English

Greek Heritage Society of Southern California

The Greek Heritage Society of Southern California (GHS) was established in 1985 to preserve the rich culture, heritage and traditions of Greek immigrants in Southern California. Through its FLOGA (FLOGA) Project (FLOGA in Greek means FLAME and signifies PASSING THE TORCH from generation to generation), the Greek Heritage Society documents the story of early Greek immigrants and highlights continuing generations. In doing so, it provides the community with an extensive database of Southern California’s rich Greek American history.

GHS is a non-political, non-profit California corporation, in association with the Basil P. Caloyeras Modern Greek Studies Center at Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, California) for educational, literacy and educational purposes.

postcard

Please go to their website http://www.greekheritagesociety.org/

And donate to help them finish this amazing Documentrary.

It doesn’t matter that their crowdfunding campaign is over. There is a PayPal donation button on their website.It is worth every penny to support this amazing endeavor!

spacer

Virtual Reality Comes to Ancient Olympia

 

Greek startup launches virtual guide to ancient treasures of Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

 NEWS_VIRUAL_REALITY_OLYMPIA

A Greek startup has launched a 360-degree virtual reality app for the archaeological museum at ancient Olympia, in the Peloponnese, one of the most important sanctuaries of the ancient world and birthplace of the Olympic Games.

Developed by SpinAround, an Athens-based company specializing on the production of photorealistic full 360-degree virtual tours, the KotinosVR app(kotinos means olive wreath, the prize for the winner of the ancient Games) brings together serious learning with well-crafted production values and a sense of fun.

Users can virtually wander around the museum, scroll through information about the exhibits, and familiarize themselves with the founding ideals of the ancient Olympics. On top of precious details about world-famous artifacts such as Hermes of Praxiteles and Nike of Paionios, the app offers audio tours of the site and interactive quizzes about the ancient Olympic Games and life in ancient Olympia. An owl avatar named Athena provides guided tours in Greek or English. The designers plan to make the app available in more languages in future.

KotinosVR will be available for smartphones and tablet devices, but for an immersive virtual reality experience, users can use a mobile virtual reality headset.

“Our mission is [to provide] distance learning of the highest quality,” says SpinAround CEO Dimitris Christodoulou, who initiated the project in April last year.

“With the help of modern technological devices, such as virtual reality headsets, users will be able to not just wander through the museum but to actually educate themselves more efficiently through interactive games,” says Christodoulou.

Its designers point out that we tend to remember about 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear and 90 percent of what we do or simulate.

The project has already received the green light from the Ministry of Culture’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS). The designers launched acrowdfunding campaign on the Indiegogo website last month. Should KotinosVR hit the market, the company promises to offer public schools around the world free access to the app.

“This is an educational tool for the new generation,” Christodoulou explains. “We hope this is just the beginning.”

For more information, visit www.kotinosvr.com.

spacer

Is it Festival Season Yet?

A curated list of diverse music festivals around Greece, from July to August. SOURCE: greece-is.com

Festival season in the capital begins in June and ends early in July, before Athenians have the chance to escape the city for more alluring summer destinations. Three major music festivals are organized each year in Athens, which attract big names from the international music scene. World-famous groups like Sigur Rós, Beirut and Suede have come and gone already, while more are on their way, like the Editors, James, Muse and Unkle. But festivals extend well beyond the capital; different places all over Greece, including many islands, do their best to lure travelers with unique international and local sounds, ranging from classical music to thrash metal rock. Below is our list of small and big events in chronological order. Check the dates, pick a destination, and prepare yourselves for several inimitable sonic journeys.

1. HELIOS FESTIVAL, CORFU | 8-10 JULY

Wild nights await the lovers of electronic dance music on the Ionian island of Corfu. Helios Festival celebrates its 5th birthday and its organizers, Element Productions, have prepared three nights of pure, youthful frenzy. Pre- and after-parties at Club 54 and the famous beach club Pazuzu frame the main event, which takes place on the 9th of July at Olympos stadium next to the airport, where local and international djs – including the world-famous Dutch duo Bassjackers – will spin the decks. Dancers, fire and laser shows, fireworks, and various other happenings add to the fun, while the island itself naturally entertains Greek and foreign party animals during the day, with its gorgeous beaches, historical landmarks and a charming Venetian town.

