To Cyprus and Back

Posted on October 15, 2023

I am not sure if I am alone in this but as the years pass, I find the aggro of going on holiday increases. I have to remind myself that once I arrive, it’s nearly always worth it. However, I hate Gatwick Airport so much, I have in recent years demanded that I will only travel via smaller airports.

This year we went from Bristol airport which, don’t get me wrong, is no utopian paradise. However, it is at least more tolerable than than the maze of modern misery that is Gatwick. At Bristol, you walk in and immediately know where to go. You can then enjoy the obligatory airport pint, without the worry of getting a ‘last call’ for a plane that is about 3 miles away.

In the Air

Once on the plane I do settle down a bit, especially now I know for certain my bladder can only accommodate one pint. I have learnt that a second results in the type of carnage all men of my age encounter. This is made worse when wearing beige shorts or jeans that appear to be made of blotting paper.

I then go through several processes of relaxation and fear. There was a time when I wondered what would happen if someone on the plane had a heart attack. I now wonder if that person is going to be me. To calm my fears I distracted myself by putting a sizeable dent in my spending plans. A rancid cheese toastie might not be the recommended antidote for heart failure but it kept my mind busy for 20 minutes. How is it possible to create something so awful? I washed it down with rum. Lovely.


Coming into land fills me with a mixture of fear and relief. If it is misjudged and we are about to plough into a mountain, I imagine myself turning to Jennifer and saying, “what’s going to happen to the dog?” With every bump into turbulence my hands sweat a little more. Then a wave of relief engulfs me when we hit tarmac. It’s not flying I’m afraid of, it’s crashing.

On this occasion, the landing spurred some of the other passengers on to cheer and clap. That seems a curious thing to do. If I was a bus driver, I’d feel a bit hard done by seeing this kind of overt sycophancy. Getting applauded for not crashing is a bit grandiose, isn’t it? Anyway, we were down and out of the airport without much fuss. It was at this point I felt happy with the world. The sky was an azure blue and a haze of heat haze shimmied across the tarmac.

The Holiday

I often wonder what makes a bad holiday. Having a heart attack on the plane obviously. However, once there, you have to be a bit unlucky. I guess food poisoning and sunstroke come into play. There is also the fear that your hotel might have been booked up by a family of 50 for ‘Big Frank’s 60th’. However, you kind of eradicate that risk when booking.

Our Hotel

Luckily, we had none of the above and had a good time. The hotel we stayed in was sparkling clean and the service was pretty much second to none. We were a bit out on a limb and there was not a lot around us. However, the alternative would have been staying in the local towns of Aya Napa or Protaras. Aya Napa is nicer than I imagined, Protaras is not. Despite a beautiful promenade and beach, the main strip is like a failing British seaside resort but with sunshine. All tribute bands, fizzy keg bitter and longing for better times that never existed. It goes from a bit of harmless fun early on, to quite sinister as evening turns to night and heavy drinking takes hold.

Out and About

Beyond the resorts, we found there is plenty to do. Either out at sea or up in the mountains, there is spectacular scenery and lots to learn. You can hire a car and do it all yourself but we got a chap to take us to the mountains in a Land Rover. It was a wise move as he was a fountain of knowledge, delivered with witty London/Greek Cypriot charm. There is an obvious Greek bias in his patter as his parents were chased out of their homes during the Turkish invasion of 1976.

Up in the Mountains

My knowledge of Cyprus was generally ignorant before this trip. After couple of days out with the locals, it became increasingly apparent that it has a complex history. Taken off the Ottoman Empire by the British, it finally gained independence in the 1950’s. This was only on the basis Britain could maintain a military base and still have an influence on proceedings. This came courtesy of a policy of ‘divide and rule’ in case it became too united. They still drive on the left and plugs and sockets are British standard.

There are also plenty of retired servicemen doing minibus runs, tours and running bars. However, Brexit has caused a lot of residency issues with regards to Britain now being a ‘third country’ without EU freedom of movement. Yet another ’Brexit Bonanza’ that infuriates people, many of them who voted for it. When it comes to Brexit, Cyprus is a great example of how acting on impulse and not reading the small print can be damaging. You can’t just turn up and work anymore.

In Summary

We enjoyed Cyprus. We got out of it what we wanted. Sunshine, a bit of fun, a bit of poolside relaxation and some interesting history. I regret not getting to the ‘ghost town’ that was evacuated during the Turk invasion but you only have so much time. The people are nice and informative and the two local tour guides we utilised were excellent. They blend knowledge with humour and no little dark sarcasm, no doubt adopted from the British.

We are not really in the business of returning to holiday resorts, so it is unlikely we will be back. However, that’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend it. Cyprus can offer its visitors whatever they want, even skiing in the mountains. There is almost guaranteed sunshine and beautiful seas and beaches. Despite some of the ropey towns, it is a beautiful place.

You can have lunch in traditional mountain Taverna at midday and get back in time to see a Rod Stewart tribute act in the evening. That’s diversity for you.

A good break.

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