Vegan Diet Has Deep Roots in Traditional Greek Food

Vegan diet Greek food
Timeless Greek culinary classics can go well with a vegan diet.

By Heini-Sofia Alavuo

The vegan diet, which is a huge trend across the globe, has deep roots in traditional Greek food experts say.

As people around the world become more environmentally and ethically conscious, it is no wonder that individuals want to take action.

Vegans don’t eat any animal-based products whatsoever, such as meat, dairy, honey or eggs. They also want to avoid animal exploitation in products or items, such as animal-tested make-up or leather accessories.

For many, veganism is not only about the diet but is a lifestyle that seeks to exclude all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals.

According to new scientific research, veganism is an effective way for people to reduce their environmental impact on the planet.

Greek Reporter wanted to find out to what extent Greeks have taken part in this trend.

The traditional Mediterranean diet includes a lot of vegetarian options, since meat hasn’t always been available in the past.

The over-consumption of meat is a rather new phenomenon, and mass production — especially of sheep and poultry, is only now steadily growing in Greece as well.

What is also new is that meat and dairy products are the most imported products in Greece now, due to its citizens’ growing appetites for them.

Veganism is by no means a new, trendy regimen — many religions and spiritual paths, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, encourage us to adopt a mostly plant-based diet.

And in Orthodoxy itself, its Lenten fasting period basically calls on the faithful to follow a vegan diet until the great feast of Easter.

Veganism has become a very popular lifestyle choice over the last couple of years in countries such as Germany and Finland. However, it is still such a new trend in Greece that there is no reliable data available here yet.

Vegans in Greece: “We need to rethink what we put in our bodies”

Greek Reporter talked to Vasia Ntoulia, a filmmaker in Athens, about veganism in Greece. She has been vegan for seven years, living in London and other places abroad, but is currently staying in her home country.

Ntoulia says she couldn’t imagine being vegan or vegetarian while she was living in Greece before, although she had never been a true meat lover.

“In Greece we have had, at least until recently, a Mediterranean way of eating and it is very easy to find good quality local products.”

This all changed when she moved to London. She relates, “The eating habits there were completely different from what I was used to, so I started to question many things about this issue.”

The filmmaker started searching for information and educating herself more regarding the food production and what we actually end up eating.

As she explains, “I couldn’t ignore it. My main reason for becoming vegan was the production processes of the meat and dairy industry, the environmental aspect of it and how our way of eating is not sustainable.”

When Ntoulia came back to Greece and tried to explain her new diet and lifestyle to her friends, they couldn’t really understand her. “They understood my choice in London but not back home.

“I can’t compare the production here to the one in the U.K. or U.S.A. or other parts of the world; unfortunately the globalization of the food industry has reached Greece as well,” she laments.

She points out that Greece actually saw a reduction in the availability of local products in the beginning of the 2000s due to economic development.

“We almost destroyed our agriculture — it’s funny to nowadays find tomatoes from the Netherlands, in Greece. It is just unnatural.”

Ntoulia says that the reason she talks about these things it that the whole production process is flawed at the moment. “Even if you are vegan you can still eat badly. We need to rethink what we put in our bodies in general.”

“Our steps on this earth should be soft”

So what is the vegan life in Greece like? According to Ntoulia, being vegan in Greece is easy. “We have all these amazing and tasty fruits, vegetables, legumes and seeds that you can find everywhere, usually very cheaply in contrast to other European countries.”

For her, the hard part of being vegan in Greece is not finding something to eat, but struggling with the Greeks’ attitudes towards veganism.

She believes that the most difficult thing is to change the opinion of people about veganism and make them see that being vegan is more than just eating carrots and lettuce.

Ntoulia hopes that this mentality will change soon. “I think that the fact that many tourists are vegan nowadays helps a lot, so that many new vegan spots, restaurants and bio (organic food) shops are opened.”

Athens offers many choices for local vegans, but according to her, the best place for plant-eaters is Crete. “Cretan cuisine is very plant-based, and you can find many vegetables and fruits there which you can’t find anywhere else in Greece.”

