The Lace Witches

With a full stomach (of some kind of pasta related soup, pork minute steaks and other related vegetable concoctions, and a fruit salad pie type thing), it’s time for another entry. We were on the road to Lefkara. A really nice mountain village near Nicosia. I mentioned how Lace was where it’s at, in Limassol. Limassol’s love for lace just collapses under sheer weight of Lefkara’s doileys (That’s can’t be spelt right). The most famous of the lace patterns, and the most difficult – is the Leonardo Da Vinci pattern. We were told that every woman in Lefkara knew how to create it, but it is the most time-consuming. And the reason for this Da Vinci pattern, is that Leonardo Da Vinci bought some of this lace on a visit to Cyprus, and it is the same lace that is featured on his infamous painting of the Last Supper. Didn’t see that one in the Da Vinci code, did you? Well now you know, the story is probably a lot clearer.

Lefkara is divided into upper, and lower Lefkara and we only had the chance to visit the upper half. The streets were literally full of lace shops. Tablecloth’s, hangings, doiley’s, whatever you want – they’ve got it. There is also a woman out front of each one of these lace shops, to try and trick you, make you come and see her and how she is making the lace, and then lure you into the shop in order to sell you wholesale lots. At least that’s my suspicion. We settled into a comfortable routine of walking by the shops. I would nod, smile and say hello to the lace-witches, they would ask “come see what I am doing, come and buy some lace” and cackle loudly, and Sandra would say “no thank you”, while we grasped our bottles of tomato ketchup, and moved swiftly onto the next shopfront to repeat. Tomato ketchup, you see – because it’s what lace-witches fear the most – get tomato ketchup on the lace, and it’ll never come out – and they lose their power.

I’m not entirely sure there needs to be so many lace shops in Lefkara. I do have to wonder if there is any expansion in this area. Just as in China town, a young entrepreneur may walk down the street and think “i’ve got it, here is where I will build the new restaurant, and continue my fathers empire in this new land” … Do Lefkarians walk down the street and think “I know what would sell well around here ….” ?

Anyway, past all the bright lights and neon signs that the lace street quite plainly doesn’t have – we turned down a winding street, that quickly became evident it didn’t lead anywhere. Turning around to go back the other way, I spotted the Troodos couple. “I wouldn’t go that way”, I said. “We were following you! We thought you looked like you knew where you were going”. Foolish people. “Don’t do that, I keep getting people lost today!” I said, thinking back to the green line. And so they didn’t.

We finally came across a nice padded bench by the church, which looked as though it belonged to the house behind us. Quite convinced we were going to be thrown off in a matter of seconds by the very angry owners of said bench, we sat down and talked about Bosnia, and the surroundings.

I say we, Sandra did most of the talking – and I interjected with a few answers about London and England. And I’ve gotta admit, I feel ashamed about knowing absolutely nothing of the world to the east of Europe. “The Danube? Sure. Germany, goes through Hungary – right? I’m sorry, what? Goes beyond that? Surely there’s no land beyond Hungary??”

At least, that was pretty typical of the conversations we had 🙂 It wasn’t any better, that Sandra knows far more about my own country, and could easily ask questions about it that weren’t so vague as “so, like, is it nice?” Okay, in an effort to defend myself… I work at a computer. All day. I type code, I write emails, and I move stuff around in my very limited little world. Sandra works for a travel agency. She also took Geography into higher education. There, I feel fully justified in knowing nothing. But strangely it doesn’t make me feel any better – so I’ve got to go on holiday to lots of different places 🙂 Which is quite a nice conclusion to make really, since that’s what I intend to do anyway.

As we were sitting on our comfy cushioned bench, it started to rain (again! the tour guide says this is it now until February. It will rain). Returning to the coach, it was full of people looking a bit annoyed. “Shit, are they waiting for us again?”, I asked – “this time, you can apologise”, was the reply. Not eager to give away another apology so easily – I’m British, I only have 40 billion of them, and then that’s it – I asked if they were waiting for us again. “No”, tour lady said. And I skipped all the way down the coach back to my seat. Apparantly a lot of them had returned to the coach early, because of the rain. Hah.

One last stop, just down the road for some great views of all of Lefkara (it looks much bigger from a distance – the winding narrow streets hide it well), and down below into the mountain valley.

And that’s Lefkara. And I can’t believe it’s almost Wednesday already. I only have two more full days in Cyprus. I really need to buy some postcards. Sorry everyone! 🙂 Mind you, if you’re waiting for a postcard and you ARE reading this – you’ve kind of got the idea of what’s going on anyway. If you’re not, then you didn’t get the apology for the late postcard, which makes the argument a bit academic.

Bye for now 🙂

The Divided Capital of Nicosia

Today’s excursion took me to Nicosia, the ony forcibly divided capital in the world.

This morning was very difficult to wake up to, so I had to skip breakfast before staggering out to the front of the usual spot in front of the Navarria supermarket for the coach pickup point … at*cough* 8.55 *cough* I’m holiday, okay? Besides, with the time difference, that’s technically 6.55am. So I feel perfectly justified in being sleepy 🙂

We left for Nicosia shortly after that, and stopped off at the Cyprus Handicraft centre on the way. All piling out of the coach, single file, along with the school trip from the coach next to us. We had 30 minutes to walk around the handicraft centre. Lots of different rooms with people making various products; lace, leather, pottery, woodwork, metal. Most important thing to note from here was the weird naked pottery totem woman. A small figure about 5 inches tall. It just looked … weird. I have a picture. Ali was almost bought one for her present from Cyprus. But I decided against it, because I didn’t want to be the type of person that brought back ugly weird crap from their holidays, that people felt obligated to remove from boxes whenever I came to visit. On the other hand, I hope to find exactly that to bring back, somewhere in Limassol tomorrow 🙂

Anyway, it was in this centre that a couple I’d met on Friday came up to me and said “you were on the Troodos tour, weren’t you?” I’m afraid I still don’t know their names, but we stood inside one of the doorways and chatted for a while about what we’d been up to over the weekend. It was nice to see some faces I’d already met before 🙂 Actually, they weren’t the only ones, the same French group that could hardly speak any English from the Pafos tour was on the coach, as was the same tour guide (whom I thought was very good).

