I haven’t been to Departures for about 14 months. That’s the longest I’ve haven’t stepped foot on a plane and it felt strange.
Anxious but excited, like a little kid at Christmas, waiting for Santa.
It wasn’t exactly a holiday, I was flying to Belgium to help my little sister settle before her masters studies, but for the first time ever since I moved back to Cyprus I was finally about to get away from the daily life here. I looked forward to it for a long, long time.
It was an exhausting week, but it reminded me of what I missed about travelling.
Wandering at the airport
That feeling of excitement, waiting impatiently to board on the plane but also taking in the surroundings, people watching, some reuniting, others saying goodbye, some travelling alone, others with family or friends, everyone with a unique story that led them there.
Your heart beating fast, waiting for the plane to take off, watching a film on board, overhearing various conversations and finally the anticipation, landing and waiting eagerly to get out of the plane and have a first look at the place you are about to spend your time at.
Discovering beautiful places at random
There’s nothing more exuberant than coming agross a beautiful corner or a gorgeous alley, whilst wandering in a new city.
The local cuisine
You don’t need to be a food enthousiast like I am to appreciate a foreign country’s delicacies and local dishes.
Famous landmarks, breathtaking churches, impressive architecture. There’s always a lot to explore at a place and the feeling never wears off.
Of course I didn’t miss airport queues, which are inevitable in the current situation with all the passport and vaccination certiicate checks, travelling during a pandemic, but I genuinely can’t wait to go abroad againm and again, and again. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of it.
I still wish I could travel whilst I work. Maybe one day. Who knows.
What do/did you miss about travelling, if anything?
December, normally a month full of baked goods, chocolates and treats at work, beautiful magical lights, Christmas markets, mulled wine, catching up with friends, streets buzzing with people shopping, having a laugh.
Not this December… The streets are empty, the cafes and restaurants are closed, there are no markets, no laughter, just some pretty lights and everyone in masks rushing to get home before curfew time.
I was going to name this post December at Corona times but it’s much more than that for me, it’s impossible for me to find a more appropriate name.
After three years I broke one of my traditions and didn’t do Blogmas. I just couldn’t find the time with my new job, looking for places to rent, getting used to living in Cyprus for now and still adapting to my new reality. Can you believe I haven’t sat down to play my guitar for weeks (minus a day I wanted to prepare something for my sister’s nameday)?
I guess adjusting takes time, even more so during a bloody pandemic and I just have to trust that all my irrational subconscious and conscious fears and worries will die off eventually.
On a happier note, after 12 years, I’m spending December in Cyprus which means, even during these bizarre and horrifying times we live in, that I decorated the Christmas tree with my sisters (we do it online every year) and we baked traditional Cypriot/Greek treats, kourampiedes (almond cookies covered in icing sugar) and my all time favourite melomakarona (honey syrup dipped cookies).
So I guess what life taught me once more it’s that it is never black and white, all good or all bad. It’s both all the time. And that of course it’s unpredictable. Who would have thought that I’d be back in Cyprus for the foreseeable future?
All I can do is enjoy whatever life brings me every day. I hope we all manage to have a homely, heart-warming Christmas with our loved ones, that’s what Christmas it’s all about after all.
What is Pasta Grannies and why on earth do you feel the need to thank them? You might wonder.
Well, that’s how it all started a few months ago and I weirdly wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t discovered it.
I came across the Pasta Grannies Youtube channel just a while before and ever since that moment I kept thinking how awesome it would be to do something similar in Cyprus (with my own twist) and then maybe in another countries, but start from home, document my little island’s customs and traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation through our love of food. That’s what Vicky Bennison so beautifully has been doing on the Pasta Grannies channel.
So about a year ago I twitted Vicky with my idea and she replied with this:
That’s when I had an epiphany moment. Why not find a why to do it now? Why wait? Originally, I was to try and film every time I were to visit Cyprus but a few months later, I had another epiphany. I’ll save up for a few months, then quit my job and go back to Cyprus to attempt this. I even came up with a name for the channel and a theme song.
I decided to give teaching a go first (it’s funny how I ended up in Italy out of all places) but I haven’t given up on that dream yet and if it wasn’t for Pasta Grannies I might have still been stuck in an office, so thank you Vicky and Pasta Grannies. Thank you for the inspiration.
My biggest worry when I moved to Cambridge for a month to do my CELTA was accommodation.
Cambridge is expensive and I couldn’t afford a BnB (or AirBnb) near the college for a month and I didn’t want to live in the centre and commute every day so I opted for the homestay option (staying with a family, though luckily in my case the host’s children had grown up and moved out) the college offered which included breakfast and dinner. But I was terrified. I’ve been living on my own for the last three years (minus a 6 month break in which I lived with a flatmate I did not get along with) and I had knots in my stomach even thinking about living with someone else again.
