'Kronya Pola' from Corfu.
Apologies for the absence of
newsletters since May. Life here in Corfu is returning to a 'Greek normal', so we are treating you to a bumper newsletter this
time. Pour a large glass of wine and enjoy the read.
What a fantastic 2004 it has been for
Greece. The football win was a confident prelude, to
ensure that the Olympics were a complete success. It
certainly silenced the sceptics. Why did so many doubt
the Greeks? Those of us who have lived here many years,
know that they have the uncanny skill to complete any
task just in time and exceed all expectations. The 2004
Olympics were certainly testament to that.
A Corfu Christmas: Many ask what
Christmas is like in Greece. How is it celebrated? What
is eaten? And more importantly, what is the weather
like! Corfu Christmas >>
Visiting an olive press: How many
times have we promised this report? Sofri from our 'Agni
Travel' office was persuaded to visit the Sinies
olive press. Armed with his digital camera, he left no
wheel unturned and has written this fascinating report on
how olives are pressed for their valuable
olive oil. Olive Press
Festive Recipe: Now that Christmas
is over and plans turn toward new year, why not follow
Eleni and create this mouthwatering traditional Greek
new year's day feast? Lamb Kleftiko Recipe >>
Taverna Agni News: Work has
already started on preparing the Taverna in anticipation
for next summer. When we are not working, we are out on
Theo's new fishing boat.
Taverna Agni Winter News >>
The Kefalonia Travel Guide: Not
satisfied with just Corfu, we are turning our attention
to Kefalonia. With the help of a local expert
'Francesca' we have created a detailed and useful guide
to help those planning a visit to the Greek Island of
Kefalonia. Kefalonia Travel Guide >>
Life As a Holiday Rep:
A common question on our message boards concerns working
as a travel representative in Greece. What is really involved?
And how do you become one?
Corfu Holiday Reps >>
Learning the Greek Alphabet: As if
Sofri in the Agni Travel office has not enough work to
do, we have had him recording some new Greek lessons for our
'Learn Greek Online' section. If you follow this lesson,
we will have you reading any Greek text (including those
ambiguous road signs), with perfect pronunciation like a
local. The Greek
Agni Travel News: Agni Travel
is the sister company of Taverna Agni and offers
tailor made Greek Island holidays. With so many
repeat clients from the last few years, properties are
filling up fast. Many of Corfu's visitors are using Agni
Travel as they wish to avoid the commercial package tour
offerings by high street travel agents. Why not dive in
and take a look at some of the new properties on offer
Agni Travel News >>
Village Life: Traffic lights,
storm drains, power cables and olives! An unlikely
collection of events that impinge on local life - but it
certainly does not change anything!
Village life in Loustri, Corfu >>
Technical Help By Sofronios: We
seem to becoming more and more reliant on our computers.
So when things go wrong, it is more important than ever
to get the PC fixed. Sofri is here to help and in this
issue tackles your email problems.
Fighting With your Email>>
A Corfu Christmas
Vassilis, the Greek name for Father Christmas, visits on Christmas eve, but without his usual mode of transport,
it is far too warm for snow and we can only dream of a white Christmas.
That aside, Christmas is celebrated in a similar fashion to the rest of the
Brightly decorated trees, fairy lights twinkling in the dark
illuminating the winter nights offering hope and festive cheer.
Christmas eve, is greeted by the sound of the carol singers. The familiar tunes, sung in Greek of course, by the local children. You may not be surprised to
learn that they expect a monetary reward for their efforts!
Then it is off to the Church. Christmas in Greece focuses on religion, with most
local people (including the young children and teens) attending the Church
at this significant time.
Our Christmas Day
Christmas day was spent at home with the whole family. Aphrodite
(mother-in-law) prepared a feast.
While we waited and helped, we nibbled on a light mezze, with dad's homemade wine.
Talking of dad, he was outside
cooking lamb on the BBQ.
It was warm and we could just see
a dusting of snow on the far away Albanian mountains.
To start we had soup. A chicken, lemon and rice recipe, which sounds a little
unlikely, but it is excellent.
For our main meal, we had
dad's barbequed lamb and pork, served with roasted potatoes, Greek style
with lots of olive oil, and a side salad.
No crackers, turkey or
Christmas pudding on our table though!