2. SANI FESTIVAL, HALKIDIKI | 8 JULY – 13 AUGUST

Every summer for 24 years now, music enthusiasts have been flocking to Sani hill in Halkidiki for an international feast of music and culture. The menu has always focused on jazz, classical, but also Greek entehno (art house) music, while the medieval-tower backdrop and surrounding sea have repeatedly contributed to creating an elevated experience for both artists and audiences. This year’s festival opens with the section “Jazz on the Hill,” which will feature three virtuoso jazz pianists — Michael Wollny from Germany, Yaron Herman from Israel, and Hiromi from Japan — to be followed by the internationally acclaimed British composer and soul singer Joss Stone. Classical music aficionados might also want to embark on a baroque journey with renowned British violinist Daniel Hope. For those less interested in the international scene and more into the local entehno, the concerts of veteran singers/musicians Alkistis Protopsalti and Dionysis Savvopoulos will not fail to satisfy.

3. THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE AEGEAN, ERMOUPOLIS, SYROS  | 10 – 23 JULY

Syros, the aristocratic gem of the Aegean, hosts one of the most acclaimed classical music festivals in Greece, now marking its 12th year. Founded in 2005 by Greek-American conductor Peter Tiboris, the festival attracts world-class musicians, dancers and actors, while it has also become a summer destination for lovers of the arts from Europe and beyond. This year, it opens with a performance of Haydn’s Mass No.10 in C major and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique symphony, both conducted by Peter Tiboris himself, while its piece-de-resistance is Leoncavallo’s famous opera Pagliacci. The festival’s location is the historic Apollo Theatre, which some consider as the miniature Scala of Milan – hence its pet name “La Piccola Scala” (the small Scala).

4. UP FESTIVAL, AIGIALI, AMORGOS | 12 – 17 JULY

Amorgos, the charming Cycladic island popular with those preferring less crowded destinations, hosts the 5th edition of the indie Up Festival. With a line-up of Greek artists and bands worth discovering (for free), those attending will have the option to enjoy the performances with their feet dug in the sand, as the location is beautiful Aigiali beach. Psychedelic, vintage pop, folk rock, electronic, and dance are some of the genres featured in the festival, even though – in true indie manner – most bands would hate to be associated with just one genre. If you are looking for unusual sounds, check out the Villagers of Ioannina City and their rock renditions of traditional Greek folk songs from the district of Epirus; and The Boy, the solo project of prolific songwriter and film director Alexandros Voulgaris, who never stops experimenting – solo or in collaboration with other artists.

5. CHANIA ROCK FESTIVAL, CHANIA, CRETE | 15 – 17 JULY

The old town of Chania in Crete may sound too graceful a destination to host a rock festival. But the Venetian Bastion of San Salvatore, erected in the 16th century next to the famous Venetian harbor, has been hosting the event since 2014. It makes for an ideal venue, in fact, as it lends plenty of acoustic and visual drama to the performances. This year’s line-up includes thrash metal band Kreator from Germany, metal band Therapy? from Northern Ireland, the British Cutting Crew (famous even to non-rock fans for their 80s mega-hit “(I just) died in your arms”), and Sweden’s Crazy Lixx, a band attempting to bring back the hard-rock sound of the 80s.

6. JAZZ IN PAROS, PAROS | 20 – 25 JULY

The festival is part of the Paros Jazz Academy, an intensive 5-day workshop organized every year since 2011 on the island of Paros. It is attended by amateur jazz musicians and singers from various corners of the globe who wish to improve their technical skills and deepen their understanding of jazz under the tutelage of professionals. The latter, including the festival’s artistic director – Greek composer and bassist Petros Klampanis, who has made a career for himself in New York – will be performing at this year’s “Jazz in Action” concert-marathon on the 23rd of July. You can also catch several jamming workshop sessions throughout the duration of the festival.