Back on the coach and off we went to the Cathedral of St John, and the Archbishopric with the statue of Makarios (remember him?). The two buildings were right next to eachother, and the statue of Makarios is huge, standing around 7 metres tall. During the 1974 invasion, the Turkish troops stormed the Presidential Palace, and the Archbishop’s Palace (where Makarios had slept), in an effort to kill Makarios and destroy everything he had. His bedroom was blown up at the Archbishops palace, and later rebuilt – but there are still a large amount of bullet holes in the walls of the palace, not restored as a reminder of the troubles past. The story given by our tour guide, was that Makarios was at the Presidential Palace when the troops invaded, and he simply walked out the back of the palace, flagged down a passing car, and was driven to safety in the Troodos Mountains. I suspect there might have been a bit more to it than that, but it’s nice to think of the President/Archbishop just strolling out with a cup of coffee in his hand, and hitchiking to Kykkos Monestary, or maybe even paying a taxi fare 🙂

A small hop and skip down the street is the Cathedral of St John. Coming from England, and my last holiday being to Prague, I imagine a cathedral to be a huge sprawling building. This one wasn’t much larger than my flat in Watford. It was possibly a bit better decorated though. The same as the rest of the churches on this trip, and covered with brightly coloured frescos, and gold *everywhere*. The chandeliers hung from the roof, and candlelights again seperated from the ceiling by an ostrich egg hanging from a long cable (totally going to to have to look that one up when I get back).

Again, the “comfortable” wooden seats lining this single aisle church. They’re more comfortable than your average pews at least. Well, the Orthodox service lasts for 3 hours. So I suppose they have to be. The “icons” also lined the wall that seperate the main church, from the alter area (where worshippers are not allowed to go, or see). The one on the far right, as is traditional, of St John who the church is dedicated to.

We saw a lot more of these icons from the 8th-19th century in the Byzantine Icon Museum just behind the cathedral. These icons are paintings all created in the same way – by preparing the wood, painting a number of layers on top, sanding, outlining the figure (as according to templates – so Jesus always looks the same in each icon, as does The Virgin Mary etc), this is then cut into with a small knife, and the picture painted with the darkest colour first, and adding lighter colours on top. The gold is added as a layer on top, usually covering the background, it’s varnished – before being blessed by a bishop, when it’s allowed to placed in the church. The idea of these icons is that they are not just pretty pictures – but they’re a doorway, or a window to heaven. By kissing, touching or conversing with the icons, the worshipper has a direct line to heaven.

They were usually donated to the church by very wealthy men, or by families wishing to make sure a loved one was remembered, or prayed for. There were a lot of icons such as these inside the museum, as well as parts of mosaics, that had been sold, and recovered from the buyer in America. Even more impressively than this, was a fresco that had been removed from the church of st Nikolas (I think – could be wrong on that). Not sure about the dates either … but the 15th century fresco was removed from the church because they discovered an older 12th century fresco underneath. Now, these frescos are paintings directly onto the plaster when it is still wet. Because of this, the colours actually seep into the plaster, and the colours stay vibrant. They are only ever cleaned, but have never been repainted in the churches and cathedrals in Cyprus. Which is why some look a little worn, but amazing when you consider it’s the original paint. Sadly no cameras allowed in these churches – you’ll have to google them yourself 🙂
So, with that in mind, somebody has managed to firstly remove the frescos from the church – complete, this was a fresco across a dome, so it wasn’t even flat. Not only that, presumeably they’ve managed to keep in tact, the fresco that was found underneath. *then* transported the fresco across to Cyprus, and created a replica structure to which they’ve reattached to it. That’s a lot of of very careful, and extremely impressive work.

Moving around the corner, we came to an area depicting the effects of the Turkish invasion. It showed photos of churches in the north completely stripped of their icons, frescos removed, and looking in total disarray. I realise that this museum probably shows the worst examples, but seeing the devestation caused by the Turkish army really brought home the complete mindless waste to it all. I don’t consider myself a hugely religious person. I don’t regularly go to church, or attend services. I do have a huge respect for churches across the world though, regardless of the religion they support. Regardless of what they stand for, religions form a huge part of our history, and reflection of a culture at any point in time. To see that reflection torn down and destroyed for any reason, is a terrible thing.

The Turkish and Christian communities lived in peace with one another for something like 500 years, before the Turkish invasion in 1974 changed it all and seperated the two groups of people. I realise I’m probably being extremely biased here, and welcome the other side of the story. I find it difficult to imagine what it must be like, if someone came to England and told a particular group they now had to live somewhere else. That they were no longer allowed to trade, or even meet with the other group. Which is exactly what has happened here in Cyprus.

Anyway, back to the tour of the city, and less of my disgust at the pointlessness of it 🙂 The division is hard to avoid whilst in Nicosia, so I’m sure I’ll pick up on this later 🙂

So, after a short walk back to the coach with the couple I’d met in Troodos, we were on our way to Old Town. As we were about to get off, a young Bosnian by the name of Sandra asked if it would be okay if we explored the city together, since we were both travelling alone. “Sure” I said, being the man of many words that I am.

So off we went to see Nicosia, walking up one of the main shopping streets and out the other end, wandering around aimlessly for a little while. We also passed the Earth from Above exhibition, and I wondered if the posters and big map of the world you could walk on, were the same ones I left behind in Southbank, around the Mayor’s office – where the exhibition had also been, last I looked.

After about 20 minutes of that I asked “Where do you want to go, anyway?”. “I don’t know, The Green Line?” replied Sandra. The Green Line is the illegal border that separates the North, from the South of Cyprus. We’re talking big. It’s illegal, because the Greek-Cypriot government doesn’t recognise it as a border. The only people who do in fact, are the Turkish government. The Turkish military patrol the green line on the Turkish side, and the Greek military patrol the line on the south. In the middle is a U.N. buffer zone, where only U.N. troops are allowed. The buffer zone varies in width across the country, but in Nicosia it is just a few metres. Interestingly, on the Turkish side the guards carry armed weapons, on the Greek, empty weapons and must be ordered by an officer before filling with live ammunition.

As I was saying, the green line shouldn’t be difficult to miss. “Good idea, do you know how to get to it?”, I said. So we walked around a bit, looking for the green line. Asking a few people on the way “which way to the green line?”. Both a little scared that the reply we got might be something along the lines of “The Green Line!? Are you crazy or something??”. None of that, just a few laughs, “to look look? Or to cross?”, “oh you need to go a long way that way” one lady laughed to us, as she pointed in the direction of the way we’d come. I?d suggested following the mosque we saw in the distance, when we met her. So crossing my arms, I refused to make any more direction choices. That being said, I stopped when I saw a map of Nikosia, hoping to figure out where we were. However, with no huge flashing “you are here sign”, I figured we were pretty much lost.

