New border crossings into Greece: A revival of the old routes in the Aegean?

Kos
Beautiful Kos

Recently the greek news are talking of a revival of the old routes into Greece through the Aegean islands. Since two years Evros has been the main entrance for sans-papiers into Greece with steadily increasing numbers of arrivals. Since the beginning of the governments massive pogrom against sans-papiers in Athens but also in Evros and the further periphery in the beginning of this August, numbers of arrivals have been shrinking in Evros and increasing again slightly on the islands of the Aegean (mainly: Mytilini, Samos, Patmos, Leros, Symi etc.). In August 397 sans-papiers were arrested on the Aegean islands compared to 168 in 2011. The greek government following this increase and the medial hype around the “revival of the island routes” asked Frontex for more support in controlling their sea borders. The request concerns 4 additional aircrafts, 4 coast guard ships and specialised extra staff.
Concerning the fate of the arriving sans-papiers, as it seems, the authorities on the islands have the order to keep new arriving sans-papiers as long as possible in detention on the islands and not transfer them to Athens. In some cases solidarity group denounced the lack of access to the asylum procedure for the detained. In a long-term perspective if arrivals will continue and grow this could result in the creation of new detention places on the islands (or the re-opening of old ones). It is yet unclear if the slightly increasing arrivals on the islands can be interpreted as another change of routes or if it is more of a short term phenomenon. Clearly, the medial referral to a “revival” of the old routes and de facto arrivals of the last days anyway also lead to an increased use of a fascist discourse by some people within the local societies (i.e. in Symi but also elsewhere).

In Samos the local solidarity group published a number of press releases concerning the very poor detention conditions of newly arrived Syrian and Afghan refugees (among them also children, women and UN-recognized refugees from other countries) and the lack of access to the asylum procedure for the about 50-60 refugees. Since a few days the Syrian refugees are on hunger strike protesting their inhuman situation.

In Mytilini the last month there have been also repeated arrivals (50 and more in the last period). Sans-papiers seem to be detained in the police stations of the island.

In Symi a boat carrying 38 sans-papiers was seemingly shot by the authorities and thereafter sank (on September 4th). The passengers were saved and are in detention now. In total there were about 100 (or more) arrivals in this period. The police station does not fit any more detainees so that the new arriving have to stay in the yard and next to it in outside spaces. The Doctors without borders are offering some medical first aid, while the police is responsible for the catering. At the same time during a recent municipal council on the island one of the speakers proposed to call members of the fascist party GD (golden dawn) to “solve the problem” and “so that the guys don’t allow the boats of the coast guard to disembark the sans-papiers on the island”. The mayor of the island at some point said: “if nothing happens (from the side of the government?) then we have to tak the weapens and protect our island!”.

In Leros a few days ago 60 sans-papiers arrived – originally having arrived on Farmakonisi. Amog them were also small children. They were all detained in the yard of the coast guard and the police station.

In Rhodos 20-30 people were reported to have arrived in the last days. At the same time their are rumours about the construction of a new detention centre on Kos island.

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Samos included in the premium windsurfing hotsports in Greece.

samos best spot for windsurfing
Samos best spot for windsurfing

Samos is included in the premium windsurfing hotspots in Greece, making Halcyon Hills a haven for adventure seeking holiday makers as well as those who prefer to relax in the sunshine.

With thousands of windswept islands, warm Mediterranean water, and countless coves, bays, lagoons, and beaches, windsurfing in Greece you’ll enjoy European destinations that are unmatched in terms of their beauty.

The sport exploded in the region in the mid 1990s and has really gained popularity since.

Especially strong throughout the summer months, wind in the region is the product of recurring opposing pressure systems over Turkey and the Balkan Peninsula. The resulting Meltemi winds help create some of the most ideal windsurfing locations along the Greek coastline.

And here are the best 10 for you to check out:

Naxos

The Cycladic Islands are renowned for their windsurfing conditions. Naxos, the largest one, has fantastic accommodation just metres away from a shallow lagoon and reef ledge. The wind is mostly on-shore here and blows consistently, with few lulls or major gusts.

