Luxury in Larnaca
17.10.2012 - 20.10.2012 32 °C
I was in luck, it was still the season for sun tanning and middle-aged semi-nakedness when I arrived in Cyprus. A warm 32 °C October day to melt my then British sensibilities and warm my cockles.
It seems, although part of the EU, the English and the Russians have kept this little chunk of haloumi of an island firmly under their hat, or say nestled deep in their chest hair. This is chartered flights, hotel transfer and lobster-red Brit country.
Cyprus is located south of Turkey, closer to Syria and Lebanon than it is to Greece but is generally considered a Greek island, so it was safe to expect a Greek-like attitude to life, one very similar to Italy, shops will open late and close early, working-age adults manage to be at the beach on a Tuesday, and buses will come when they arrive, which was confirmed after waiting 40 minutes for the airport bus only to take a taxi.
My driver was a typical Cypriot, both amazed I was there but also somewhat outraged I hadn't been before. We chatted in broken English about Cyprus and the important aspects of my time in Cyprus* (*I asked what I should eat while I was there because I don’t want to miss something delicious.)
My Cypriot adventure came about because I wanted to see somewhere new and have a break before flying back to reality/Australia. I had decided it was a good idea to have a relaxing few days lying by the pool/beach in the sun; I'm not sure who I had in mind when I thought of this idea but it wasn't ole- concentration-span-of-a-peanut me. I can’t sit by a pool 10 hours a day.
There is a severe hostel shortage in Cyprus so I had to spring for a hotel, its fine I thought, I’ll treat myself. My budget was restrictive. My hotel vacation wasn't as glamorous as anticipated. The shabby run down appearance was regarded by the hotel as, “Cypriot style”. The pool I was to spend my days frolicking in didn't look like the pictures and I wasn't keen on catching a UTI so it seemed best to avoid a dip. The advertised sauna was closed, or behind a closed door, so quite possibly doesn't exist. The natural highlight was the foyer which was tastefully decorated with a large-scale wall mural-come-diorama of a beach and village scene with 3D peasants coming at me with baskets, a 3D donkey and some rocky landscape.
I kicked back on the sofa because naturally you could only get Wi-Fi in the lobby, perhaps a result of a 3D peasant wall? Before long I was joined by three Russians, who plonked around me to watch a Russian soap opera on the 1970’s TV. It appeared to be filmed in someone’s backyard on someone’s uncle’s JVC home video camera with a very unglamorous soap cast. The girl was glued, she had that Russian-emerging-from-the-iron-curtain-in-the-80's haircut where her fringe goes all the way around, like a bowl cut with some lower fringing. The hair - mesmerising. The soapie - terrible.
My Larnaca resort also offered a sizeable hole in the middle of my bath towel as well as an inclusive buffet breakfast (before 8am) of boiled eggs, toast, ham* (*ham-shaped luncheon meat) and white flavourless cheese.
Which begs the question, how can something as delicious as eggs on toast be so horrifyingly bland and depressing as a piece of toast with a hard-boiled egg? Talk about boiling the life, soul and deliciousness out of something.
There wasn't a lot of hot water but there was air-conditioning and I had an adaptor for the up to then ‘decorative’ TV with European cords and UK sockets, and could catch a TLC marathon or 10, add a dash of Honey Boo Boo Child to my vacation.
This hotel was a veritable treat I really was indulging myself with such luxury.
I was asked a few times if I was Cypriot, I'm not, but I do eat like one. They surround you with food in these parts, a salad, some pita, some tahini, some olives, an appetizer-perhaps some grilled haloumi, then your main comes 10 seconds after and you are up for a veritable feast surrounding you on a table, you can snack in multiple directions. Though Larnaca is a fishing village where you can get a bunch of fish and other marine life, I kept it mainland and had my fair share of kebabs, gyros, moussaka, haloumi and kleftiko-a lamb speciality suggested by my taxi driver.
The Cypriots I met were usually excited to learn I wasn't British or Russian. The old lady’s kick around in black moomoos. The men sit outside cafes and restaurants drinking coffee and playing cards or backgammon. People spend hours fishing or sitting around and watching people walk by. There is nothing more uncomfortable than gradually walking towards a group of men whose day job is sitting and looking at people. These men enjoy leering, winking and nodding to show their approval. Look, I know I am rapidly ageing, I am fully aware that I have a few grey hairs and I don’t know what the cool kids are listening to these days but I know for a fact, I cannot possibly be mistaken for 65. FYI a toot of the horn and a wink repulses me just as much as the gold chain hidden in the forest of your chest hair. On the same topic, put a shirt on, you are in public.
It was a fleeting but interesting visit to Aphrodite’s homeland, more hairy old men than Greek deity but I was envious of the lifestyle. I hope my future consists of retiring at 50, spending a substantial block of time sitting outside my house on a plastic chair, playing a few rounds of backgammon with the gang and eating home-cooked moussaka. I learned Cyprus and I both share a love of iced coffee and having food spread around you while eating. Cypriots also are very proud of their abundance of stray cats; I however was not so pleased. Also a significant* amount of Haloumi was consumed (*obscene).
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