And from nowhere, Sandra produces a map! A few more minutes scratching our heads, taking it in turns to stare blankly at the map, and to look around, and we had a vague idea of where we were. A couple of streets after that – we noticed that time was getting on a bit, and decided maybe we should abandon the green line idea, if it meant we wouldn’t be able to find the coach again. While we scratched our heads, and looked at the map again – we realised we’d actually travelled in a complete circle somehow. Ending up minutes away from where we started.

Stopping a person getting into their car, Sandra asked an old lady “which way to the green line?” She popped her head in the car and conversed with a younger lady for a while. Before the younger woman popped out “just there, straight down this road”. “Is it far?” “No, just here, on this corner.” All that, and it was about 3 minutes walk from the coach park!

So, the green line. The area we found looked totally derelict. Bomb-damaged buildings, and others just left abandoned. U.N. signs all over the place, and barrels and sandbag make-shift barriers blocking roads. I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to an actual militarised zone (thankfully), and while it didn’t appear active, it was still a little scary. Groups of Turkish people on top of the Venetian walls, clinging to the fence and watching out across the city. I don’t know if they were Turkish soldiers, and when one saluted to me, I waved back. Were they happy where they were? As far as the Greek government is concerned, the citizens in the north are free to travel south, across the green line – so I suspected they were.

Leaving the area, we walked back to the main shopping street and strolled down the other one we didn’t check before. Down the bottom of this street, is a crossing point for the north/south divide. Standing on a large platform is a lone Greek soldier. He had an arm around him. At the other end of the arm, was a woman smiling to the camera down below as her friend took the photo. I grinned at Sandra, “wanna get your picture taken with the soldier?” She walked up to the soldier – “could I have my picture taken with you?” That’s a yes then. I remarked that he was probably going to be doing these photo shoots all day now, and as we walked down the steps, sure enough – someone else asked the same request. Somehow, the green line had been turned into some sort of tourist attraction. I can’t say I’m surprised now though, can I? I booked the trip to Nicosia wanting to see the green line. And yet on the platform is a viewing window that shows the rubble in the U.N. zone, and all the destruction the separation has caused.

When we got back to the coach, we saw a coachload full of people, holding our heads down we mumbled our apologies as we returned to our seats. “It’s okay, you’re not the last ones” said our tour guide – and I wished I could take back the apology. Or get off the coach and go for another stroll 🙂

Damn, it’s been another long entry. So I’m going to leave my balcony now, and go down to the restaurant for some food. When I get back, I’ll probably write a bit more on Lefkara. I kinda like this writing lark. This idea of keeping a blog might stick after all, at least while I’m holiday 🙂

The Flying Mouflon

Remember that entry I wrote about the Flying Goat? The one on the Cyprus Airways logo? Well, it’s called the Cyprus Mouflon. Apparently it’s not even a goat, but a wild sheep (looks more like a goat to me!) – that’s native to Cyprus, and the largest native mammal on the island. A while back, The Troodos Mountains were opened up as a huge game reserve, and large numbers of the Mouflon were wiped out. The Mouflon is apparently very very fast (hence the reason for the logo), and has large horns, so presumably a fantastic sport for rich men many hundreds of years ago with something to prove. During the first year of British rule in 1878, a survey only found 20 of the animals (the survey probably wasn’t too in depth, no doubt) – but the numbers have been increasing since 1939, when the Pafos forest became a reserve, and goat grazing was banned (removing a lot of the competition for food). They estimate around 3000 of them currently on the island. The interesting fact from my Globetrotter’s guide to Cyprus – is that remains of the Mouflon have been found in Neolithic settlements dating back to 6000 BC when they might have been domesticated.

So why am I telling you this? A lot of you know about the obsession with Llama’s. They’re just cool. In a similar way, goats also have that special air of greatness about them. Especially extremely wise ones (they have those wispy beards), and mental devil ones (they have *those* eyes).

Okay, I know I said Mouflon’s are sheep – but so what – when I heard about the Mouflon, I decided I had to see one. Disappointed that I haven’t seen any walking down the street, I’d hoped to see entire herds of them strolling around the mountains, drinking local wine and sipping coffee at the coffee shops in the small villages, perhaps sharing a joke with some of their friends. None of that either. Mouflon’s are very shy animals. THAT’s why I hadn’t seen one, I’d been looking in all the right places after all…

So today I did the next best thing to seeing them in their natural habitat – and went to the Limassol Zoo.

At the bargain price of 80 cents (almost a UK £1), I walked through the gates of the zoo, turned to my left – and there were the Mouflon. All wandering around miles away at the back. Like I said, it looks a lot like a goat. Actually, in the same way a Llama is a sheep crossed with a horse, a Mouflon is a goat crossed with a small donkey (without the belly – they run really fast remember). They look like fantastic animals though, with huge curled horns (THAT parts looks like a sheep – so maybe I can believe they’re sheep after all).

The zoo also had some other fascinating animals. Including cockateils, rabbits, and guinea pigs. More exciting than that was the huge camel, that I called Clive; a big monkey thing I called Norris (sorry Norris, I don’t know what kind of monkey you are); some very sleepy leopards that might well have been dead for all I knew; a lion that wanted to eat me – as I walked past it said “growl” at me, although it might have been purring; some goats (they were all called Goaty, in true goat-tradition); some *HUGE* vultures that had some really nice looking rotting carcasses for lunch; some zebras (they still make me laugh – one was called Marco, but I didn’t name the rest); and a few others, but I won’t keep listing them.

Sadly missing from its cage was the bear. It was on the map “here be bears” – but the cage was empty. No missing bars, and no bear hiding with its arms and legs stretched out on the roof of the cage – waiting for the zoo keeper to walk in, scratch his head and walk out leaving the door open.

The zoo was rather small, so I walked around it a few times, before stopping at the gate to watch the Mouflon. Since they were really what I’d paid the 80 cents for. I’m afraid the pictures of the Mouflon I got are probably rather crap, since the only way I could get a photo over the 8ft fence (in case they run and jump) was when they were far away. We’ll see how they turn out though, and I’ll put them on-line.

For now, I dedicate this entry to the Mouflon, and their bravery in the face of near-extinction. Mouflon. We salute you!

It never rains in Cyprus

Limassol is awesome right now. I’m sitting on my balcony with rain beating down outside in the middle of a storm (no I’m not getting wet, there’s another balcony above me).

