Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Away to Cyprus in the Crisis

We've just come back from nine days on holiday in Cyprus. It was so nice to do normal things- to go to a bar, to be treated like real person by men and to not wear an abaya. I was a bit of a rebel and didn't even wear my abaya to the airport this time. I took the plunge because as soon as you get on the plane you take it off anyway and then are stuck having to carry it around for the rest of the holiday. I just had to ignore all the staring at the airport and pretend I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. But I have to say I wouldn't do it without my 'bodyguard' Lee there.

We stayed with our parents near Larnaca in a lovely apartment. It was so much more comfortable than staying in a hotel and it meant going out for a meal could be a treat rather than a necessity. The weather was warmer than expected, and we even had a few days lounging by the pool. The water was f-f-freezing, but we had to swim in it after forcing the letting agents to fill it up! Their arguments of  'no one swims in Cyprus in March' were met with protests by us of "We will- we're British!"

A pretty picture of the storm we had on the first day

It was a bit weird being on holiday in a country that was in the midst of a financial mega crisis. Trust us to choose to go there at exactly that time! Most bars and restaurants were quiet and there was more drowning of sorrows going on than partying. We met people who didn't know if they would ever see their savings again. We were also told by the bowling alley down the road that they might not be open the following week, depending on what happened. Everything was pretty tense. As far as I know it's worked out OK in the end, but being there in the middle of it was pretty strange.

A holiday with my Dad always means a trip into history and Cyprus definitely has a story to tell. The island is still divided, with the north occupied by the Turkish. It reminded me a little of North/South Korea although thankfully less extreme. There's a fence dividing the two parts, a no-mans-land, and soldiers patrolling each side. We drove to an area where you can get a good view of the 'ghost city' of Famagusta, which has been uninhabited since the Turkish invasion in the summer of 1974. Just before the Turks attacked, the Greek-Cypriot residents of the city fled to nearby areas. The freaky thing about Famagusta is that people thought they would be able to return to their homes after a week, but actually they're still waiting to this day. From afar, the city looks eerie and quiet, almost like you can feel how empty it is. I would love to have walked around it but you can't get anywhere near it without risking being shot.
The ghost town

We also spent some time shopping and eating in Aiya Napa and Larnaca. Aiya Napa has a nice harbour and beach, and Larnaca a lovely promenade.

So that's it really. It was a great holiday with good food, good weather and good company. In fact I wish I was still there!
I'm going to attempt to make another mini-movie at some point, so watch this space...

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