“When people ask me why I am vegan, I remember a saying I heard from an old man who was talking about nature and humans,” Ntoulia says. “He said, ‘Our steps on this earth should be soft.'”

She believes his words sum up the idea behind veganism rather well.

Greece Vows to Reopen Corinth Canal After Landslides

Corinth Canal
Credit:Jean Housen,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday visited the Corinth Canal, which has remained closed since mid-January due to landslides, where he was briefed on its repair plan.

Mitsotakis said the repairs are necessary to ensure the safe passage of ships through the channel.

“It is a very important project and we should not forget that it was built in the 19th century. The time has come now, in the 21th century, the time has come for the necessary interventions,” he said, adding that repairs will cost 9 million euros.

Corinth canal
PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis inspects works at the Corinth canal. Credit: Greek Government

Limited landslides were first recorded in 2018, but the recent slope failures in January and February this year forced the Ministry of Infrastructure to close the Canal.

The preliminary work on the studies is expected to be completed in September. Then the project will be auctioned and the preliminary works on the sides of the Canal will begin.

Corinth canal changed maritime routes

The Corinth Canal, one of the most important infrastructure works of the modern Greek State that changed maritime activity, was inaugurated on July 25, 1893.

Also known as the Isthmus of Corinth, the canal connects the Ionian and the Aegean making the passage of cargo and passenger ships between the two seas much quicker.

Construction works started in 1882 and the canal was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Sotirios Sotiropoulos, but it was envisioned and completed by his predecessor Harilaos Trikoupis whose term had ended only two months before that date.

Before the canal was built, ships from the Ionian Sea with destination Athens or the Aegean islands had to go around the Peloponnese peninsula and vice versa.

After 1893, cargo and passenger ships would only have to cross the Corinth Canal and reach their destination much quicker.

The word “isthmus” comes from the Ancient Greek word for “neck” and refers to the narrowness of the land.

Ancient Greeks attempted to build canal

The idea for a shortcut to save boats sailing all round the Peloponnese was long considered by the Ancient Greeks.

The first attempt to build a canal there was carried out by the tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC.

He abandoned the project owing to technical difficulties, and instead constructed a simpler and less costly overland stone ramp, named Diolkos, as a portage road. Remnants of Diolkos still exist today next to the modern canal.

When the Romans took control of Greece, a number of different solutions were tried. Julius Caesar foresaw the advantages of a link for his newly built Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis.

By the reign of Tiberius, engineers tried to dig a canal but were unable to make it due to a lack of modern equipment.

Instead, they used an Ancient Egyptian device: boats were rolled across the isthmus on logs, as the Egyptians had rolled blocks of granite to make their pyramids.

In 67 AD, Roman emperor Nero ordered 6,000 slaves to dig a canal with spades. Historian Flavius Josephus writes that the 6,000 slaves were Jewish pirates, taken captive by Vespasian during the Jewish wars.

According to Pliny the Elder, the work advanced four stadia (about 0.8 kilometers). The following year Nero died, and his successor Galba abandoned the project as being too expensive.

In the modern era, the idea was first seriously proposed in 1830, soon after Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Greek statesman Ioannis Kapodistrias hired a French engineer to put together a realistic project — which ended up with an estimated steep cost of 40 million gold francs — making Greece abandon the costly project once again.

Suez canal inspiration for Corinth canal

Soon after, inspired by the construction of the Suez Canal, Prime Minister Thrasyvoulos Zaimis signed a law in 1870 that authorized the engineering project of the Corinth Canal.

A French company oversaw the project that resulted in the construction phase starting and soon after ending — again due to cost issues.

The dream of the Corinth Canal would finally become a reality when in 1881, the Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe was commissioned to construct the canal and to operate it for the next 99 years.

Construction began in April 1882, however, eight years later, Greece ran out of money. This time, a Greek company stepped in and the canal was finally completed in July of 1893.

To the west of the Isthmus is the Gulf of Corinth, to the east the Saronic Gulf. Since 1893 the Corinth Canal has run through the 6.3 km wide isthmus, effectively making the Peloponnese an island.