7. SARONIC CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL | 28 JULY – 9 AUGUST

This annual festival is, in fact, a get-together of 10 friends and chamber-music devotees from Europe, North America and Australia who, for the past five years, have been meeting on the Saronic islands of Hydra, Spetses, Poros and Galatas (a town in the Peloponnese across from Poros) to practice and share their passion for classical music with local residents and tourists. Together they form the Leondari Ensemble. They are all world-class musicians and regular performers with many of the world’s most renowned ensembles, including the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. This summer, they have added the remote island of Kythira to their destinations and, joined by guest artists, they will be performing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Mendelssohn – among others.

8. SAMOS YOUNG ARTISTS FESTIVAL, SAMOS | 7 – 13 AUGUST

Between Turkey and Greece, the gates to the Orient and the Occident, the island of Samos quite appropriately becomes, for the 7th year in a row, a musical bridge. Established and young artists come together from all over the world, to share their music and perform for a diverse audience of locals and visitors. The festival takes place at the small, 4th century B.C. open-air theater of Pythagorion, perched on a hillside overlooking the harbor city of Pythagorion (the oldest man-made harbor in the Mediterranean, named after the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, said to hail from Samos) and the sea. A variety of music genres comprise this year’s program, including classical, jazz, opera, folk and world music – a treat meant to satisfy many musical tastes.

9. MOLYVOS INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL | 16 – 19 AUGUST

The island of Lesvos, which has been in the spotlight this past year as the reception point of multiple waves of migrants and refugees, decided, despite the challenges, to persist on its love for classical music and host for a second year the Molyvos International Music Festival (MIMF) –symbolically titled “Crossroads.” The festival takes place on the enchanting village of Molyvos (aka Methymna) and becomes a cultural exchange hub for international young talents and the biggest names in classical music. Its mission is to make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds through its main program, but also through innovative workshops, informative education projects and unique street-concert teasers, the so-called “Molyvos Musical Moments.”

10. MUSIC VILLAGE FESTIVAL, PELION | 18 – 24 AUGUST & 26 AUGUST – 1 SEPTEMBER

This is no ordinary music festival. It is rather an ever-changing community of people from around the world, who – for 11 years now – have been gathering at the medieval village of Aghios Lavrentios on Mt. Pelion to learn, create and experience music. Two different workshop sessions are offered this summer, and their theme is “poetics of sounds and words in 20 movements”. Various artistic activities take place on a daily basis, and each session wraps up with a group performance, highlighting the work of students and their tutors. More than 100 musicians, actors and dancers are expected to participate in each of these performances, the entrance to which is free for visitors.

spacer

Greek hotels keep guests happier than rivals

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

The guest satisfaction score at Greece’s hotels is higher than at rival destinations, according to data published by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), drawn from ReviewPro.

SETE’s figures showed that the guest satisfaction score in Greece for the month of June came to 86.5 percent, compared to an average of 82.3 percent at rival destinations.

Analyzing data shaping the scores since January 2014, the association says that Greek hotels hold a clear lead over their competitors and that this lead appears to have grown in the past few months. It also notes that in the individual categories – such as value, services, quality of the bedrooms, food and cleanliness – scores have been higher in Greece over the past few months than elsewhere.

Greek hotels also take the lead at seaside holiday spots, with the Cycladic islands garnering the highest scores. In June, customer satisfaction on Santorini and Myconos stood at 89.4 percent and 89.2 percent respectively, significantly above other expensive holiday destinations. The score for St Tropez, for example, stood at 84.9 percent and Ibiza at 83.3 percent.

The guest satisfaction score presented by SETE was calculated by ReviewPro, a company that specializes in gathering information about hotels’ online reputations and what guest like and don’t like.

For the study pertaining to 2015, the company collected data from 1,126 hotels in Greece, in different categories and locations, as well as from 2,504 hotels at 16 destinations in France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey.

Last year’s scores were shaped by 280,291 guests at Greek hotels and 1,094,807 at rival destinations.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer

Jetoil gas company owner found dead, suicide suspected

The cofounder and owner of bankrupt gas company Jetoil was found dead in his home in the northern Athenian suburb of Dionysos on Sunday afternoon.

