Saturday, February 27, 2010

Global Greek Families - It's Springtime - Let's Start With a Touch of Humour!

Greece is beautiful at this time of year!
Almond Trees in full bloom, Athens - Spring - February 2010 

The Greek father calls his son a couple of days before Christmas, really upset, and says, 

"Niko, I hate to ruin your day, but I must tell you that your mother and I are divorcing - forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Baba, what are you talking about?" Niko screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer, We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister Toula and let her know."

Frantic, the son calls Toula, who explodes on the phone.

"No way are my loving parents getting divorced!" she shouts.

She calls her Dad immediately and screams at him -

"Patera, No way are you getting divorced! Don't do anything until we get there. I'm calling Niko back and we'll be there tomorrow. Do you hear me?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Endaxi, he says, they will be home for Christmas and what's more they will be paying their own way." 

That's Global Greek Families for you! 

Gotta love them !!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Global Greek Films: Μικρές Χαρές - Small Pleasures

Small Pleasures - 2008
Another excellent, beautifully made short film by Greek director Constantine Pilavios.

From the creator of 'What is That' - poignant, and sensitive, with a universal message of optimism which transgresses all language barriers, it is a wonderful example of what we Global Greeks can achieve! 

We are sure it will make you think about the meaning of life...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Global Greece: Last Chance to see El Greco Art Exhibition in New York - Until February 27, 2010

The Dormition of the Virgin (detail), before 1567, from Candia.
Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco, 1541-1614)
Syros, Ermoupolis, Holy Metropolis,
Church of the Dormition of the Virgin

The Origins of El Greco

Icon Painting in Venetian Crete

Last day this Saturday, February 27, 2010 

The Onassis Cultural Center presents an extraordinary group of 15th and 16th century paintings, including early works by El Greco.


10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Admission is free

Entrance on 51st or 52nd Street between 5th and Madison Avenues

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Global Greek Music: A Tribute to Nikos Xylouris - Sunday, 21 February 2010 at the Olympic Velodrome, Maroussi

Xylouri Fans in Athens - Don't miss this! 

Tomorrow, 21 February at 19.00, at the Olympic Velodrome, at OAKA, the Olympic Complex in Maroussi, there will be a tribute concert in memory of the legendary 'Archangel of Crete' Nikos Xylouris. 

150 artists, among them Haralambos Garganourakis, Ross Daly, Psarantoni, Psaroyianni, Loudovikos ton Anogeion, Manos Mountakis and Nikos Androulakis  along with the Athens, Kifissia and Heraklion Municipal choirs will be performing at a concert in honour of one of Crete's most famous sons - Nikos Xylouris, the legendary Cretan singer and musician. 

The concert which has been organised by the Cretan Association of Marousi and the Athens, Heraklion and Rethymnos municipalities, is directed by composer Christos Leontis who  worked with Xylouris in the past. 

Entrance is free of charge for all. 


Συναυλία στη μνήμη του Νίκου Ξυλούρη την Κυριακή στο Ποδηλατοδρόμιο του ΟΑΚΑ  

Τον Νίκο Ξυλούρη, τον σπουδαίο λυράρη, τραγουδιστή και άνθρωπο, που έφυγε πρόωρα χτυπημένος από τον καρκίνο πριν 30 χρόνια, τιμούν την Κυριακή η Ενωση Κρητών Αμαρουσίου «Ο Κρηταγενής Ζευς» και οι Νομαρχιακές Αυτοδιοικήσεις Αθηνών, Ηρακλείου και Ρεθύμνης, με μία μεγάλη συναυλία στο στο Ποδηλατοδρόμιο του ΟΑΚΑ. 

Η συναυλία ξεκινά στις 7 το απόγευμα και η είσοδος είναι ελεύθερη.