Today, two road bridges, two railway bridges and two submersible bridges at both ends of the canal connect the mainland side of the isthmus with the Peloponnese side. Also a military emergency bridge is located at the west end of the canal.

How Lamb, Chocolate and Eggs Became Easter Traditions

easter lamb chocolate eggs
Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. Credit: Malchen53/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Around Greece, people are gearing up to celebrate Easter with friends and family. While many Greek Easter celebrations are unique to the country, there are some elements of the feast day that are shared with many cultures: lamb, chocolate and eggs.

Let’s take a look at how these three foods became Easter traditions.

Why is Lamb an Iconic Easter Dish in Greece and around the world?

Lamb easter eggs chocolate
Lamb on the spit in Greece. Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

For Christians, the tradition of eating lamb on Easter is symbolic of the sacrifice that Jesus made for them when He died on the Cross for their sins.

Pascha, or Easter, is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and eat lamb in remembrance of His selfless act.

However, lambs have had a special symbolic place in Passover observances even before the birth of Christianity.

According to Exodus, in Egypt the people suffered from disease and plague as well as an epidemic of the death of all firstborn sons.

Jews painted the red blood of a sacrificed lamb on their home’s doorposts in hopes that God would pass over their house when exacting punishment for sins to claim the life of the household’s firstborn son.

Chocolates became a holiday treat during the Victorian Period

bunny
A bunny with chocolate Easter eggs. Credit: chris /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Chocolate came into the picture as an Easter favorite during the Victorian age in England, when people developed a love for sweets.

The famous chocolate company Cadbury, founded in 1824, began selling its famous easter chocolates in 1875, which soon became all the rage.

People began to give the sweet treats to each other as Easter gifts during the period, a tradition that continued.

By 1983, the company offered 19 different product lines for Easter.

The trend continues today with many chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, and other treats, from all different Chocolate brands.

Even Greeks began to embrace chocolate as an integral part of their Easter celebrations. Many Greeks give out chocolate eggs and bunnies to friends and family during the Easter season.

The Story Behind Easter Eggs

eggs easter
Red eggs for Easter. Credit: Vassilis/CC-BY-SA-2.0

For Christian believers, the egg itself is symbolic of the empty tomb that Jesus left behind as He was resurrected after His crucifixion.

The red dye which the eggs are dipped in is meant to represent the blood of Jesus who sacrificed Himself on the cross for all of mankind, while the color of red itself also plays an important role as it is considered the color of life and victory.

Traditionally, the Greek Orthodox Christians dye their eggs red on Holy Thursday in commemoration of the Last Supper, known as Jesus’ last meal before He was crucified.

In other parts of the world, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the eggs are dyed bright colors and hidden as a part of an egg hunt game or used for egg rolls.

Market Economy Thrived in Ancient Greece, 3,000 Years Before Previously Believed

Ancient Greece market economy
The Athenian agora. Credit:mpd01605, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

By analyzing sediment cores taken from six sites in southern Greece, an international team of researchers claim that market economy thrived in ancient Greece 3,000 years before previously believed.

The researchers identified trends in cereal, olive, and grapevine production indicating major changes in agricultural production between 1000 BC and 600 AD.

These changes mean that Ancient Greece had a market economy that responded to the law of supply and demand fully three thousand years earlier than had been previously believed.

This would again make Greece the location of another first in the world — the first market economy on the globe.

This also means that Greece had a relatively sophisticated market system as far back as  2,600 years ago, even before Athens became a democracy under the great statesman Pericles.

International trade came before the rise of democracy

Instead of simply eking out a living by planting whatever the local villages wanted and desired, farmers as far back as the Archaic era were already planning their crops according to the needs of international trade.

This means that separate individual markets for a consumer good would become merged with others to form one large market, aimed at large-scale trading.

Adam Izdebski of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and his colleagues, in a paper published in the November edition of The Economic Journal of Oxford University Press, are saying that this is proof that a true market economy existed in that era.

It has long been known that trade existed between groups of people as far back as the Neolithic era, before man had invented the wheel or even domesticated horses.

And the concept of money and even counterfeiting was extant as far back as those times.

