Ithaca Greece. Summer happenings on the Greek island of Ithaca, Ithaki 2005

Ithaki General 2005

Revisit Summer Lodown 2004 ..Revisit Summer Lodown 2003

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Ithaca Summer Fun
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Sat 30 July - Ithaca may be behind in lots of ways, but when it comes to water we're keeping up with the Burgers, Hamburgers that is, the great Germans and their water technology. As everyone knows Vathy and Kioni have Water Desalination Plants, using the most sophisticated German Technology with purveyance cameras that let the German company and Vathy, keep tabs on the flow, intruder alarms and amplified warnings to the trespasser. Well now it's Stavros' turn. The Plant at Polis Beach is nearing completion. Yep, that's why the road was being dug up and occasionally closed to traffic. All for the good of the community. See? This technology takes in the sea water and through it's process sends 40% into the pipes of homes and releases the remaining 60% back into the ocean. It's clean tasting and abundant, and finally gives Ithaca control of the water supply. Who needs to keep up with the Jones' when the Burgers are close by. Drink up! There's more where that came from.

Mon 1 Aug - Exciting news for Ithaca is that Amnesty International will set up a branch here. Gerasimos Kouvaras, President of Amnesty International Greece, and cousin to Poppy Pagoulatou from Rementzo, will organize training of its' members in the near future. If you would like to become a member of the Ithacan Branch, contact Poppy Pagoulatou at hOME ithaca greece website has also been approached to participate in a link exchange with Amnesty Greece as Ithaca is Mr. Kouvaras' island home. For further updates on Amnesty International on Ithaki, keep your eyes out here.

Tue 2 Aug - Tomorrow in Kioni and the day after in Frikes, there will be some fun for children and adults alike with Karadiosis Shadow Puppet Show. Apparently a puppet show with a difference. Click here for details.

Wed 3 Aug - Record temperatures over the past weeks have air conditioning units working hard all over the island. Today with a top of 40 C it is almost too hot to be outside. Ithaca has of course had these temperatures before, but the difference sited by all is that never has there been a heat wave for this long without cool breezes giving relief at night. Around dusk, there is a slightly cooking breeze in some villages, but by nightfall, that breeze has turned to warm air, blowing itself out by midnight and leaving a still warm night to be uncomfortable in. People are heading out to their gardens and balconies to sleep, while houses simmer on a slow boil, unable to cool down with current conditions.

Ote has again been giving the north island periods of being disconnected from the rest of the world with short cuts in telephony operations each day over this past week. If there's a problem, no one knows about it and if there is work being done, no one has been informed of that either. Conjecture is the only means of information when it comes to Ote, at least in the north island, and that conjecture is that the sheer volume of calls and internet usage is overwhelming the system, or public works in certain areas are cutting the lines of communication.

Over the past few days, the August influx is very apparent. The restaurants are all beginning to fill 2 and three times in one night and there are actually people walking around the streets making the villages look full. The noise level has also gone up a few notches with more cars and mopeds driving around the island. Traffic jams in villages like Frikes are usually unheard of, but each night bottle necks hold up drivers who meet at the crossing from Kioni to Stavros. Pollution levels are also up with exhaust fumes from badly maintained bikes and cars. They're stinking up the ithaki atmosphere. The locals are finding it more difficult each day to find a parking spot, but enjoy this period of meeting up with friends who have been absent for many months. While the young and the beautiful parade the streets of the island showing off their summer best, the cats come out for the best feed they'll have all year. Yep, it's August.

Frikes Bike hire is no longer. Niko Douglas can direct you to the new owner and it's promised that all bookings will be honored, but Bike hire seems to have had its' day in Frikes. News is that if staying around the northern villages, the new owner will deliver a moped to you, so for the customer its' a change with little consequence, but it is the end of an era. Many that have come to Ithaca have been acquainted more personally to the island through Nikos Douglas. So, big deal. Hire a bike from the new guy and then go have your drink with Niko outside The Gods gift shop, (the old bike hire office) He'll still be in the same place, so don't despair. Nothing will move our Elvis from his beloved Frikes in the Summer.

Thu 4 Aug - Weather back to normal today. The heat wave is broken. A cool afternoon breeze, the usual one that rolls in just after lunch is just in time to make this 34 C day more bearable.