Την καλλιτεχνική διεύθυνση της συναυλίας υπογράφει ο συνθέτης Χρήστος Λεοντής.
Στη σκηνή του ποδηλατοδρομίου θα βρεθούν 150 καλλιτέχνες: Οι Χορωδίες των Δήμων Αθηναίων, Κηφισιάς, Ηρακλείου, που θα ερμηνεύσουν κομμάτια από το «Καπνισμένο Τσουκάλι» και οι Νίκος Ανδρουλάκης, Χαράλαμπος Γαργανουράκης, Ross Daly, Βασίλης Καρεφιλάκης, Λουδοβίκος των Ανωγείων, Μάνος Μουντάκης, Μίλτος Πασχαλίδης, Στέλιος Πετράκης, Μαρία Σουλτάτου, Ψαραντώνης, Ψαρογιάννης. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Global Greek Events: Capital Link's Greek Shipping Forum, Tuesday February 23rd 2010

Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel
115 Syngrou Avenue
Athens, Greece
9:15 am - 6:00 pm

"Accessing Capital in Today's Markets 
Positioning for the Rebound"

Inaugural Speaker

Mrs Louka Katseli,  
Greece's Minister of Economy, Competitiveness & Shipping

Keynote Speaker at Luncheon

Professor Costas Grammenos
Pro Vice Chancellor, City University of London

How is the current global slowdown in shipping different then previous downturns?

What are Greek ship owners doing to weather and benefit from today’s market volatility?

What steps are they taking for the future?

Will banks new lending restrictions eliminate the small ship owner?

What are the various mechanisms through which ship owners can meet their financing needs?

Greek ship owners are a major force in global shipping operating more than 20% of the global fleet. Throughout the many historical downturns, Greek ship owners have been able to manage and survive weak freight markets long enough to turn losses into profits when markets improved. This could be the reason why the shipping and investor community continue to look at the behavior of Greek ship owners during peaks and troughs as they have been able to prove the art of success in one of the most difficult to predict professions in the world.

The 2010 Greek Shipping Forum in Athens debates the current trends in the shipping, financial and capital markets and focuses on the latest capital raising methods and various alternative funding options in a tight credit market for public and private ship owners. Also, how to manage risk in today’s global and highly volatile market environment.

The Forum will also evaluate new and emerging business models by the Greek Shipowning community in response to asset value reductions and volatility in the global shipping markets.

Taking a hard look at new global investment strategies and risk, the Capital Link Shipping Forum is designed as an interactive informational and networking forum for addressing a range of current opportunities and challenges specific to the shipping community but relevant to all global financiers and investors. 

  For further information and an events schedule 

Click Here

Capital Link Forums are by invitation only and seating is limited. 

Advance registration is required as onsite registration is limited. 
Capital Link reserves the right to review and approve all attendees.

Register Now for the Forum and the Official Luncheon (Optional)  

To read more about Capital Link, Click here

Monday, February 15, 2010

Global Greece: Koulouma 2010 - Kali Kathari Deftera! Kali Sarakosti to all!

Xronia Polla everybody! Yesterday,  February 14, 2010, was a wonderful daywith most of the world celebrating something! 

Carnival Time, The last Apokria, tis Tyrinis, as well as Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year!


Valentine's Day around the world, and Greece was no exception (although the fact that it coincided with the last Apokria and Carnival Sunday meant it was unusually low key this year...)

Chinese New Year and this year, the Year of the Tiger, it was also celebrated in Athens for the first time! 

The Kathari Deftera long weekend is always a special one in Greece.

Yesterday was the last Apokria, and carnival celebrations were taking place all over Greece - Carnivals in Patra and Naoussa - and today is Kathari Deftera,  or Koulouma as it is often called, the official beginning  of the 40 day fasting period of Lent, Sarakosti. Traditionally everyone is out in the open flying kites!

We were no exception, we got up early and all (my husband is the cook in our family) got involved in preparing our lenten food (Sarakostiana) - this isn't a food blog, we have so many expert Greek Food bloggers that we won't even try to pretend we can cook like they do, but we do want to show you some of the traditional Koulouma fare eaten today!


