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Greek Language and Culture June 2011 OMILO Newsletter
Dear OMILO friends,
The longest day of the year is nearly there, the Greek schools finnished on June 15th, so also the summer-season can start. The OMILO teachers tasted already a bit of summer during the intensive May course on the island of Syros. But now the summer will really start with more courses on the island of Andros (26/6-8/7) and in the island of Syros (July, September). Being on an island and staying in small villages always gives a special summer feeling. Of course the weather has to be good as well! Surprisingly enough, the months of April and May were very “cloudy”! This is very good for the Greek nature, the forests, the agriculture and the many flowers around…..but the summer should be a bit “less cloudy”, in order to enjoy that fresh dive into the blue sea and drinking the icecold frappe on the beach… We are sure the sun will be soon joining us again, and hopefully the forest could absorb enough water the last months in order to avoid any forest fires this year. We are optimistic!

In this Newsletter we will write about :
1. Amazing Athens 2. The Olympia Odos under construction! 3. Wasted youth 4. The Greek reality? 5. Get to know the cheeses of Greece ! Before you start reading this Newsletter, just one general note: The Newsletters is written “slowlyslowly”, over a period of 2 months. It brings “general news” and is not meant to cover the latest political issues. Therefor, in this Newsletter you will not find news about the latest protests in Athens, something you probably all see on television in your countries. We got many emails form ex-students with their concerns about the OMILO staff living in Athens and Greece. Our answer: We are all very fine and looking forward to our summer courses in Andros and Syros. All the

courses are very well booked. The media broadcasting all the troubles in Athens, is limited to about 1 square and 4 streets in centre Athens! The last weeks, we have been showing the centre of Athens to family members and students on the days of the protests, without any difficulty! Where the OMILO school is located, in Maroussi, nobody would know something goes on in the centre of Athens, without having a TV! From the moment you leave Athens and you are travelling to the islands or the mainland, you will not notice any difference with other years. The only difference is that less Greeks go for holidays, but it seems that even now it was necessary to book boat tickets in advance! There are some strikes going on, bus this has been the case for the last 20 years. The best site to check strikes is www.apergia.gr Of course we will not deny that Greece is going through difficult times and is experiencing a big financial crisis. Nobody knows yet what the outcome will be, and the political news changes every day. However, those problems are not only for Greece, but for several European countries. We hope that all the Greeks will use their capabilities to support each other and their family members, so that this difficult period can be over passed. -----------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Amazing Athens!
On your way to the islands or other destinations in Greece, many of you will spend a day or more in Athens as well. For tips on what to do in Athens, you can visit our website at http://www.omilo.com/cms/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=20&Itemid=27&lang=en. Athens has changed a lot since it hosted the Olympic Games in 2004. It is a great destination for a city-trip and it has as much to offer as any other European Capital. It is paradise for theatre and music–lovers…. Only…..few people believe it and Athens unfortunately cannot get rid of its “bad name”, being a “dirty, chaotic, noisy city”!! We have written several times about the positive sides of Athens and all students that have attended our intensive courses in Athens, were pleasantly surprised to see a clean Athens Centre, organized and modern metro, beautiful museums, and nice, quite walks in centre Athens, with many pedestrian streets. Have a look at some nice photos taken in Athens Centre at http://www.omilo.com/cms/index.php? option=com_phocagallery&view=category&id=10&Itemid=52&lang=en Most Travel guides about Athens do mention in their latest editions the several positive changes in Athens, but few mention the new developed areas in Athens, the nice restaurants, the beautiful walks, etc…. We therefore were very happy to finally find a positive note about Athens from a writer of “travel books”. Here below some words of Rick Steves