Most Greek houses have a TV,
on constantly at top volume! Christmas dinner, was no exception. The
TV churned out traditional Greek bazouki 'tragouthia' (songs). The phone
tried to compete while relatives and friends rung wishing 'Xhronia Polla' - which literally
means 'have many years'. Boxing day was spent visiting friends.
A Visit to An Olive Press
The image of locals collecting olives
and taking them to the olive press is indeed romantic. Wild beasts of burden
turning huge stone wheels, squishing the olives to a pulp, revealing the
precious oils concealed within. Are modern methods of olive oil extraction
much different? Sofri and I visit the local press in Sinies, above Agios
Stephanos to find out.
Noise, smell, people, oil and dimly lit. It was not quite what we were
expecting. The press is actually a collection of several large machines. The
olives go in at one end and come out as oil about 50 meters away!
We spoke to the friendly owner 'Petros'. He was keen to show us around,
especially as it would make him internet famous!
Sacks of freshly collected olives waited in the doorway on pallets.
Each sack, has the owners name and some containers for the resulting oil.
Most people had between 20-30 sacks of olives waiting to be pressed.
When it is your turn, your olives are weighed. You pay for the olives that
you have pressed, not the amount of oil extracted. The olives are processed
in batches. A short gap is made between each batch.
First, the olives are tipped into a large hopper.
A fast-moving conveyer belt whizzes them up into the first part of the
A machine that would not look out of place in a gold mine, removes the
leaves and twigs, washes and then shakes the olives. The noise was
deafening. You can download a short video clip of this operation:
The leaves and twigs are sucked up and emptied out side onto a huge heap.
The cleaned olives drop into another hopper where an Archimedes screw lifts
them up into the masher.
The olives are turned into a paste. The machine is so large, that a raised
walkway and ladders are required so that the machine can be monitored.
Next hot water is added to help thin the paste (increase the flow) and heat
the mixture. The next stage of the press is much slower. Two identical sets
of machines now take the olive paste. This enables two different batches of
olives to be processed at the same time.
The olive paste mixture is spun to remove the heaver pips.
The pips fall out the bottom of the machine as a coarse dust. An
Archimedes screw set in the floor, takes them outside to a huge boiler and
The boiler is used to heat the water that is used earlier in the pressing
The oil is further refined in a centrifuge and then pushed through a filter
at high pressure.
The extracted oil is poured into a barrel. It takes between 7-10kg of olives
to produce 1 litre of oil.
At this stage the quality is measured, by calculating the acidity of the
oil. Less than 0.5% acid is considered perfect.
Other locals wait their turn. From start to finish, it can take 3 hours to
process the olives. The machine at one time is able to process up to 5
batches of olives.
Small chalk signs hung on the machines indicate whose olives are inside. As
that batch of olives moves through the press, the sign is moved along too.
It's a long process and yet, among the noise, local people still manage to
enjoy coffee together and gossip. Olives have a huge influence on local
people and play an important role in the Greek diet.
The next time I enjoy a salad dressed in olive oil, I will remember
what it has been through.
Lamb Kleftiko is a typical new-year feast. It is surprisingly easy to make and even easier
to eat. Eleni shows you how. For best results you
will need a clay or iron casserole dish.
1 leg of lamb
1 large onion,
peeled and cut into quarters
2 whole tomatoes
2 whole garlic
bulbs - do not peel
2 sprigs of fresh
4 medium size
potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot,
peeled and coarsely sliced
1 cup of chicken
1/2 wine glass of
salt and black pepper
Take an iron or terracotta oven casserole with lid. Place leg of lamb inside. If
it does not fit, you may need to trim the leg bone, or cut joint in half.
With a sharp knife, prick the meat about 10 times randomly over the leg.
This will let the flavours ingress during cooking.
Rub about a teaspoon of sea salt into the meat with your hands. Make sure
all the meat is lightly coated in salt.
Do the same with coarsely ground black pepper. (Eleni usually uses a mix of
black and red pepper corns as this offers a less harsh peppery taste.)
Snap the sprigs of rosemary into smaller pieces and push into the holes made
during step 1.
Add the: onions, whole garlic bulbs, tomatoes (again leave whole) and sliced carrots.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the vegetables. Then, drizzle over the olive
oil and stock.
Add the casserole lid and place in the oven at 200c for at least 2 hours.
Serve in the middle of the table with a dry red wine. Note how juicy the
whole vegetables become. The whole garlic bulbs will be fought over.