Kyriakos Mamidakis, 84, was found by his son-in-law at around 2 p.m. The presence of a gun near his body suggests he may have taken his own life.

Jetoil recently filed for bankruptcy and protection from its creditors after amassing debts in excess of 314 million euros.

The company, owned by the Mamidakis Group, attributed its debts to the economic contraction, the slowdown in international economic activity, which has affected demand in the fuel market, and the reluctance of local banks to finance its activities, mainly through guarantees for oil imports.

Of Jetoil’s debts, some 184 million euros are owed to banks, 87 million to suppliers, 2.5 million to the Greek state, 650,000 euros to the social security funds and 920,000 euros to its employees, among others.

The company was founded in the late 1960s by brothers Kyriakos, Giorgos and Nikos Mamidakis.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer

After Brexit, only uncertainty is certain

NICK MALKOUTZIS Source:eKathimerini

TAGS:Analysis, Politics

As a world leader in holding elections and referendums, perhaps this is the time for Greece to step forward and offer advice on how to deal with the jarring result from Thursday’s Brexit vote. After all, the serving prime minister in Athens has experience of how to turn a referendum result on its head. Barring input from Alexis Tsipras on how the UK could stay in the European Union after 52 percent of voters opted to leave, Greece, like the rest of Europe, now has to deal with the consequences of this choice.

The first certainty is we are now looking at a lengthy period of uncertainty within the EU. It could take several years to negotiate Britain’s exit and, following Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision on Friday to not immediately activate the procedures under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, no meaningful discussion is going to take place until a new British premier has been installed in October.

European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament head Martin Schulz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued a joint statement on Friday saying they expect London to begin the procedure as soon as possible. “Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty,” they said. But the Brexit camp is in no hurry to put Article 50 into practice as it believes this would weaken their negotiating position.

This means that the turmoil witnessed on Friday, when the value of sterling plunged, central banks pledged extra liquidity and stock markets plummeted may be with us (albeit not to such dramatic effect) for some time to come.

Debilitated by years of recession and fiscal adjustment, Greece’s economy is in a particularly vulnerable position. Its vulnerability to shocks was underlined on Friday, when the Athens Stock Exchange was the worst performing bourse in the world as the general index fell 13.4 percent, with bank stocks suffering particularly.

However, it is in the real economy that Greece could see the most profound hit. With the pound dropping like a stone it is no longer clear that Greece can expect a repeat of last year, when 2.4 million Britons visited the country, spending an average of 842 euros on each trip. It should be noted that although visitors from the UK accounted for just over 9 percent of arrivals, the receipts from their trips made up 14.3 percent, meaning they were above average spenders who will be sorely missed if they do not make the trip this year.

As we mentioned last week, the International Monetary Fund sees the economic impact from Brexit on Greece being less than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product.

While other eurozone economies might be able to absorb this, for Greece this is a significant figure. It could be the difference, for instance, between reaching this year’s target for a 0.3 percent of GDP primary surplus and missing it to such an extent that the automatic mechanism for further fiscal interventions will be triggered, which could then carry a number of political complications with it.

Bank of Greece sources told local media that they expect the impact on tourism and markets to be limited. The European Central Bank also stepped in to offer reassurance to all eurozone members, saying it had a plan in place and that it is ready to provide additional liquidity if needed.

In this respect, the ECB governing council’s decision on Thursday to reinstate the waiver on Greek government securities so local lenders could use them as collateral for cheap borrowing is somewhat of a blessing. The decision, which will apply from this Wednesday, means that Greek banks can tap from the ECB up to some 6 billion euros via the regular, rather than more expensive emergency liquidity assistance (ELA), procedure. This would save up to 90 million euros in interest.

The ECB also confirmed Greek lenders will be able to take part in its targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-II), which begin this month. The banks could lower their outlay on interest by another 130 million euros if they participate.