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I used to think of Athens as a big, ugly city with obligatory ancient sights, fine museums, the Plaka (an extremely touristy old quarter), and not much else. "The joy of Greece is outside of Athens," I wrote. "See the museums and scram." But while updating my guidebook last summer, I enjoyed the city more than ever before. I discovered a place that's getting its act together, despite Greece's economic crisis. I had a great experience, even though it was the worst time of year for a visit. It was very hot -- and since it was mid-August, most Athenians were gone, finding relief on the beach. Still, there was an energy in Athens that made me want to come back… By Rick Steves I visited Exarchia, which is sometimes called the "New Berlin," a student district just a short walk from Athens' Omonia Square. This is the home of the anarchists who are the firepower behind Athens' street protests, a place covered in colorful graffiti, making it defiant, artsy and full of life. With its penchant for riots and protests, Exarchia may feel less secure than other Athens neighborhoods. For some people, this is the seedy underbelly of Athens they came to see; others can't wait to get back to the predictable souvlaki stands and leather salesmen of the Plaka. A more up-and-coming Athens neighborhood is the Psyrri district north of the Acropolis. Until recently, it was a grimy area of workshops and cottage industries, famous locally as a onetime hotbed of poets, musicians, revolutionaries and troublemakers. But now it's taking off as one of central Athens' top after-hours zones. The mix of trendy and crusty gives the area its charm. The options include slick, touristy tavernas with live traditional music; highly conceptual cafe/bars catering to cool young Athenians; and clubs with DJs or live music for partying the night away. The epicenter of the restaurant area is between two squares, Iroon and Agii Anargiri, and along the street that connects them. If you're seeking nightlife, explore the streets spinning off from this central axis. Lepeniotou Street has the most creatively themed cafe/bars, most of them mellow and colorful, and great spots to relax with a drink and to appreciate the decor. Each one has its own personality and idiosyncratic sense of style (from Lebanese to Argentinean). Wander around a bit looking for the place that suits you. Farther to the west is the Gazi neighborhood. As a center of Athens' gay community, the area has a special flamboyance and style. Residents here must be dizzy at the rapid change sweeping through what was just recently a depressed industrial zone. Towering overhead are the square, brick smokestacks of Technopolis, a complex of warehouses and brick factory buildings that now host an eclectic assortment of art exhibits, rock concerts and experimental theater. The smokestacks are illuminated in red after dark, giving an eerie impression of the neighborhood's former industrial activity. The only permanent exhibit within Technopolis is a free museum dedicated to Greek diva Maria Callas, who had her heart broken when Ari Onassis left her for Jackie Kennedy. Athens is hugely improved and filled with youthful energy. Yes, there's some economic distress, but most strikes are nuisance strikes, just a day or two here and there, and generally not prolonged. There's an upside to the downturn:

Because of the weak economy, you'll find great deals on hotel rooms and fewer crowds. Today's Athens is much more people-friendly, an urban scene of pedestrian boulevards and squares filled with benches, shade-giving trees and inviting cafes. While its drawing power will always be its classic ancient sights, take time to taste its spicy, mod neighborhoods. Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Those that do not like to explore the city by themselves, it is also possible to book “guided walks in Athens” with OMILO! Info at : http://www.omilo.com/cms/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=39&lang=en

2. The Olympia Odos under construction!
The government and private investors are discussing since March the future of Greece’s largest ongoing construction project - the 2.2 billion euro Olympia Odos motorway -

This project, which began in August 2008 and employs 2,800 people, now finds itself in trouble. Last December, the banks, which are providing 41 percent of the budget, stopped their funding after a massive hole of more than 200 million euros in the business plan emerged. Some 80 workers have already been laid off, with threats of more to come. Gilles Godard, chief executive officer of the Olympia Odos consortium, blamed the shortfall on unexpected delays in the construction as well as on the financial crisis. As the Frenchman explained, some of the delays were unavoidable, such as the discovery of important archaeological remains, some dating back more than three millennia to the Mycenaean period. But more worrying is that the Greek state still has to provide - through compulsory purchase – 40 percent of the land necessary to build the road. “The land has arrived in bits and pieces and we even get parcels where the people are still on it and