But now, researchers have combined varying fields of scientific research to provide evidence for a market economy in ancient Greece — even including areas around the Black Sea where Greeks had settled — characterized by integrated agricultural production and a major expansion of trade.

As a matter of fact, the researchers state, the closer the farmers were to the Black Sea, the more marked this effect was. These people were already extremely reliant on importing grains, in exchange for which they would export olive oil and wine.

Specialization in olive and grape cultivation

“To be able to pay for the imports, there is specialization in olive and vine cultivation. What we showed, existing much earlier than Roman times, is how deep the reliance of trade was to survival,” Izdebski points out.

In the field of economics, the concept of a market economy is largely considered a modern phenomenon.

Influential economists such as Karl Marx and Max Weber, for example, argued that although markets existed in antiquity, economies in which structures of production and distribution responded to the laws of supply and demand developed only as recently as the 19th century.

A recent study by an international team of researchers, however, uses palynology — the study of pollen remains extracted from cored sediments — to challenge this belief and provide evidence for an integrated market economy existing in ancient Greece.

Market integration in Ancient Greece began much earlier

Using publicly-available data from the European Pollen Database, as well as data from other investigators, researchers analyzed pollen from 115 samples taken from six sites in southern Greece to measure landscape change over the years studied.

Using radiocarbon dating, researchers followed the change in percentage values for individual plant species between 1000 BC and 600 AD and observed a decrease in pollen from cereals, a staple of the ancient Greek diet, during a period of apparent population growth.

The pollen data cannot prove which cereals were the most commonly grown but Izdebski says that “written sources show wheat was preferred.”

This decrease occurred at the same time as an increase in the proportion of olive and vine pollen. These trends raise an important question: why would local producers choose to plant olives and vines instead of cereal grains, when the demand for this staple food must have been high, and continuing to grow, as the population increased?

In the new study, researchers argue that pollen data from southern Greece reveals an export economy based on cash crops as early as the Archaic period, primarily through olive cultivation.

Although archeological evidence from these periods documents the movement of goods, quantifiable data on market integration and structural changes in agricultural production have up until now been very limited.

“In this paper,” says lead author Adam Izdebski, “we introduce pollen records as a new source of quantitative data in ancient economic history.”

From mud to market economy

Before arriving at their conclusions, researchers compared the trends they observed in the pollen data with three other sources of data in their groundbreaking scientific research.

First, they observed a decrease in pollen from uncultivated landscapes corresponding with each increase in the numbers of people living in settlements.

Researchers then looked for evidence of increased trade activity as seen in Mediterranean shipwrecks, which are routinely used to estimate maritime trade and overall economic activity.

After restricting their search to wrecks from the appropriate period and region, scientists then observed trends in shipwrecks in both the Ancient Greek and Roman eras consistent with trends found in cereal, olive, and vine pollen and cultivation.

Both sources of data suggest an economic boom in the 1st and 2nd century AD, a decline in the 4th and 5th century, and a smaller boom in the 6th century.

Finally, researchers examined trends in the presence of large-scale oil and wine presses in the Mediterranean.

The presence of these machines, although not located in Greece, indicates a pattern of broad economic trends in the region and changing incentives for the production of large quantities of olive oil and wine.

Again, the researchers found that trends in archaeological findings of oil and wine presses were consistent with trends in cereal, olive, and vine production.

As the emergence of integrated markets and capitalist economies of the early modern era is believed to have been at the roots of the Anthropocene, the current epoch, in which humanity has become a major geological force, this study shows that the structural developments that occurred on a large scale through European colonization from the 15th century onward were indeed possible several thousand years before.

Scientists Solve Mystery of High Quality Sound at Theater of Epidaurus

Theater Epidaurus
The Theater at Epidaurus. Credit: Hansueli Krapf /Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The ancient mystery of the great sound quality at the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus has finally been solved, researchers posit in a recent study.

Scientists have been wondering about the high sound quality of Epidaurus’ theater for decades, developing certain theories along the way.

The ancient theater of Epidaurus was designed by Polykleitos in the 4th century BC. The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows. It seats up to 14,000 people.