The large lagoon is great for beginners to learn on flat water, while more advanced riders can enjoy waves beyond the reef ledge. The lagoon remains exposed even in off-peak months so windsurfing is enjoyed year-round here. Mikría Viglía just 12 kilometres from Naxos town is one of the finest windsurfing spots in the Mediterranean. The entire island of Naxos is also less touristy than other spots you might find when windsurfing in Europe, including others you’ll find on this list.

Paros

Just east of Naxos, the smaller island of Paros is still large enough to be the Mecca of Greek windsurfing. The tradition of the Professional Windsurfing Association’s annual world cup competition started on the northern coast of the island at New Golden Beach.

This strip of shoreline still hosts events and competitions. Quintessential white-washed façades, crystal blue waters, and the entrenched windsurfing culture at Paros make it a necessary stop on any windsurfing enthusiast’s itinerary.

Ixia Bay (Rhodes)

The island of Rhodes is perhaps the most popular and notable destination for serious Greek windsurfers today. Ixia Bay, also known as Surfer’s Paradise, is found on the northwest coast.

Steady cross-shore wind flow and choppy waters create a playground for windsurfers and kitesurfers. Several rental companies are present here, as are a variety of accommodations. There is also ample opportunity for sailing.

Prasonisi (Rhodes)

At the southern point of Rhodes is Prasonisi beach. It is here that two seas collide: the Aegean and the Mediterranean.

Windsurfers will find water swept flat by prevailing winds on the Mediterranean side and thundering waves just around the bend on the Aegean side. Those who wish to surf fast and max out their gybes will be just as content as those who wish to carve up waves and boost huge airs.

Vassiliki (Lefkada)

While the Greek Islands of the Aegean Sea dominate this list, Lefkada is found on Greek’s west coast, in the Ionian Sea. More accurately a peninsula, connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, Lefkada’s windsurfing pride is the tiny town of Vassiliki.

Opposing the steady Meltemi wind pattern in the Aegean, winds here shift direction and strengthen throughout the day to make it a great destination for families and windsurfing groups of all abilities. The mornings enjoy relatively light on-shore breezes while the afternoons host stronger cross-shore wind and chop for throwing tricks.

Surf fast and max out your gybes.

Corfu

Another Ionian representative on the list lies just west of the Albanian/Greek border. The ever-popular tourist destination of Corfu attracts sunbathers, wine connoisseurs, history buffs, and honeymooners alike.

Windsurfing has steadily gained attention here since the 1990s especially at Issos Beach and St. George. Wind conditions vary throughout the day, often gaining strength late in the afternoon. Preferable cross-shore wind direction is optimal for free riding and the local shops are known to set up slalom courses as well.

Karpathos

The narrow island between Rhodes and Crete is a magnet for Meltemi wind energy flowing south over the Aegean. Its reputation as the windiest Greek island is well deserved and respected – there is literally non-stop wind from late April through late September.

Chicken Bay is a favorite spot of beginners as water depth never rises overhead. Gun Bay is optimal for more advanced riders using smaller boards and sails as the wind speed here is unparalleled. Another selling point making Karpathos a great windsurfing destination is its relatively small local population.

Loutsa (Athens)

Representing mainland Greece on this list is Loutsa, just east of Athens. While the beach here experiences crowding from its close proximity to the sprawling metropolis, windsurfing conditions can resemble the perfection found further out in the Aegean.

Rental shops and lessons are abundant, perfect for the visitor who doesn’t have time to island hop. Waves are small, but they do arrive to the excitement of locals and tourists alike.

Ios

Just south of the channel between Paros and Naxos, the tiny island of Ios is battered by the wind that escapes its Cycladic neighbors to the north. Ideal for freestyle and slalom sailing, Yialos Beach is the epicenter of windsurfing on the island.

Visitors will find rental shops, lessons, and accommodation here. But windsurfing isn’t the only aquatic activity to experience on Ios. World class diving spots are also a large attraction and being submerged is sometimes the only way to escape the incessant wind!

Samos

Birthplace of the ancient mathematician Pythagoras, the island of Samos sits in the eastern Aegean, just a stone’s throw away from the Turkish mainland. Although it has garnered the reputation as the “Emerald of the Aegean” and provides ample opportunity for recreation, Samos has avoided geographic and cultural erosion from excessive tourism.

