OK, let’s get this out of the way from the off, I feel there is a need for full disclosure here; in this trip I have not, repeat not, given Cyprus a fair crack of the whip. We have friends of ours that adore the island and I know that there are thousands more who find their time there enormously relaxing and enjoyable. They love the atmosphere, the warm waters, the perfect sand and the consistently good weather all brought together with as many home comforts as you can wish for. In many ways it’s a dream destination and they are not shy in telling me so.
I’m happy for them, I really am. I’m overjoyed that that have found a place that they can go where they feel they can leave the stresses of daily life behind, sit on the beach and roast away to their hearts content. I wanted to experience that joy, I wanted to see what Cyprus has that brings hundreds of thousands of Brits here every single summer. I wanted to understand, but in this trip, at this time I fully admit that I can’t and there are several reasons for that.
Firstly there is the price of the flights. Mrs P has visited Cyprus many times in her formative years. Back when you could get to the island for the equivalent of a hundred quid or less per person. Sadly these days are long past. As the reputation of the island has grown so too has the cost of getting there. School holiday flights were averaging between £1,200 and £1,400 for the three of us and I’m sorry but that is some serious cash. As we have spent the best part of two years travelling around Europe we were obviously cagey about spending that much money on a single trip, particularly when experiences in Croatia, Estonia or Greece seemed to give a similar experience to the Cyprus promise but for significantly less spend to get there. It’s fair to say that it ratcheted up the expectation straight away. However, what it has, it has in spades and if you love the sort of holiday that puts you on a beach with a long cocktail in one hand and an Instagram ready phone in the other trying to ignore the fact that Brian from Hartlepool is rubbing sunburn cream into his man-boobs whilst complaining about his peeling crotch pocket on the next sun-lounger, then boy – are you in for a treat.
Secondly, I know I said that Malta was full of Brits, and it was. But Cyprus is just on another level. I know that we were there during peak holiday season and I know that the holiday resort towns are practically built specifically for us but even so, it was astonishing to experience the re-creation of Margate in all it’s glory but with better weather and a few Greek kebabs thrown in for good measure. Is it a ‘good thing’? I think I pinned my colours to the mast already after our Malta visit, so you won’t be surprised to know it’s questionable in my opinion. Thankfully, I had hired a car and the Family P. ducked out of town for a couple of days heading inland to try and chase down an elusive Cypriot. The smaller towns and villages on the island were lovely in their own way and I won’t do them the injustice of calling them ‘quaint’ as that would lessen the relief I experienced while getting away from the resorts on the coast.
Lastly, I’m afraid I got distracted by the highly amusing nature of watching other people and their social media obsessions. Our new favourite game is called ‘Spot the ‘Grammer’ and involves counting the number of people taking and posting Instagram photos/video at inopportune times. Points are awarded for the following in ascending order of rarity: Male partner taking repeated photo/video of Female partner 1 point, Male/female multiple selfie shots (must last for 3 mins or more) 2 points, An argument over a rejected photo which results in vocal demands of further photos 4 points (this score can be multiplied if the photo is then rejected more than once), and finally; female partner taking photo of male partner 10 points I have noticed that this is incredibly rare and so whomever spots one must also receive a free ice-cream in celebration for their achievement. Lastly, no points but a round of applause and free drink of their choice goes to the person who spots an instagraming couple taking pictures of themselves taking pictures of something else. Never has the worst side of social media been so accurately summarised than by the growing desire of people to demonstrate that they are ‘enjoying’ themselves in such a horrendous way.
With the historical and current British presence on Cyprus both in terms of the continued military, ex-pat and holiday maker populations being practically indistinguishable, it was tricky to find someone in the vicinity in which we found ourselves but never ones to let that sort of thing stand in our way, Mrs P and I ventured into the centre of the Island and found what we needed. An absolutely fabulous Taverna named Ploumin in a tiny village called Sotira serving up the kind of meze that we needed after a few days of enforced gammon and chips, cod and chips, curry and chips or sausage and bloody chips. Costas, the owner of the establishment was the perfect host; he introduced us to the entertainer for the evening, a man also amusingly named Costas who, we were reliably informed, is a ‘big deal’ in Cyprus. A lovely chap whose English was only marginally better than my Greek but who seemed very fluent in the ‘smile and nod’ school of international relations so we all got along perfectly. After plenty of the aforementioned smiling and nodding, Costas (the owner not the singer) took me to one side to discuss all things Brexit;
‘The thing is, I have a lot of British friends’ he told me. ‘They all come here for the weather and then they stay. Why wouldn’t they, it’s perfect here!*’ His voices drops to a conspiratorial whisper, ‘you know that they talk about Brexit all the time and they all voted to leave. But now, guess what? They have seen that things will have to change for them, what did they think? That it would be easy?! Most of them have changed their minds, but they won’t say. For me I don’t think much will change, Cyprus needs to stick with Britain. We made a big mistake voting to join Greece’ (he’s talking about the ‘unofficial’ one back in 1950 for all you history buffs) ‘the Brits will still come here. Everybody needs to calm down because the world will still turn and there will still be a lot of people in Britain who want to holiday in the sun. I’ve been to Britain, Cyprus is better!’
*Ah yes, point to note; Costas is almost as patriotic about Cyprus as the bloke from Stavros Flatley – it wouldn’t surprise me if they have matching tattoos
So there you have it, now you have read all my misgivings about the Island of Cyprus but also seen some of the amazing photos that I managed to take whilst dodging the crowds and absolutely not, in any way, being an aforementioned ‘Grammer’! You also heard from Cyprus’ biggest fan who thinks we should all stop worrying about everything. I’ll leave it up to you to make your mind up because regardless of if you have or haven’t ever visited the island, you probably already know if you would like Cyprus or not and nothing I’ve said here will change that. That’s brilliant. If you have been and you love it there then good for you but for me, when I return I think I would take a bit more Sotira and a bit less Aiya Napa any day of the week. But still, as we’ve discovered about all the places we’ve visited, there is plenty to enjoy if you look for it and with Cyprus all we had to do was put one of these in front of The Child and she was the happiest little girl on the planet. For about 30 minutes… #stayingclassyFamilyP
The #2MenEUTour Big Brexit Tour journey so far: