Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Avlakia Session: If I needed you

The Avlakia Session on Samos island in Greece, part 2.

The dutch musicians Ad Vanderveen & Kersten de Ligny and greek musician Dimos Kassapidis performing together, playing & singing the beautiful song " If I needed you".

This song was written and originally performed by american singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt.

Recorded 10 meters away from the lovely blue waters of the aegean sea in the small village of Avlakia on the north coast of the island of Samos, Greece, July 2010.
The outro part of the video was taken on a remote beach in the west of Samos island.
Link to part 1 of the Avlakia session: "Cloud of Unknowing"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Xenophilia: more consultants than tourists coming to Samos? ;-)

Good gracious, hopefully not!

Maybe better name the change: "from ego to eco"! :-)

The island of Samos faces a steady decline in tourists coming to the island over the last years. On top of that, in 2010 5,8 percent less travellers as compared to the season 2009 came with international flights to the Island.

This might be interpreted as an indication that the administration - due to whatever reason - has neglected the development of skills to handle the requirements of nowadays tourism management.

What do you do when you don't know what to do?
In a situation like the one described by Carl von Clausewitz: "Nothing is more difficult than withdrawing from an untenable position".

Well, as the administration responsible for this situation - at least in part -, you might find yourself forced into hiring consultants from other islands and/or foreign countries who will design a "strategic concept" for the next 5-10 years.
This seems to be part of the Xenophilia idea of the greek people I think! ;-)

Because consultants are expected to take an independant position and focus on tourism from a perspective other than from within the island to clearly see things the administration didn't want to notice or didn't want to be confronted with!
Well, after all, some Samians might say: all of a sudden tourism went down!

One thing we have to keep in mind though, well, what could we do, if we would find ourselves on the border of the European Union, as far as possible away from Athens, in a political situation that cuts us off from almost all resources and travel connections coming from the near Asia Minor coast and that could help Samos to become a cheaper destiny.

Why do most of the goods have to be shipped via Athens or Thessaloniki to Samos? What about e.g. flights from Izmir or other turkish destinations to Samos or Ikaria island?
current situation here!

Another example: isn't it strange, that as a tourist, you can buy organized (daily) excursions by ship from Samos to the holy island of Patmos or to ancient Ephesus in Turkey. But try to do this while you are on Samos with excursions to Ikaria and Fourni, the two other destinations covered by the prefecture of Samos. And btw., Ikaria has an airport since quite a couple of years already!

In this situation, for sure, the Samians need the best consultants, e.g. "The World Centre of Excellence for Destinations" (CED) in Canada.

First the prefecture called for Euroxenia from Rhodos, then - in addition - the prefecture last year in November teamed up with CED and their SMED process!
See here:
Agreement with CED, middle of November 2009
Report presented to Samos by CED
Agreement with Euroxenia

If you study these announcements, you will notice that they are filled with a collection of Buzzword Bingo words I know well enough from presentations of american consultants. Enthusiasm bubbles created by "speech foam".
But lets be serious: announcements are one thing and what will be achieved – despite these type of announcements - within a reasonable time frame is another thing.

As a short example: I try to do my best to use some of these well known "buzzwords" to create a "bubble of excellence".
Let's see what I can do, what about this one here:
Process to foster "Real World Measurements for Excellence in Xenophilia Performance" (RWMEXP) to excel in total Philoxenia. Lol!

The Canadair planes CL-215 help(ed) Samos a lot in fighting many forest fires during the summer seasons. So let's hope, that - with regards to tourism matters - the SMED process by the canadian based CED will indeed allow Samos to "walk upright" again and perform well in the competition with other tourist destinations within reach. Samos is - besides Crete - the first greek island to engage in this process.
And please let it not be another set of costly crutches offered to an aching administration.