The theater is admired for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of un-amplified spoken words from the proscenium to all 14,000 spectators, regardless of their seating.

Some even claim that audiences are able to hear a pin drop, or a match being struck, from any seat in the house.

Many have proposed theories regarding sound at theater of Epidaurus

Over the years, several theories were developed in order to explain the phenomenon, both by academics and amateurs.

Some of these theories suggest that prevailing winds carried sounds, or that masks amplified voices.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered that the limestone material of the seats provide a filtering effect, suppressing low frequencies of voices — thus minimizing background crowd noise.

Further, the rows of limestone seats reflect high-frequencies back towards the audience, enhancing the effect, noted Live Science.

“When I first tackled this problem, I thought that the effect of the splendid acoustics was due to surface waves climbing the theater with almost no damping. While the voices of the performers were being carried, I didn’t anticipate that the low frequencies of speech were also filtered out to some extent,” said mechanical engineer Nico Declercq.

It is astonishing, however, that the Greek builders of the theater probably did not understand the principles that led to the exceptional audibility of sound from the stage.

Others dispute quality of acoustics at Epidaurus

The Guardian newspaper reports that research conducted by Constant Hak, the assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology, and his team, suggests such assertions are little more than Greek myth.

In a series of conference papers, which also involved experiments at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the theatre of Argos, Hak and his colleagues describe how they tested the claims.

They used 20 microphones, placing each one at 12 different locations around the theater of Epidaurus, together with two loudspeakers, one at the center of the “stage” – or orchestra – and one to the side.

Both speakers played, with a slight delay between them, a sound that swept from low to high frequency, with the speakers in five different orientations. In total, they made approximately 2,400 recordings.

The team then used the data to calculate sound strength at different points in the theater.
They then made a series of laboratory recordings of sounds, including a coin being dropped, paper tearing and a person whispering, and played them to participants, who adjusted the loudness of the sounds until they could hear them over background noise.

The results were then fed into the team’s calculations to reveal how far from the orchestra the different sounds would be heard.

While the sound of a coin being dropped or paper being torn would be noticeable across the whole theater, it could only recognizably be heard as a coin or paper halfway up the seating.

For a match striking, the situation was worse, while a whisper would only be intelligible to those in the front seats.

Further work, based on the loudspeakers playing voices, revealed that only when actors spoke out loudly would their words be intelligible in the seats furthest from the orchestra.

These findings have been challenged by a group of Greek scientists who argue that the methods used were not scientific.

Coronavirus Deaths in Greece Approach 10,000

 

Covid cases
A sole masked Greek passes by the parliament at Athens’ Syntagma Square. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece confirmed 2,411 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, with 7 of these identified at entry points to the country, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) said on Saturday.

Greece has confirmed 313,444 infections from the start of the pandemic (daily change: +0.8 pct).

In the confirmed cases of the last 7 days, 59 infections are related to travel from abroad and 3,265 to other confirmed cases.

There are also 67 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total of pandemic victims to 9,397. Of these, 95.5 pct had an underlying condition and/or were 70 years old.

A total of 837 patients are on ventilators in hospitals. Their median age is 68 years and 85.2 pct have an underlying condition and/or are aged 70 or more. Another 1,936 have been discharged from ICUs since the pandemic began.

In addition, 507 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours, a drop of 7.31 pct from the previous day. The average number of admissions with Covid-19 to hospitals over the last 7 days was 514.

The median age of new infections is 44 years (range: 0.2 to 106 years), while the median age of the deceased is 79 (range: 0.2 to 106 years).

Hospitals in Greece under pressure

Hospitals will remain under pressure for the next 2-3 weeks, infectious diseases professor Vana Papaevangelou said during Friday’s regular briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Greece, but new admissions are stabilizing to around 250 per day.

Most of the country has high infection rates, with several areas showing a current rate of 250 infected people per 100,000 of population, she said.

A total of 5,500 patients with Covid-19 are hospitalized at this point, while 824 are on ventilators. Throughout Greece, 86 pct of Covid-19-dedicated beds in ICUs are occupied, with the rate rising to over 90 pct in Athens and Thessaloniki.