If you have any questions or comments, simply follow this thread in our
Lamb Kleftiko Recipe
Taverna Agni - Winter News
A busy, hot summer and then my
continuing health problems, put the 'summer newsletters' on hold. Thankfully
a recent operation has been successful, and I am planning to take things a
little easier! It is possible that the newsletters will be quarterly from
now on as Eleni insists that I spend more time away from the computer!
The summer was very busy, but manageable.
The finale was a wedding, right at the end of the season. The weather stayed
Theo has now bought a new fishing boat. Fish stocks are now recovering after
restrictions were enforced over the last few years.
Each morning he has been collecting the nets and a surprisingly varied catch
has been caught. It will be exciting to offer new dishes next summer at the
Taverna reflecting the 'catch of the day'.
The Kefalonia Travel Guide
great excitement, we have now started adding
Kefalonia to our guides. The
an independent guide to "unpackaged" Kefalonia for the experienced traveller
and for the first time visitor. Whether you enjoy
walking, cruising, horse-riding or just want to unwind,
you will find a refreshing selection of articles and
ideas on ways to enjoy this popular Greek island.
Working As a Travel Rep
Imagine the scene. Living on a Greek island, as a
travel rep. Working a few hours a day, then hitting
the beach to top up your tan, not forgetting
spending your evenings checking out the bars! You need to so that you can recommend the best ones
to your clients! Months
of sun, sea and sand. Best of all, you get paid for
it! Is this the reality? We ask Tanya and find out.
How long have you been a travel
rep? I started repping after a skiing holiday in
France. I imagined the life and decided that as
soon as I had finished my A-levels, I would work a
summer abroad. That was in 1982. I only planned to
work for one summer, but my plans soon changed as I
met a local lad! I have been working as a rep
on-and-off since then.
How many hours and days per week do
you work? I work 6 days per week. Sunday off, as
that is the day with least arrivals. I do not have
set hours. My contract states that I finish my day
when the work is done. Normally I start at 9am and
finish at 6pm. Once a week I have airport duty. If
there are flight delays then it may mean that I have
to work though the night, and deal with irate clients.
What does your typical day consist
of? Most mornings I check on my clients. Some of
them I visit at their villas, others I meet at a
pre-arranged location which is usually a Taverna. I
try to take an hour for lunch and if I am very
lucky, I manage a swim. The afternoon is spent
dealing with any problems that the clients may have
and then paperwork for head office.
What is the pay and perks of the job?
The pay is often related to how long you have
been working for the company. New travel reps can
earn as little as 500 Euros per month. Usually some
sort of accommodation is provided, but many reps
prefer to spend some of their wage and upgrade to
something nicer. If you are very lucky, you get a
car, petrol allowance and maybe a phone. This can be
a mixed blessing though as it means that clients can
contact you day and night!
The best thing about being a travel
rep on Corfu? Meeting people for me is the
highlight. Often when people arrive, they are
stressed, (more likely to complain) and irritable.
During their holiday they start to mellow and
become 'normal'. Many return to Corfu
year-after-year, and I have become friends
with so many people. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.
The worst thing about being a travel
rep on Corfu? Trips. I am expected to sell a
certain quota of trips per week, or I may lose my
Your advice for anyone planning to
become a rep? Be prepared to work really hard.
If you think it will be easy, think again. You will
be required to do things that you do not like -
speaking in front of many people for example at a
welcome meeting. This takes nerve and confidence.
Also you will need to deal with complaints, people
can become very unreasonable and blame you, even if it
is completely out of your control. You will need
very thick skin.
Our Advice for becoming a Holiday
Rep in Greece:
When going for an
interview, keep eye contact, to show that you are
confident. Do not worry about not having past
experience, but show that you will be able to cope
in difficult situations. Plan beforehand some
typical scenarios and how you would deal with them.
Make sure that the
travel company you work for is going to pay your tax
and medical insurance.
Training is often
an intense period where they will test your skills
at coping. Do not be put off, be
determined and realise that worse is to come, but
the final reward great.
After a season of
repping, you will have improved confidence,
conversational skills and diplomacy which is a
useful foundation for any manager.
Learning the Greek Alphabet
make a new year's resolution to learn some Greek? Sofri
is here to help and have prepared the following useful
lesson that will enable you to read any Greek. Next all
you will have to do is understand what it means!
Let's start by listening the whole Greek
Click this icon to hear the speech:
(The accent or stress is in bold)
(De like the)
(not like ETA, but like the 'e' in 'she')
(Yi like Y in 'yacht' ending like an
o not an a)
(The K not stressed!)