Sort of a short insight in the SMED process can be found in the presentation of Manolis Psarros

And, as someone who likes good photos, I can only beg the prefecture: please send a good photo to CED to present the island of Samos as destination on CEDs website. The actual photo that I can see (Dec 3rd-8th, 2010) showing Samos-town and the gulf of Samos is imho the worst photo of all current SMED destinations presented and imho doesn't serve the island of Samos as a really beautiful touristic destination ......

..... with friendly and original local people, like, for example, some of the musicians I met on Samos .....

and lots of good things to eat and drink!

Btw., maybe this is another reason, why consultants (and investors) like to come to Samos! ;-)

But, what about the (N)Ikarians? As I see it, due to their painful experience over quite a few years, they gave a damn ;-) on what the prefecture administration in Samos-town on Samos island is/was not doing for them.

And now, indeed, in a way, Ikarians can be proud, because during the last years, Ikaria was successful in positioning itself as a unique destination and especially in attracting lots of young people as visitors to the island!

If you travel on a ferry during the summer season from Piraeus to Samos, it might appear that Ikaria acts like an age filter for international tourism: almost all who are below the age of thirtyfive will leave the ship in Ikaria, most of those aged 45 or more will stay and proceed to Samos.

I come to the island of Samos by plane via direct charter flights from Frankfurt, many, many times since 1999. And of course, I'm way beyond 45! :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wet experience!

These two photos show the harbour front of Pythagorion on Saturday morning, October 16th, 2010, before the heavy thunderstorm came. Already during the night it had been raining.
Later on this Saturday, after 11:15 am, I experienced for the first time a thunderstorm with almost torrential rainfalls on Samos while driving in a car on the road between Pythagorion and Vathy (Samos-town).

Leaving Samos-town:

Entering Pythagorion:

In Pythagorion we stopped on the main road whilst the rainfall was getting stronger and stronger. Until the main road looked like a river! Even hail came down for a short time at approx. 01:30 pm.

For people living on Samos this might be nothing new, because they already experienced it in the wintertime many times.
But for me it was quite a new Samos experience!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Samos in October 2010

End of season 2010 is approaching fast. Every day some more bars, restaurants and Hotels close down.

Here are some photos from a mostly sunny but windy and not so warm Samos at the end of the second week in October 2010.
But the sea is still warm, good for bathing on empty beaches.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Samos distributed worldwide!

The greek island of Samos in the internet! Lots of photos, websites, travel fora and articles can be found transporting the good news about this unique island in the east aegean.
Some of my Samos videos/presentations on YouTube have reached quite a respectable number of views since they were launched:

15.800 views for Samos 2007, greek & green
17.650 views for "Samos 2007, greek & green" (10 min)
19.400 views for Samos/Greece 2008 presentation "greek & green"
23.650 views for Samos 2009, a fascinating experience!

And the winner is:

26.350 views for "Rebetika Tragoudia / Rebetika (Rebetic) Songs"
A video about the music of Jiannis Loulourgas, a luthier, singer and bouzouki player from Pythagorio on Samos island.

Sort of a rising star is the video about the visit of the mega-yacht "Al Mirqab" in Pythagorio (3740 views since it was published a bit more than three month ago on June 19th, 2010:

Alltogether, more than 100.000 times people were clicking on these videos on the YouTube platform.

On the video internet platform "Vimeo" I have established a Samos specific channel called "Experience Samos" with many videos and presentations of Samos.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The strait of Samos

The strait of Samos (in greek: Stenó Sámou, or in turkish: Dar Bogaz). Where Greece with the island of Samos is at its closest distance to Turkey!

When driving on dusty dirt roads between Psili Ammos and Posidonio on the south-east coast of Samos it feels like looking down on a lake, with the high mountains of the turkish coast on the opposite side.

The western end of the strait of Samos. The small island (with a lighthouse) belongs to Turkey and is opposite of Psili Ammos beach.

Sunset trip on Friday evening, captain Jiannis from Pythagorio with his boat Agia Irini is on his way through the strait of Samos heading towards a nice night with lots of eating, drinking and dancing in a fish tavern in Posidonio.

