 1,000, in fact— which are all taught in English. Since ACG is US accredited, all courses easily transfer to your home institution. Plus, one comprehensive fee covers your entire study abroad experience: tuition, housing and DEREE-sponsored excursions to incredible sites throughout Greece. We’ll even greet you at the airport and help get you settled.

Learn more about studying in Greece at www.acg.edu/study-abroad.


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Best Hotels 2011  

ODYSSEY magazine's Best Hotel Guide helps its readers explore the country with travel features, plan their next visit with our annual 'art o...

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