Fri 5 Aug - Many were unaware yesterday, that a fire at Aetos, south Ithaca, was engulfing an entire mountain side. Water planes were summoned to get the large fire under control and to stop it from spreading into inhabited areas. The wind factor made efforts difficult to say the least. The Wire has it that a cigarette butt, flicked from a car, may have started the fire, which began near the road and made it's way up the mountain side of Aetos. At dusk the water planes returned to their hangers leaving the mountain smoldering under a puff of smoke, but the wind increased in force and spot fires began to ignite in the scrub. By nightfall, 8 force winds had increased the number these spot fires into over a hundred and warranted greater vigilance from the Fire Brigade and its' volunteers. Under the cover of night this mostly inaccessible mountain side flickered like christmas lights on a tree with fires burning in and out of the scrub. With heat wave conditions over the past weeks, it seemed unthinkable that someone would be so stupid as to devastate the Ithacan landscape with such thoughtlessness and ignorance. Cars have ashtrays, don't they, or are they an optional extra?

Cooler temps today with predicted thunderstorms ahead as Aetos smolders after yesterdays' fires. Fires burning all around Greece should make us all more aware of our Summer practices. No fires lit outside, including BBQs and most importantly, put those cigarettes out in the ashtray not to burn themselves out on the side of the road. It was only luck that no one was injured and no homes were effected.

Mon 8 Aug - The 2 day Stavros Festival is over, but there is still lots to do in August. Music concerts and exhibitions. The Gallery in Vathy has an exhibition and sale of Ceramic pottery on as we speak, on Friday the 12th there's a concert on at the Garden Theatre which includes Rallia from last years' Fame Story, and Christos Raftopoulos, renowned Photographer, exhibits his new collection 'Imagine Ithaca'. It's bound to be thought provoking as all of Mr. Raftopoulos' past works. 'Imagine Ithaca' starts at the Vathy Gallery on Saturday 13th August.

Left - Poster around the island for Imagine Ithaca. Thought provoking presentation of Ithacan images through the eyes of Christos Raftopoulos.

Right - Day Tripper Mana Korina is now taking cruises from Aphales Bay to Kioni. See Delas tours for further information.

Gripe for August is - Inconsiderate Drivers. I hate to say this, but the culprits are foreigners and Mainlanders, who think that in their rental car, they are safe from harm. Driving in the middle of the road at speeds more fit for a highway than an Ithacan road, not moving over for oncoming traffic which is then forced into the mountainside or off the edge of the cliffs, or just stopping wherever the scenery temps them to take a photo. No warning, no moving to the side, just smack bang in the middle, breaks on, look out, bloody hell! The locals who aren't suffering from road rage, simply fear for their lives. Stupidity abounds. Nothing seems to be out of the question, including turning on the the hairpin bends of a road that has blind spots
both left and right. Defensive driving compensating for the offensive drivers that are making Summer on the roads of Ithaca, a nightmare. Gone are the days when Ithaca was safe to drive through and walk through. Whether on foot or in a car, August traffic threatens lives on a daily basis, so hold on to your childrens' hands and don't let them run unattended around the streets. Remember you are on a real holiday, not a virtual holiday, so you too could be a statistic. Drive Safe!!! for that matter walk safe too. Day dreaming while walking across the street is a risky practice!

Tue 9 Aug - Sunday night on the bay side of a Cafe across from Vathy harbour, a drunken and speeding driver kills a cat and leaves it for the Cafe staff to clean up. Only minutes later another drunken driver sideswipes bikes and cars, including the car of the Cafe owner. Not funny.

Wed 17 Aug - Been trying to hold off with Ote complaints, but this past 10 days has been incredibly frustrating with unexpected cuts to regular and reliable service most days. Internet connections that hang or get disconnected. Continuous redialing until there's a line. Locals worried it's their pcs acting up or worse yet, thinking the ithaca greece site doesn't work. Usually the phone problems are experienced North of the island more than South, but with the internet, the entire island is effected. The dialogue of a Quentin Tarrantino film would probably best express the sentiments of all relying on the internet on this island.