On our trip into the Troodos Mountains, we were told Cyprus hardly ever gets rain. 2500ml a year or something. Well, it’s been raining all day, so this must be it for them! 🙂

I started out this morning heading east out of the hotel. Away from Limassol, and towards the big hilly area I’d seen from the road, wondering what lie beyond it. After leaving what I thought was the last hotel behind me, I found myself on a quiet road, which appeared to have no pavement, or anywhere to walk on. So I hoped down to the beach intending to carry on the rest of my walk down there where there was a really nice path, with small “bridgeways” built to get past the rocky areas of the coast. It is a really nice area, the sun was shining, the waves crashing against the rocks below (they don’t “crash” much in the bays around Limassol, the sea defences take care of that). In fact, I could quite happily stare at the sea for hours in that spot. So, I did.

A little further on, is a very small village, which slowly opens up into a huge sprawling metropolis of … unfinished buildings. Yes, the new housing estates of Cyprus are popping up everywhere. Financed by such companies as “Barclays Bank”. I got the impression that a lot of these new developments were catered towards the more overseas retirement market than the general wine-producing population of Cyprus.

Anyway, after exploring that for a little while, I headed back to the beach with the intention of slowly heading back towards Limassol. As I sat and read the end of The Concrete Blonde. I thought “it’s quite windy”, and as I started to head back I thought “there are a lot of clouds today”. While crossing one of the bridges across the rocks I thought “was that rain? No, it’s not possible – it must be ocean spray” … and then the heavens opened.

I actually feel rather fortunate to be in Cyprus while it’s raining. Just a few days ago I wondered what it would be like. A few years ago I visited Malta during the middle of February. Malta is supposed to be gorgeous sunshine for all but about 5 days in the year – where it rains heavily. Because of that, they don’t really care about small things like rain – so when it does rain – there is quite a large flood problem on the hilly roads.

There was nothing at all like that in Cyprus. This rain hasn’t exactly clogged the streets, and there appears to be more than adequate drainage. Nobody’s been running through the city screaming of the end of the world, nor dancing in the streets. With the exception of a few shop workers coming to watch from under the cover of their shopfronts, everyone’s gone about their business as if nothing’s different to the day before. All a bit dissapointing really 🙂 Perhaps it rained last week, too.

Since it was nice rain … Wait, nice rain? I have different classifications for rain. Most of the rain we get in England is kinda crap. You can’t get wet from it, but your clothes will always be soggy. It’s the sort of rain you have to run into to really feel, otherwise it just hangs in the air. You also have really cool monsoon style rain. The kind you rarely see in England, where you walk outside for 2 seconds, and you’ll drown. This is my favourite kind of rain. I love watching it, I love being out in it. It’s the sort of rain that you get in the movies. A farmer tending his dry crop, nothing will grow. Then boom, God brings the rain, the family run out into it screaming and yelling it’s a miracle, dancing outside and laughing into the heavens. Water brings life – when it rains like that, it’s great to be alive; and that’s how it makes me feel 🙂

In between those two, is the sort of rain we had in Cyprus today. It’s the sort of rain that smells fantastic. You can walk in it, but not get soaked instantly, and it doesn’t take long to dry out, because it’s not all around you like the small crap rain. Huge blobs of water, a fresh feeling, and the smell of electricity in the air 🙂 I hope that some of you know what I’m talking about…

I went down onto the beach around sunset, and walked out across the stones that jut out into the sea. I watched the sunset for a while, before I saw flashes of lightning in the distance. Out came the camera, and a really cool mode that lets me hold down the button, and it will just keep taking photos. Approx 1 every second I’d guess. After filling the memory 4 tiimes, I think I have 3 really good lightning pictures, which I hope turn out as good as they look on the small screen.

I wasn’t going to write anything this evening, because it’s been quite a lazy day 🙂 But one other interesting thing happened on the way back to my hotel this evening. Strolling along, I bumped into Shimon whom I work with at MRM. I knew he was coming to Cyprus on his holidays, but I didn’t know when it was, nor where he was going (in fact, he thought I was going to be Larnaca, as did I when I booked the place). So that was a bit strange, and a nice surprise. He’s here for his friends wedding, and staying a couple of miles down the road from my hotel. It really was one of those “small world” moments. I can get over the fact we’re in the same country, and just about that we’re in the same town (let’s face it, there are only really 3 or 4 main tourist options in Cyprus), but the fact we were walking down the same road, at the same time is what got me. I would probably give the same reaction if I met anyone from work in Watford, let alone a different country. I think that probably says something about the way we live 🙂

Time to sign off, I find if I don’t get sleep, morning comes around too late for breakfast. Why hotel breakfast rooms close at 10.00, I’ll never know. It should *open* at 10 🙂

Pafos and Ancient Cyprus

Today I took the coach to Pafos, and to visit a few of the archaeological sites on the way. We had an extremely good tour guide, who knew a lot about the history of the island, and the politics of today. She also seemed genuinely interested in it herself – which really came through as she was telling us the stories.

Before leaving Limassol, I also learnt a few things about the different areas I had already visited; such as that run-down area which I went to earlier in the week, looking for people who didn’t speak English – that is the Turkish community who refused to leave Limassol when their government ordered it during the 1974 invasion in the North. Approximately 1/3rd of the Turkish people did so. We also drove nearby by to Agios Nikolaos ton Gaton. Where the nuns fed the cats that St Helena brought to the island! What I didn’t know, and that had seemed rather harsh on the cats that were brought here to kill poisonous snakes – the cats are immune to poisonous snake bites. Which is how they’ve come to be known as having 7 souls, around these parts 🙂 Funny, I thought it was 9 lives. But there you go.

Along the road out of Limassol, and towards Pafos, our first stop was the Ancient City of Curium, where we saw the Greek-Roman theatre, and the house of Eustoilios. All the visible remains are from the Roman period, although the ancient kingdom of Kourion was also on the spot. The Greek-Roman theatre was something I’d really wanted to see. It was one of the photos that I looked at, and was one of the deciding factors in the “oh, I want to go there” scale. And it looked really nice, it’s on top of this cliff face that overlooks the sea and there’s a really impressive view below out and over the theatre. The theatre itself has been destroyed many times, due to earthquakes and the tsunami that came straight through Curium eventually destroying the magnificent city. Some 20,000 people used to live in the city (as far as they can tell) – which is really quite huge for such a small island, in 5 A.D. Including a couple that have been nicknamed Romeo and Juliet, as their remains were found in their bed wrapped closely together believed to have been killed as the tsunami swept through.

Back on the road, we passed through the the huge British military base on the south of the island, (Episkopi). We drove through the base for a huge amount of time actually, because it’s massive – and looks a lot more like an enormous holiday resort than a military base. The Limassol – Pafos road runs straight through the middle of it, but only vehicles are allowed to use it (no walkers), and none of the Cypriot public are allowed in the British controlled area. For this privilege, we Brits are supposed to be paying Cyprus a huge bag of money in rent every year. However, as tour lady pointed out. It’s never been paid. Instead, the British government say they’ve paid it elsewhere, in U.N. payments, and *cough cough* candy *cough mumble* and pocket money *cough* and stuff.