One in 4 of those on ventilators is aged under 55, while most admissions to ICUs related to the 65-74 age group; older people appear to be now protected by vaccination, she reiterated.

The Health Ministry experts committee member also noted that even if hospital admissions drop, it will take longer to see a related drop in ICU admissions and deaths, as a patient remains in an ICU for 17 days on average.

Coronavirus ICU admissions rise slightly

Intensive Care Units admissions in Greece rose by slightly over 6 percent, said professor Gkikas Magiorkinis at the briefing, but active coronavirus infections in Greece appear to be stabilizing.

Magiorkinis called it however a “fragile stabilization”, using a similar description for the 5 pct reduction of the virus’ dispersal in Attica Region. A similar lowering trend is discernible in Thessaloniki, though infections registered a minor rise over the past 7 days, he added.

He also noted that the Health Ministry experts committee would be discussing lifting travelling discussion for the Greek Orthodox Easter (May 2) closer to the holidays.

Retail sector in Kozani reopens with restrictions

The retail sector in the region of Kozani will reopen on Monday April 19 for pick-up of online orders, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection & Crisis Management Nikos Hardalias announced at the briefing.

Meanwhile, the country’s driving schools will also reopen on Monday with restrictions, he added.

Driving theory courses and the relevant tests will be conducted online, while staff at drivign schools, including the examiners, will have to self-test twice per week on Mondays and Thursdays, added the minister. Candidates will have to self-test 24 hours ahead of their driving test.

Greek Flag Covers Prince Philip’s Casket

Prince Philip Greek flag
The Greek flag adorbs Prince Philip’s casket, Video frame

The Greek flag covered Prince Philip‘s casket as the late husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, was laid to rest on Saturday.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99 on April 9 in Windsor Castle.

He was the nation’s longest-serving consort — the name used to describe the spouse of a reigning monarch — and had been married to the Queen for 73 years.

The Greek white cross insignia can be seen on the upper right corner of the flag adorning Prince Philip’s casket, as it forms part of HRH’s royal standard.

His casket has been draped in his personal flag, which represents elements of his life, ranging from his Greek heritage to his British titles.

Those in attendance included senior members of the royal family as well as relatives and close friends of the duke, among them Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden, Penny Brabourne, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse.

All members of the congregation wore a face covering, as dictated by England’s current coronavirus restrictions.

Prince Philip’s life in symbols

When Prince Philip became engaged to Princess Elizabeth in 1946, he renounced his Greek title and became a British citizen, taking his uncle’s name of Mountbatten.

Prince Philip Greek flag
The Royal Standard of HRH Duke of Edinburgh adorns Prince Philip’s casket. Credit: The World Flag Database & Graham Bartram

Starting from left to right, top to bottom, the standard of Prince Philip as Duke of Edinburgh is formed from four different coats of arms.

First is the simplified coat of arms of Denmark, as Philip was a member of the house of Glücksburg of Denmark and therefore the Danish royal family.

Next comes the coat of arms of Greece, giving a nod to his birth on the island of Corfu in 1921 and his membership in the Greek royal family.

The standard also includes a part of the coat of arms of the Mountbatten family, to which Philip belonged, as a descendant of the Battenberg family, a branch of the house of Hesse-Darmstadt, itself a cadet of the House of Hesse. This part of the flag is from the arms of Julia, Princess of Battenburg.

The fourth and last image on the flag is the coat of arms of Edinburgh. Depicting a highly stylised Edinburgh castle, this represents Philip’s title of Duke of Edinburgh.

Turbulence and excitement

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and consort of the Queen of England Elizabeth II, passed away early Friday morning at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle.

There was no official statement as to the cause of his death but he had been recently discharged from the hospital after having been there for several weeks.

Born on the island of Corfu into the royal family of Greece and Denmark, the Prince knew little but constant upheaval as a child, when as a result of the chaos that ensued because of the Asia Minor catastrophe, his father, Prince Andrew of Greece, was forced into exile.