As expected, a major exodus from the island after the Platrithia Panighiri. Oh and what a Panighiri. Don't know what happened to the Panighiri Band, but they deserted Ithaca and headed to Cephalonia. Ithaca was left with the band from Panighiri hell! Halia teleios! (Crap) Until around 2am, no one was sure whether they were at the October fest with the oompapa that was being played by a very tired 3 piece. The drummer played to the beat of his failing heart and not the music and I'm sure the organ player was napping during most of the set. When the pics go up for the Platrithia Panighiri, you will see just how exciting they looked and believe it or not, there set was even more boring. Many left early out of sheer disappointment. This was the last big Panighiri of the season and it sank like a led balloon. Another fight around 6am started by the Frikes culprits, iced the Panighiri cake. If you were drunk, you would have had a good time, but for the sober it was a painful night. Mr. Andrianatos' set picked up the vibe and had people dancing and when a bouzouki player hit the stage, it wasn't too bad either, at least for dancing. Each time the drummer missed a beat, usually a whole heap of them, the singer would turn around and laugh, she, the singer, also put down her mic in the middle of a song as I took a picture of her. It would have been more exciting had they put on a cd or a cassette. At Polis the next day, tourists who had never been to a Panighiri, but went to Platrithia, said they would never go again. If you feel the same, let me assure you this was just a 'blip' in the Ithaki Panighiri, and usually they are great entertainment for everyone. If the usual band goes AWOL next year, the Council should hold auditions.

Sat 20 Aug - Sorry everyone. More delays in loading updates to the site yesterday and today due to Otenet cuts. If you've had trouble ringing the island, it's due the very strange things with the phone lines. No body has a clue why the service is so severely interrupted at times.

Wed 24 Aug - Shocking event for Ithaki this week when 6 young men and boys, viscously beat Costa, one of Stavros' taxi drivers while he was on the midnight ferry run. His injuries included broken fingers among others, after the boys dragged him from his taxi to let loose a rage that has shocked the northern island. Some of the offenders were charged and detained while others were left to return home. We're not at liberty to name the culprits, but it can be said that this lot have a reputation for trouble, although no one ever believed such violence could result from their antics. A senselessly violent attack such as this has never been seen on Ithaca before and is a red light for the community who has up until now, felt safe and immune from attacks such as this.

Thu 25 Aug - Left - Dimitri and Emmanuel of Chez Manu, the first, and the one and only Asian restaurant in Vathy, are pleased to announce their record breaking, 2000th 'Take Away' order in 1 month.
Tue 30 Aug - Last night a fire in Kolieri area had some residents preparing for the worst. It isn't clear how this fire started. Reports have it that residents heard a bang and some tourists saw a flare shooting into the sky. There is no road access to this area so it was extremely lucky that the light wind turned the fire back on itself, burning itself out after a few hours. The Metaxa family had these flames licking at their boundary as they scrambled to clear
away dry brush from around their house, while friends and 'passers by' rallied to get water trucks to the house. A family in complete distress, found themselves helpless with such awesome power at their door step. With no sign of help coming quickly enough, their courtyard was littered with well doers, children crying, on lookers and women who were hysterically crying with frustration. As the Fire Truck tackled the fire from the road above, near Kalamos, where the fire was burning some distance below, the Metaxa family wondered just how long it would take before someone heard their pleas to tackle the fire which was quickly approaching them. Congratulations to Panos the plumber, who used his nut to organize water from the Kalamos Spring, a solution to the water problem that had eluded the fire brigade in their distress to locate a point of attack. This is luckily a story that ended well and without human loss. Northern Ithaca however, is well aware that, had there been the strong wind, like that which had been blowing a few days earlier, this fire could have been devastating for Exoghi and Platrithia. Maybe it's time that beauty takes second place to safety and access roads into the forest land are organized, so that if, like last night, a fire starts in an usually inaccessible area, at night, when water planes don't fly, that it is still possible for the locals and the Fire Brigade to reach it. A second issue may also be that water trucks should be allowed more pressure when filling up their tanks so that in case of emergencies, the tanks don't take an hour to fill, and then there is of course, the issue to do with swimming pools.. One Water Truck owner reported that had he not filled up swimming pools at touristic locations, he would have been able to attend the fire to help. This is an issue that has also impacted on other countries suck as Spain and Portugal. In Summer I think it can not be made clearer that fire danger is high and water resources should be ready and quickly available in time of need. For now, we should all take responsibility for good summer practices by not flicking cig buts out of car windows, clearing our land, especially around the home, not lighting BBQs ,and making ourselves available should there be a need to help. With high 30s and no rain, Ithaki in the Summer becomes a tinderbox. Please everyone be careful and wise.

It's September

Mon 5 Sep - There have been no updates since last Thursday due to my escape to Athens. Summer isn't over, so there will still be plenty to see on hOME ithaca greece over the coming weeks...

Meanwhile - Athens. Left - Fashion of old. Right - Fashion of new. Things are getting a bit cheeky don't you think?

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