The good, the bad, and the random of Cyprus

By now, having been to three different cities in as many days, I am able to draw preliminary opinions about one of Russia’s favorite tourist destinations. Obviously, there are some mitigating factors here, namely the length of this mini-vacation and going there in the off season. Hence my observations may be contingent on these circumstances.

The good:

-Obviously, getting away from the snow and cold in Moscow was nice. Sure, the weather was maybe between +14-18C, but it was comfortable and what the spring we weren’t getting should feel like. It never hurts to actually be reminded of what the sun is like.

-Because of the timing, we avoided an abundance of tourists. In a way, you could argue we had a better, (slightly) more authentic taste of what Cyprus really was like.

-Oh lordy, the food was amazing! From the incredible coffee (and I hardly drink coffee) to the Greek salads and the souvlaki and halloumi, it was a treat eating on the island. Portions were American-sized, i.e. massive, and for sure we got our money’s worth! Plus, everything was so wonderfully fresh! In Nicosia, for instance, we found a homely cafe where the lady squeezed the oranges on the spot. Can’t get any better than that!
-As you may have seen in an earlier post, there were lots of wonderfully creative street art, most prominently in Larnaca and Nicosia. Heck, we even spent the better part of an hour in the former just meandering around trying to see if we could find more!
-Kleidi bar was an incredible find. Having a place with excellent cocktails and even better jazz was something I never could have imagined. There, we felt like we weren’t tourists at all, but rather as a collective who wanted to enjoy a fun night in an atmospheric place.
-The authentic Indian curry joint around the corner. Those spices knocked out socks off!
-Transportation prices were pretty fair. Going between cities with InterCity Buses felt reasonably priced: €13 round-trip from Larnaca to Paphos and €7 for a round-trip journey to Nicosia. Plus, the city buses were only €1.50 per ride.
-Aesthetically, I found the cities to be enjoyable. Cozy-looking apartments with spacious balconies made you almost want to buy one. Almost.
-Crossing the simple border between Greek and Turkish Cyprus in Nicosia was a neat thing to say I’ve done. Sure, that side may not have been the most riveting, but I can now say I’ve been to an unrecognized territory.

The bad:
-Because it was the low season for tourism, quite a few places were closed. This may have been due to a combination of us being there on the weekend and the apparently weird Cypriot working hours, but at times it felt that parts of the three cities were abandoned. Even the neighborhood surrounding the Karavella bus station felt semi-deserted at 7PM, on a Monday. And furthermore, this contributed to a sense of wariness at night, if only because things felt so surreal.
-This sense of wariness wasn’t helped by the fact that there literally were an abundance of abandoned buildings all throughout the cities. Some were even falling apart!
-As much as I liked the bus system, one thing that peeved me was how many dang stops we’d took on each route. Going to Nicosia nominally is around 50-60 minutes, but because we stopped several times to take on new passengers, the total time was easily 30 minutes longer. I even had flashbacks to my Balkan bus adventures, which isn’t ideal.
-Bizarre working hours meant there was a good deal of itinerary revision.
-Again, I’m assuming this is purely because of the timing of this trip, but once you got past the main sites, everything else was pretty shallow. While I did enjoy my time there, it felt as if we did all we could do in just three days. Certainly, having use of a car would have greatly expanded the scope of possible activities, but I’d argue that a country’s touristic value is best displayed by what’s accessible by public transportation.
-In what I thought had died out in most places a long time ago, people can and do smoke in restaurants. No, that’s fine, I like secondhand smoke.

The random:

-For whatever reason, we saw a lot of Africans, Filipinos, and Indians in all three cities. I’d be really curious to know what attracted them to Cyprus.

-Like the Commonwealth countries, Cypriots drive on the right side of the road.

-Paphos was a hub for British retirees. Then again, I’d have to say most of the foreigners we saw there were surprisingly British, and not Russian.

-I don’t think I ever saw a restaurant which had a menu purely in Greek, which for better or worse attests to how reliant the country is on foreign tourists. The flip side to that is we noticed many locals eating where we were, which was a relief; good food is good food no matter what, eh?

-Apparently it’s good to be a cat in Cyprus, because they were everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place where the ratio of cats to dogs is so ridiculously skewed towards the former.

-Having been in Taiwan to ring in the year, their adherence to pedestrian lights highlights the fact that crossing the street on another island had zero walkways; we simply had to wait for cars to go before being able to cross. I’m actually surprised they’re so blase about this, because man, imagine the lawsuits in America if we adopted this system.

-There are two local beers here, but the more common one is KEO. It’s not half bad and you definitely could do worse.

-In lieu of an apparent central bus station, the main point of departure from the buses that we took in Larnaca were by the beach. There’s no complaint here-it was a brief ten minute walk from where we were staying-but it was kind of amusing.

-Larnaca Airport has to be one of the smallest I’ve been to, and that includes the minuscule Sarajevo and Tivat airports. You literally had a fence dividing the parking lot and the planes.

-Construction and opticians seemed to be astronomically popular, because the odds are you’ll walk by a store dealing with either one of these industries. Or maybe that’s just a Larnaca thing. At any rate, it was amusing to note the ubiquity of them.

-We took for granted the type of power converter used in Cyprus compared to that of Russia/Europe. However, it would appear that so many Russians/tourists have stayed in that particular apartment that there were several spare converters lying around.

In summary, I’d say that while the flight was cheap, especially being in the low season for tourism, Cyprus is a Catch-22. If you go in summer, there surely will be lots more things to do, but the caveat is it’ll be more crowded and obviously more expensive. Going when we did is nice to take things easier, but the scale of which we could see the country was blatantly scaled back. So, that’s all I’ve got to describe the three days in the country.

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