Friday, 4 June 2010

Things I love about Cyprus

Snails on barbed wire, Famagusta
Every time I go back to Cyprus for holidays (and to see family) I have to readjust to life there, even if it's just for a few days. It goes without saying that the differences with the UK are fairly sharp. Some things I have to revert to, some others are totally new. However, I always find things I love, new and old, discovered and re-discovered. And of course, things I absolutely hate. Here we'll deal with the nice things, because they matter more.

1) The light
You forget how brightly the sun shines. The photographs are easily over-exposed, and everything is awash with sunlight
2) The sunsets
Sunsets in Cyprus are exceptional. The sun shines red, illuminating the barley fields and painting purple the few clouds that always seem to appear above Pentadaktylos, the northern mountain range.
3) The smell of the evening dew on the freshly-harvested barley fields
Sorry, I can't possibly describe this. I guess you'll just have to travel there
4) The fact that fresh and locally produced fruit and veg are (still) easily available
Despite the best efforts of Carrefour and Alpha Mega with their Peruvian grapes and Kenyan onions
5) The beaches
But then again, I'm biased...
6) People's attitude to children
People don't disapprove and tut whenever you take your toddler to a restaurant or a museum like they do in the UK. People in Cyprus love children, and it's very relaxing. Brits, especially older people (shockingly, as they should know better) always show their disapproval with this expression they make, the one where they look at you and quickly turn away. I've had this in restaurants and also places like National Trust properties. In addition, in Cyprus people don't believe in the whole 'strict routine for children' nonsense. Nobody forces their kids to sleep at 6pm.
7) The fact that you can (still) escape
Despite its small size, Cyprus still has some beautiful, undiscovered spots which I cannot reveal here. All the 'development' couldn't ruin the countryside. And it's all within an hour's drive.
8) The history
I am stunned by it every time. The Cypriots' (both Greek and Turkish) fixation with their respective Hellenistic/Byzantine and Ottoman 'pasts' means that the island's huge medieval, Frankish and Venetian heritage is largely unexplored, under-promoted and relatively hard to find. And when you do find it, it is simply spectacular. Limassol Castle houses one of the best museums (in terms of content rather than presentation) of 'Crusader Cyprus'. Famagusta, due to decades of political limbo and neglect, is a rough diamond half buried in the sand (as the name Ammochostos suggests). The old town was one of the richest cities in Christendom in the 14th century and it shows. Its Gothic architecture and Venetian ruins are simply impossible to fathom. And yet we're fixated with Hellenistic...

Did I mention the smell of the dew on the freshly-harvested barley fields? OK then...

See also: things I hate...


ρίτσα said...

beautiful pictures.

the angle of the one u posted is spectacular

The Passenger said...

Impressive as all gothic religious and Venetian military architecture is impressive but not that unfathomable.

Aurora said...

Nicosia old town...So neglected though.
Very touching. Εύγε.