Saturday, 12 May 2007

Back from...

guess where...
Originally uploaded by patfoz.
Hi all! (if anyone is still reading this, that is)

I'm back in London, back at work, and back feeling poor after a week in Cyprus. Selected as a holiday destination based on the daily average temperature and lack of rain. Staying in London too long can really get you down - the locals comment that all Aussie Londoners need a dose of UV from time to time, having noted the seasonal adjustment disorder like symptoms we get over here... anyway, I wasn't really expecting much from the destination except somewhere to swim and get sunburned. My one week impression of the place: it's the Bali of the Mediterranean.

Staying in Ayia Napa, I quickly became a little homesick - the beaches were just like at home... completely covered in lobster red Brits smoking and nattering away on their mobiles. How it made me yearn for Coogee! The town was made up of traditional eateries and taverns such as "the Queen Vic"... it really gave me a chance to experience another culture.

Actually it wasn't all that bad. We managed to get out of Ayia Napa and visit Nicosia (the split capital shared with the unrecognised North Cyprus, where you might have to go through a UN check point to get dinner), Paphos (with a heritage listed archaeological site by the harbour), and Petros tou Roumiou (the fabled birthplace of Aphrodite), so I managed to get some culture aside from my morning yoghurt. We still went for the cheesier tourism too, spending a day at Waterworld (claims to be Europe's largest waterpark, where you can haggle 2 pounds off the entry fee if you just ask for a discount).

Reading travel diaries is a bit boring, so here's my Cyprus cheat sheet:
  • Cyprus is apparently renowned for its cats. You can buy calendars of them. Not nice cats, but mangy moggie strays that circle you at restaurants hissing at you for food. Not an ideal destination for dog people.
  • If you were to risk your life, pick up one of these cats and swing it, you wouldn't be able to for all the churches. Every one horse town has at least 3 orthodox churches, and is probably building another one as we speak.
  • The beaches are disappointing: most are pebble, some rubble, and a small few are sand. The rare sand beaches are covered with sunbeds, bars and Brits and are much less enjoyable than lounging by the resort pool. And if anyone tries to tell you that there's good diving and snorkeling, don't believe them.
  • Classics buffs will enjoy the ruins and history of the place, but you're probably better off going to Greece or Turkey proper.
  • War buffs might like the idea of being able to see a UN no-go zone, but it's really not that impressive. The locals use it as a rubbish tip.
Despite all this, I loved the week in Cyprus, and on arriving back at Gatwick into a midnight rain, I would have given anything to be back in Ayia Napa sinking a Fosters at the Queen Vic.


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