Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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 below Kallithea in the west of Samos island.
Link to part 1 of the Avlakia session: "Cloud of Unknowing"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Forests gone: Kakoperato / Samos 2010

In August 2010 a fire broke out in the Kakoperato region on the greek east aegean island of Samos and - driven by heavy winds - raged through the Kakoperato region east of the Kerkis mountain range, starting 150 meters south of the monastery Panagias Kakoperato and burning its way through a valley destroying a unique natural green forest region with lots of tall trees.

In addition, about 300 beehives were lost in that area due to the wildfire.

After the fire could cross the top of the mountains at the southern end of the valley, it went down the southern slopes of the mountains until it reached the outskirts of the tourist resort Votsalakia near the seaside.
Thanks to combined efforts by many firefighters, the fire could be stopped and none of the village houses was destroyed.

In October 2010 I visited the area, it looked almost like indian summer over there with the brown leaves/needles on the (dead?) trees.

The remote Kakoperato area - far away from the beaches - might not be known to most of the tourists coming to Samos for a beach holiday. But to all those tourists who came early or late in the season to experience and enjoy the beautiful landscapes away from the beaches it is a big loss!
And it is a big loss for the beekeepers too!

While it will be green again pretty soon on the grounds - fern already is present again - it will take quite some time (approx. 80-100 years) until new trees will have grown to the same size again there.

Many trees gone here ....

some remaining here:

What was the cause of this fire? Maybe another lesson to be learned! The fire originated in an area not far away from the monastery Kakoperato where many beehives are located:

With regards to my generation and the next one the result obtained is obvious: another forest area gone on Samos island!

Other greek aegean islands don't face this kind of problem anymore in the hot summer month with strong winds - mainly July and August - because these islands are bare and/or there are no more forests remaining.

Already in August I had a post in my blog about the Kakoperato region.
Kosmadiki posted 2008 a video about the Kakoperato canyon on YouTube.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More consultants than tourists coming to Samos? ;-)

Good gracious, hopefully not!

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

But ....

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".

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.

Now, as the administration responsible for this situation too, what you're going to do?
Well, 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 would 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. direct flights from Izmir or other turkish destinations to Samos or Ikaria island?
current situation here!

Isn't it strange? 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!

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, November 2010
Agreement with Euroxenia

If you study these announcements thoroughly, 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 types of announcements - within a reasonable time frame is another thing.

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, I tried hard, 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 let it not be another set of costly crutches offered to the 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! :-)


With regards to tourism in that region, e.g. from Greece via Samos to Turkey, there is an interesting report with personal impressions, travelling from Samos, Greece, to Kusadasi, Turkey (by canadian Duke_schewe on Tripadvisor):

I must admit Turkey has never been high on my places to visit for whatever preconceived notions I held and after our experiences in Egypt we were a bit trepidatious about another sojourn into a Muslim country. I have been absolutely blown away by this country on so many fronts - the people are amazing, it is unbelievably clean and there are so many diverse things to see. ......
So what'd we do....landed in Kusadasi from the Greek Island of Samos. Considering that no one in Greece seems to have any information on getting to Turkey, I was beginning to wonder if there were any boat services to this country. It turns out there's plenty, but just don't ask anyone from Greece to help you....there is NO love lost between these countries and apparently the newfound popularity of Turkey has hurt Greek tourism so everyone in Greece seems to be ensuring they are not contributing to that statistic. We were immediately struck with the incredible cleanliness everywhere...

full report here!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pappa beach in Ireon

Pappa beach is a small beach located a couple of hundred meters south of the village of Ireon. Almost every time I come to Samos in the high summer season, I spent some time there and drink a beer or two in the tavern on the beach. Meeting friendly people over there, like Costas, lively Maria and charming Venetia!

A very good panoramic impression of this beach, taken from a different perspective, was published by Patrick Vincent Meier in 2009.

Some more impressions are shown in this video from visits in July 2010:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Samos, a rising holiday destination?

According to an online voting organized during the "Philoxenia 2010" exhibition in Thessaloniki, Samos is/was the rising coastal holiday destination 2010 and among the five most popular tourist destinations in Greece for a seaside holiday.

Here is the table with the result of the voting

The number of voters who took part in this online voting were not revealed.

Here is the link to the website of the Philoxenia Expo 2010 meeting/exhibition, which ended on November 21st.

According to the list of exhibitors, the prefecture of Samos took part in Pavillon 10 with Stand 17.

You can congratulate Michalis Toanoglu of Euroxenia, who is in charge for tourism development at the prefecture of Samos, on his facebook site

Unfortunately, there was another real world trend in 2010: while island destinations like Rhodos and Santorini had a significant plus in numbers of visitors over the whole tourist season, the number of passengers who arrived by plane on the island of Samos decreased by approx. 6 percent in 2010 as compared to 2009. Here Samos is another leader, but this time with the highest decrease in 2010 with regards to tourists coming by plane!

Could it be the case, that people really like the beautiful and green island of Samos a lot and carry the lovely island in their hearts, but don't want to spend (more) money for a holiday there?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In the realm of Damselflies on Samos

In the shady valleys, along brooks on Samos (e.g. Potami, Amfilissos, Imvrasos ...) most probably you will find the beautiful bluegreen or brown metallic-shimmering damselflies (beautiful demoiselle, Calopterix virgo).

Come and observe them "on location" during your holiday stay on the east aegean island of Samos in Greece!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Approaching Samos by airplane

Sitting in a charter flight coming from Germany, flying over the south coast of Samos near Pythagorio on a beautiful early morning (7:34 am) in October. View towards the west along the coastline to the village of Ireon, the central southern part of the island and the islet of Samiopoula.
The high mountains of the Kerkis massive are in the background, in the right upper half of the photo, above the winglet of the airplane.

Here are more photos:

7 o'clock in the morning, high above the aegean sea on our way to Samos:

Flying along the northwest coast looking down on the Seitani coast, the massive range of Kerkis mountains and the archipelago of Fourni in the background (7:30 am)

Crossing the island, view again to the west (7:31 am):

After crossing the complete island, flying further southwards over the aegean sea, almost reaching the island of Agathonisi, then turning around and flying northbound, here we are now again over Samos, flying almost directly over Ireon. The high mountain in the background on the upper right side of the photo is Cape Mykale on the turkish coast:

A few seconds away from touching the runway (7:42 am)