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Black Tie International Travel  1
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Black Tie International: Travel - Bob Nicolaides Destinations December 2012

with Bob Nicolaides

Destinations: December 2012


bob nicholaides
 Bob Nicolaides

'Fire and Coin - Archaelogy and Fire' Exhibit

A period exhibition on "Fire and Currency - Archaeology and Fire" is running at the National Numismatic Museum of Athens through January 10, 2013, focusing on the dual nature of fire, which on the one hand inspires and creates and on the other hand causes awe and destruction,

Organized by the Museum in Collaboration with Ephoria of Underwater Antiquities, the exhibition features works on loan from the Archaeological Museums of Argos and Thebes and from the numismatic collections of the Bank of Greece (BoG) and Alpha Bank, and is taking place in the context of the nationwide action Environment and Culture 2012 "Glowing Fire Stories".

The exhibition is organized in two parts. The first part, titled "Fire and Currency", displays coins and medals depicting fire and its related symbols, such as lightning bolts. torches, ritual fires, altars, volcanoes, a rare depiction on coin of the Lighthouse (Pharos) of Alexandria (one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was a tower built between 280 to 247 BC on the island of Pharos at Alexandria, Egypt for the purpose of guiding mariners into the port of Alexandria with the light shed by fire), as well as mythical gods such as Hephaestus and mythological figures such as Talos,
the giant that protected Crete.

Also on display is the medal of the first Modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896, depicting a sacred phoenix, the mythical bird that is reborn from its ashes, a golden hyperpyron (meaning super-refined, cleansed by fire) minted by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in 1092 in an effort to drastically rehaul the economy of the Byzantine Empire.

The second part of the exhibition is titled "Archaeology and Fire", and displays sections or full collections of four numismatic "treasures" that suffered immense damage from fire. These are coins which in eras of war, raids, disease and natural disasters were hoarded away in secret hiding-places to protect them and be retrieved at a later time. These include the treasure of the Athens Acropolis, which was destroyed by fire set by the Persians in 480 BC to the Acropolis monuments, two hoards from Delos, which were burned in 88 BC when the troops of Mithridates VI of Pontos attacked the island, and the proto-Byzantine treasure of Chios, which was hoarded for protection on a merchant ship but was later burned in an Arab raid in the 7th century.

The display also includes finds from submarine archaeological exploration by the Ephoria of Underwater Antiquities of shipwrecks, submerged settlements and ports that are related to fire.

Akrotiri Arch. Site Posts 1,300 Visitors Daily Since Reopening

The Akrotiri archaeological site on the island of Santorini which reopened on April 11 after remaining closed for more than 6 1/2 years following the collapse of a steel roof that claimed the life of a UK tourist and injured six other visitors, has attracted droves of visitors in the six months since its reopening, reaching up to 1,300 people on some days.

In September 2005, a steel roof in the archaeological site collapsed, killing a tourist from Wales and injuring another six -- two Slovenian tourists, two Americans, a German and a Greek -- three of them seriously.

The culture ministry at the time had blamed the collapse on "wrong technical choices", and three engineers involved in the construction of the roof over the site were charged.

A new bio-climatic roof of stainless steel and wood has replaced the collapsed roof. Designed by architect Nikos Fintikakis, the new roof ensures zero energy consumption, which renders it a unique energy conservation project on such a large scale internationally. The specially designed openings at north and south ensure circulation of air during the night hours so that the site is cooled naturally, while during the daytime they allow the sun's rays in so as to provide natural lighting of the site.

The paths for the visitors follow, as a rule, the routes of the ancient streets, while a special route has been designed for people with a disability.

Akrotiri is one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean.

The first habitation at the site dates from the Late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium B.C.). During the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium B.C.), a sizeable settlement was founded and in the Middle and early Late Bronze Age (ca. 20th-17th centuries B.C.) it was extended and gradually developed into one of the main urban centers and ports of the Aegean.

The large extent of the settlement (approx. 20 hectares), the elaborate drainage system, the sophisticated multi-storied buildings with the magnificent wall-paintings, furniture and vessels, show its great development and prosperity.

The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network of its external relations. Akrotiri was in contact with Crete but also communicated with the Greek Mainland, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.

The town's life came to an abrupt end in the last quarter of the 17th century B.C. when the inhabitants were obliged to abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes. There followed the devastating eruption of the island's volcano, known as the Minoan or Thira (Santorini) eruption, one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The volcanic materials covered the entire island and the town itself. These materials, however, have protected up to date the buildings and their contents, just like in Pompeii.