Some videoclips I took this year in the south-east of Samos:

Well, how narrow is this channel between Europe (Greece) and Asia Minor (Turkey) at its closest distance?

I’ve done some searches in the internet and obtained differing data. A range from 1,2 kilometers to approx. 2 kilometers is offered for the closest distance!

meandertravel says:
The island Samos lies in the heart of Central Aegean, 1200 meters from the shore of Asia Minor.

Many people with german websites just copy the text from the german Wikipedia site, which states 1,3 km. The english version of Wikipedia interestingly allows 1,6 kilometers for the closest distance!

As does the EUROPÄISCHES SEGEL-INFORMATIONSSYSTEM which states 1,68 kilometer! (in german):
„Die Straße ist an der engsten Stelle 0,9 nm (=1,68km) breit und 2,99 nm (=5,64km) lang.“

The World Cruising Wiki says:
The Mycale channel, which is 1 nM wide, separates the two countries, ...

Partsafas K. Stillianos, head of the Samos port authority, is cited to have said:
“Samos is very close to Turkey. This is why we deal with so many illegal immigrants. At its closest point in the Samos Strait, Greece and Turkey have just 0.6 nautical miles between them,” ....

Samosin.gr site says:
„To the East of Samos is Turkey and Asia Minor, from which Samos is separated by the “Eptastadio” channel, (called Dar Bogaz in Turkish) whish is only 1650 meters wide at its narrowest point.“

I even found a statement saying this:
„In fact, Samos is only 2km from Turkey at its closest point, but to be honest, as far as I could see, Samos could be 2km of the coast of France for all the Turkish influence in evidence!“

Nowadays, Google helps us to find out ourselves what is the closest distance between Samos and the turkish coast.
And I remembered the sunset trip to Posidonio with captain Jiannis from Pythagorio where he always shows people in his boat this point on the south-east coast of Samos.

So, I marked two points on Google Earth in the area of the Samos strait which I think could represent the closest distance between the two countries Greece and Turkey.

The coordinates are:

For Samos:
27° 1'47.01"E

Decimal degrees notation: 37.704764 27.029725

For Turkey:
27° 1'51.98"E

Decimal degrees notation: 37.689733 27.031106

With these data I went to two different websites to calculate the distance.

I obtained 1676 meters !

with geo-tools/distance-calculator
I obtained 1675 meters.

Well, that perfectly fits the data given on that sailing site (1,68 kilometers)!

I didn't check it, but maybe others regard the distance between those two small islands/rocks in the sea (the one in front of the turkish mainland, and the other one opposite to it in front of Psili Ammos beach on Samos) as the shortest distance between Greece and Turkey and use this distance.
I'm refering here to the closest distance between the mainland of Turkey and the shores of Samos.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Promoting Samos

I am pleased to let our readers know about a new cooperation i started with the Athens News Agency (ANA). I am photographing also for ANA now.
The past Weekend i covered the Hraia Festival which took place on Friday 20.August 2010 in Pythagorion. I send the photos forward to ANA and they distribute it to the greek Media.
Here are some Links to online publications, which i think, they are of a good promotion for Samos:

TA NEA online





So, if you are organizing a festival, a cultural event or other festivities at Samos and you think it is worth doing a reportage about it, you can contact me at info@art-of-focus.com .
Also for other news worthy topics, i am interested to here from you.

Photos of the HRAIA Festival in Pythagorion:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pythagorion, 5th August, the Feast of Honor of "The sea battle of Mikali"

Every year, on the 5th of August, Pythagorion celebrates the anniversary of the sea battle of Mykali.
This naval Battle took place in the straits of Mykali on 5th August 1824. During the Greek Revolution, the Greek fleet under the command of Georgios Sahtouris defeated the Ottoman fleet led by Hosref.
The 6th of August is a National Day for the Island of Samos.

All photographs are copyright by Michael Anhaeuser. If you wish to use any of the photographs for publications, please contact me at info@art-of-focus.com to get a price quote and the permission.