....squid, prawns

Along with taramosalata and Macedonian Halva, we are now ready for the Kathari Deftera feast. (The cooking is done, you can see the end result further down) and we are off to go fly our kite...

Despite the dire predictions for rain and cold, the weekend has been beautiful and today in Athens we woke up to a brilliant blue sky and a good strong wind - ideal weather for kite flying. 

There is an incredible sense of freedom in kite-flying, it is almost as if we are flying ourselves ,  reminding us of that wonderful song from Mary Poppins....

With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You're a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Let's go fly a kite!

When you send it flyin' up there
All at once you're lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze
Over houses and trees
With your first holding tight
To the string of your kite

It was great to see so many families with children enjoying the good weather out in the open - in Athens there were kites flying everywhere, from Kifissia to Piraeus, a wonderful sight indeed.The Public Power Corporation, DEH, wasn't very happy however, as quite a few kites got caught tangled up in the power lines, resulting in power outtages of several hours in some instances...

We managed to get our Pinochio hexagonal kite up and soaring - with a little help from our friends!

That's our kite  - the top dot!

We even helped to launch this one too!

By this stage we were pretty hungry so went back to enjoy the lunch we had prepared before we left!

Here are a few of the dishes in their completed state

Mydia (mussels) kapama, Octopus krasato with red peppers , Taramosalata

Beetroot, bulbs and leaves - make a delicious salad

Prawns with a delicate olive oil and lemon sauce

And,  of course, the Piece de Resistance, the star of the day...

...the famous Lagana! 
(someone couldn't resist taking a bite out of it on the way back from the bakery!)

Kali Kathari Deftera! 

Kali Sarakosti everyone!

Καλή Σαρακοστή!

For great Sarakostiana recipes visit 
Maria Verivaki's Organically Cooked, or Kalofagas' Greek Food and Beyond

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Global Greek Families: For Athanasios and Panayiota Tsakiris, Vancouver 2010 is a Family Affair!

 Panagiota and Athanasios Tsakiris
(Photo Source: Sport in Greece)

Greece is set to carve itself a little bit of history at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver which get underway tomorrow Friday when father-daughter duo Athanasios and Panagiota Tsakiris compete at the same Winter Olympics for the first time ever. Sport In Greece's Graham Wood caught up with the remarkable pair. 

Greece may not be troubling the medals table at this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver but two parts of their small, seven-strong team are guaranteed to make history when the Games get underway on February 12. 

For Athanasios and Panagiota Tsakiris, their presence at the 21st Winter Olympiad doesn't just represent a remarkable achievement in sporting terms, but it also signifies an extra special family moment, not to mention an unprecedented record.

This is because the father and daughter combination will become the first such pair to compete at the same Olympics together, a feat which ensures them a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

It is a story which has captured the imagination of the Greek media, and for once has propelled a sport other that football and basketball into the spotlight in the build up to winter sports' biggest showpiece. 

And rightly so. 

Vancouver 2010 will be the fifth Winter Olympics for record man Athanasios, who at 45 has competed over 600 times in international competitions as a member of the Greek ski team.

Back after an eight-year break, the biathlon and cross-country specialist now heads to Canada with his 19-year-old daughter Panagiota, who will be competing in the Biathlon. 

"It's my second Winter Olympics but this time I'm with my dad and I'm very excited," Panagiota told

"Even though it doesn't seem strange or unique to me [to be competing next to her father], when I do think about the fact that it's the Olympics it is very special." 

Indeed, being a daughter and fellow athlete to her father is nothing new to the ambitious young Physical Education student from Drama, as they are together 24/7. 

"To have my father competing next to me has become kind of a routine to be honest because over the past few years we are together all day, every day, living and training together as well as competing." 

"He has more experience than any Greek winter sports athlete and helps me so much as a coach. For me this also plays an important role psychologically because he knows me so well. 

"So really I have the ideal co-athlete and coach in one - and when you have chosen such a high target to go for the Olympic dream, you can't have a relaxed coach next to you."