There are even Cyprus villages on the edge of this base, within the borders. People who we’ve (the Brits) so very kindly let stay there, as long as they don’t build hotels, or attract any more people to live there! It’s amazing we as a country have this kind of hold on any other countries, still. I’m sure the empire disbanded quite a while ago now. I’m surprised other world governments aren’t a lot more pissed off with us instead – but it must be our winning smiles and charming good looks that make them all bend over backwards for us 🙂

Anyway, birth of Cyprus, Aphrodite’s birthplace, and all of that stuff. That was our next stop 🙂 A little café that overlooks the birthplace, a set of 3 rocks that spread out into the sea. The rumour is, on a full moon at midnight, if you swim around the middle rock (Aphrodite’s) 3 times – you’ll become 20 years younger instantly. We even saw some people trying it – but …. well … it wasn’t midnight, and there wasn’t a full moon – sorry guys. So why the birthplace of Aphrodite? Sorry, I think my greek mythology is going to get a bit mixed up here, but I’ll do my best to remember. I’ve forgotten most of the names I’m afraid – I’ll do my best to look them up when I get back and maybe insert them here. So there’s the daddy god of all god’s. I don’t think that’s Zeus, he’s just the leader, head of the superhero’s. And there’s the mummy god. She’s pretty important too. They have loads of baby gods, and the youngest of them (he’s one of the evil ones in the Age of Mythology, Hades, or one of them), walks in on mummy and daddy god having sex. He’s a bit annoyed, so takes the harsh action of cutting off his dads testicles, and throwing them down to earth. Well, they land on earth, but daddy god’s a bit fertile, and impregnates Mother Earth, or nature. And then, presumeably 9 months go by, and voila (our tour guide said voila a LOT), Aphrodite emerges from this rock on the Cyprus coastline.

And that’s your idiots guide to Greek Mythology. As I say, I might look this one up when I get back. And rewrite this. So I can see exactly what I (if not all), I got wrong 🙂

It is a gorgeous area though. Ali, you would have loved it. I wish we could have spent more time there, and maybe gone down onto the beach closer to the rocks. Maybe next time 🙂

Leaving my crap mythology behind for a little while – we drove onto the village of Yeroskipou, where we stopped at the Church of St. Paraskevi. This village is really famous for its Cyprus Delights (remember I mentioned them earlier?). In fact, they’re in the Guinness Book of Records for producing the worlds largest Cyprus delight (they’re called Loukoumi) weighing in at a staggering 1.5 tonnes. The boxes I have are only 300g apiece. Remember I thought 7 boxes would be excessive? Well that’s a lot of loukoumi. Say that 10 times in a row.

Back to the church, it’s really old, you’ll see pictures – totally not what you’d expect a church to look like. Again painted completely inside with frescos in a similar way that the Kykkos monestary was. This time, I found out why – though it should have smacked me on the head like it did afterwards, and it probably already did for the rest of you. They’re all painted with scenes from the bible, because everyone’s too poor to own their own bible, or learn to read in most cases. Much the same way that most of churches in England have fantastic stained glass windows. Well the paintings let everyone know the story of Jesus Christ, regardless of if you can afford the Leather bound Bible Set in 12 parts, for only 24.99 a month, or not.

Arriving in Pafos, we first went in for a guided tour of the Roman Mosaics, in a massive archaeological site right next to the harbour. It was a lot like the area near the Colloseum in Rome, but with quite a few less standing structures. However, aside from Rome these are apparantly the best set of Roman Mosaics in the world. They would say that, wouldn’t they?

It was good to have a knowledgable guide for this, as otherwise there would been a lot of “oh, look at the pretty picture, looks like they missed a bit”, but the stories behind the mosaic’s and the mythology surrounding them made them that much more impressive. I know I’m going on a bit, so I’ll skip over most of them. I think the story of Aphrodite has already proven I’m rubbish at these anyway 🙂

One mosaic, the story that inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet. And there was me thinking he’d come up with it, all this time! Not even Shakespeare in Love revealed the trut (did it?). So, the story is a lot more simplified in this version. Guy and Girl arrange to meet in a cave. The guy goes in and finds his girl sleeping, and a tiger, with blood all around his mouth (it’s been hunting, duh), and thinks the tiger’s killed his love. Not sure how to react to this, he kills himself with his own sword. Then the girl wakes up, and finds *her* love dead, so she takes his sword and kills herself too. The End.

You can call me Will 🙂

At the end of the tour, we had a couple of hours free time to explore Pafos, get some lunch and basically do whatever we wanted. So I walked around the Roman ruins for a while, and found a cool looking lighthouse (I say found, it was on top of a hill – not the most difficult game of hide and seek I’ve ever played), and then went to look around the Pafos harbour. It is a really nice city, very clean and new looking. Even moreso than the tourist area of Limassol – but it is also kind of small. I had originally wanted to go to Pafos as my base – but now I’m very glad I was forced into the more central Limassol – as there’s still a lot to do and see, and the rest of the island is far more accessible.

After Pafos, we still have no subway. Another Pizza express, KFC, Burger King, and McDonald’s though. Oh, and a Debenhams. I say that counts because it has a café in it 🙂 I think there must be a Debenhams in every country in Europe. It’s like Britain’s new flag. “I claim this land in the name of the Queen, and the country of Great Britain. Now go, and have coffee and scones at our new café on the mezzanine floor!”

Troodos Mountain Range

So, I just got back from the trip around the Troodos Mountains. And it was gorgeous. We passed by Cyprus’ latest dam, and some gorgeous colourful (quite a change from the concrete and beach of Limassol) mountain forests, before stopping at a small village, the highest in Cyprus, at 1400m above sea level. And still they spoke english! Okay, so they get visitors all the time. They’re probably paid by the Cyprus tourism board to learn the language. There are some really nice houses dotted about in the village though, all intertwined with the wine making community and huge grapes everywhere you look. After a coffee, and a quick look around, we got back on the coach and headed towards the the tomb of the first president of Cyprus, the Archbishop Marakios III. Apparantly a poor man that was educated in theology, before getting numerous scholarships including one from the Kykkos Monestary below that allowed him to study in Boston, where he cut short his education upon being elected archbishop of Cyprus. He later became president when Cyprus became a republic, and was re-elected three times before he died in 1976. See, I was paying attention to the tour guide. Or I made all that up. Either way, what do you know or care? Hah! Okay, I’m just asking for trouble.

