…is a local holiday in the Dodecanese, to mark the occasion in 1948 when these islands officially became part of Greece.
Yesterday, Rufus (pictured here sunbathing) was poisoned and died. A street dog who went everywhere with his mother (Ira, on the left in the picture); a lovelier animal you couldn’t hope to meet. He took hours to die, slowly and painfully, despite the attempts of some very good Samaritans to save him. Someone had deliberately laid the poison in the centre of the Old Town (Socratous area), without thought to human welfare and certainly with deliberate intent to harm canine and feline life. Careless of the lifeblood of the innocent creatures they seek to destroy, they also help to destroy the commercial lifeblood of the Old Town; tourism. There are no words to describe such people. RIP Rufus, a class act.
Today is a public holiday here in Greece. It’s the first day of Lent and so the beginning of the period of fasting. Traditionally, it is also taken as the beginning of Spring, so there’s a celebratory atmosphere. Families usually spend the day together, often with a picnic and, customarily, kite-flying. Certain foods are eaten on this day, including λαγάνα (lagana, a special bread), shellfish and halva. Today’s dawned very wet and windy, but that hasn’t deterred the kite-sellers or those heading out to the countryside for the day.
March bracelets were traditionally made from red and white thread and given by mothers to their children to wear for the month; to protect their skin from burning by the Spring sun. Some believe the custom to date back to Ancient Greece, it is certainly widespread through the Balkans even today. These bracelets in the photograph were made by Nektaria Dasakli for her label Necty’s Creations ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/necty). You can also find (and like) her page on Facebook. Καλό μήνα!
With more than 18.5 million tourists expected to visit Greece this year, topping record arrivals in 2013, the Culture Ministry has moved ahead with the long-awaited extension of opening hours at museums and archaeological sites.
Starting on April 1, 33 of the country’s 117 gated sites and museums are to remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week – hours usually reserved for the summer season and on fewer days, as well as limited to a smaller number of attractions.
Tourism experts have for years urged authorities to extend visiting hours not just in the summer, but also in spring and autumn – when lower temperatures make sightseeing more attractive – in a bid to lengthen the tourism season. The plan is to maintain the longer schedule until the end of October, boosting autumn arrivals.
Last year, 17.8 million people came to Greece on holiday and around 12 million of them visited its archaeological sites and museums, according to official figures.
The 33 sites and museums that were selected to operate longer hours starting in spring account for 95 percent of these visits and include emblematic attractions such as the Parthenon in Athens, Ancient Olympia in the Peloponnese, Knossos in Crete, the royal tombs in Thessaloniki and Akrotiri in Santorini.
Ministry officials, meanwhile, are due to discuss improving services such as e-ticketing and amenities at key sites and museums.
Friday February 28, 2014