what is it about Cyprus
When we moved here, one of the reasons we decided to move was to enable us to travel more, given that when you live in Australia, just getting to the next town can sometimes involve hours worth of travel. So we have committed to trying to fit in a number of short weekends and a couple of longer trips each year to see and do as much as we can. Our first trip has just been ticked off – Cyprus! Now, what is it about Cyprus you may well ask that would possess us to take two young children on a 4 hour flight each way just to stay for one night? Well, let me tell you a bit about it and you tell me if you think it was worth the effort.
We rose early to get to our flight, and whilst there were some objections voiced loudly by Miss Sparky, mainly around the lack of food available in the house prior to departure (who wants to eat at 5am?), it was a relatively smooth airport recon. We even got allocated 4 seats on the plane so we were able to stretch out a bit and, most importantly, plonk the large-boned Mr Chubs on his own seat rather than suffering through numb legs and pins and needles in our toes. Life is grand. Well, so I thought until Miss Sparky starts with more objections – “I can’t find the movies”, “my headphones don’t work”, “this screen is too small”, “what am I supposed to watch” etc etc. Now, this is a girl who, just a few hours before was in tears as we were driving home from gymnastics when she saw the buses full of immigrant workers heading back to their labour camp because she “felt so bad that they have such a hard life”… fast forward a few hours and she’s ready to rip the head off the next person to walk by and tell her that her favourite movie isn’t available and her seat doesn’t recline the whole way. Gotta love Gen I!
So, we sorted it all out, told her to deal with it and focus on the good things in life and proceeded to have a relatively event-free flight. We arrived, ready and excited to experience all that Cyprus has to offer.
Another important point to note here is that my hubby and I have scarily similar personality traits. I remember doing one of those Myer-Briggs personality course things once and one of the activities was to plan a trip overseas. I was grouped with people from different personality types to me – those ones who do the full planning, researching, pre-booking, itinerary developing thing and there I was saying that I would pretty much book my flights and go – oh and maybe check if I need a visa. My lovely hubby is pretty much exactly the same as me, to the point that the night before we left we thought we’d better check if we need visas (we were pretty sure we didn’t) and I think we completely forgot to get any travel insurance. The only thing we managed to book was a hotel for the night.
So here we were in Cyprus without a clue what you are supposed to do and see – and we were in love! From the second lovely hubby got the deal of the century on hiring a car and we walked out into the crisp air and sparkling sunshine to hop in our slightly clapped out (but very reasonably priced!) Kia, we knew this was somewhere we would be coming back to.
The first half hour was a series of squeals and excitement within our car as we each pointed out amazement after amazement – “Look there’s grass!” “Ohmigosh mum, there’s a hill over there with houses on it?” “Hey guys look, there are plants growing on the side of the road that haven’t been specifically planted there in a geometric formation”, “Hey baby, the car behind me is actually staying back the standard 2 chevron distance and not squealing up behind me beeping their horn and flashing their lights!!” Wow.. it was then that we realised that Dubai has somewhat changed the way we look at the world temporarily.
So, after a few wrong turns, turns onto the wrong side of the road and adventures into the gutter as we got used to driving on the other side of the road again, we decided to head for our hotel and see if we could drop off our bags before doing some exploring. It was here that we had our first experience of the beautiful warmth and hospitality of the Cypriot people. Not only could we drop off our bags, we could check into our villa, be personally escorted there so that we know where to go and we had a beautiful fruit platter to greet us. They even let us check out at 5pm so we didn’t have to rush through the day and we could shower before we had to go the airport – amazing!! A quick quiz on a few recommendations of where to go and what to do from our lovely hostess and we decided to head into the main town nearby of Larnaca for lunch.
Still somewhat freaked out by the lack of cars on the road, we ambled through the peaceful, beautiful countryside to the town. The map in the car was possibly one of the world’s most useless maps which took the minimalist approach of deciding not to actually document the roads but rather the essence of the roads – so we just drove around without the map. And I think that really encapsulates the nature of this place – why kill yourself to write a detailed, impersonal map that someone has to read when they can amble their way around, ask for directions wherever they like and stop for a chat and some vino before cruising into a park and wandering down to the water. So we did just that.
We found a little Taverna on the waterfront for lunch and I fell just a little bit deeper in love – no, not with my lovely hubby but with Cyprus. Within 10 minutes of sitting down, I had the world’s biggest pork chop and a local beer in front of me, as we sat and soaked up the sunshine, fresh air and warm hospitality. All the good things in life! I could even drown out the whinging of a tired little Chubs who missed his morning nap, and the sooky face of Miss Sparky who didn’t want her picture taken. Nothing can rattle you when you’re in this beautiful place.
After lunch we went for a wander along the water and strolled through the cobbled streets window shopping and just soaking up the atmosphere. Eventually we decided to head back to the hotel to get the kids settled and get ready to head out for an early dinner. We wandered into the tiny town closest to our hotel for dinner and found another little Taverna with a really lovely local couple who couldn’t do enough to make us feel at home. It was kind of like going to dinner at your Nana’s house. The food just kept coming… and coming… and coming. I’m serious – this table was heaving like it was about to bow in the middle with all the food. She made us an array of local delicacies including meats, dips and breads, artichokes, asparagus dishes, souvlaki, sausages, liver, even snails – much to miss Sparky’s complete and utter disgust. All washed down with a very fine local red and finally some home-made sugared fruit for dessert, not that we could fit a skerrick into our exceptionally full tummies. Many hugs, blessings and thankyous later and we rolled back up the hill to collapse into the world’s most comfortable bed for a well deserved rest!
The next day we drove down to Limassol along the beach road to check out some more of the scenery and another of the most popular destinations on the island. The day wasn’t quite as warm so we had our warm tops on, which was even a nice change! We probably would have gotten there sooner had I navigated using the right map but we did eventually locate a parking spot close to the old town from where we could start exploring.
More cobbled streets, art stalls, local markets and great coffee. We wandered into a local artesian shop to buy a special tablecloth and met a lovely local lady who was once again, just like hanging out with your Nana. Well, that was until she had some kind of brain snap and went from chatting animatedly about how lovely we were and how much she loves life and being surrounded by happy people to ranting about immigrants, Turkey and how the EU is killing Cyprus. We did the old smile and start walking away going “hmmm… yes… totally” thing until we could get out of earshot and then made a dash down to the park to give the kids a run around. Clearly the country is hurting after all the problems of the EU, Greece, refugees and recession and yet most of the time, you couldn’t really pick it.
Another amazing souvlaki lunch by the water and it was time to start the drive back to our hotel to get ready for the flight home.
So whist it probably sounds like a weekend full of eating and driving (which it essentially was), for us, it was a weekend of soul revival and simple joys. It’s amazing how quickly you forget what it’s like to walk out your front door on a crisp cool morning and smell the blossoms on the trees and hear the bees buzzing by… Being able to order exactly what you feel like off a menu and have your every whim anticipated and catered… being surrounded by green… being welcomed like you are a long-lost cousin… the list goes on.
We plan to go back for a bit longer next time. I think that a week in Cyprus would be equivalent to a month in many other “chillout” destinations. I probably wouldn’t stay much beyond that as I’d be a bit scared that my pulse might slow to a point where it actually just stops from sheer relaxation, but it would be nice to explore more of the beauty and history of this fascinating place.
It would be high on our recommendation list for anyone wanting to relax, most definitely! And for those of you with a predominantly Judging personality type (according to MBTI), try not to plan and just go with the flow. It’s certainly the type of place where you can just let things happen.
Anyway, back to the grind now (did I just have a weekend?) – have a fabulous week and remember “breathe and everything changes!”