Anyway, so we went to this tomb, up in the mountains above Kykkos Monestary which he had chosen while still alive, so he could look out over all of Cyprus. And quite right too, the views are gorgeous. As I stood looking across at the tomb, another member of the tour group shoved her husband sharply in the ribs and said “hey, you want a good photo of the tomb, get a picture of that solider opposite in it. It’s only a model anyway”. And the solider’s shifted across to where we were standing. Yep, no model. He has to stand guard over the tomb all day. What a job. At least he gets to carry a gun I suppose. Presumeably in case Makarios rises from the dead. Okay, that was bad taste, I take it back.

A small walk from the tomb, is the Virgin Mary’s throne. Let me give a little background here. The Kykkos Monestary is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and also contains a painting, believed to have been painted by one of Jesus’s disciples, Luke. Nobody’s allowed to look at it, on account of not being worthy enough to look upon the face of the Virgin Mary, or Jesus. But there are lots of replicas (and the real painting in the monestary is also covered with a cloth replica). One of the powers this painting is believed to have, is to end drought, that often plagues Cyprus (they don’t get much rainful). So the painting, as recently as 3 years ago, is often moved to this high point at the Virgin Mary’s throne on top of the mountain, for prayer and service – to stop drought, or end wars, and stuff like that.

But now they’ve decided it’s a lot of effort to keep moving it, and the original stays where it is – and the shiny replica stays on top. Best all round I suppose. But some might say it removes a bit of the mysticism.

So, onwards and … downwards, to Kykkos Monestary. I’ve never been to a monestary before, but this one looked exactly as I imagined it should be, with a little more paint and colour. It keeps getting burnt down because of all the forest fires, so a lot of the areas we saw were actually quite new. Brand new mosaic’s aligning the walls, telling bible stories and the life of the Virgin Mary. And the church itself, within the monestary was something else. There was gold, everywhere. Chandelier’s hanging from the ceiling, connected each with their very own ostrich egg between the chandelier and the ceiling (?). Yeah, I didn’t fully hear what the tour guide said about those. I was too busy staring at the ostrich eggs thinking “what are those there for?”. It was all a bit blue peter. But it did all come together extremely well. You couldn’t help but be overwhelmed, which I suppose is kind of the point. It reminded me a bit of Donald Trump’s place (y’know, it was on the Apprentice). But more God.

Anyway, as much as I probably don’t sound it, I was very impressed with the Monestary, and its surroundings, and it was great to see the monk’s walking about the grounds, one running through the monestary shouting excuse me, excuse me… just like in the films with those prophecies 😀

We stopped at the monestary for about 90 minutes. Time enough to get some food, and get conned by the nearby stalls selling “gifts” and stuff like that 🙂 In true tradition, I bought some Cyprus Delights for your lucky folks back home. I say tradition, because Chris Dann at work went to Cyprus last year, and he bought some Cyprus Delights for everyone at work. So I stole the idea. I hope you all liked them, I can’t remember if I did 🙂

And because it was a crazy market stall kind of arrangement, buy 2 get 1 free! Bargain. Not only that. Kiwi Liqeur. 25 cents cheaper than it was in the monestary! (when I got it back to the hotel, I peeled back the label to find another marked £3.00 underneath. Those money-grabbing monks!

We left the monestary, and headed back towards Limassol, but not before stopping at the Central Square. A large area slap bang in the centre of the Troodos mountains. Also, largely under construction, which kinda ruined it a bit 🙂 I’m sure it will be lovely when it’s finished.

I walked round more market stalls, tempted to get some more Cyprus Delights. Buy 3, get 1 free! Bargain! I looked down at the carrier bag with 3 boxes of Cyprus Delights and thought 7 boxes would be rather excessive.

I noticed a nice little dirt track that led off into the middle of nowhere. Being the exploring type, and still having 20 minutes to spare in the middle of Construction Square, I decided to take a little walk. Well worth it, and offered some fantastic (and quiet) views of Mount Olympus and the rest of the mountain range. Hopefully got some nice panoramic photos from up there.

When I came back to “civilisation” I sat down with a couple from the tour opposite one of the coffee shops, where one of our other fellow tourists was arguing with the people inside. He stormed off towards the coach and shouted “racists!” back at them. When we got back to the coach, he was still arguing, this time apparantly to himself at the back of the coach “I’m going to northern Cyprus tomorrow, I bet the Turkish are a lot more friendly up there!”

On the way back, the two old northern women sitting behind me starting to chat about anything they could possibly think of. And the woman in front slyly stuck her head around the seats “are you english?”, she whispered to me. “Yes”, I whispered back wanting to say “do you have the plans?” or something more clever and spy-like such as “The brown goose flocks to Spain during the Winter blight”. “Don’t ye have ear ache?” she grinned at me. I hadn’t really taken it in until that point, but yes, the women behind WERE recounting their life story. And yes goddamnit, as members of the front of the coach (and so there before they were), we were all perfectly entitled to laugh at them about it – as long as we were quiet when we started.

So, this couple in front from Bolton had been arguing about which tours they should go on, before finally agreeing on one today – which is abruptly cancelled, and they were transferred to the Troodos Mountains. Ahhh, the beauty of travelling alone. No whining about “but, *I* wanted to see the seals!”, or stuff like that. Actually seeing seals would be pretty cool.

They told me about their 3 day excursion they took to Egypt. Something I had been vaguely considering myself (with no real intention of doing – gotta do it justice by having enough time in Egypt, when I eventually go). You spend the first day travelling there, and sleep on the boat. Then they rush you in Cairo for 7.30am, give you about 20 minutes to look at the Sphynx and the pyramids for a “oh look, that’s nice”. Armed police escort, all the way. You also get to go down the Nile a bit, where you can apparantly see such wonders as “dead horse in the river”, presumeably shortly before they serve up lunch. Well, they made it sound terrible – but still say it was well worth the 150 quid each for the experience. And I agree, it does have to be done. Just not yet 🙂

Geez, is it just me, or are these entries getting longer? Maybe I should write about less that happens. Bugger it, maybe I shouldn’t include these interludes.

So into Limassol, and the first stop, the guy who was arguing a lot gets off by his hotel, storms off the coach complaining about how nobody spoke to him the whole journey. Uhhhh, bit late now dude. The couple in front of me told him at the first stop that I was on my own too, and maybe he should speak to me. Glad he didn’t. As delightful a guy as I’m sure he is 🙂 I mean, come on? I’m not exactly the most outspoken person on the planet either – but if he was that miffed about no-one speaking to him … he could have started up a conversation with anyone. It’s not hard when you’re on holiday “Are you English?” usually gets y’foot in the door, and you don’t need much else. I hope he enjoys northern cyprus.