(do not stress the P)
(like in row without the 'w')
(do not stress the T)
('H' like in 'hand')
only way to learn Greek, is to read and write. Follow
Alphabet - print out the page, then for each letter,
write it ten times in both 'capital and small case', while
saying it out loud. Refer to the sounds above recorded by Sofri
to ensure that your pronunciation is correct. Then repeat the
exercise another 5 times!
Now, let's Try! You are heading out from
the airport and see this sign:
Remember, the accent
is the vowel that has the 'tick' above. It is the part
of the word that needs to be stressed, and this is done
by the raising of your voice at that point. Try
pronouncing the above two Greek words. Try on your own
first, but do not worry as Sofri is here to help:
Exceptions: Double Vowels
See how easy it is? Well there is a minor
complication. Greek words which have the following
combination of vowels, are pronounced slightly
differently. Double vowels are pronounced as one
sound. However the double vowel rule is not applicable
(an exception) if the first vowel is accented or the
second is double toned. In this case the vowels are
pronounced as normal.
The ‘oo’ in ‘too’
Like ‘av’ in ‘average’
like ‘af’ in ‘after’ (depends on context)
Like ‘ev’ in ‘ever’
like ‘ef’ in ‘effect’ (depends on context)
In the next newsletter, Sofri will be building on
your new Greek skills, helping you communicate with
the locals. having a clear grasp of the above is
most important though.
If you have any
questions or comments concerning this Greek lesson, please follow this thread
in our forum:
Learning the Greek Alphabet
Agni Travel News
Agni Travel is the sister company of Taverna Agni and of
course the Corfu Travel Guide. With over 40 properties on offer, we have the
perfect selection for your next holiday. The following four properties are a
taste of what is on offer:
Persephone, Kaminaki, Nissaki
Sleeps up to 4 persons. From 945 Euros per week
Easily accessible and private air conditioned
villa with shaped pool and sunbathing terrace.
The views from Persephone are fantastic and
stretch out to Corfu Town. The nearest beach is
Kaminaki, approximately two minutes by car,
where there are two beach front tavernas.
Sleeps up to 7 persons. From 1190 Euros per week
Very private villa, set above the Agios
Stephanos / Kerasia headland. Panoramic views.
Fully air conditioned. Private pool and terrace.
Spiti Antigoni, Agni Bay
Sleeps up to 5 persons. From 700 Euros per week
Offering an outstanding location, on the beach
in Agni bay. Spiti Antigoni is an excellent
choice for those looking for an old property,
but with modern comforts. Air conditioned.
Nearby Tavernas and boat hire.
Villa Kalithea, Nissaki
Sleeps up to 6 persons. From 896 Euros per week
Perched up high on the hillside, above the
village of Nissaki and amongst the olive trees,
is the peaceful hamlet of Apolysies. Its
elevated position offers stunning panoramic
views over the North East coastline and sea to
Corfu town. Private pool and BBQ area. Air
conditioned bedrooms. TV and DVD.
To view all of our properties view:
Village Life In Loustri
Spirit is of course abundant at this time of year. The
commercialism associated with Christmas is here in Greece, but thankfully not to the
obsessive degree in many European countries.
performed a nativity play at the local church.
During the winter months, the roads are almost deserted and in
stark contrast to the busy summer months.
Thanks to those who are helping the local stray
animals. During December, there was a campaign to neuter/spay local cats.
Several in Agni were treated. I hope to add a full report in the next
Fighting Email Spam By Sofronios
Have you had problems
with your emails lately? How many times have you tried
sending an email and it is being returned? Have you just
booked a holiday and you are still waiting for that
confirmation email to arrive?
Are you depressed each time you check your email? Then
you are not alone. You are actually one of many people
(including us) who have been experiencing this problem for the
last few months and it is caused by spam!
What is spam?
Spam, in a sentence, is a waste of time and space! Spam
is not generated by a virus. It is deliberately sent by
a user, called a spammer. It is the electronic version
of junk mail; the advertising we find on our door step
every day. Statistically, 80% of emails sent are spam
Can anyone send a spam email?
Yes, it is actually very easy and this is a reality for
the internet since its infant years, even before the WWW
was introduced in 1991.
Why is this possible?
To help understand where the problem is lets see what
happens when you send a normal letter.