they don’t want to leave,” Godard said. Once completed, the Olympia Odos will run a length of 365km, from Elefsina outside Athens to Tsakona in Arkadia, in the Peloponnese. While Godard added that the Greek state is now promising that the remaining land will be delivered by June, the property delays and archaeology finds have already translated into the Corinth-Patra stretch being two years behind schedule. Under the original plan, the project by now should be two-thirds complete. As it stands, it’s only one third of the way there. But despite current difficulties, Godard is certain that the project can get back on track and that the road will be built. Only, the government needs to do more! Also, the Greek courts have ruled that a 25km section of the motorway near Lake Kaiafas, a European Union Natura 2000 site, must take a different route. In addition, a whole section from Patra to Kato Achaia has met with strong opposition from the regional authorities, local mayors and residents. Things will be not that easy! Crisis takes its toll USUALLY for a project like the Olympia Odos, 32 percent of the total cost of the motorway is funded through tolls. Motorists now pay to use two sections of the route: 3.10 euros on the completed ElefsinaCorinth section and the same amount to drive between Corinth and Patra, which is still under construction. However, the economic downturn has taken a massive toll on the proceeds, with traffic volume down significantly. From January 2010 to January of 2011, there is about a 20 percent drop in traffic numbers. This is huge and creates another hole in the revenues. The good news is that on the Corinth-Patra highway, once one of the deadliest in Europe, accidents have been reduced by 72 percent since his company took over its management, falling from 36 deaths in 2008 to 10 in 2010. The bad thing is that there is no FREE alternative for this route! An alternative does exist to the Olympia Odos, but it will take you twice as long (four hours) and cost you more in fuel (35 euros). IF you want to reach your destination fast, trying to avoid the tolls is not really worth it! But if you have time, there are a lot of nice mountain and sea villages as well as tavernas and cafes along this route. The alternative route also has its benefits!

3. Wasted youth
When the” International Film Festival Rotterdam” in The Netherlands selected independent Greek film Wasted Youth to open its 40th edition, no one was more surprised than the film’s production team. Ahead of its Greek release, Stephanie Bailey talks to co-writer and director Argyris Papadimitropoulos about a film described by festival director Rutger Wolfson as one that “convinces from the very first moment until the very last second”. Co-written and directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos and Jan Vogel, Wasted Youth is a production

that packs a subtle punch – so subtle you might miss the point if you’re not careful, though the end – which will not be revealed for the sake of the film - will no doubt affect everyone who watches it, for better or for worse. Shot in a fragmented, almost voyeuristic documentary-style, the film follows the lives of two central characters on a hot summer’s day in Athens; Vassilis, a middle-aged man stuck in a dead-end job, and Harris, a 16-year-old skater with a devil-may-care attitude and a penchant for skateboarding and hip hop . The two characters – along with a strong supporting cast - form a spectrum by which to observe two abstracted lives in an even more abstracted city muffled out by the sound of their mundane routines. “Vassilis’s character reflects Athens. We are going through a period where everything is kind of changing and people don’t know what is going on. But I think this goes for the rest of the world too,” Papadimitropoulos states. Yet he sees hope in Harris’ generation. “I like the fact that they are looking for influences from everywhere instead of being stuck in this nationalist Greek identity. They are freer; they open their minds and eyes and look at things in a different way.” Wasted Youth was produced without a script, and completed in the space of nine months on a shoestring budget of roughly €200,000 raised with the help of producer George Karnavas. There is something poetic about this; it takes nine months to give a life, but in the end, it only requires a fraction to end one. Making a movie can also feel the same way; after months of laboriously bringing to life a reality on film, it takes 94 minutes for it to be watched and inevitably judged,! But given the film’s content, how could 94 minutes ever sum up the realities of an entire city and all the complexities it contains and how does Papadimitropoulos feel about Wasted Youth’s Greek release? “Some people are going to find it disturbing because they don’t want to face the mirror. [The movie] reflects the reality of people’s everyday routine, but usually when you go to the movies you want to go for the fairytale, you want to go for the story - and this film lacks a story. It is not a 3-act drama. The classical narrative is deconstructed and destroyed completely. It is not an achievement, but that’s what everyday life looks like. Life is not scripted,” he says, elaborating on the fact that the film was driven mostly by improvisation, a technique that did not prove easy at the best of times. In many ways Wasted Youth is a film about choice. “The idea was not to make any iconography or to give any excuses to anybody or anything,” Papadimitropoulos explains when discussing the deeper issues within Greece that influenced the development of the story. “I’m not interested in excuses or being nice; a fact is a fact; what happens and what you do in one second will follow you for the rest of your life. It is not a call for action, but for discussion,” he insists. For more information, see www.wastedyouth.gr. If anybody of you had the chance to see this movie, let us know your opinion!

4. The Greek reality?
With the crisis going on and the future of Greece and Greeks a big question mark, many jokes and black humour is circulating through facebook and the email inboxes.... Here an example! Everybody in Greece recognizes this typical scene with public road works.... Those NOT working, from left to right: Director of Human Recources, Sales Director, Logistics Director, PR Manager, Technical Director, CEO, Project Manager, Official, Deputy HR, Personnel Director........ The only one who is working : “The idiot”! Όλοι θα θυμάστε σίγουρα αυτή την περίφημη φωτογραφία. Τα νεότερα ξέρετε ποια είναι; Τώρα που θα γίνουν περικοπές θέσεων εργασίας στο δημόσιο, ο Μαλάκας θα πάει σπίτι του... Of course you (the Greeks!) know how the story ends ; Now that in the public sector many jobs will be cut, The “idiot” will be sent home first!

