Σάββατο 10 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

February 9: International Greek Language Day

After years of campaigning by academics, educators and Greeks of the diaspora, Feb. 9 has officially been declared International Greek Language Day.

Starting in 2018, the day is expected to spark off initiatives to help spread Greek language and culture worldwide.

Greek has a long and well-documented history — the longest of any Indo-European language — spanning 34 centuries.

It holds an important place in the history of the Western world and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works such as the epic poems of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Greek is also the foundational language of Western science, especially astronomy, mathematics, logic, and philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle.

The New Testament of the Christian Bible was written in Koine Greek.

Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world, the study of ancient Greek writings and society constitutes the discipline of Classics.

13 million speakers

Keeping that Roman link, it was the Greeks of Italy who were the first to propose an international day for the Greek language.

The Athens government eventually adopted the proposal and the plenary session of the Greek parliament unanimously accepted and institutionalized it.

The specific date coincides with the Commemoration Day of Greece’s national poet, Dionysios Solomos, whose lengthy poetic composition To Freedom makes up the lyrics of the Greek national anthem.

In the modern world, the Greek language has not been restricted by borders. Countless Greek words enrich other languages, culminating in the international medical terminology in which about 80 percent of the scientific terms have a Greek root.

As the official language of two EU member states, Greece and Cyprus, it is one of the 24 official languages of the European Union and by a rough estimate, is currently spoken by nearly 13.2 million people in Greece, Cyprus and the Greek diaspora around the world.
Source: greekreporter

Record arrivals from Belgium to Greece for 2017

Based on current data, Greece is the second most popular summer destination in the Belgian market.

Tourist arrivals in Greece from Belgium in 2017 broke the 10-year record. 

According to figures, for the first time, the number of visitors from the northwest European country exceeded 509,000.

In fact, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, who visited Brussels and met with officials from the Belgian tourism market, announced that the 2018 bookings were already on an upward trend.

Based on current data, Greece is the second most popular summer destination in the Belgian market.

During her visit, Mrs Kountoura inaugurated the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) stand at the Salon de Vacances exhibition in Brussels.

In the framework of the exhibition, she met with the heads of tourist groups, on issues such as the strengthening of the tourist flow, the launch of new direct flights and the promotion of Greek destinations to the public of Belgium.

From 2019, there will be a direct flight of the TUI group from Belgium to the island, while direct flights will also be available from Brussels to Kavala, and there will be seven new direct flights from Belgium to Kalamata, Chania, Kos, Mykonos, Santorini, Thessaloniki, Zakynthos in collaboration with the Thomas Cook Group and the Brussels Airways.

The Phaistos Disc reveals its secrets

The Phaistos Disc, probably dating back to the 17th century, gradually reveals its secrets.

The linguist Dr. Gareth Owens, who has been living in Crete for the past 30 years (25 working in the Technical University of Crete and the last 10 as Erasmus + coordinator), has devoted his research to decipher the disc.

In fact, in collaboration with Professor John Coleman, professor of phonetics at Oxford, he has managed to decipher the disc in a 99 percentage.

“We are reading the Phaistos disc with the vocal values of Linear B and with the help of comparative linguistics, ie comparing with other relative languages from the Indo-European language family.

Reading something, however, does not mean understanding,” Owens said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on the occasion of his speech to the National Research Foundation on Wednesday, February 7.

“The Disc of Phaistos is written in the Minoan script that records the Minoan language.

 This is the best sample of ‘Cretan hieroglyphics’, always in quotes, because it is not the writing system of ancient Egypt.

The name is wrong. The scripts of the Phaistos Disc is also Minoan Linear A,” he added.

Moreover, he noted that the sound syllables from the disc have been recorded “because I want people to hear them. Minoan is not a dead language. Knossos, Phaistos, Crete are Minoan words, as well as many still used today.”
Source: thegreekobserver

Famous mousakas

By: Tina Webb | | Greek Classics

Behold the most famous dish that combines beautiful eggplants, fragrant meat and creamy béchamel. Such a divine combination of ingredients, do try it this Sunday!

Serves: 8-10 Prep. time: 30′ Cooks in: 2h Ready in: 2:30′

6 large aubergines, cut in 1 cm slices
olive oil for frying

For the beef mince
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
700 g beef mince
1 large red onion, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 heaped tbsp tomato paste
400 g chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
5 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sugar
6 tbsp parsley finely chopped
salt, black pepper

For the béchamel
6 tbsp butter
8 tbsp flour
800 ml milk
3 eggs
1 pinch nutmeg
1 cup Kefalotyri cheese or Parmesan
salt, pepper


Step 1
Place the aubergine slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry using kitchen paper. Heat oil in a medium frying pan and fry aubergines until nicely colored on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Alternatively, brush with oil and bake in the oven, fan or grill.

Step 2
In a large pan heat oil and cook onion and garlic on medium heat until translucent and fragrant. Stir in beef mince with a spatula until it breaks down and has nicely browned. Pour in wine and when alcohol evaporates add all tomato, sugar, allspice, parsley, cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper.

Step 3
Preheat oven at 170C/fan. For the béchamel: In a medium pan heat butter and when melted add flour and stir constantly until flour changes color. Then pour in warm milk stirring at all times until you get a nice béchamel, not too runny and not too thick. Remove pan from heat and leave for 2 minutes. Add eggs stirring vigorously, then add cheese, nutmeg, a little salt and pepper.

Step 4
Line the bottom of a pan with half eggplant slices. Cover with half beef mince. Repeat with remaining eggplants and beef mince. Finish with béchamel. Bake for 1 hour or until surface has nicely browned. Leave for 30΄ before serving.