For his part, Athanasios, who admits to having practiced on roller-skates in supermarket car parks, will carry the Greek flag at the opening ceremony, before competing in both biathlon and cross-country events. He admitted the lure of competing with his daughter was a key factor in him making a comeback.

"The fact I came back was mainly because I love the sport so much and I also wanted the chance to compete with my daughter," he said. (Read full article at SportInGreece )
Panagiota and Athanasios, on behalf of everyone in our Global Greek World, we wish you every success! 

Καλή Επιτυχία!!!

Global Greek Families: Who Would Ever Imagine This scenario? Bobby, Chris and Kelsie +RIP+

Imagine you are a parent with teenage children. 


Imagine your kids have gone out with friends. 

OK, we worry but maybe not excessively. Being Greek parents, we probably worry a bit more than most but they're good kids so we trust them...

Imagine you have gone to sleep thinking all is well in the world. 


Imagine waking up to find out from Facebook, (yes you read correctly, Facebook, the site we all love to visit to catch up with our friends) that your loved one has been killed in one of the worst car accidents that your area has had, along with two other friends?


That's the only way we can describe what happened to one of our Global Greek families living in Sydney this week, and our hearts go out to them all - to Bobby's family, to Chris' and to Kelsie's. May God give them strength...

Here is the story as posted on Australian news: To read the whole article click here

WHEN Angela and Maryanne Vourlis woke up yesterday, their 20th birthday, they logged on to Facebook expecting to read well wishes and greetings from friends.

Horrifically, the twins were confronted with the devastating news their brother Bobby, 17, had been killed in a triple-fatal accident, The Daily Telegraph reports.

He and two friends died when the car they were in crashed in heavy rain in Sydney early yesterday.

"I didn't get it. All these people were writing, 'RIP Chris Naylor' and 'RIP Bobby', and I thought: `What's going on?'," Angela said.

Desperate for reassurance there was a mistake, she tried over and over to ring her brother.

"I kept ringing and messaging but couldn't get on to him. So I rang Mum and said: 'Chris Naylor must have died - I just read it on Facebook. But where's Bobby?

"People are writing 'RIP Bobby' too.

"Mum said 'Bobby was with Chris Naylor last night'."

Online social networking had delivered the mother and daughter the worst possible news.

Heartbreakingly, a police delay in notifying the family meant Mrs Vourlis had to ring St Marys police to ask about her son's death - almost six hours after he had been killed.

Bobby's uncle Peter Matelis said it beggared belief that police had not contacted the family immediately after the accident.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare to lose a child in a car accident, but to have to hear it on Facebook, then have to chase up the police yourself, is just horrifying," Mr Matelis said.

And that is it - in a nutshell...

It's every parent's worst nightmare to lose a child in a car accident, but to have to hear it on Facebook, then have to chase up the police yourself, is just horrifying

How very tragic! Sometimes life is so much more horrifying than any terror story we could make up.

Our question here though is not going to touch on the details of why the family wasn't informed earlier than they were or try to apportion blame for the accident, that is for other people and institutions to do, our question here is what is happening to our world?

What is it about the way society is going that the first thing we do is grab our iPhone, sit down at our laptop, or at our PC, to express our condolences or our feelings, or to post something about such a tragic event.

What is it about the way our society is going that the young person or people who wrote this in their status ( on their wall, their page, or whatever, it doesn't really matter),  didn't even think about the fact that the family of those involved might not yet know the news and the devastating effect it might have on them. 

Is it a lack of consideration, a lack of thinking ahead, a lack of common sense that prompted this or was it just a desire to express sadness, a natural desire to communicate the sad news and discuss it with someone?  

Totally natural you will say. Of course, most of us feel the need to discuss such a terrible event, or even a happy event,  anything that has touched us, with someone close to us - generally our family and our friends. 

What happens though when we only talk to our friends via the internet? 

What happens if, instead of turning to the person next to us and talking about it without anyone else hearing, like everything else we do we put it on our Facebook, Twitter or any other such site, and open it up, potentially, for the whole world to see, without a second thought, not thinking about the possible consequences of our actions.