5. Get to know the cheeses of Greece !
Who thinks that countries like France and The Netherlands are known for its cheeses, might be surprised how many cheeses Greece produces! Nearly every region or province in Greece, produces their typical cheese. The same story goes for the wines of Greece . Unfortunately, Greece is not organized enough to work on the international marketing of those products, and therefore only a few people are aware of the huge variation available in the cheese market! In 1996 Greece applied to the European Union for 25 traditional Greek cheeses to be included in the Protected Destination of Origin (PDO) products list. Twenty of these, listed below, were accepted and another five applications are pending. The PDO cheeses, (known as POP in Greek, for prostatevomeni onomasia proelefsis) are the following : 1. Anevato - a soft grainy white cheese made from a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk from the prefecture of Grevena and

the province of Boiou in the prefecture of Kozani 2. Batzos - a salty semihard-to-hard cheese, stored in brine that is produced in western and central Macedonia and Thessaly 3. Feta - Greece’s national cheese produced in Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Mainland Greece (Sterea Ellada), the Peloponnese and Mytilini 4. Formaela Arachovas - a semihard cheese made from sheep’s and goat’s milk, produced in the region of Arachova, Mt Parnassos 5. Galotyri - Kaseria soft, creamy cheese produced in the Epirus and Thessaly regions from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of both 6. Graviera Agrafon - produced in the mountainous regions of Agrafa (western Thessaly/ Evritania) from sheep’s milk or in combination with goat’s milk 7. Graviera Kritis - produced from sheep’s milk in Crete. When goat’s milk is added, its percentage may not exceed 20 percent of the total 8. Graviera Naxou - produced on the island of Naxos in round forms from pasteurised cow’s milk or mixtures that include a small percentage of sheep’s and goat’s milk, the total percentage of which must be under 20 percent 9. Kalathaki Limnou - a brine cheese, produced on the island of Limnos from sheep’s milk or in a combination with goat’s milk, which should not exceed 30 percent of the total 10. - produced in the regions of Macedonia and Thessaly and the prefectures of Lesvos and Xanthi from sheep’s milk or a combination with goat’s milk, which should not exceed 20 percent of the total 11. Katiki Domokou - a creamy white cheese, with a soft, slightly sour flavour produced on the Mt Orthrys plateau, in the region of Domokos, from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of both 12. Kefalograviera - produced in the regions of western Macedonia and Epirus and the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania from sheep’s milk or a combination with goat’s milk, which should not exceed 10 percent of the total 13. Kopanisti - a creamy cheese with a strong salty and peppery taste, produced in the Cyclades islands from sheep’s, cow’s or goat’s milk or a combination of these 14. Ladotyri Mytilinis - produced on the island of Lesvos from sheep’s milk or in a combination with goat’s milk, the latter not exceeding 30 percent of the total. It is stored in olive oil, which is why it is called ladotyri (oil cheese) 15. Manouri - a curd cheese produced in Thessaly, central Macedonia and western Macedonia from sheep’s milk or in combination with goat’s milk 16. Metsovone - a semihard smoked cheese produced from sheep’s, cow’s or goat’s milk or their mixtures, in the Metsovo region (Epirus) 17. Pictogala Chanion - a white table cheese produced in the prefecture of Chania, Crete, from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of both 18. San Michali - a hard yellowish cheese produced from pasteurised cow’s milk from locally grazing cows on the island of Syros 19. Sfela - a semihard brine cheese, also known as poor man’s feta, produced in the prefectures of Messinia and Lakonia from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of both 20. Xinomyzithra Kritis - a soft, creamy curd cheese that is produced in Crete from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or a combination of both In order to taste all those varieties of cheeses, in combination with the excellent Greek wines, it might be a good idea to organize a Greek Cheese and Wine evening! Let us know if you are interested! We wish you all a very nice summer season.

The OMILO team
OMILO, PO Box 61070, 15101 MAROUSSI, ATHENS Tel. (0030)210-612.28.96 email: info@omilo.com

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