10 Things I Learnt About Cyprus
Having just returned from a wonderful week away with friends in Cyprus, I must admit I have a smidge of post-holiday blues.
Having never been to Cyprus before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I suppose my expectations were that it would be a bit like Spain. I wasn’t wrong, there was yummy Mediterranean food and a warm sunny climate, but Cyprus had a few magic tricks up her sleeve.
- Cypriots are by far the most-friendly of all the Europeans I have met. This might be a sweeping statement, especially as I haven’t met all Europeans and also haven’t been to all of Europe’s countries, but in my opinion this was the friendliest place I have been to.
- Cyprus is pretty. Much prettier than other Mediterranean countries I have been to. Walking around, I often stopped to look at the flora that had either been planted or was growing wild, vibrant pinks, purples and oranges – so beautiful. I didn’t see any litter or graffiti. That might have just been the resort we were in, Coral Bay, but even travelling though the towns from the airport, I thought the districts were well maintained. I like to see clean and tidy towns with flowers in bloom.
- Cyprus is much cheaper than I thought it would be. I had expectations of overpriced food and souvenirs, I found neither. My friends will vouch for the small forest of lettuce I bought for 40 cents, the bucket of fresh olives for 2 euros and the delicious slab of halloumi that was just a couple of euros as well. We also sampled food and drinks outside of our villa and was pleasantly surprised every time the bill arrived.
- Halloumi is the national cheese of Cyprus and Cyprus’ ministry of agriculture has applied to register it as a protected designation of origin in the European Union. If this gets passed, it will be like fizzy wine only being allowed to be called champagne if it comes from the champagne region. There is also an age-old discussion about how halloumi should be made. Cypriots believe that halloumi should be made from 100% goat or sheep milk, other countries use cows’ milk. Having tried the Cypriot recipe and comparing it to the version using cows’ milk, I agree. It’s a much superior taste without the cows’ milk.
- Driving in Cyprus isn’t as scary as the internet made out. Okay, I admit I wasn’t one of the two drivers in my party, so I don’t have first-hand driving experience in Cyprus, but I can say I didn’t see any lunatic drivers driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping red lights or such like. I would quite happily volunteer to drive next time we go to Cyprus. It also helps that Cyprus drives on the same side as the UK, so it’s much easier to adapt.
- Cyprus grows bananas. How do I know this? Our villa overlooked a banana plantation. We saw them growing when we were staring across the beautiful view from our villa. I was very surprised as I had never heard of Cypriot bananas before. On researching this, it turns out that Cypriot bananas are not exported and are only sold locally. Apparently the local bananas are very popular. I’m gutted I didn’t try one, apparently they taste wonderful.
- Cyprus is still very much a divided island. While the island is known as the Republic of Cyprus, the northern part is an area under Turkish occupation. I learnt a lot about the sad history of Cyprus and the conflict from Victoria Hislop’s wonderful book ‘The Sunrise’, which I have reviewed.
- Cyprus is the sunniest place in Europe. Averaging 340 days of sunshine per year. We can only dream of this in the UK. Although I hear this summer has been a little late to kick off in Cyprus. It was still very pleasant when we went, even if we needed a little bit of pool heating for our evening dips in the whirlpool.
- Cyprus is home to the first ever bottled wine. It’s called Commandaria and it still being produced today. It’s a fortified dessert wine, similar to port and has been produced in the Troodos Mountain foothills since 800 BC.
- I need to go back to Cyprus. Our trip away was predominantly for relaxation and to spend time together utilising all the facilities that the villa has to offer. I want to go back to explore Cyprus more. Watch this space!
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