Πέμπτη, 25 Ιουνίου 2020

What It’s Really Like Traveling to Greece Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Flying to Greece from the United States in the Summer of 2020 during the Covid-19 era may sound like a frightening and unsettling Odyssey, much like the original trip undertaken in ancient Greece, but the breathtaking beauty of the final destination will be more than enough compensation.
Still, as Greek Reporter’s Anastasios Papapostolou discovered while flying last week from Newark’s Liberty International Airport to Athens via Switzerland, the overall traveling experience might be more tiresome or difficult than before, but if you are not in a high-risk group it may be worth it.
A mother of two from New York said her family is relocating to Greece for the near future. “Given that the situation in New York is bad and because we think it will not change much in the near future, we decided to make the move,” she tells Greek Reporter.
Another passenger, a mother of a Greek teacher in New York City who went to visit her daughter in March, and was stranded there because of travel cancellations, said “I hope to reach Greece by tomorrow, as my previous two flights were canceled.”
Most shops were shuttered at the Newark airport. “All restaurants, coffee shops and duty-free outlets are closed,” another Greek passenger, a resident of NYC, complained.
All passengers were making liberal use of hand sanitizer and were wearing masks and there was minimal contact with airport staff at the departing gate.
During the overnight flight, before they landed at Zurich International Airport, passengers were handed out a form to fill in where they were asked questions regarding their health history and whether or not they had been infected by Covid-19.

The Greek summer and its many beauties remain the same. Photo: Anastasios Papapostolou / Greek Reporter

After changing aircraft, they then began their flight to their final destination of Athens — and new forms were handed out to passengers to be filled in before they landed in the Greek capital.
Upon landing and entering the main terminal building, passengers underwent Covid-19 testing. The testing process, which takes less than twenty minutes, requires a saliva sample taken from the traveler.
The next day, when everyone hopefully receives their negative results, they are free to enjoy Greece.
The following is the most recently released list of rules for air passengers, as determined by Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Between June 15th-30th
International flights are allowed into Athens and Thessaloniki airports (however, there will be a continuation of the ban on flights from the United Kingdom and Turkey).
Arrivals to Athens Airport: If you originate from an EU + airport on the EASA affected area list or from Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Albania and North Macedonia, then you will be tested upon arrival.
An overnight stay, either at a designated hotel or at a hotel/residence of choice in Athens is then required. If the test is negative, the visitor is then free to travel to their final destination. If the test is positive, the visitor is quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
If your travel originated from all other airports, then you are only subject to random testing upon arrival.
Upon being tested, those visitors are free to travel to their final destination. If the test is positive, however, the visitor will then be quarantined under supervision for 14 days.
Arrivals to Thessaloniki Airport: All visitors will be tested upon arrival. An overnight stay either at a designated hotel or at a hotel/residence of choice in Thessaloniki is required.
July 1 and onward
International flights will be allowed into all airports in Greece.
Additional restrictions on non-essential travel from non-EU countries may be applicable, pending guidance from the European Union.

Δευτέρα, 8 Ιουνίου 2020

Greece Ready to Welcome Tourists from 29 Countries From June 15

Editor’s Note: The guidelines on who and when can travel to Greece have been changed and are described in detail here: Greece Opens to All Tourists Regardless of Nationality on June 15
Greece’s ministry of Tourism announced on Friday a list of 29 countries which it claims are relatively safe from the coronavirus and can send tourists to Greece starting on June 15.
The list is as follows:
  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
The Greek government will consider lifting the ban on citizens of other countries based on what it considers the success of pandemic control in each nation. Authorities say that the list of 29 countries will be expanded on or after July 1.
Currently, flights from the USA, UK, Russia, Italy, Spain, France and Brazil into Greece are banned.
Random coronavirus tests will be administered to arriving air passengers upon landing in Greece.

Τετάρτη, 20 Μαΐου 2020

Greece aims at post-COVID-19 tourism jumpstart

ATHENS – Still hoping to salvage a summer season with the gradual lifting of the COVID-19 Coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis set a target date of July 1 for tourism to start.

That depends on whether there's any resurgence of the virus and how other countries deal with the easing of the pandemic, Mitsotakis having said while Greece will have strict health protocols that visitors should be checked before departures.

Speaking to some 500 executives and analysts of the Boston Consulting Group, via teleconference, Mitsotakis said the challenge for the tourism sector in Greece during the current, pandemic-battered year, is to acquire a bigger share of a much smaller "market pie” this year, said Kathimerini.

He also promised that a privatization program will go on and said there's more than ever a need for more investment in a "green economy" although critics said his New Democracy government wants to allow more development.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said letting organized beaches to reopen May 16 when a heatwave predicted to bring temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will be an “important test” as to whether social distancing requirements will be followed.