The Akrotiri archaeological site is open to visitors from 8:00 am  to 5:00 pm

From Russia to Greece with Love

Cash-strapped, debt-laden Greece may look like the sick man of Europe to its eurozone partners, but for rich Russians it still has many charms

Zepko is an idyllic, undeveloped location in the eastern corner of Halkidiki, a peninsula in northern Greece blessed with secluded beaches, azure waters and pine forests. When Zepko's owners, all retired military officers, started looking for a buyer,
two Russian companies came knocking.

Earlier this month a Greek-origin Russian businessman, Ivan Savvidi, claimed that Greece only had to give the green light and Russian money would come pouring in. "If Greece asks the Russian business community then I can tell you that by October next year Greece will have become a prosperous country," he said. "Russia has not turned its back on Greece in a thousand years - it certainly will not now."

He was previously a deputy in Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in the dominant party - President Vladimir Putin's United Russia. In August Mr Savvidi became the majority shareholder in PAOK FC, Thessaloniki's top football club and a power in the Greek league, but beset by financial woes until he came along.

Gregoris Tassios, chairman of Halkidiki's Hotel Association, says "there is great interest from Russia for the purchase of land, businesses, summer houses and hotels, and tourist numbers are rapidly rising". Since 2008, eight hotels in Halkidiki have been acquired by Russian interests and Greek-Russian joint ventures. According to the Hellenic-Russian Chamber of Commerce, 7% of the Russian tourists visiting Greece are interested in buying a holiday home, which translates into 31,000 sales annually. Russian tourism to Halkidiki is second only to the Germans, whereas only five years ago the Russians were in fifth place.

Mr Tassios says that "Orthodoxy and Mount Athos, the historic bonds between the two countries, the proximity of Thessaloniki and the long presence of Pontic Greeks in Russia are all contributing to this trend". But Russians are tough negotiators, he adds. "They know the market is depressed and therefore ask for discounts of 30% on everything that attracts their interest."

Besides tourism, Russians were the preferred buyers of a majority stake in the state-controlled dairy Dodoni. Russian energy giants are interested in the Greek natural gas company and there is said to be Russian interest in the port of Thessaloniki and Greece's loss-making railways.

According to Mr Savvidi - who is a friend of President Putin - Greece missed an historic opportunity, when the crisis erupted, to strike a better rescue deal than the one it now has with the troika of lenders - the EU Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. "Two years ago, when [then Greek PM] George Papandreou met Vladimir Putin, the Russian side was ready to help; but Athens did not raise the issue", he said.

He believes that Russian help would have spared Greece its "loss of freedom and sovereignty". He is however hopeful that the new government will prove keener to build a closer relationship with Moscow. "The crucial issue is not to waste any more time. I am positive that Russia will not sit idly by. I'm doing all I can to support my ancestral land."

Despite Greece's membership of the EU and Nato, its friendship with Russia goes back a long way.

Nigeria and Gambia unite for common tourism policies

The Gambia and Nigeria are set to improve collaboration in tourism with a view to bolstering tourist arrivals in both countries. The two countries on Tuesday agreed to strengthen bilateral tourism agreement, according to Mrs. Angela Colley-Iheme, the Gambia High Commissioner to Nigeria, at the ongoing 8th edition of "Akwaaba African Travel Market" in Lagos.

She said that strengthening the bilateral agreement would deepen tourism relations between both countries. "I am married to a Nigerian and that is why we are interested in the brotherhood relationship. We have been doing tourism for 65 years. Our Gambia Tourism Board is in Nigeria to promote tourism and also they (the Board) are here to tap the tourism potential of Nigeria," she said.

According to her, the visit by the Board was to exchange ideas on how both countries could market their tourism potential as preferred tourist destinations among African countries. "Gambia's relations with Nigeria is one of deep friendship, a strong partnership and a united determination to grow tourist arrivals not only to the two destinations but to the entire African region," she said.

Iheme disclosed that the Gambia government had concluded plans to establish an airline called Gambia Bird that would fly into Nigeria. She called for the promotion of regional tourism in Africa, saying that this would help strengthen tourism in the continent.

Iheme canvassed for patronage of recreational centres, saying that visiting such places was a source of natural therapy. "Visiting beaches, parks, and other recreation centres is a source of natural therapy," she said

Greek coin exhibition in Geneva

Twenty centuries of history are on display at the exhibition "Words and coins: From Ancient Greece to Byzantium" currently running at the Martin Bodmer Foundation in Geneva, organised jointly with Athens' Benaki Museum.