Philip himself had to be spirited out of the country hidden in an orange crate for safety, leading to many years of great difficulty in his life as his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and his father spent most of the rest of his life in Southern France.

After attending a number of boarding schools, Philip entered the Royal Navy, where he served during World War II, and was even awarded the Greek War Cross for his participation in the Battle of Crete.

A few years earlier, at the age of 17, Philip had been assigned to show the royal family — including a 13-year old Princess Elizabeth — around the frigate on which he served. The two began to correspond from that time forward leading to their engagement in 1947 and wedding a year later.

Over his life, The Duke of Edinburgh was associated with 992 charities and organizations, from scientific and technological research to the welfare of young people and the encouragement of sport.

An Online Book of Condolence is available on the Royal website for those who wish to send a personal message of condolence to the family. 

 

Tsitsipas Cruises into Monte-Carlo Masters Final

Tsitsipas Monte Carlo
Greek tennis champion Stafanos Tsitsipas books a place into the Monte Carlo final. Credit: Twitter/Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas raced past Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-1 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Saturday to move one win away from his maiden trophy at the level.

The two-time Masters 1000 finalist broke Evan’s serve on five occasions to improve to 21-5 this season.

Tsitsipas is through to his second final of the year, following his runner-up finish in Acapulco last month.

“I am indeed pleased with the performance,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match interview.

“I found ways to play at my best. It was really difficult to maintain my level of consistency and I am really happy I managed to deal with all the different moments during the match. I had a lot of opportunities to hit the forehand, and think how I wanted to construct the point.”

Tsitsipas is yet to drop a set at the Monte-Carlo Country Club this week.

The 22-year-old, who has reached the quarter-finals or better at six consecutive events, defeated Aslan Karatsev, Cristian Garin and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to book his third ATP Head2Head encounter against Evans (3-0).

The Greek will meet sixth seed Andrey Rublev or Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final.

The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion is tied at 3-3 in his ATP Head2Head series against Rublev (1-1 on clay) and has not met Ruud at tour-level.

In the first set, Tsitsipas found success by directing his groundstrokes into Evans’ backhand corner.

The World No. 5 used the strategy to force Evans behind the baseline, and he punished short balls with powerful forehand winners into the open space.

Tsitsipas came to the net on 17 occasions throughout the match and his movement up the court proved crucial in the second set.

The five-time ATP Tour titlist attacked Evans’ backhand and charged the net, before carving a backhand volley to break for 3-1. Tsitsipas raced to the finish line from that point to reach his 14th tour-level final (5-8).

Tsitsipas the youngest player ranked in the top 10

Tsitsipas is the youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and has a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world, making him the highest-ranked Greek player in history.

Tsitsipas was the champion at the 2019 ATP Finals, becoming the youngest winner of the year-end championships in eighteen years. He has won five singles titles and reached ten finals on the ATP Tour.

Born into a tennis family where his mother Julia Apostoli was a professional on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour and his father was trained as a tennis coach, Tsitsipas was introduced to the sport at age three and began taking lessons at age six.

As a junior, he was ranked No. 1 in the world. He also became the third Greek player, and first Greek male in the Open Era, to win a junior Grand Slam title with a victory in the 2016 Wimbledon boys’ doubles event.

Diaspora Sends Hundreds of Proposals to Mark Greece’s Bicentennial

Greece Diaspora
Young Greek-Americans show their pride by holding the Greek flag with the illuminated Savannah Convention Center behind them. Credit: Vasilis Varlagas

The Greek Diaspora has sent hundreds of proposals for actions and events marking Greece’s bicentennial, “Greece 2021” committee president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said on Friday.

“The committee has received 319 proposals for actions and events from Greeks abroad and from official Greek authorities in 47 countries,” she said and added that at the events already taken place there was a large attendance by the Greek Diaspora.

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki noted that until now more than 100 events honoring the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution have ben held in Greece and abroad. .

The committee meets with municipalities in Greece to encourage them to assume planning of events.

They include educational activities, documentary production, and even the search for and registration of descendants of fighters of the 1821 Revolution who are living abroad, she added.