Although BoG sources pointed out that the capital controls which remain in place mean there should not be any problems at Greek banks, the return of the waiver adds an extra layer of security. Another boost would come from Greece being deemed eligible for quantitative easing. The ECB said on Thursday that this would be examined at a later stage this year, linking it to the discussions on Greek sustainability. If Athens gets the green light, the ECB could buy up to 4.2 billion euros of Greek government bonds from next month, providing something of a buffer in this tricky period.

The key question for Greece, though, will be how the eurozone reacts to the disquiet caused by the UK result. Opinion is divided between those who feel decision makers will seize on the opportunity provided by British voters and push for deeper integration between the single currency’s member-states, and those who believe that the separatist tendencies in the EU (the Brexit result has already sparked demands for referendums in other countries) will prompt politicians to be much more cautious.

Frederik Ducrozet, a senior economist at Pictet Wealth Management, suggests that the eurozone decision-makers are prepared to act decisively.

“If it proves necessary, we would not rule out another ‘whatever it takes’ moment to preserve the euro area’s integrity,” he wrote on Friday of the ECB, whose next policy meeting is on July 21.

“To begin with, the ECB could make full use of the flexibility of existing tools, including: 1) Stronger forward guidance; 2) QE extension beyond March 2017 as well as a temporary front-loading of asset purchases; 3) More favorable TLTRO conditions, especially after today’s weaker-than-expected net demand at the first TLTRO-II operation (around 30 billion euros).”

However, the central bank using the tools at its disposal to shore up the eurozone’s defenses is different from the key players in the single currency deciding, for good, that we are all in this together.

“Many people reject this nanny-state Europe with its bureaucracy and arrogance and that is why further integration cannot be the answer to this crisis, even if some politicians want just that,” wrote Sven Afhuppe, the editor in chief of German daily Handelsblatt, on Friday.

“Anyone advocating this has not understood that Europe is stuck with a serious crisis of identity. There cannot be any further steps toward integration without a persuasive, uniting idea.”

It seems that for the time being, Greece can do little but wait and hope. There will undoubtedly be a period of uncertainty until Europe decides how to respond to this political, economic and existential shock. The only bright spot is that over the last few years Greece has grown as used to dealing with uncertainty as it has to the fallout from elections and referendums.

spacer

Pacific Fresh Seafood Grill

11781656_819440834759047_2326772959681566138_n A very refreshing, amazing, Restaurant in Thousand Oaks, California. The owner Stavroula, is the warmest, kindest hostess.
You feel like you are eating at a good friend’s home or back yard.

Their menu is amazing, includes mouth watering sandwiches, Seafood, Appetizers, Pastas, Greek Specialties. Soups, salads, and a great assortment from the Grill.

After you eat your heart out, the desserts are to die for. Baklava, pastries, Greek Yogurt with honey and walnuts.
Are you hungry yet? It gets even better. They are open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Here is their Menu and information. Make sure to make the trip. Well worth your time!

Menu1 Menu2

 

spacer

National Archaeological Museum to unveil renovated garden

The National Archaeological Museum in central Athens will show off its renovated garden to visitors on Friday.

The garden now features about 700 new plants, including several species mentioned in ancient Greek mythology and literature.

Renovation works marking the 150th anniversary of the museum’s establishment were carried out by the Ecoscapes design firm with funding from JT International Hellas.

SOURCE: eKathimerini

spacer

What’s worked for tourism has not for exports

NICK MALKOUTZIS

With a 7.5-billion-euro bailout tranche virtually secured, Greece could settle down on Friday to watch the start of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament without any concerns about whether the loan will be disbursed. The Greek national team has not qualified for this year’s edition of the European Championships, which means local viewers will perhaps follow the event with a tinge of sadness that Greece finds itself shut out of European proceedings – a common theme in political and economic developments over the last few years.

The road to recovery for Greece (the country, rather than the soccer team) runs through its tormented economy. In the past, Greek success on the pitch (triumph at Euro 2004, qualification for Euro 2008 and quarterfinals at Euro 2012) has been the result of blending several strengths: good organization, team spirit, a strong defense and effectiveness in counter-attacks and set pieces. In contrast, Greece’s economy seems like a one-trick pony that repeatedly relies on a thriving tourism sector to get it out of trouble.