The exhibition is enriched with material from the Numismatic Collection of the private public benefit foundation KIKPE (Welfare Foundation for Social and Cultural Affairs) on loan to the Benaki Museum.

The exhibition invites visitors on a journey through space and time. The display features coins that portray twenty centuries of history, spanning the 5th century BC to the 15th century AD – from the 'invention' of democracy in Greece, to the glory and decline of Byzantium.

The exhibition will run through March 17, 2013.


Prehistoric Site Found In Central Greece


Excavations near the villages of Vardali and Neo Monastiri in Fthiotida prefecture, central Greece, unearthed a 6.6-meter-tall hill that covers a space of roughly 4 hectares, regarded as one of the largest manmade hills in Greece.

The important and impressively preserved archaeological site of Koutroulou Magoula, where the discoveries were made, was inhabited during the Mid Neolithic Period (c. 5800-5300 BC)

Athenaeum Intercontinental Inaugurates 2 Function Rooms

Athenaeum InterContinental recently inaugurated two new spaces for civic and social functions on the sixth floor of the hotel. Designed according to the highest standards of quality and esthetics, the Acropolis Terrace and the Acropolis Boardroom, constitute an ideal selection for events of certain importance.

With total capacity of 600 square meters and the most breathtaking view of the city, the Acropolis Terrace is the ultimate space for a buffet or set menu luncheon during the day, as well as a reception or a proper dinner with the fully lit Acropolis as the background.

Adjacent to the Acropolis Terrace, the Boardroom’s diffused natural light is distinguished for its abstract scheme, its discerning furnishing and its fashionable acoustic and optic equipment. The incomparable view of Athens that the boardroom provides a seal of  success to every professional event held there.


Timberlake and Biel boost tourism in Tanzania

TANZANIA is becoming an increasingly popular destination for world's top celebrities following the arrival in the country of a new couple Justin Timberlake and
Jessica Biel for honeymoon.


They arrived at the Kilimanjaro International airport two days after their nuptials. Justin and Jessica had tied the knot in a romantic week-long extravaganza at the Borgo Egnaza resort in Southern Italy two weeks earlier.

Newly-released shots show the newlyweds who opted to honeymoon in the Tanzanian wildlife as they left their private plane and for a helicopter that transported them to the reserve of Singita Grumeti in the world-famous Serengeti Park. Justin and Jessica reportedly stayed at the luxurious Sasakwa Lodge.

The lovebirds are believed to have enjoyed adventurous game drives with professional guides and a picturesque hot air balloon safari across the sprawling plains of the Serengeti. Five days later, the famous couple continued their honeymoon at the riverside Faru-Faru Lodges in the same 350,000-acre preserve, before boarding a private plane heading for yet another exotic location. Tanzania seems to be one of Biel's favorite tour destinations.

She visited Tanzania back in 2010 when she scaled the 19,341 peak of Mount Kilimanjaro after a week-long charity climb alongside Emile Hirsch, Isabel Lucas, Santigold, and Lupe Fiasco for the global clean water crisis.

It's the first marriage for the twosome, who were engaged for 10 months after Justin proposed to Jessica in Big Sky, Montana with a custom-designed ring last December. Celebrity guests of the destination wedding included SNL's Andy Samberg, music producer Timberland and Jessica's 7th Heaven co-star Beverly Mitchell.

Samos archaeological site promotion proposal


Minor functional interventions needed at the Ancient Theatre of Pythagoreio on Samos island in order to develop it and keep it functional have been proposed by president of the DIAZOMA Association(Citizens for the Ancient Theatres) and former minister Stavros Benos, who together with noted archaeologist Petros Themelis visited the theatre and the archaeological site's protection zone of archaeological finds.

The two officials said they were impressed by the finds, which they said are of great archaeological value, and proposed the immediate creation of a coffer to collect 30 percent of the money needed for the research and restoration work.

The works will include the showcasing of the ancient quarries, which according to professor Themelis are similar only to those at the archaeological site of Syracuse in Italy, the burial monuments of inestimable value and of the mosaics.


Thessaloniki one of National Geographic’s 20 best places to visit 

The northern port city of Thessaloniki is among the 20 "must-see" places in the world for 2013, according to National Geographic, confirming
 its international reputation.

“Thessaloniki’s sparkling harbor is almost empty - a good thing. It remains one of the last urban seafronts in southern Europe not hemmed in by a giant marina. Instead, wooden caiques still ply the quiet bay while footpaths trace the meandering waterfront of Greece’s second largest city, some 320 miles north - and a world away - from chaotic Athens,” National Geographic noted.

