Greece’s Piraeus signs deal to buy Cypriot bank units-source

ATHENS, March 26 |
Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:39am EDT

ATHENS, March 26 (Reuters) – Greece’s Piraeus bank
has signed a deal to take over the branches of Cypriot banks in
Greece, a banking source told Reuters on Monday.

The lender later confirmed the deal had been signed.

Last week Greece’s bank bailout fund picked Piraeus to
acquire the Greek units of troubled Cypriot lenders Bank of
Cyprus , Cyprus Popular Bank and
Hellenic Bank to shield the country’s banking system
from the Cyprus crisis.

Greece one of top tourism destinations

Greece mainland and the Greek islands are one of the favourite holiday destinations in the world. Most tourists come to Greece from Europe, especially the EU countries, and from the USA, while fewer originate from the other continents.

The islands are the main characteristic of Greece’s morphology and an integral part of the country’s culture and tradition. Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 islands are inhabited. This is a truly unique phenomenon for the European continent.

The Greek Archipelago takes up 7,500 km of the country’s total 16,000 km coastline, offering a highly diversified landscape: beaches stretching over many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, sandy beaches with sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and dark colored sand typical of volcanic soil and coastal wetlands.

Many of these Greek beaches have been awarded the blue flag under the Blue Flags of Europe Program, providing not only swimming, but also scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, sailing and windsurfing.

Some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands (Cycladic, Minoan civilizations, etc.), so therefore the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage and the fascinating local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilization.

Mykonos, with its cosmopolitan character; Santorini, with the most romantic sunset in the world; Rhodes, the island of the medieval castles, the sun and the butterflies; Crete, with its revolutionary spirit; Corfu, with its Venetian style; Ithaca, the homeland of Ulysses; Samos, the greenest of all Greek islands; Skiathos, with its long and sandy beaches; all these constitute just a few examples of the most famous Greek paradises.

Family vacations

Smiley faces and hospitality, family warmth and peace, security, untouched nature and magnificent food give a unique combination, making Greece number one family destination worldwide.

In the summer, families will have the chance to swim in clear, safe, turquoise water at one of the many blue flag beaches of the country. Picturesque tavernas offering dishes made with pure greek ingredients add to the delightedness of the visitor. In the fall, the stunning colors of the landscape and the relatively warm weather call for touring. This period is ideal for trips down the history line, walking through the impressive stone palaces of the greek castle-cities spotted all around the country. The medieval atmosphere of Mystras and Monemvasia guarantee the uniqueness of the experience.

Athens of course is another choice one can make. Children and parents will enjoy themselves in a museum or a recreational park – the Acropolis museum, children’s museum in Plaka, or Attica Zoo Park, one of the biggest throughout the Balkans, can offer much pleasure and activities. On the mountain hills that surround Athens, like Parnitha, you can have a picnic or ride a bicycle, while Athens Riviera, with its beautiful beaches, luxurious shopping malls and famous restaurants give a whole different leisure plan.

In wintertime, one shouldn’t miss visiting famous winter resorts such as Pilio, Arachova and Kalavrita, where traditional cuisine, picturesque villages, the magnificent landscape,ski and snowboard activities guarantee to satisfy all your demands.

Coming spring, when nature is reborn, expose yourself to its marvelous beauty by visiting lake of Kastoria or lake of Ioannina. Stroll by the lake’s bank, rent a water bicycle or a traditional wooden boat or go water skiing! There are also many forests along the country, like Strofilia in northwest Peloponnese or Dadia, covering the mountains of Evros, where you can only lose yourself in the endless green.


Greece is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural spas. Thermal and mineral springs appear at 850 different geographical locations.

In addition to revitalising the spirit, the large number of mineral springs in Greece offers visitors an opportunity to receive treatment for chronic conditions in a natural way (hydrotherapy). Ailments like arthritis and rheumatic disorders are traditionally associated with the elderly, and therefore everyone believes that spas are for the “therapeutic” treatment of mainly senior citizens. However, the beneficial properties are much broader as they also benefit people of all ages. They start by improving appearance (concerns mainly the condition of the skin) and arrive at the more generalized feeling of relaxation and well-being.

The development of health and spa tourism in Greece has been rapid and there is to observe a significant growth of supply and service differentiation. The forms of hydrotherapy treatment applied in Greece are spa or mud therapy, drinking or inhalation therapy.

Fourteen hydro-therapeutic centres (owned by G.N.T.O.) annually treat around 100,000 persons, with 1,400,000 therapeutic treatments, while dozens of other spas operated by local authorities offer modern high-quality services to visitors. In addition, spa centers with state of the art facilities and specialized staff can be found in the majority of the five-star hotels, while other spas can usually be found in Athens or Thessaloniki.

Moreover, thalassotherapy is used as a combination of relaxation, revitalisation, recreation and healing that is achieved in the ideal climatic conditions of Greece and with the use of its excellent seawater. Natural resources are still in use but a holistic provision of body and soul is being introduced including wide spectrum of fitness and wellness products and services.

With one of the best climates in the world, with a unique variety of nature, as well as one of the healthiest diets in the world, Greece is the ideal proposal for psychological and physical health and the search for well-being!

Luxury Vacations

Greece is privileged to be one of the nations that offer luxurious, glittering holidays. Greek islands are synonymous with cosmopolitanism, while large cities, like Athens and Thessaloniki, attract people with high expectations from all over the globe. The prestige that grew from the 1960s onwards, with famous names in Greek society among world celebrities, like Aristotle Onassis, Stavros Niarchos, Maria Callas, Melina Merkouri, and many others, catapulted Greece into one of the top destinations for luxury tourism.

The facilities guarantee demanding travellers an unforgettable stay. Five-star hotels located throughout the country, private villas offering privacy and comfort, the opportunity to enjoy getting away from daily routine on a yacht sailing the Greek seas, combined with culinary traditions with an exceptionally high standard of execution, the chance to purchase brand-name and high quality products, and the incomparable Greek landscape create the best setting for one to enjoy absolute luxury.

But that is not all: Beauty treatments, rejuvenating body therapies and beautifully prepared delicate food are just some of the attractions that Greece holds is store for its exclusive visitors.

Glittering destinations

Mykonos, Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu and Kefalonia, Chalkidiki and the Peloponnese are now some of the best-loved destinations in the world. Over the last few years many stars from the cinema and showbiz have been seen to prefer both the Greek islands and the mainland for their holidays. The unbeatable beauty of Greek nature and the art of hospitality, inherent in Greek tradition, produce an irresistible idea to which more and more famous people yield. Choosing a villa in an enchanting location ensures a stay that is nothing less than unique.

Busy people, who either come to Athens as visitors, or live and work there, can get away for a few days to one of the nearby islands. Hydra, Spetses and Kea are ideal solutions; high-class incredibly beautiful destinations, which can be reached in a very short time.

Many Greek islands have heliports, to serve those visitors with air transport; but even if they do not have their own, there are numerous air transport companies that can provide aircraft and experienced pilots so as to minimize the time the visitor needs to reach his desired destination.

Cosmopolitan cities

Athens and Thessaloniki are now two of the most popular city destinations in the world. With their amazing nightlife and deluxe hotels, they are now seen, and indeed are, outstanding European destinations. Major cultural events, like the Athens and Epidaurus Festival and the Thessaloniki International Fair, attract people from the business and artistic world, who annually renew their appointment in Greece. The ability to travel to Greece by private plane or boat makes the country even more attractive to busy people.