When used correctly the amazing and generally beneficial effects of globalisation and the internet have been positive, such as the street protests in Iran, but it is not the first time that the internet has been used in an abusive fashion, early last year a young woman had her wedding photos accompanied by malicious comments sent to thousands of people around the world ...unknown to her... by someone who was obviously not a friend. Strangely enough, the young woman is Greek Australian...Daily Telegraph

For Bobby , Chris and Kelsie  and their families it is too late unfortunately.

Let us hope, however, that this horrible crash in Sydney that so sadly, needlessly and prematurely deprived three teenagers of their lives, will make us all sit back and think about how we see Facebook, Twitter and other such sites.

Perhaps it will make us all think long and hard before we post something that could have devastating effects on those concerned. 

Perhaps it will just make us think before we post. 

We hope so...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Global Greeks: The Immortal Nikos Xylouris - 'Εβαλε ο Θεός Σημάδι Παλικαρι στα Σφακιά ...

 Nikos Xylouris - The Archangel of Crete

30 years ago today God took his archangel, Niko Xylouris, the Archangel of Crete as he was called, to his side, leaving all of us in the Global Greek World infinitely poorer yet somehow also infinitely richer ...

Έβαλε ο Θεός σημάδι
παλικάρι στα Σφακιά
κι ο πατέρας του στον Άδη
άκουσε μια τουφεκιά.
Της γενιάς μου βασιλιά,
μην κατέβεις τα σκαλιά.
Πιές αθάνατο νερό
να νικήσεις τον καιρό.
Έβαλε ο Θεός σημάδι
παλικάρι στα Σφακιά
κι η μανούλα του στον Άδη
τράβηξε μια χαρακιά.
Της καρδιάς μου βασιλιά
με τον ήλιο στα μαλλιά,
μην περνάς τη χαρακιά
η ζωή είναι πιο γλυκιά...

His brilliant and almost prophetic "Evale o Theos Simadi" is the song that is especially associated with him - a particularly poignant and evocative song,

Έβαλε ο Θεός σημάδι παλικάρι στα Σφακιά κι ο πατέρας του στον Άδη άκουσε μια τουφεκιά...

God aimed at a valiant young man from Sfakia, and his father in Hades heard the shot of the rifle...

It speaks of a young man who has been 'chosen' by God but whose parents,  already in Hades, try to prevent him from taking those dreaded steps down to the Underworld to join them...  A beautiful song  indeed from composer Stavros Xarhakos and poet Nikos Gatsos.

About Nikos Xylouris

Nikos Xylouris was born on the 7th of July 1936 in Anoghia,  on the island of Crete to a family steeped in traditional music. In 1941 his family fled Anoghia  for the village of Mylopotamos after the Germans burned his village and  returned after Crete was liberated. His talent shone early, and he sang and played the mandolin with his friend Giorgi Kalomoiri. He later learnt to play the Cretan Lyra, and started to tour the villages and towns to play at festivals, weddings and baptisms.

Still in his teens, at the age of 17,  he began performing in a club called  Kastro in Heraklion. It wasn't easy for him  and very different from what he expected, just making enough money to meet his needs.

"In the city, the people were dancing tango, waltz, rumba, samba and we were obliged to learn those tunes so as to play them at feasts and festivals, in order to earn our living but also to make people get used to and gradually develop a love for Cretan music ..." he said later in one of his interviews.

At one of those dances he met and later married his beloved Ourania, daughter of a prosperous family of Heraklion, and in November of 1958 he recorded his first 78, Mia Mavrofora Otan Perna - for which he received 150 drachmas!  In 1960, their first child , a son, Yiorgos was born and 6 years later, their second, a daughter, they named Rinio. Again it wasn't easy, times were tough…

At the time, in Crete, there were two schools of traditional Lyra players, those with Mountaki (Mountakikoi) and those with Skordalo (Skordalikoi). Xylouris was somewhere in between, but with the added advantage of having a distinctive voice that he could adapt to vastly diverse music styles...he could sing everything, from the traditional Cretan Rizitika to the modern songs that were being sung around Greece. He spent several months in Athens in 1964 and in 1966 left Greece to participate in the San Remo Folk Festival, eventually winning the first prize!