It referred to the century-old street markets of the metropolis, characterising them as the city’s trademarks “tucked between relics of Byzantine and Ottoman antiquity, art galleries, bohemian nightclubs, and culinary hot spots, all part of a grassroots vision turned reality by Thessaloniki’s large (about 50 percent of the population) do-it-yourself youth culture”.

“We are driven by our optimism and positive energy for a new way of living that embraces our heritage,” says Vicky Papadimitriou, a university graduate who helped Thessaloniki gain official status as the
 2014 European Youth Capital.

National Geographic’s 20 best places in the world to visit include Crimea, Marseilles, Ravenna, the ancient city of Gerasa in Jordan, Bodo in Norway, Valparaiso in Chile, Kyoto in Japan, Malawi and Uganda, among others. 

Bali villages to turn into elderly tourist paradise

Several retirement villages will be developed in Kintamani resort area in Bangli regency, Pancasari near Bedugul and Gerokgak in Buleleng regency, Tulamben in Karangasem regency and Perancak in Jembrana regency.


Bali welcomed 2.89 million foreign visitors in 2011, many of whom were retirees from Japan, France, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.

Ida Bagus Made Parwata, head of the Bali Investment Agency, said that a number of potential investors from Abu Dhabi had shown their interest in putting money into the development of tourist facilities in Bali for older tourists.

In addition to physical facilities, the administration also plans to ease travel requirements and documentation, as well as the legalities to lease or buy properties in Bali.

To tap into this huge untapped market, the provincial administration will work with the Bali Retirement Tourism Authority (BRTA) to prepare and develop several villages in Bali as holiday and residential sites for senior visitors.

Meanwhile, head of the Research Center on Tourism and Culture at Bali’s Udayana University, Agung Suryawan Wiranatha, has frequently warned the government to adopt a more serious approach to “grey” tourism, given the strong potential this market holds for Bali.

Suryawan shared his vision for “grey” tourism, saying current immigration rules permitted tourists to stay in Bali for up to six months. These people could stay in villas and employ drivers, nurses and housemaids.

Suryawan pointed to other countries that are adopting serious plans to garner a share of the senior citizen market. Thailand, for instance, has been developing this market for the
past five years.

The Bali-based tourism academic estimates the average spend of the grey market is US$75-100 per day. “Their spending levels may be less than many tourists, but if viewed from the length of stay, which is quite long, the benefit to Bali is much larger,” Suryawan said.

Pre-classical burial site found at Faliro Delta

Pre-classical era remains of graves and funeral pyres were discovered during excavations on the site where the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre will be built, where the old horse-track stood at the Faliro Delta site in southern coastal Athens.

The findings, including clay funereal jar objects, are dated to the 7th and 6th centuries BC and were found in the area enclosed by Filippou, Evrypidou, Sachtouri Streets and Poseidonos and Syngrou Boulevard. The artifacts were transferred elsewhere and the trenches will be refilled.

The Niarchos complex is designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and will be entirely financed by the foundation, which has calculated its cost at around 566 million euros. It will include new buildings for the National Library and the National Opera House and a 42-acre park, and is expected to be
completed by 2015.

Research in 'Antikythera Wreck' area

Τhe site of the Antikythera wreck was re-established during underwater archaeological studies conducted between 1-18 October by the Underwater Antiquities Ephorate with the cooperation and technological support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the largest oceanographic institution in the US.

The studies focused on an archaeological review of the sea area of Antikythera island and the location of antiquities as well as the substantiation and re-establishment of the precise site of the famous 'Antikythera Wreck'.

Intact and broken amphorae were found as well as ceramic items, as well as sections of the vessel's lead anchor, impressive that are indicative of how
 the ship sank.

The wreck of the ancient cargo ship was discovered off Antikythera Island at a depth of 42 m (138 ft) before Easter 1900, by Elias Stadiatis,
a Greek sponge diver.

Greek Wines in Canada

Greece is very excited to start a promotional campaign in Canada next spring in conjunction with the SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec). “We believe there is a big potential for Greek wine in the Quebec market and I think that this promotion will be a turning point for us in Quebec”, notes Sofia Perpera, Director of the Greek Wine Bureau of North America.

And Sofia isn’t just saying that, as there is a strong old-world connection between Greece and Quebec due to the large number of French-trained, Greek winemakers that have returned to Greece to use their classical training to bring new life to Greek indigenous varieties. It’s these native Greek varieties that have been gaining the attention of trade and consumers around the world and the SAQ will be doing their part to help establish the category
 of Greek wine in Quebec.



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