“Everyone is watching Greece because, so far, it has shown an exemplary response to the pandemic. Now we are called upon to demonstrate that, with rules and maturity, we can enjoy the beauty of our country safe during this summer,” he said.

This will be the best way to restarting domestic, but also foreign tourism, he added as beach clubs that violate the requirements to keep umbrellas and chaise lounges at least four meters (13.12 feet) apart will face heavy fines and could be closed.

A government plan on transportation, including for airlines, is due to be released on May 15 and will detail health protocols required for air, shipping and road transport, so that both travelers and businesses know the new rules, he said.

Tourism is the country's biggest revenue engine and brings in as much as 18-20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 185.29 billion euros ($200.3 billion,) needed more than ever this year.

Read more at thenationalherald.com

Κυριακή, 15 Μαρτίου 2020

This is Sparta! Gerard Butler Honored in Ancient Greek City

This is Sparta! Gerard Butler Honored in Ancient Greek City

Gerard Butler poses with Roy Danalis Apostolopoulos, Honourable Ambassador of the City Of Sparta. Photo credit: roydanalisapostolopoulos, Instagram
Gerard Butler, the actor who famously portrayed King Leonidas in the Hollywood blockbuster “300,” embraced his real-life ties to the ancient Greek city of Sparta on Thursday night, when he was honored by the municipality at a special gala dinner.
The Scottish actor was seen getting animated on the dance floor as he celebrated with a number of well-heeled guests, just a day before running as a torchbearer for Sparta during Friday’s Olympic Torch relay through the region.
Butler was joined at the gala dinner by fellow actor Billy Zane, 54, who will also serve as a torchbearer. Zane is of Greek heritage; his family name of Zanetakos was anglicized to Zane by his parents.
The Scottish thespian was invited to take part in the relay as part of the celebrations for the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, on which his film was based.
The Hollywood star will forever be associated with the fierce battle cry “This is Sparta!” – a line which has become one of the more iconic in all of film history.
Speaking to Greek Reporter recently, Butler described “300” as the “most intense and enjoyable movie I ever made,” adding “It made me feel Greek!”

Κυριακή, 5 Ιανουαρίου 2020

Thessaloniki to Celebrate New Chinese “Year of the Rat” at Royal Theater

Still photo from the performance of the spectacular Chinese show. Credit: AMNA
The northern Greek city of Thessaloniki will celebrate the new Chinese “Year of the Rat” on January 6th with a performance by one of China’s major dance companies – the Chongqing Liangjiang Art Troupe – at the city’s Royal Theater.
The evening will feature amazingly-talented Chinese acrobats and jugglers as well as a ballet and works from the Beijing Opera which will transport the audience to the splendor of the Orient by immersing them into a new world of color, motion and music.
This show, called “Happy Chinese New Year,” will mark the fourth time that the noted dance company has visited Greece’s second-largest city.
The show representing Beijing constitutes an example of the depth of the cultural interaction between Greece and China in the context of Greek-Chinese cultural exchange in recent years.
As part of their New Year traditions, Chinese people wear new clothes on that day to symbolize a new start and fresh hopes for the coming year. Their lucky color is red, which represents optimism and a festive attitude, according to ancient tradition.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stefanos Tsitsipas Among Top 20 European Athletes for 2019

Greek athletes Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stefanos Tsitsipas were included on the list of the top 20 European athletes for 2019, as compiled by sportswriters from the European press agencies.
The winner of the award for the best European sportsman/sportswoman for 2019 is Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton from Great Britain. Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal took second place, and Austrian alpine ski racer Marcel Hirscher came in third.
The Greek Freak took ninth place, with 46 votes, while young tennis sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas came in twentieth, with 17 nods.
A total of twenty-six press agencies took part in the poll, including AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE (France), AGERPRES (Romania), ANADOLU AJANSI (Turkey), ANP (Netherlands), ANSA (Italy), APA (Austria), ATHENS NEWS AGENCY (Greece), BELGA (Belgium), BTA (Bulgaria), CTK (Czech Republic), DPA (Germany), EFE (Spain), ELTA (Lithuania), HINA (Croatia), LUSA (Portugal), MNA (Malta), MOLDPRES (Moldova), MTI (Hungary), SID (Germany), STA (Slovenia), STT (Finland), TANJUG (Serbia), TASR (Slovakia), TASS (Russia), UKRINFORM (Ukraine) and PAP (Poland).
The list of the top 20 European athletes for 2019 is as follows:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) – Formula 1, 151 points.
2. Rafael Nadal (Spain) – tennis, 140
3. Marcel Hirscher (Austria) – alpine skiing, 76
4. Novak Djokovic (Serbia) – tennis, 71
5. Sifan Hassan (Holland) – track and field, 69
6. Virgil van Dijk (Holland) – football, 61
7. Karsten Warholm (Norway) – track and field, 47
– Marc Marquez (Spain) – motoGP, 47
9. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) – basketball, 46
10. Johannes Tingnes Boe (Norway) – biathlon, 44
11. Therese Johaug (Norway) – Nordic skiing, 43
12. Dina Asher-Smith (Great Britain) – track and field, 32
13. Katinka Hosszu (Hungary) – swimming, 31
14. Mariya Lasickiene (Russia) – track and field, 27
15. (Tie) Adam Peaty (Great Britain) – swimming, 22
– Luka Doncic (Slovenia) – basketball, 22
– Johannes Klaebo (Norway) – Nordic skiing, 22
18. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – football, 19
19. Niklas Kaul (Germany) – track and field, 18
20. Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) – tennis, 17