Between 1967 and 1969 Xylouris played at various music clubs in Heraklion - Erotokritos, Zamania, and Oasis to name a few - with people flocking from near and far to listen to his magical Lyra and his tremendously expressive voice. In February of 1969,  he recorded Anyfantou, a song that started him on his journey to the top... He moved to Athens to sing in a traditional Cretan music club  the Konaki, which still exists today,  where he met poet Errikos Thalassinos and who, recognising his talent, introduced him to celebrated composer and fellow Cretan,  Yiannis Markopoulos.

Xylouris signed up with Columbia and collaborated extensively with Markopoulos, starting with  Chroniko, a wonderful group of songs that combined traditional and modern musical styles.

This was a troubled period in Greece. The military junta was in power and the people at all levels were resisting the dictatorship. The voice of Xylouris, whether singing Markopoulos' music or the folk songs of Crete, became synonymous with that resistance.

In the summer of 1973, Xylouris, along with Tzeni Karezi and Kostas Kazakos performed Iakovos Kambanellis' now legendary To Megalo Mas Tsirko - Our Great Circus -  at the Athinaion Theatre.

Songs and the dialogue officially referred to Greece’s recent history but were in fact cleverly disguised, satirising and criticising politicians and political events and expressing sentiments which were forbidden in the very tense political climate of that period. 

Emotions and passions ran high - the songs signalled rebellion! As the word about this 'resistance' theatre went round, people flocked in to hear them and they played to a packed theater every single night. The Polytechnic student uprising followed in November of the same year and Xylouris' presence inside the Polytechnic was catalytic, rallying the students and the people who gathered outside the gates with the depth and the power of his distinctive voice ...

His song Pote Tha Kanei Xasteria, was a call to battle, a rally to resistance against the Junta and the 7 year old dictatorship...

After the fall of the Military Junta, Xylouris went on to make major recordings in collaboration with some of Greece's most talented artists, composers and poets

Ithageneia and Stratis Thalassinos with Yiannis Markopoulos

Dionyse Kalokairi Mas and Syllogi with Stavros Xarhakos


Tropikos tis Parthenou and Akolouthia with Christodoulos Chalaris and
Kapnismeno Tsoukali with Christos Leondis, lyrics by Yiannis Ritsos.

At the same time, he recorded the Antipolemika songs by Linos Kokotos and Dimitris Christodoulou

as well as George Seferis’ poetry set to music by Ilias Andriopoulos.

His music travelled around the world and he gained international acclaim. So much in such a short time, as if he knew it was running out...

Between 1974 and 1979 he performed to packed houses in Athens at 'boites' like Ledra, Archontissa, Aposperida, Kyttaro and Themelio - interpreting many popular Cretan songs, which reflected the tremendous love for his roots, his homeland, Crete - songs such as Filentem, Pramateftis, and Argalio.

His repertoire was very diverse and he was equally at ease singing Rizitika, from the mountains of Crete as he was singing some of the most beautiful byzantine hymns.  I Zoi en Tafo, which you can watch below, is one of the most beautiful lamentations of the Greek Orthodox Good Friday service, and showcases the incredible purity of his voice.

Thirty years ago today, on 8th February 1980, at the age of 44, Nikos Xylouris left this world after a battle with cancer...  Today we celebrate his life and the legacy he left us. His voice and his legend live on in our hearts and for that we are truly grateful.

His family continue to honour their loved one's life and memory.

His beloved Ourania and his children, Yiorgos and Rinio, run the Xylouri Store in Panepistimiou Street in downtown Athens .

His brother Psarantonis a musician in his own right continues the Xylouri family tradition with his own very personal and unique musical style.

Aionia tou i Mnimi! Athanatos! Immortal!


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