Hello, it’s been a while 🙂
I can’t believe we’re already half-way through October and I haven’t posted anything. I have a very good reason….I actually got a holiday!!
Eleven days in Cyprus, a complete switch off from the news, total relaxation in the sunshine and a chance to see what holidays are like in the Covid world (more on that shortly)
Unfortunately the day after getting back, I got ill. This more or less happens every time I get to chill out, I can more or less guarantee I’ll end up with a cold on Christmas Day every year, there was the time I was so ill in Montenegro that I slept for thirteen hours, this time it’s tonsillitis (it’s definitely NOT Covid, I had a test, it’s negative) – I’m just relieved I’d got home first.
Now, I can without doubt say, I have NEVER had tonsillitis before. I’ve probably said “it’s tonsillitis” when in reality it was a bit of a sore throat. This was unable to swallow, eat or drink throat pain that I haven’t experienced before and have no intention of experiencing again.
Today the antibiotics have kicked in and I’ve managed an entire bowl of soup without giving up half-way through, thinking it’s just not worth it. Tonight, I may even sleep straight through.
Anyway, back to the main topic of this post, holidays in a world of Covid…
In June/July I was adamant I wouldn’t be going on holiday for the sake of it this year, I was sure that when travel restrictions were lifted, I’d be heading to the other side of the world on an adventure. I also naively thought that could be a possibility. Then as the summer progressed, I sat and watched as more countries were removed from travel corridors and I accepted that the other side of the world would be out of bounds for a good while yet.
Through September I watched as coronavirus cases across the UK began to rise, local lockdowns were introduced every other day and a bleak winter became a certainty, so, I took my chance to get away. I did question the morality around it, should I be travelling during a pandemic? Everyone will have their own thoughts that, I weighed up the risk and accepted that if Cyprus was suddenly removed from the travel corridor list meaning I’d have to self-isolate for two weeks, it’d be my own fault. I also had to have a clear Covid test within 72 hours of traveling to be allowed on the plane, I have also always followed the rules, wore a mask and generally not been a dick head throughout this whole thing.
Wearing a mask in the airport, getting table service and having to sit through a four-and-half hour flight with a face covering on, didn’t bother me in the slightest. I still can’t fathom people’s extreme rejection of face coverings, at this point I’d do anything at all to be able to do the things I enjoy.
This was going to be a very different holiday to what we were used to. For a start we’d be staying in the same hotel for the duration and we’d be all inclusive. I have been on all-inclusive trips before but never for this long, I don’t have anything against them and can definitely see the benefits, I just prefer to have a little more flexibility and to move around much more. This trip needed a change in mindset, we were there to have a break, enjoy some sun and relax.
Something we managed for the first three days at least.
I would recommend hiring a car if you’re visiting Cyprus, I would without doubt have gone stir crazy if we didn’t have the option of getting out of the hotel and being able to go further afield than Paphos, there is so much to see and do across the island.
1) I’ve been to many areas of Greece before, admittedly to begin with it was down to resort towns and cheap booze; now I’m drawn to Greece because of an interest in history and Greek mythology. It’s a throwback to a university module that had me reading The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Oresteia. I love the stories of the Gods and Goddesses. For a mythology geek like me, there’s plenty to explore in Cyprus, the birthplace of Aphrodite goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation – as legend would have it.
We headed for the baths of Aphrodite– which wasn’t overly impressive but linked up to trail that ran along the coast – followed by Adonis’ baths. Here’s how the story goes; Aphrodite and Adonis were madly in love. Artemis, the Goddess of hunting was envious and was trying to find a way to kill Adonis. On the third attempt, she sent a wild boar to fatally wounded him. He returned back to the baths, where he died in the arms of Aphrodite.
…..so here there’s two waterfalls and areas to swim – be warned the water is FREEZING. There’s nods to Aphrodite and Adonis every 2.5 miles including birth places and the like. I imagine they’re both usually teeming with tourists, on our visits they were dead and it was quite nice to enjoy the peace.
2) On the trail of Flamingos….I love flamingos, I’d been desperate to see them in the wild in Cuba in 2016 but couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get there and it was the wrong time of year, I want to see them in Sri Lanka, that’ll have to wait. So, I was thrilled to learn it was a possibility in Cyprus. Akrotiri Lake near Limassol is home to tens of thousands of flamingos between November and March each year. Granted October is a little early but still there were thousands stalking about in the water. You can’t get too close to them, there is a viewing centre in Akrotiri which is free, with access to telescopes for a good view. Also watch out for accidentally driving on to an army base.
We also headed to the Larnaka Salt Lake, it was too early for Flamingos there – however, you could see the mirrored reflection of the sky and city on parts of the water (I promptly added Bolivia to my travel list).
3) The walks, I tend to take a decent pair of walking shoes with me wherever I go, they were needed in Cyprus for two treks that we completed. First up was the Avakas Gorge, it’s at the start of the Akamas peninsula and is stunning.
I quite enjoy how insignificant nature can me feel at times, standing in gorge with 30-metre-high walls has that effect. It’s free to enter, it’s not an easy trek, it’s slippery in places, you need to watch your footing and have plenty of water, but it is absolutely worth the hard work.
Walk number two saw us head to Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountain range for a trek to the highest point on the island – well, the highest point you can get to without being a member of the British armed forces. The walk takes you through fragrant pine forests (never really understood that smell before) and through parts of the mountain’s ski resort……that’s right a ski resort in Cyprus.
It’s pretty weird standing at the foot of what normally is a ski slope in 30-degree heat, it looks really odd seeing chair lifts sat idly waiting for the end of January to roll round.
Again, it is worth the drive and the trek to see views right across Cyprus.
So, we got a fair bit of adventuring done and got see a hefty chunk of the island. It felt (almost) normal, we even watched a football match in bar – granted there was only other couple there.
The hotel staff at Louis Breeze Paphos, were excellent, I really felt for them at times as I would say the hotel itself was possibly half full. Each and every one of them went out of their way to maintain Covid guidelines, keep everything clean (the lifeguard had a cleaning backpack that looked like something the ghostbusters would wear) and to ensure guests were still getting a holiday experience.
Yes, there’s rules on social distancing and face coverings, we had to wear disposable gloves at the buffet but on the whole none of it felt strange or risky. Yes, it was very quiet and yes, it was a different holiday for us, and it hasn’t convinced me to change from my usual ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants holiday’ but it was lovely and I’m glad we went. There was very little risk involved and I wouldn’t feel anxious about traveling in a Covid world again, you’ve just got to accept that it’ll be different and a little more sedate.
Now if my tonsils would just calm themselves down, I can get back to work.
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm