Destination: Greece

The Olympic Torch Relay, in Pictures

The Big Picture follows the flame’s progress from Olympia and Athens across Canada en route to Vancouver—with stops in Tofino, Old Crow, Kugluktuk and beyond.

Athens: A New Look for an Old City

Exploring Europe, exploring travel as a political act

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‘My Life In Ruins’: Worth the Rental?

‘My Life In Ruins’: Worth the Rental? Publicity still via Fandango
Publicity still via Fandango

“My Life in Ruins” landed on DVD last week, and I picked up a copy to check it out. A follow-up flick from Nia Vardalos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame,  it tells the story of an uptight Greek-American tour guide who learns to let loose, and I was cautiously optimistic when I first heard about it. I’m happy to report that my confidence was rewarded with an enjoyable lightweight flick—with a couple of caveats.

First, anyone looking for unexpected plot twists will be disappointed: This is a safe, predictable comfort-food type of movie. Second, the jokes are a lot like the storyline; pardon the pun but this is well-traveled comedic territory. Still, Vardalos and co-star Richard Dreyfuss are charming enough to keep things together, the titular Greek ruins are gorgeous, and hey, do jokes about tourist stereotypes ever really get old?

If your answer to that question is yes, then “My Life in Ruins” probably isn’t for you. But if you can appreciate a sunny little story peppered with travelers’ inside jokes and some lovely Greek landscapes? Then I’d say it’s worth the five bucks and two hours of your time.

European Flesh and the American Prude

European Flesh and the American Prude Alexandra Beier/Reuters

Exploring Europe, exploring travel as a political act

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McWorld Goes Local

Further evidence (not that we needed it) that a globalized McWorld does not necessarily mean global homogeneity: Increasingly—though it has been going on for years—fast food franchises around the world are rolling out menu items created for local tastes.

From Global Post:

Domino’s pizzas come topped with squid in Taiwan, black beans in Guatemala and feta cheese in Greece. In China, Kentucky Fried Chicken sells rice congee, while Col. Sanders in India woos vegetarians with offerings like the Chana Snacker, a chickpea burger topped with Thousand Island sauce.

Moon-Gazing Around the Globe

Full moon over London Photos by cybea via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From Puebla to Paris, 12 photos by moonstruck world travelers

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My Deep-Sea Orbit Into a Love of Place

My Deep-Sea Orbit Into a Love of Place Photo by Joanna Kakissis

The deep, clean dive into the sea off Southwestern Greece probably sealed my lifelong attachment to the pristine in places. I was 9 years old and, until then, had only swam in chlorinated swimming pools and muddy river water in landlocked North Dakota. My father had grown up swimming in a secluded beach near the village of Kyparissia as a young orphan and had associated its salty breath and blue-green water with a wanderlust that would turn him dreamy-eyed even as a middle-aged man. To him, travel at its most elemental was about the unadorned land, enlivened by tides and breeze and hulking mountains. He described his childhood beach so lovingly that it almost sounded human.

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Battle Over the Elgin Marbles Rages On

Battle Over the Elgin Marbles Rages On Photo by roblisameehan via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by roblisameehan via Flickr (Creative Commons)

We blogged about one writer’s sneak peek at the New Acropolis Museum last summer, and now opening day has finally arrived—predictably, not without controversy.

The museum was designed both to pressure Britain for the return of the Elgin Marbles, and to provide a worthy home for them after their (eventual, theoretical) return. With that context in mind, it’s no surprise that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the director of the British Museum—where the marbles are currently held—have all declined invitations to the grand opening on Saturday.

Drink a Microbrew, Save the Planet, Taste the Culture

Drink a Microbrew, Save the Planet, Taste the Culture Photo by prince roy via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by prince roy via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ve said before that travelers who want to walk the talk of environmentally responsible living must also seek out sustainable food (i.e. no Chilean sea bass!) when on the road. I’m adding locally brewed beer to my list.

Making and transporting beer doesn’t produce nearly as many carbon emissions as boutique wines, which are often flown by overnight air, says Pablo Paster in his column for Treehugger. Still, Paster advises eco-imbibers to drink a local brew over that beloved German beer.

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Greek Travel Industry Says ‘Thank You for the Music’

Is “Mamma Mia!” helping to buffer the Greek tourism industry from a broader travel downturn? Yes, according to the Telegraph’s Charles Starmer-Smith. He writes of the Greece-set summer blockbuster: “While travel companies and airlines have reported a marked shift away from Eurozone countries in recent months due to the continued weakness of the pound against the euro, Greece has bucked the trend. Sales of easyJet flights to Athens have risen by 13 per cent since the film was released in July, and the low-cost airline has attributed the surge to the film’s rosy depiction of Greek island life.”

We gave “Mamma Mia!” the World Hum Travel Movie Club treatment back in January.

Hello? Is it Greece You’re Looking For?

Hello? Is it Greece You’re Looking For? Photo by jonrawlinson via Flickr (Creative Commons)

With a new album on the way, Lionel Richie is making the media rounds—and he’s landed in the pages of the Telegraph travel section, dishing on his best and worst travel memories.

Turns out, the R&B/easy listening legend is itching to get to Greece, he dreads being spotted mid-meal at a restaurant (“all I need is if the pianist starts playing ‘Three Times a Lady’”) and his favorite hotel is Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace. (“Now I know why I couldn’t get the marble for my house—they have it all. I couldn’t find the bougainvillea I wanted—they have it. Everything I needed for my house in California, they have it.”) The average traveler may not be able to relate to his experiences or advice—remember: “don’t let your entourage pack for you”—but they still make for an entertaining read.

Athens, Greece

athens greece REUTERS/John Kolesidis

A tourist takes pictures of his family in front of the closed ancient theater of Herod Atticus at Acropolis hill in Athens.

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Galaxidi, Greece

galaxidi, greece REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

Revelers celebrate Clean Monday by participating in a colorful "flour-war", a traditional activity marking the end of the carnival season, in the port town of Galaxidi, some 125 miles northwest of Athens.

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John Baxter Likes Him Some ‘Poor Food’

In the latest issue of Food & Wine magazine, prolific author John Baxter waxes in the travel column about his history with “poor food,” taking us first to a long stew-filled meal at a rural tavern on a Greek island, then to his childhood in Australia, and Paris. The most unlikely experience: Christmas dinner at the Georgetown house of a government official who had lost his job due to a change in administrations. Baxter doesn’t say it—though I suppose it’s implied—but we don’t need a downturn in the economy to see that “poor food” has managed to quietly work its way into eaters’ appetites of all incomes these days. Which—in all its irony—is a good thing. Pub grub, soul food, most of the Italian food we know and love, and the current hankering for all things street food (being served at upscale restaurants around the country) all sprang from the same place: necessity. 

World Hum Travel Movie Club: ‘Mamma Mia!’

Here’s the set-up: Bride-to-be Sophie has three possible biological fathers, and all three have come from around the world—along with an international cast of oddball friends—to her destination wedding on a tiny Greek Island. The result? The year’s biggest travel-musical-comedy.

Since it sashayed onto the big screen this past summer, “Mamma Mia!”—the movie adaptation of the hit ABBA-themed musical—has smashed sales records and garnered some award nominations, too. World Hum Travel Movie Clubbers Eli Ellison and Eva Holland took the disc for a spin.

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