And, well, that’s my trip 🙂 I have another one booked tomorrow, to go see the archaeological sites on the way to Pafos, and possibly spend a bit of time in Pafos itself.

Since it’s still kind of early yet – I’m going to go and look around the hotel a bit more. I haven’t really seen the pool or the bar yet, and I figure that’s a good place to go, since I have another early start tomorrow morning.

Bye for now 🙂

Kentucky Fried Robin

Well, both yesterday and today were spent wandering around the area between here (the Amathus area) and the inner city of Limassol. So it’s fitting that I combine both days into one blog entry. I started yesterday marginally unimpressed with Cyprus. Sure it has beautiful weather, really nice beaches, and a clear blue very calm sea. But I was tired, stuck in the middle of the tourist area on a long road that looked a bit like a crap Vegas strip. Bar, restaurant, hotel, mini mart, bar, restaurant, hotel, mini mart, strip bar, bar, restaurant, hotel … And so on and so on for several miles. I’ve never been on the typical beach holiday, sun sand and sea before and that’s part of the reason for taking this trip. So I can’t really say it’s not what I was expecting. I just don’t want it to be everything 🙂

But the longer I spend here, and the more I look around the more I like Cyprus (or rather Limassol, the rest of Cyprus is still a mystery). It’s 4 miles into the centre of Limassol. But it’s amazing how quickly that 4 miles can go when it’s scattered with regular breaks of cafe’s and benches overlooking the sea. I found a really nice park near the harbour, full of palm trees, statues and sculptures, looks across the sea, with plenty of shaded areas to break from the sun. It’s also, *full* of cats. I’d seen a few strays wandering about already, they’re not neutered in Cyprus, so they have a bit of a problem with strays. The thing is, a lot of these cats look good, really good in fact. I can’t count the number of cats I saw that I thought “oh oh, I want that one!” … Sadly Ali (that’s my housemate) wasn’t there, else I would’ve undoubtedly asked the obvious question “can I keep it??”. Apparantly they were bought to Cyprus around 324, by St Helena, because she found the island overrun with poisonous snakes. Hmmm, cute cats, or poisonous snakes. Tough choice for your troublesome “pest”.

So anyway, history lesson over, big families of cats, lots of kitten looking animals and one older mum-looking cat wandering around in packs, all appearing out of the stones that line this particular part of the sea.

It wasn’t long before I found out why so many of them looked so healthy. That’s when I met Crazy Cat Man. He was strolling down the path with a big carrier bag clutched tightly to his chest. I heard a lot of mewing noises and a huge flood of cats appeared from nowhere running under my bench towards Crazy Cat Man and the wall where he’d scattered some food. “Looks like you caught their attention, what are you feeding them?” I asked, cleverly. “Cat food” he replied. “Ah” I said, and off he went, like a man with a carrier bag of cat food on a mission to feed more cats.

While I sat there and read my book (The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly – highly recommended holiday reading) – I saw a number of other Crazy Cat People feeding the cats. Fortunately none of them were good looking mid-20’s women, else I would undoubtedly have made an even further fool of myself by strolling up to them and announcing “hey, bet that’s cat food you’ve got there. In fact, I bet you a drink, since I met the Crazy Cat Man King just minutes ago”.

So, leaving the whole cat thing behind for a while. So far, I’ve found the Limassol castle. It’s tiny on the outside, but HUGE on the inside, with a surprising number of large rooms containg artifacts from the 9th century and onwards. Probably older if I was paying more attention – but at only one pound for entry fee, I didn’t need to stick around too long to get my money’s worth 🙂

I found the shopping centre. Lace is apparantly in this year, in Cyprus. If you don’t want me to bring back some as your present from this holiday, speak now 🙂 If you do want me to bring you back some lace from this holiday, I’m not really sure what I’m looking for, so you still might be out of luck. The other thing that kept drawing my eye was Lipton’s “NEW” Iced Tea – GREEN flavoured. Mostly because the bottles kept jumping out at me saying “look at me, I’m mountain dew”, when it blatantly wasn’t. Still, very nice all the same 🙂 And it’s green tea, so it’s good for you. Because it’s green.

I also found the town hall (I think), Djami Kebir (Large Mosque) – they wouldn’t let me in on account of wearing shorts, the market, a big industrial area full of workshops, truck parts and general metal work, a really cool old-looking water tower, the old docks, and lots of other church and mosque looking places.

I stayed in Limassol until sunset this evening, because of the curve of the beach it looks much nicer from the centre than from the Amathus area. And being a sucker for sunsets, what choice did I have? Which did mean finding my way back along the beachside road to my hotel after dark. I remember my mum saying “you’d better not walk that journey on your own after dark”. Feeling rather sheepish and little guilty, I kind of did do that. As I was walking along a wooded park area in the dark, I realised just how safe Cyprus appears to be. There was no feeling of being threatened, no drunk people staggering along the path singing away (okay, okay, it was only 8 – but you’d still get that in Watford – you certainly did in Prague). But rather, there were mothers pushing prams, and couples walking along the beach. I passed one unlit playground, where a mother stopped to let her kid play on the climbing frame.

I wonder if they’re all putting on a show, but there are friendly people everywhere you turn. I know it’s a cliché, all the guide books say it too – but it’s true 🙂

So anyway, I’m walking along this beach-side path against my mother’s wishes… She also told me about a delicacy in Cyprus that was absolutely forbidden to try. Apparantly they catch Robin’s and other small birds in some fly paper style arrangement, and cook ’em up as a delicacy.

So, I’d already broken rule number 2; I was thinking “how can I try this delicacy, and not break the promise I made to my mum?” And that’s when I noticed KFC. They’ll serve anything there, as long as it’s not chicken. I could eat Robin, and not know it – so technically I’m guilt-free, right? Firstly let me digress (done enough of that already, right?) – The american restaurant count currently stands at 4. McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and KFC. I’ve also seen a Pizza Express, countless American/English/Irish themed pubs (The Shakespeare Pub I think it was called, it had a phone box outside. There’s a picture on my camera). Sadly I’ve yet to come across a Subway, nor have I found Mountain Dew (damn you Green Tea!). Another thing I’ve yet to find is someone who doesn’t speak perfect English. There’s none of the “do you speak english?” I had to ask so much in Prague. They can tell by my pasty white skin that I’m obviously not from ’round here. But anyway, KFC. I had it, it probably wasn’t chicken, but in all honesty it probably wasn’t robin either. Making the whole exercise a little pointless, and wasting an entire meal on fast food I can get anywhere. Almost. The one good thing about this KFC is it served biscuits, americacn stylee 🙂 So, I was full, and satisfied about being able to get the salty english muffin / scone hybrid that I haven’t had since leaving America.

