Cyprus travelogue. Monday April 18th 2005.
We are going on a tour today, through villages in the Troodos mountain to Nicosia. As the passengers get on the bus the driver greets every one of them with a kind "kalimera", which means "good morning". When it is my turn I am tempted to say "calamari", which means squid, but I restrain myself from such impolite and misplaced humour.
The first stop is in the mountain village Platres, where we have coffee and a sticky piece of cake with honey. As the only passenger I get Cyprus coffee and not instant. From Platres we continue to the village Troodos, where we stop for 15 minutes by a souvenir shop. They just want us to buy some of the junk. The only mitigating circumstance is the tasting of Commandaria and Zavania, the Cypriot 'port' and fire-water. I return to the bus to sulk while waiting for the others.
Next stop is the picturesque mountain village Kakopetria. We stay here for 45 minutes, which if sufficient for a walk through the old part of town. The bus continues to the capital Nicosia, where we have three hours on our own. We say no to a three course dinner arranged by the guide and find a humble place where we have a light meal: toast with bacon, cheese and salad. I order orangejuice, and it is fresh - ahhh!
Shopping in Nicosia
It is cloudy and the temperature is good for walking. We window-shop in the pedestrian streets and shop a bit for real too: I buy a leather purse to replace my disintegrating camera bag, and Helle cannot resist a necklace with blue beads. The necklace must be tried on, but that is easier said than done because it has a tight knot. The salesman manages to untie the knot, so Helle can try it on. He does not mind that in fact the necklace is a rosary:"No problem: you want to buy, I sell". Of course the purse is junk and the zipper does not work after a few days. You get what you pay for, and it was cheap.
We get a cup of cyp-coffee, visit an internet café and walk through depressing slum in the old town until it is time to get back. From Nicosia we head straight for Paphos at 16:15. The guide has arranged a quiz to entertain us on the way back, and if you remember his ramblings, you know the answers. What is the name of the special Cypriot goat cheese? What is the name of the highest mountain? In what year did the Turks invade northern Cyprus? And so on. Well, and then the last question: "How old am I?"
Helle writes 25½ and immediately regrets that she did not write: "Too young". The right answer was 23. Guess who won the quiz and a bottle of red wine? The trip cost us 26 £ per person, and that is what I call a pretty expensive bus ride.
Back at the hotel the nice guide, Søren, and I have a word with the reception. Helle and I would appreciate a room with a bigger bed or two beds. They promise to look into the matter, and later we are told that we can get another room tomorrow.
We stay on the balcony a while. A thunderstorm passes quickly, and then we can walk towards the restaurants. The 100 metres of rugged road have now been levelled and are ready for asphalt. We drop into a bar to wet our appetites with ouzo.
Suckling Pig and a Laughing Fit at Othello's
After the ouzo we go to Othello's. Suckling pig is today's temptation, and for starters Heller has halloumi with ham and I vegetable soup. The soup is anonymous, but the suckling pig is excellent and has crackly skin. Today the potatoes are boiled in water and not oil, and they are delicious.
The English couple next to us are icy and complain about everything. They don't smile even once and hardly say a word except an occasional growl. The waiter must have noticed the icy atmosphere too, because when the snow-queen receives her flambéed crêpes suzettes with frosty silence, he says: "And thank you!". This makes me giggle.
Next to these glaciers Helle and I feel extra warmth in each other's company, and we get a laughing fit over the silly idea of answering "calamari" (squid), when the chauffeur says "kalimera" (good morning) - a fit that gets worse by looking at the stone faces next to us.
We have no room for dessert and settle for coffee. The bill is 29 £.
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