While Nick went off to Perth on his Willowspedition, I stayed in Cyprus and my mum came to visit for 10 days. Although Cyprus is very easy compared to most places we’ve been it was still different without Nick who speaks the lingo and knows his way around. It’s very easy to just follow along but suddenly now I have to pay attention to where we go, how to get places and the names of the food we order. Protaras, sheftalia, tahinopita here we come…
I think my mum enjoyed her first visit to Cyprus! The weather just started heating up for summer and this time of year many pleasures are linked to the beach and of course the food. We spent a weekend in Protaras with Anna, Nick’s sister, enjoying plenty of both!
Nick’s mum who is 91 moved to a home at the beginning of this year. It was initially a temporary solution as her carer left suddenly but she likes it there and has decided to stay.
This means we’ve made our base in her Larnaka flat and we can even use her car so life here is very easy and convenient for us. It overlooks a large salt lake which at certain times of year is full of pink flamingos. However since we arrived we’ve seen it get whiter and whiter as the water dries out and the salt builds up.
Although the beaches kept calling, we took a drive into the hills as well. Lefkara is a particularly picturesque village famous for lace and silver work and popular as a wedding location.
Cyprus has such a tumultuous history! It’s been sold, bought and invaded more times than you could imagine by different foreign rulers including the Egyptians, Persians, Venetians, Knights Templar, Crusaders, Ottomans and the English in more recent times. Each had an influence on the culture, food and Greek dialect. History is really well documented and the archaeological museum has an impressive collection of early artefacts. We also visited Khirokitia, site of the earliest permanent settlement on the island which is 9000 years old. Even if the ruins in themselves are not super impressive, it’s fascinating when you think about people living in them that long ago!
Nicosia is less than an hour’s drive from Larnaka so we often go there to have a look around town and visit Anna and Andreas (Nick’s sister and her husband). With my mum we spent a day walking around the old city inside the walls. The Nicosia city walls which circle the old town are pretty much intact all the way round. They were built by the Venetians with just 3 gates giving access to the city and surrounded by a moat. Nicosia is now split in two with the Northern half of the city under Turkish control.
My mum loves art and Nick’s friend, Mon is an artist so we visited a couple of galleries. Mon, took us to the opening night for an English-Cypriot artist called John Hughes at the Nicosia Arts Centre, located in an old covered power station. The impressive structure, the crowd and the colorful art came together making it a great event.
The most enjoyable gallery linked to the history of Cyprus is the CVAR Centre, home to a private collection of paintings of Cyprus done by visiting foreign artists. It shows the country through foreign eyes focusing on the beautiful colours and features which seemed exotic to them then and the same to me now.
This is how I like to enjoy the beach…
… however in reality many beaches look like this on a busy weekend.
Before we leave maybe we’ll do a blog post dedicated to Cypriot food which is a mix of Greek and Middle Eastern. It’s not particularly sophisticated but it’s honest, mostly healthy and super tasty which flavours that keeps you coming back for more.
I’ve been in Cyprus for 4 weeks now (and it’s my 4th visit) so I’ve started to feel at home and meeting up with (Nick’s) friends and family means that I don’t feel like a tourist even if that’s what I am. When we go out together even Nick gets taken for one until he replies in Greek.
After enjoying learning Spanish in Mexico I’ve decided to have a go at Greek. DuoLingo is due to launch their Greek course any day and while I’m waiting I’ve been learning the alphabet, the numbers and a few words. Trying to read, I suddenly understand the frustrations of 5-year olds: first I’ve got to recognise each letter, remember the sound it makes and then try to put together the whole word. It’s phonetic which means I can read signs and menus that we come across but still have no idea what they mean. With time it might get easier but everybody speaks English and we are having a wonderful time.