Visiting Cyprus , or how to make a friend cry at the airport

IMG-20141129-WA0024As women, in our 30s, single, married, mothers, workaholics, travelers, we sometimes feel the need to run, get away, and forget all your responsibilities and problems for a long weekend just us girls. Also it helps if the birthday of one of us is approaching, and what better gift to give than an all-paid-4-day-surprise-escape-girlfriends-included? Of course the most patriotic thought comes in mind first: let’s go somewhere in Romania, stay at a nice hotel, and treat ourselves with nice meals, massages and cosmetic treatments, and an occasional cocktail (occasionally every 30 minutes). Guess what? It’s sometimes cheaper to escape in another country, than do this in our beautiful, crazy country.

That’s how 4 ladies ended up visiting Cyprus end of November-beginning of December for 3 nights. Let’s get the boring details out of our way:

  • We flew with Blue Air – 40 euro return ticket (booked 3 months ahead- I know, bummer, you need to plan a little bit, but there is no other hidden secret of getting very cheap flights, even with low cost carriers).
  • IMAG0099We stayed 2 nights at Estella Hotel Apartments in Limassol- 100 euro ; and 1 night we decided to splurge at a brand new 4 star hotel called Capital Coast Spa Resort in Paphos, with a great pool, sea view, and massage for 80 euro.
  • We rented a car with 33 euro for all 4 days with RentalCars, and spent another 40 euro for gas.
  • Weather was AMAZING! Starting December with sun, on the beach and 16-18-20 degrees (the brave birthday girl can tell us the water temperature, as she was crazy enough to jump in!!), is not a bad way at all.

IMAG0103And you guys say women are spenders!! Look, 100 euro per person for a 4 day accommodation, flight and transport sounds pretty good…a pair of shoes can cost more than that 🙂

Also, let’s get the “surprise” part into the story: this trip was meant as a surprise birthday present for one of the girls. Usually is pretty hard to surprise women, they know everything all the time. But this particular friend, besides being lovable and smart and amazing, has another quality which makes her pretty easy to surprise: she trusts completely her friends, and doesn’t question what she is told. Our plan was put in place with one month in advance or even more, she was told by a common friend that she will go with him in a team-building in Turkey, given only the time to be at the airport, and that’s it ( yep, pretty trusty person our friend). IMG-20141202-WA0058Imagine her surprise arriving at the airport and being jumped upon by her 3 girlfriends, all packed and ready to fly. Thanks to the very nice security in Otopeni airport, we managed to hide the actual destination until right in front of the boarding desk, when she saw “Larnaca”. Our idea was flawlessly put in place, and executed, while crying, but happy, she boarded the plane. Well, maybe just one thing to keep in mind when doing such surprises: make sure that person packs appropriate clothes… Our poor friend had only clothes for cold and rainy weather :). Oh well, a small price to pay for such a surprise (sorry S.!!!).

Another thing to keep in mind: if you want to rent a car (easiest way to visit the island), remember that Cyprus drives on the left side of the road, the steering wheel is on the right of the car, and might be a bit confusing at the beginning for any driver :). The Co-pilot (me) had a very important role all the time: make sure to remind the driver (A.) at any intersection where she needs to go and which is right and left. Very confusing :). But thanks to our Schumy driver, we had safe and uneventful drives (or mostly because the Cypriots are very nice and understandable people, who got out of our way when we ended up on the wrong side of the streets).

IMAG0111          IMG-20141202-WA0062

Now, what about the actual place, Cyprus, is it worth visiting? YES!! Always a big YES! Especially during Sept-November or March-May, when weather in most of Europe is cold and cloudy, Cyprus is all sunny and warm and welcoming. Cyprus is a pretty small island, with around 1.1 million people living there, and it is amazingly easy to get from one place to another, with a series of motorways going from Paphos to Ayia Napa, also linking Larnaca to Limassol and Nicosia. You can easily reach all spots in a 4 day stay. Another thing that I loved was the weather ( keep in mind we might have been lucky) : sun all day ( it has more than double the amount of sun hours per day comparing to northern countries, as an average per year), warm, and not that much windy( except some coastal parts).

Besides spending all day on a beach, zipping cocktails and sun-burning or diving, there are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Cyprus:

  • Visit the cities: in Larnaca take a stroll on the Palm Tree Promenade, visit the harbor, Larnaca Fort and St Lazarus Church, or another nice place to walk around are the Municipal Gardens. In Limassol take a stroll on the promenade and visit Limassol Castle. NicosiaIn Nicosia visit the Cyprus Museum (and the tombs downstairs), Kaimakli and Kykko Metochi neighborhoods, St Sophia’s Cathedral and the Presidential Palace, but most interesting is just to walk around seeing the split and differences between the Greek and Turkish sectors. For shop addicts you can visit the Arch Makarios Avenue and the bazaar. IMG-20141202-WA0021In Paphos (UNESCO site) there are some interesting museums and religious buildings, so it’s worth a walk around, but more interesting things you can find near it : the Tombs of the Kings and Rock of the Greek (the legendary spot where Aphrodite is said to have emerged from the waves – Petra tou Romiou ). There’s not that much to see in Agia Napa besides the monastery and Nissi Beach, but near the resort you can go to Cape Greco ( the most southeast point of the island), which offers spectacular views of the coast and the Mediterranean Sea.

We managed to see most of the cities, and walked around getting lost. It was a nice and fun activity, without any guides or maps, interesting to see the architecture, local people and their routines.

  • If you are tired of city views (even though none of the cities above compare with the busyness and hustle of European cities), explore the villages (any), which seems not to have changed in generations.For untouched landscape and wildness, go to Akamas peninsula, either cycling in the Cyprus National Park, or watch turtles on Lara Beach.

Unfortunately we did not actually stop in villages, but we’ve seen quite a lot just by driving around the areas. Cycling was out of the question, we were on holiday for God’s sake 🙂

  • Go to Troodos Mountains to visit Kykkos Monastery and Caledonia Falls.
  • cyprusIf you love wine, visit the Wine Museum in Erimi, the Commandaria Museum in the mountain village of Zoopygi and any of the wine producers near and in Limassol.
  • If you still have the energy, great night life can be found in Agia Napa (starting with April) and Limassol most of the year.

Since we went beginning of December, we limited our night life to Limassol, but we had a great time at one of the bars there (I forgot its name), where one of the bartenders was Romanian, and pretty helpful in making sure we always had a cocktail or shot in our hands. We should thank him, we overslept 2 days in a row, and that’s why we didn’t get to see the Troodos Mountains 🙂 .

  • IMG-20141201-WA0004Eat local cuisine! As an introduction, we ladies completely disobeyed this advice, and ate 2 times at TGI Friday’s, we were not able to stop ourselves because of their Jack Daniel’s ribs and shrimps :). But you should not do this, and go for Meze! , a traditional meal consisting of about 24 seasonal dishes, filled with fresh fish and vegetables and fresh fruits. For seafood lovers, this is HEAVEN!

IMG-20141202-WA0138All in all it was a great experience which had everything: nice strolls in the cities, great mixt architecture and historical sites, nice beaches, delicious food and great night life. Cyprus is always an easy access location, with great weather and people.

We will be back, Cypriots! Whose birthday is next? 🙂

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