On the road again, Paraskevoula and myself! This time off we go for the South-East coast, at the crazy, trendy party place, Ayia Napa, with the beautiful sandy beaches!
Before we hit the highway we toured the city of Nicosia, where I grew up. I wanted to show Paress my old school, Pagkyprion Gymnasio, with its 200 years of history. It’s a big honor for anyone to graduate from this school, and I wanted Paress to get a glimpse of that.
We visited the nearby Archbishop’s Palace, the old Cathedral of Agios Ioannis (Saint John) and saw a new statue, a tribute to Mother during the 1974 tragedy. On the way out I showed Paress our own Statue of Liberty, situated within the Venetian Ancient walls of Nicosia and symbolises the independence of Cyprus from the British Empire. Continuing its course since antiquity, the modern history of Cyprus (since 1878) has also been quite turbulent.
On the way to Ayia Napa we did a pit stop at the coastal city of Larnaca to visit my cousin Marios who vacationed there with his family. In Canada, we fly 4 hours to the Caribbean to find such beautiful vacation spots. For the people of Nicosia, it’s just a half hour drive. Spectacular beaches nearby and amazing resorts everywhere. The tourism infrastructure of Cyprus has evolved dramatically.
We walked on the nearby beach of CTO (Cyprus Tourism Organization) where I showed Paress another favorite excursion spot growing up here in Cyprus, and explained that during winters we used to come here to pick up sea shells by the hundreds.
Almost 20 years ago when I lived here with Jeannie the journey from Larnaca to Ayia Napa was difficult and long through winding roads. Now, it took us only half an hour through the new highway that was built since.
We went straight for Konnos beach, where I used to swim frequently as a child and later on with Jeannie. Fully developed now, with a asphalt road coming down to the beach, amenities and water sports, back in the day it looked more like a well-hidden treasure. That’s where Paress first saw topless swimmers, commonly found on all Cyprus beaches, and wondered if it’s even …legal. “This is Cyprus, honey!” People enjoy life freely and party like crazy! We stayed there way after sunset, after everything shut down, including the lights. Thankfully, I don’t go anywhere without my flashlight (giggles), so we managed to find our way back to our car, and drove round the coast back to Ayia Napa.
Boy, has this area ever developed! Following the war of 1974 a huge development begun in this area, but what I experienced this time around was beyond words! Trendy bars everywhere, the strip has been extended, a fully developed marina area, traditional tavernas, luxury all-inclusive resorts. And Russians. Lots of them. Everywhere!
We walked through the strip and reached the marina for dinner at a traditional taverna where Paress finally experience the Cyprus meze, a vast selection of dishes. Yet another experience, Paress learned how to open and clean fish here! I was a very happy and proud father…
Trip to Ayia Napa