She also spoke of the 14 commemorative collector’s coins issued by the committee, which include images of the first two coins to be minted by the newly founded Greek state (the phoenix and the drachma).

The coins, available through the committee’s site (www.greece2021.gr) and banks, became available on February 18 and have been sold as far as Mexico and Chile.

Revenues from their sale will be used to fund some of the anniversary events.

Through its fundraising program, the committee has also completed a donation of 18 intensive care unit beds to the Papanikolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki, which will hold an inaugural event on Saturday, she said.

Greece’s Diaspora turned world Greek on March 25

Cities around the world turned Greek on March 25, 2021 to honor Greece. On the occasion of the bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottomans, which began on that day back in 1821.

Embodying the Greek spirit of freedom, cities on every continent -especially where Greek Diaspora was present- donned the colors of the Greek flag — blue and white — to show their support and respect for the country on the day honoring its independence.

In honor the the Greek War of Independence, which inspired many other revolutions in Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean, countries around the world celebrated the historic revolution and the Greeks’ fight for freedom.

German Cruise Operators Relaunch Sailings in Greece

Cruise Greece
Norwegian Cruise Lines will also relaunch services to Greece. Credit: Norwegian Cruise Lines

German cruise operators TUI and AIDA will restart their cruise program for Greece in May, it was announced on Friday.

TUI said it will start its cruises on May 13 from Crete, with six dates currently open for booking. The company said port calls will include Rhodes, Piraeus and Chania, or Corfu, Katakolo and Piraeus.

AIDA Cruises will start accepting bookings on April 20, and will launch seven-day cruises as of May 23 from Corfu, calling at the ports of Crete, Rhodes, Katakolo and Piraeus.

A total of 22 dates will be available by October 22, added the company.

A negative coronavirus molecular (PCR) test is required for boarding, while tests during the cruise will also be carried out, it was underlined by both companies.

Greece is one of the most popular vacation destinations for German travelers. From May 14, 2021, the Mediterranean country will reopen for tourism.

The two German operators join other major cruise companies who have recently announced they will re-start operations in Greece after the pandemic-ravaged past year.

Cruise companies attracted by Greece

At least five cruise companies plan to make Greece their home ports this summer, while twelve indicate that they wanted to resume cruising to Greek island destinations.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) recently announced their first Greece cruises after the pandemic-ravaged past year, beginning in July of 2021.

The company stated as part of the announcement that all its initial voyages will operate with what is calls a “robust, multi-Layered SailSAFE health and safety program. This will include mandatory vaccinations for all guests and crew and universal COVID-19 testing as well.

The line will offer 7-day trips around the Greek Isles, leaving from Athens, starting in late July and sailings from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on two other ships starting in August.

CEO Harry Sommer said Greece is the cruise line’s top European destination and he expects the Greek government to allow Americans to travel to the country as soon as May or June.

Celebrity Cruises disclosed its plans for homeporting its vessel “Celebrity Apex,” in Greece starting in June, while Royal Caribbean International’s “Jewel of the Seas” will cruise to the islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini on weekly, starting out from Cyprus, beginning in mid-July.

Seabourn also announced its plans for resuming operations outside the US, for vaccinated passengers, starting July 3.

Week-long Greek Isles round-trip cruises will begin out of the port of Piraeus on July 3 aboard the “Seabourn Ovation.” It will son be possible to book 14-day voyages that combine seven-day cruises with a variety of different ports featured as part of each trip.

All the companies say they expect a phased-in approach to restarting cruises, while taking into account the public health environment, global travel restrictions and port availability, among other considerations.

Greece marks May 14 as official opening of 2021 tourism season

Greece is still pinning its hopes on a May 14 opening for its long-awaited tourism season, according to Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis.

Restoring cruises to Greek ports topped the agenda of a recent teleconference between Theoharis and the Cruise Lines International Association, with the Greek minister underscoring the careful steps being taken to restart it once conditions make that a possibility.

“Cruises, as one of the main forms of tourism for our country, are very important for the Greek economy,” Theoharis stated. “Therefore, it is necessary to maximize cooperation and efforts in order for cruise to resume safely as soon as possible.”