According to a report earlier this year by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism directly contributed 13.3 billion euros (or 7.6 percent of gross domestic product) to the Greek economy in 2015.

However, when one also takes into account the indirect and “induced” economic impact – which includes factors such as investment and the supply chain involved in providing for the tourism sector – the contribution is seen at an impressive 32.5 billion euros, which is close to a fifth of the GDP.

Tourism is largely delivering again this year. Travel receipts for the first quarter surpassed 500 million euros, matching the performance of the same period last year, aided by increases in the number of arrivals from Russia and the US, as well as the UK, France and Germany.

According to the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), international tourism arrivals at the main Greek airports grew by 6.5 percent in April year-on-year and by 7.6 percent over the first four months of the year compared to 2015.

That is not to say it has all been plain sailing. The recent protests against the privatization of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), the refugee crisis and the general uncertainty surrounding Greece over the last few months have caused setbacks.

Turnover in the accommodation and food service sectors, for instance, fell by 11.7 percent in the first quarter of the year and hit the lowest level since the first quarter of 2013.

Nevertheless, SETE still expects foreign arrivals this year to reach 25 million, which is a rise of 1.5 million compared to the record year of 2015. Direct tourism revenues are also seen hitting a record sum of 15 billion euros.

The flourishing of the Greek tourism sector during a gruelling period for the country can be put down to a number of factors. These include the abiding appeal of Greece as a holiday destination, the instability in the region that led to travelers avoiding some foreign resorts and reduced prices, despite the repeated tax hikes.

Greece’s tourism sector is bucking the trend in the Greek financial crisis because it has managed to do certain simple things well, essentially making it the country’s most significant export by far.

The challenge for Greece, though, is to augment this by helping other sectors of its economy grow. Tourism alone cannot be the source of a decisive turnaround.

For instance, while tourism forges ahead, Greece’s exports continue to suffer. Last week, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) announced that the country’s trade deficit rose by 21 percent in April on the back of imports rising by 7.1 percent and exports falling by 3.8 percent. Worryingly, this was the twelfth consecutive monthly fall for exports.

Greek exporters continue to be plagued by the problems that have dogged them throughout the crisis. This includes a lack of liquidity, problems accessing finance, an unstable politico-economic environment and a lack of business-friendly measures.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) expects exports to drop by 1 percent this year before shooting up by 5.7 percent next year.

However, the Paris-based think-tank believes there must be certain preconditions for this recovery. Apart from political stability, the OECD stresses the need for reforms that will simplify regulatory procedures and ease the administrative burdens on Greek companies.

The message is that reviving the export sector will be a complicated task. There is no magic solution. The truth is that Greece’s internal devaluation, which has seen employees’ compensation fall by roughly 30 percent since 2009, has not aided Greek exports in the way that many had expected over the last few years.

Greece has gained some price competitiveness due to the sliding wages, which has helped the tourism sector, but this has not translated into a boost for exports, which face a set of more complex challenges, argues Christian Odendahl, the chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London.

“Pure price competitiveness is a flawed concept: Companies also need to invest in innovation, marketing, technology and – yes – people in order to remain competitive,” he told Kathimerini English Edition.

“Tourism is more price sensitive and does not require as much investment, since Greece is spectacular as it is. This means that in tourism, the price effect could dominate. But in other businesses, prices cannot fall fast enough to compensate for the lack of investment and innovation.”

All of which takes us back to the blend of components that helped the Greek national soccer team overachieve for so many years. If Greece wants an economic recovery, it cannot rely on just one sector, and if its exports are going to be successful then a combination of factors are needed to help the flourish. At the moment, these elements are absent on and off the pitch. Greece will have to settle for a summer of watching others prosper.

SOURCE:eKathimerini

spacer

Acropole Palace, Rising from the Ashes

Memories of an old, cosmopolitan Athens come alive at this historic hotel Giota Sykka | May 24th, 2016 On the corner of Patission and Averof streets – one of the most neglected parts of Athens – cement mixers buzz while workers pave the sidewalk.Abandoned for three decades, the imposing...

spacer