News from Greece

Τετάρτη, 1 Ιανουαρίου 2020

Nymphaio, The Fairy-Tale Village of Northern Greece (video)

Nymphaio is a beautiful village located just outside Florina in West Macedonia, Greece. It has been often included on lists of the “Ten Most Beautiful Villages of Europe” in travel guides. It has also won UNESCO’s “Melina Mercouri International Prize” for its excellent management of the area’s cultural heritage and the surrounding natural environment.
Nymphaio, which lies at an altitude of 1,360 meters (4,462 feet) is nestled along the slopes of Mt. Verno (also known as Mt. Vitsi), surrounded by dense forests.
Its unique architecture, impressive mansions made of stone, stone-paved streets and the incredible natural beauty of the surrounding area captivate all visitors to Nymphaio. The village has thankfully been able to maintain its original character, as all new buildings must strictly follow traditional forms of architecture.
Vlach nomads were the first people recorded to have settled here, in the early 1300s, and the town was formerly known as Niviesta or Nevesta all the way up to 1929. Beginning in the late 17th century, the town became one of the largest silversmithing centers in the Balkans, and it remained dominant in that industry for almost three centuries.

A reconstructed traditional mansion in Nymphaio. Source: Wikipedia

The glory days of Nymphaio are reflected in the impressive stone built mansions located all around the village. Although Nymphaio was affected by outmigration in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it has been revived today by the return of its people who wanted to come back to their roots in this ancient and beautiful mountain village.
The nearby village of Zazari and Cheimaditida Lake delimit an area of exceptional natural beauty in Florina. Nymphaio is a beautiful and vibrant place which offers visitors unique experiences, but at the very same time, it is a great example of the deliberate, careful type of tourism development which has taken place in the last two decades.
The two nearby natural lakes, two of the largest in Florina, are worth visiting as they are home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals and fish as well as the ferruginous duck, which is protected as an endangered species.
Apart from its charming architecture and natural landscape, Nymphaio offers many activities for those who are lucky enough to visit. The ARCTUROS shelter, constructed by this non-governmental organization which protects brown bears, is located in a natural beech forest and is home to ten bears who formerly lived in captivity.
Another interesting place to visit is the village’s picturesque Goldsmith, Folklore and History Museum, which includes authentic local furniture, traditional tools for jewelry making, and, of course, an array of jewels.

News from Greece

Greece Aims to Open the Amphipolis Tomb to Visitors by 2022

File photo

The Greek government intends to bring forward the deadlines for completing work on the Kasta Hill Tomb in Amphipolis, Serres so that the site can have visitors from early 2022 on, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni announced on Saturday.
During a tour of the site along with Central Macedonia Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas, the culture minister noted that due to the size and layout of the tomb the monument could receive groups of five to six visitors at a time.
After the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) unanimously approved the study for restoring the tomb and its surroundings on December 17, Mendoni noted that the first phase of the work can be completed six months earlier than the original deadline, in June 2021 instead of early 2022.
The minister also underlined her determination to work tirelessly to ensure that the deadlines can be brought forward, saying that everything was ready for the work to continue without obstruction after the completion of the first phase.
Asked when the monument could open for the general public, Mendoni said that there is much that needs to be done and pointed out that it had taken 20 years for the tomb of Philip in Vergina to open to the public, though modern means can make it possible to take less time to complete necessary works at the Amphipolis site.
“I live for the day the Lion of Amphipolis will be transferred to the Kasta tomb,” the regional governor said. “That will happen too,” was the culture minister’s answer.
Architect Michalis Lefantzis, who guided the minister and the regional governor around the site, noted that 330 large slabs of marble that were structural elements of the enclosure around the Kasta hill tomb had been transferred back there from the site of the Lion of Amphipolis, where they had been stacked in order to facilitate the excavation.
The slabs have now been placed next to each other like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, waiting for their precise position in the original structure of the enclosure to be determined.
After a meeting with the excavation staff, the culture minister appeared optimistic about the rate of progress but asked them to have a university team to resume the stalled examination of the bones found on the site.

News from Greece
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