It wasn’t until I’d finished I realised the C, had probably stood for Cat. Damn.

It didn’t help when, as this thought entered my mind, two cats sauntered past the front door of KFC. They were probably looking for food. Cannibals. I imagined some poor KFC employee running after them with a net, and headed back towards the hotel with a full stomach.

Anyway, time to go to bed I think – I have to be out front of the Navarria Supermarket tomorrow morning at 8.25 sharp. The coach leaves for the Troodos Mountains, and my first excursion out of Limassol – where I *hope* to find some Cypriots that don’t speak English better than me.

Flying Goats

I last left this as I was heading towards alcohol at Heathrow. The only exciting thing that happened there was I discovered the free sample man standing out the front, offering samples of bailey’s caramel and chocolate mint 😀

The only other giggle I got along the way was the choice of logo for Cyprus Airlines. I get it, they want to use a traditional symbol and all. But you see, the symbol they chose was a goat. Apparantly it’s a wild goat native to the Cyprus mountains. Because of the whole flying theme that’s usually associated with airlines, they’ve added a kind of wing look where it’s arse / back would usually be. Personally, for me, and I could be wrong – but a goat is not on my top 10 list of “animals and creatures most likely to be associated with flying”. They can jump, I suppose, which is better than choose a rhino, or an elephant. Isn’t there an american airline that uses an eagle? Not just because it’s a national symbol, but BECAUSE IT CAN FLY. Goats, as we all well know, CAN’T FLY. If Wales had an airline (god forbid) – would they adopt a sheep for their logo, because it can do that hop skip game that kids play? Hopefully, no. I wonder, are there other strange choices like this out there?

Anyway, rant over – more importantly, I arrived safely in Cyprus at 4.45am this morning. Feeling rather sleepy, I staggered through passport control, somehow stood upright while waiting for my luggage, and made my way through customs. Stepping out of the airport at around 5.15, it was really quite dark and not a lot going on except every now and then a coach would appear and deposit some more british tourists before they disappeared into the terminal and presumeably onto a flight back to England. Most people from my flight took one look at the sign of directions where they could go and went on their merry way. Apparantly they all had plans on how they were going to get to their hotels, and get on with some catching up on sleep. Bastards. Well, I had a plan too, so I made my way to the inter-city bus stop just round the corner and checked the timetable. Okay, so there was another 3 hours to go before the first bus even looked like it would be in Larnaca, let alone make it to the airport. So out came the book and I made myself comfortable in the much appreciated fresh air.

After five minutes, somone came out of his car (or taxi?) nearby to ask me “where are you going?” “Limassol.” I replied. “oh” said the man, as he wandered off shaking his head.

Another 20 minutes goes by, and someone pulls up in his red taxi and asks me “where are you going?” Again, I reply, “Limassol”. “oh” says the man. He waited a beat and asked “Do you want a taxi?” I’m at a bus stop at this point, the taxi rank is about 30 seconds walk away. “No thanks”, I reply. Knowing full well a taxi to Limassol is 30 pounds compared for 3 pounds for a bus, I decided to wait.

As soon as he pulls away, another car pulls up “service taxi?”. “Huh?”. “Service taxi, I take you to the office, they take you to limassol”. “How much?” “About 8 pounds”. “Sure”

So in I got, grateful to be on the move, and away from the dark airport, but still quite sure I was going to end up waiting somewhere else instead, either for this mythical service taxi, or so I could check-in at the hotel. But true to his word, the kind Cypriot who chatted in lots of English I didn’t really understand took me to an office. Where there was more waiting. And eventually I ended up inside a mini bus type thing to hold 7 people, speeding around Larnaca picking up people from the beach, their homes, or next to the Solar powered phone box (that thing was cool!).

Got to the Navarria Hotel around 9am, where the guy at the front desk checked me in straight away and sent me up to my room.

So I figured, what the helll – it’s still early, if I have a nap now, I still stand a chance of being fine from the whole jetlag standpoint. So I did 🙂

I’ll leave it there for now, cos this is already huge. I’m sure you need a break every bit as much as me 🙂

Burger King Fights

Hurrah – finally underway, and at the airport ready to leave for Cyprus. The only thing that’s not quite ready yet, is my plane. 2hrs to go until my flight, and I’m all checked in, past the security checks – and eaten. Only thing to do now is break out the ipaq and type out some rubbish.

So here we are 🙂 Terminal 1. Opposite the Beauty Centre and Dixons, and not far from Burger King. So, I thought I’d drop in and grab some food, there were only two people ahead of me, so I didn’t think there could be much of a wait. Well, the 10 people who joined the queue behind me might disagree there, and I ‘d be inclined to go along with them, with hindsight. The manager of Burger King looked a bit pissed off about something. After a few minutes, I realised he was a bit pissed off at somebody. Something about one of the staff member not taking money from a customer, perhaps. But there was much shouting, all of the till staff (manager being one of them had to go back and shout for a bit in the “kitchen”. Stilll in view of all the customers of course, but in the kitchen all the same. Priceless. Well worth the 4.99 for the chicken burger. Which is good, because the burger wasn’t 🙂 Ah well, made a few friends and shared a few laughs with the people in the queue. What a great piece of entertainment for the start of my holiday 😀

So, terminal 1. Great terminal. One of the best quite possibly. Lots of shops (enough to keep me occupied for the next two hours? – I suspect no). However, it does have a Giraffe restaurant. But sadly looked way too busy. Giraffe restaurants are superb. A rather long lunch break from work took me to the Giraffe down at Southbank a few months back. Mmmmmm, lamb and feta cheese burgers, the like of which lunchtimes have never seen since. A shame. And I must say, a 180 pounds flight is probably a little excessive just for a great burger. Especially when there’s one just down the road 🙂

So, a big hello to everyone back home. An hour from now, I’ll probably be sitting here, bored. Think about THAT when you’re settling down to Silent Witness, or whatever’s on 9 on a tuesday. I’m going to take a wander round some shops. I saw some bottles of “new” caramel or mint bailey’s back there somewhere. Mmmm. Alcohol.

43 things to do before you die

Actually, this is a list of things for me to do before I die, rather than before you die – as the title might suggest otherwise. Anyway, what a great web site 43 things. So at the time of writing, I haven’t thought of 43 things. But this isn’t something you should rush. Lots of time to think of things yet 🙂