NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS: Athens welcomed in the New Year with a floodlit Acropolis, making the city a lovely sight on New Year’s Eve. Everywhere people readied to ring out the old year and ring in the new as they mingled in the streets where the crowds increased just before midnight. Shops that had been filled with customers for days saw a boom in business until late on New Year’s Eve as people shopped for last-minute gifts. Panepistimiou, Aeolou and Stadiou streets and Syntagma Square, the whole of the city was in a holiday mood. Everywhere were huge bunches of colorful balloons, the blind singing New Year carols, street vendors competing for customers, everyone exchanging greetings in streets decorated with holly and mistletoe, cars flying balloons, and, everywhere, children eyeing toys in shop windows. Shortly before midnight, homes, embassies and the bigger hotels opened their doors to guests arriving to celebrate. One minute after midnight the lights briefly flickered on and off to mark the hour and people made the most of the fact that restrictions on making «loud noises» had been lifted.