Guests always seem to ask me why I came to live in Cyprus. I giggle to myself and reassure them that I did not have a holiday romance and run off with a Cypriot taxi driver!! No offence aimed at Cypriot taxi drivers, perhaps there is still one out there for me! The reason I did come to live here was because I wanted a simple life. Life in the UK got complicated. I was not interested in collecting bonus points for my local supermarket - I wanted to go back to basics. I am now blessed to live in one of the safest countries in the world. So over twenty years later I am still here, still no taxi driver in my life, but I am happy, very happy.
Like everyone, I use to work hard, save my money and book and look forward to my holidays every year, but with living and working here I had forgotten what having a holiday for myself was all about. As I work in this fabulous, diverse industry of tourism, I concentrate on ensuring others have a truly wonderful holiday experience, and I have been doing so for a while now.
And so, everything carried on blissfully... until a few months ago when we were all stopped dead in our tracks. We were stripped of many liberties. Cyprus and worldwide had something in common; we were suffering the consequences of this virus. Everything came to a halt, as if the worldwide clock just stopped ticking.
I can only comment on how it was handled here; our government and citizens took it seriously and immediate action was taken. I am very proud and humbled of how the situation was and is still being handled. I felt reassured that I was safe, and my best interests were being taken care of. Three months or so into this I still feel the same. We all took it on board and dealt with it the best we could and it appears to have worked. Life now is getting back to some sort of normal.
I would say that life here is actually better than normal, or what normal was. My life too, even after coming to live here for a simple life, it got busy, busy with work, home, etc. Although this virus has had such devastating consequences worldwide, it made me at least think and reassess my life, and consequently it has taught me a few lessons. I hope it has taught many people many lessons – take that holiday – wear that best dress you were saving for a special occasion!
So, with the shops and taverns now open and restrictions lifted, I wanted to experience again some of the things and reasons I use to go on holiday for. I started doing things I never used to make the time for. I wanted to revisit the beautiful island I live on and experience it through different eyes.
My first little adventure was to the beach. I drove to Aghios Georges, Akamas Peninsula which is about a ten minute drive from Coral Bay and a half hour drive from the tourist centre of Paphos. There are a few fish tavernas, a tiny marina and a small beach with a quaint tavern on the side of the beach. Not many cars were there and I parked, like a true Cypriot across two spaces! But I was eager to get in the sea; with my towel tucked under my arm I had the choice of any perfect spot. There of course was social distancing but with so few people we were metres apart.
It was a semi sandy beach and was easy to walk on. I did not want to appear too eager, so I sat on my beach towel taking in my surroundings and checking out any single, local Cypriot taxi drivers! Realising again I was destined to be single. I proceeded with caution into the sea; luckily It wasn’t as cold as I had thought. I had a little swim but mainly just stood there looking at the stunning views. There were a couple of people kayaking, a lady attempting to do a pilates/yoga move on a paddle board, and then a handful of people just enjoying themselves. The water was crystal clear, although it is not surprising as Cyprus boasts many blue flag beaches. The sound of the rippling of the waves was complete bliss and rather therapeutic.
I truly lost track of time and eventually picked up my towel and left. I made my way home along the coastal road from Coral Bay, with the car windows open and I could smell the sea wafting through the car. It is at this point I wondered if I could ask my boss for a convertible! Upon arriving home, I did not want to get rid of the sand that had accumulated in my towel and sandals. I had a glorious beach adventure and I was now ready for a Cypriot afternoon siesta.
When I awoke due to the sun peeping through my shutters, I decided I did not want to end my mini holiday at this point. So, I dug out my best summer dress and sandals and decided to go out to a village tavern for some good, wholesome food. But I must admit I was also looking forward to a nice cold Keo beer!
The choice of taverns was plentiful. Pretty much all of them are open now, with locals and some tourists sitting in to eat and drink in an uncrowded environment, with a nice atmosphere. I fancied some fresh fish – some simply cooked seabream and a beer of course. Common practice still is to sanitise your hands when you enter the tavern (same in shops). I was welcomed with open arms, even if he did have gloves on, it made no difference as I knew the greeting was genuine. I got a nice table. It was so lovely to be out after the lockdown and to sit and observe people happy, clanking of glasses, local wine on tables, waiters chatting but yet keeping the appropriate safe distance, engaging in conversation.
My meal was delicious, the halloumi and honey melted into my mouth, the seabream cooked perfectly with a little oil and a refreshing local salad full of flavours - it was heaven. The beer too was nice, so nice. I thought when I asked for the bill that they may have inflated prices to compensate for the period of the closure but the prices were no different than before. The staff could not have been more professional and friendly.
When I got home, I did not want the day to end so sat on my veranda reflecting on what a lovely time I was having. This is what I use to go on holiday for. It was peaceful outside; the sky was so clear that I could see all the stars. That night I slept like a log and dreamt of a Cypriot taxi driver carrying me off into the sunset. But I had better plans for the next day!
I got up early and decided to go on a walk I had been meaning to do for ages. It would be far too hot at lunchtime to do any nature trails. I drove for about 36 kilometres to the lovely village of Lysos. One of my particularly favourite spots as you can choose to walk any of the numerous nature trails all varying in level of ability, length, linear, circular. There are other sports activities too. Plenty of wildlife, flora and fauna to experience.
On this occasion I wanted to do the Mouflon Trail, footsteps in the Forest. The Mouflon is an animal unique to Cyprus. A cross between a goat and a sheep. You can catch a glimpse of this shy one at the enclosure near the Stavros tis Psokas forest station. If you walk along one of the designated nature trails you may well run into one.
After my walk I popped into the Paradisos Hotel, a small family run hotel which boasts beautiful sea and forest views. Great local, home cooked food, true Cypriot hospitality. All the family are fine and safe and it was so nice to catch up with them. Then I took myself off, a short drive away to Latchi. Latchi, is a little fishing village with an impressive marina, good selection of local fish taverns, shops and also a nice beach. You can take a boat trip or hire a boat to go to the blue lagoon. I had a walk along the marina and a nosey in a few of the shops and bought some local plums and treated myself to an ice cream!
Making my way back home the roads were quiet, and I came through the village of Kathikas about twenty minutes’ drive from Latchi. Known for a good selection of taverns and best of all for the local wine. The village has a sleepy and pleasant atmosphere, with the locals enjoying coffee and discussing life in the local coffee shop.
I had to get back to work, like we all do! However, I have learnt the lesson that I will make the time for myself once in a while to experience what our guests do when they holiday here. It is nice to be able to share experiences of where to go, those secret, sacred places still hidden from mainstream tourism, activities to pursue, all those local dishes we all want to try, the list is endless.
To summarise, things could not have been better here. Beaches are quiet and supermarkets are open and are fully stocked, prices remain the same as before, people are friendly and grateful of your custom. Taverns are open and have a refreshing atmosphere. People have time for each other and have realised we are all truly blessed for what we have. You feel safe, you are safe and I could not be more confident.
Of course we have to sanitise our hands upon entering shops, taverns, etc. Masks and gloves are worn by staff. Some shops require you to sanitise and wear the gloves provided. In shops and banks, they have perspex screens at check outs and social distancing guidelines apply.
Car hire is provided by a long established company we have worked with for many years and who ensure that the car you are provided with is fully cleaned and sanitised to the required government guidelines.
Sunvil and all featured hotels and self-catering accommodation, all adhere to strict protocol to ensure the protection and safety of everyone which is paramount. In no way whatsoever would any of the protocol and procedures in place deter you from having a lovely holiday.
I look forward to seeing you very soon!
With love from Cyprus, Angela.