You write the letter.
You close the envelope and right your address details
You add the address of the recipient.
You give the letter to the post office, with any means
possible (postman, postbox).
The letter is collected by the post office.
From the address and PO number, the post office knows
the destination post office.
So sends the letter there.
The other post office collects the letter.
Finds out the address of the recipient and delivers the
letter to the person's mailbox.
The recipient opens his mailbox and reads the letter.
Now let us see what happens when you send an email
You write the letter.
Your email address is written automatically by the email
program you use.
You add the address of the recipient.
You give the email to the mail server (Internet post
The letter is collected by the mail server.
From the email address, the mail server knows the
destination mail server.
So sends the email there.
The other mail server collects the email.
Find out the address of the recipient and delivers the
email to the person's mailbox.
The recipient opens his mailbox and reads the letter.
If you take a quick look at the above you will realize
that there is no difference in the logic involved when
you send mail and email. All rules and tricks apply in
exactly the same way. You can impersonate you are
someone else if you like. You can go to which ever post
office you would like.
So what does a spammer do to send an email?
A spammers acquires, with any way possible, a list of emails.
Finds a mail server that allows open relay. That is, a
server that allows sending email without verifying your
identity, which is normal way of sending emails. Some
mail servers do not allow that anymore, but there are
many out there that still do.
Sets a program to use the mail server and send thousands
of emails to his mailing list.
The rest is known to everybody…
How does this affect the latest
problems with our emails?
Companies (like AOL) had to do something, since this
extra email traffic costs money. AOL and many other
internet providers, with the aid of
organizations (like http://www.mail-abuse.com/) have
decided to implement one the features of mail transfer
that was not yet fully implemented, mail servers' credibility.
To address that, they have obliged all mail servers in
the world to declare their presence on the web with
specific location details. This list is considered a
white list, and any email coming from that source, will
be considered of low risk and let pass. However, this
white list is monitored on a 24 hour basis and reports on
spam can lead a mail server to a 24 hour failure of
emails or even to the blacklist.
So, anyone that is not white listed, is considered a
possible spam source. As this is very dynamic (not all
like the idea), you could end up unable to send emails
to certain addresses on the Internet.
What do you do when I realize the above has happened?
There is not much you can do. A call to your provider is
the most appropriate action. A call is actually the best
solution in all situations. So keep your ISP number
handy, from what we see lately, we will all need it!
What are we, Agni Travel, doing about it?
Agni Travel is an internet oriented company.
It is very important for us to receive and send
emails. So we had to take action too.
What you are now reading is one thing. Keeping our current (and
possible) customers informed of the situation can help
them and us book their holiday.
We are also currently working on a system that will help
us reduce the need for outgoing emails and also rectify
the booking experience.
It has not been an easy task, and Nathan has being
spending a substantial amount of his sleep and a lot of
caffeine to incorporate such a system into the Agni
So how can 'you'
I wish I had a drachma
for each person asking this question!
You need to follow some
rules that can help you decrease the effect of spam
and help the rectification of the email service.
My own personal rules
are listed below. They
not a "panacea", but help
me handle over 200 of spam emails per day in the
Agni Travel office!
Rule No 1: Make sure
your email provider has a spam filter enabled for
Rule No 2: Make sure
your email provider is not 'over enthusiastic' about
spam and thus blocks some of your valuable emails.
Rule No 3: If you are
given some options select the one that is best for
your needs. Select less restriction to your business
account and very strict ones for your personal. This
will help you save valuable time and effort, as you
normally use the business account everyday and can
get rid of spam emails faster, but cannot afford to
miss an important business email. However, you may
only visit your personal account every other day or
weekend. You could end up with a thousands of emails
Rule No 4: Report only
the everyday spam. Do not go out and report spam
just because you receive an email from a company
every other month. Report those that you did not ask
for and they keep on coming everyday.
Rule No 5: If you have
requested the email in the past (by listing you
email in a newsletter, etc) find the option to
remove your email from their website, or at the
bottom of the email. Alternatively, reply to the
email with remove in the subject. If they insist on sending,
report them as spam.
Rule No 6: Exercise the
virtue of Patience.
In the spirit of these
festival days I would like to wise you all good luck
and a spam-less New Year 2005.
Agios Vasilis, visits 'Out of the Blue' bar in
Kassiopi on Christmas eve. To add a caption to this photo, follow this
Jan Corfu Caption Competition