Photo George Drakopoulos – Food styling Τina Webb

Παρασκευή 12 Ιανουαρίου 2018

New US Travel Advisory Says Greece Safe Destination

Greece is among the world’s safest destinations, according to a new travel advisory system announced Wednesday, by the US State Department.

Under the four-level advisory, Greece is listed as a “level 1” country, the lowest rating calling on travelers to “exercise normal precautions”,

The new ranking system assesses security conditions for American holidaymakers to countries worldwide.

“The State Department’s new Travel Advisory Program, launched today, assigns every country a level of advice ranging from 1 to 4.  Greece received a Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions rating that should have American tourists packing their bags to come,” said the US embassy’s Athens consular section via its twitter account.

‘Pack your bags and come’

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt invited US travelers to come to Greece via his own twitter account on Wednesday: “Greece at the best level of the State Department’s new Travel Advisory Program. I’m looking forward to seeing even more American tourists here in Greece in the year ahead.”

The ambassador added that “Greece is a pillar of stability in a volatile region, and the stronger Greece is, the stronger and more secure its neighborhood will be,” in a comment to Greek daily Kathimerini titled the “Road Ahead for Greece”.
US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt.

Pyatt went on to say that 2018 will be a critical year for Greece as it is on the verge of leaving the crisis. “The good news is that the Greek economy is showing renewed signs of life.”

Underlining the “resilience and spirit of the Greek people in the face of an unprecedented economic crisis”, Pyatt stressed that “Greece’s challenge now is to pursue a path that will bring renewed prosperity to its citizens, hope to its young people, and security to the region”.

The US diplomat concluded that obstacles must be overcome including those related to privatizations and economic reforms such as the “frequent changes in the tax and regulatory regime” which “risk scaring away foreign capital at the moment when Greece is poised to move forward”.
(Source: GTP)

Psiloritis: The sacred mountain of Crete (PHOTOS)

The cradle of Zeus, the cave of Idaion Antro, has always been the reason for Psiloritis to be glorified & regarded as sacred

The stone giant of Crete, a natural border between the Earth and the Sky, dominates the whole of the island. Mountainous villages perched on the edge of a precipice; caves of unique beauty; impressing karstic formations; gorges in thick shade; plateaus and alpine areas; all that and many more make up the unbeatable scenery.

The mountain chain of Idi, also known as Psiloritis, unveils all the beauty of Crete under its snow-capped peaks: the White Mountains in the west; Mount Dikti in the east; the plain of Messara, the Asteroussia Mountains and the Libyan Sea in the south; Herakeion and Rethymno in the north.

In the Doric atmosphere of this rugged land, proud, dashing and strong men are bred to farm for a living and search for the real meaning of life in the simplicity and wisdom of nature.
Nature’s gifts

According to Herodotus, Psilorits was once covered by thick forests where all the endemic Cretan species used to live.

The largest one of the few surviving forests is situated at Gergeri near Herakleion; it is the oak forest of Rouvas, home to the rare species of the local flora and fauna, such as the Cretan wild cat. Smaller forests are situated on the plateau of Vromonero, at Kroussonas near Herakleion, and at Zaros and Pardi, near Rethymno.

The non-forested peaks are ruled by birds of prey such as the bearded vulture, the golden eagle, the falcon, and the royal eagle.

In 2001 the Psiloritis Geopark was founded and it is now part of the network of UNESCO Geoparks. Hiking on the mountain equals an ecological and geological delight in the heart of an awesome landscape.

At the shrubby foot of the mountain bloom iris and crocus flowers, along with other wild ones, that have been decorating the land of Crete since the Minoan years. Among the wonders of nature, let us mention the springs at Spili, Lake Votomos at Zaros, the gorges of Agios Nikolaos, of Vorizia, and of Almyros.

Last but not least, at the area of Zoniana there is one of the most significant caves in Greece with impressing stalactites and stalagmites, named “tou Sfendoni i Trypa”.


The cradle of Zeus, the father of Gods and humans, the cave of Idaion Antro has always been the reason for Psiloritis to be glorified and regarded as sacred.

The largest well-preserved Minoan mansion lies at the archaeological site of Zominthos.

Christianity has left its mark here too: on the peak of Timios Stavros (2.456m) the highest one of the mountain chain, stands the stone church by the same name (meaning “Holy Cross”).

Some more religious points of interest include the legendary monastery of Arkadi, as well as those of Diskourio and Chalepa.

The road to the top!

Hiking to the top will be an arduous task, especially in the winter.

Take along your equipment and sufficient water supplies (no water available after 1.500m) and brace yourselves for a long and difficult walk.

The path E4 is the best marked one starting at the plateau of Nida. Once on the peak of Timios Stavros, seek refuge in the church and enjoy the breathtaking view.


The international event Psiloritis Race will be a perfect alternative for those visiting the area next June.

What is more, you can do mountaineering, caving/spelunking, paragliding, mountain biking, and climbing, or opt for off road jeep fun.

Source: visitgreece.gr

Mediterranean Cooking: Beetroot leaves, artichoke and celeriac salad

By: Elias Mamalakis | |

Make this nutritious salad, add some fresh cheese if you like and enjoy it as a light dinner along with crusty bread.

Serves 4 Prep. Time: 15′ Cooks in: 10′ Ready in: 25′

200 g beetroot leaves, washed, dry, chopped
4 artichoke hearts, sliced
1 medium celeriac, peeled, diced

For the dressing
1 tbsp grape molasses
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp fresh pomegranate juice
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt, black pepper


Step 1
Bring 500 ml water in a small pan to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt and boil artichoke and celeriac for 7-10′. Drain and dry.

Step 2
Toss all salad ingredients in a bowl and arrange on a serving platter.

Step 3
Prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients with salt and pepper. Drizzle salad and serve.