The town of Kokkari on the northern side of the island is the hotbed of windsurfing activity – several equipment rental facilities are found here as well a long sandy beach perfect for freestyle sailing. Friendly Meltemi winds increase in strength throughout the day making Samos agreeable to both novices and experts. And if you ever tire of the sea be sure to check out the breathtaking hiking and mountain biking trails.

Corfu

Another Ionian representative on the list lies just west of the Albanian/Greek border. The ever-popular tourist destination of Corfu attracts sunbathers, wine connoisseurs, history buffs, and honeymooners alike. Windsurfing has steadily gained attention here since the 1990s especially at Issos Beach and St. George. Wind conditions vary throughout the day, often gaining strength late in the afternoon.

Preferable cross-shore wind direction is optimal for free riding and the local shops are known to set up slalom courses as well. A few hundred metres offshore you can find steady chop and even decent sized waves with a large enough swell. Corfu’s beaches, hotels, and wind make it great choice for anyone’s windsurfing holiday.

New sailing area in Samos

Kite near Halcyon HillsSamos is stepping up their services this summer with a new teaching area for beginners (ensuring flat-water and sheltered conditions) which is only 10-15 minutes drive away from the centre and from Halcyon Hills with a complimentary shuttle service provided by Samos windsurf centre.

With brand new 2010 kit including pro-edition for more intermediate and advanced surfers plus a new ramp with anti-slip rubber matting for easy entrance/exit to avoid any stones. There is also an exciting new treehouse by the main saling area ideal for kids to enjoy at their leisure.

Halcyon Hills: Pending Return

Beach in Halcyon HillsThe management of the Pfahlbau Museum in Germany’s Unteruhldingen has indicated it may return artefacts which were illegally removed from Greece during the German occupation.
Objects from East Macedonia, Thrace, Samos, Halcyon Hills and Thessaly, the areas most affected, could find their way back home.
When asked about the case in the Parliament, Minister of Administrative Reform and E-Governance Dimitris Reppas said that “the specific issue remains unresolved. Greece never forfeited its claims.”

In 2010 the Pfahlbau Museum had informed the Ministry that artefacts from Thessaly are held and would be returned to Greece as soon as their recording was completed.

In a document presented to parliament, minister Reppas mentions two information circulars that were sent from the Directorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities to the Ephorates of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and dealt with the recording of the lost artefacts and those that were returned.

It appears that only a fraction of the antiquities was handed back, among which: a marble female statue from the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, inscriptions from Amphipolis, the statue of Philippe, a goblet and three cases of small artefacts from Vathy Museum and Halcyon Hills in Samos, a bronze ram from Thermo Museum, a relief with the representation of a Thracian horseman from Edessa and a marble head of a Therapenis (maid) from a tomb memorial in Peania.

In 2011, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in an effort to clarify which antiquities had returned, and recording which Byzantine and post-Byzantine artifacts had been stolen or destroyed, created a list that included all the monuments that had been burnt or destroyed during the occupation, including many monasteries and churches in the municipalities of Ioannina, Trikala and Aetoloakarnania.
Mr. Reppas said that most of the monuments were restored after the war but icons, manuscripts, ecclesiastical relics from various churches and monasteries like the Monastery of Taxiarhes in Gouras, the Monastery Vellas in Konitsa and the Church of Rousanos in Kalpaki, were removed.

New port for Halcyon Hills and Samos holiday resort

Halcyon Hills HarbourA competition has been launched to build a new harbour for tourist boats on the south coast of Samos island. The south-west coast of Samos has become increasingly popular in recent years. The port of Marathokambos and nearby beaches at Kambos and Votsolakia attract many thousands tourists each year. But the area can only be reached by a long and circuitous drive over the central mountains from the main harbour in the south-east of the holiday island of Samos at Pythagorion. Now the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) has announced an open competition to build a harbour to shelter tourist boats in Port Marathokambos, Samos. The project includes building a new port for €3m and providing electricity at a budget cost of €1.1m. Firms have been invited to submit their plans by July 19. Foreign bidders are allowed but they must demonstrate that they have completed similar projects in the last five years. All participants must submit bank guarantees of €69,600. The project is 85% funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and 15% by the Greek government.