On a hot, sunny day, the 25th of July, I met Mary, my host, for the first time. She didn’t say much before she grabbed my luggage to clean the wheels and asked me to take my shoes off. I wasn’t sure what to expect after that first encounter.
But Mary turned out to be an incredible host. She didn’t speak much English, though we always somehow managed to communicate, she was wonderfully weird, hanging out bedsheets to dry on the staircase, wearing a plastic bag on her head to keep the fish smell away and I loved her to bits.
She made delicious albeit always ‘with a Chinese flavour’ food every day for all her guests, she would serve dinner for me in her own private kitchen when it was too noisy in the other room because she knew I needed peace and quiet (she’d even tell others to keep it quiet when the levels of noise were too high), she brought me fruit and other treats when I was stuck in my room for hours working on lesson plans, she did my washing and made me feel comfortable and well looked after.
My CELTA experience was definitely one of my 2019 highlights and Mary was huge part of it.
I would have probably worn the same dirty clothes and starved for a month if it wasn’t for Mary. So thank you Mary! I miss your delicious cooking and your sweet laughter!
Good morning, I had an idea! The little sister messaged, a week before I was to finish my CELTA course.
Do you want to book a holiday apartment in Protaras for two days for the two of us to go the first week you are back? Sun, sea, swimming, food, relaxation?
YES, of course. I’ve been desperate for a holiday, I hadn’t had one since Christmas, I was overly stressed planning my last teaching session at the time and I was so tired I was still in bed on Sunday noon, this was just what I needed.
There was sun, sea, swimming and all the things she promised plus (unnecessary) drama and laughter. I vlogged the whole thing, perfect opportunity to start filming again. I’m a but rusty and because there was a lot going on in my mind, I spoke SUPER fast at times, but I hope you like it.
All the places we’ve been:
-Mimosa beach. A little bay hidden behind a hotel (where you can get drinks and food). Quiet and serene most of the time, perfect for a relaxing day in the sun and a swim in the clear blue waters and there is a diving instructor nearby if you are into it.
–Light and Blue Marelia apartments. Bright, airy and inspired by Greek island architecture, set on the top of a hill facing Profits Elias church (gorgeous views from their terrace), reasonably priced, we loved these apartments three years ago when we first stayed and they did not disappoint this time either.
-Profitis Elias church. A beautiful little chapel on the top of the hill overseeing Protaras, offering incredible views of the city and the sea. We went at night and the steps were well lit, the ascent only took 5 minutes. It’s definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.
-Pahit Ice. One of the island’s local chains offering scrummy ice cream. I recommend their pistachio ice-cream and their frozen fruit yogurt.
–Konnos Bay beach. A gorgeous bay situated between Ayia Napa and Protaras, one of Ayia Napa’s 14 Blue Flag beaches. Clear, perfect temperature water, waterports facilities and a great cafe overlooking the beach. Just stunning.
–Souvlaki tou Soukri tavern. A quirky Greek tavern in central Paralimni (a 10 minute drive from Protaras) where all food is served on wax paper. Everything we tried was delicious, especially their fried courgette balls and chicken souvlaki. Excellent customer service, generous portions and great prices (we paid 19 euros for three souvlaki skewers, a sausage, a meatball/’soutzouki’, 4 courgette balls, salad, tzatziki, fries and water) though have cash with you as they don’t accept card. Oh there is an ATM and parking space at the central square, a two minute walk from the restaurant.
–Andama tavern. A huge tavern in the middle of Protaras tourist area. One of the few in the centre that offers great, authentic Greek food. We tried their ‘Piatakia'(little plates), their version of tapas (smaller than meze) and everything tasted amazing, especially their Garida saganaki (prawns in tomato and feta sauce) and Politiko Kebab. A bit more expensive than we expected (we paid 40 euros for Politiko Kebab, fried calamari, prawns saganaki, salad, falafel and water) but great service and plenty of food for two, it was worth every penny.
I hope you enjoyed my video, I’ll try and make more over the next few months, depending where life takes me. Next one will be of Rhodes, since I’ll be exploring the island for a few days starting tomorrow.
It’s here, it’s finally here. The best video I put together so far, I think.
Sightseeing, plenty of food and chocolate and endless laughter whilst wandering around Bruges and Brussels. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
So here’s all the places we’ve been if you fancy checking them out.
–The Markt. The central square in Bruges, made famous by the well-known film In Bruges. Gorgeous architecture, endless restaurants and chocolate shops, horses passing by, breathtaking.
–Le Panier d’Or: The restaurant we had early dinner at. The decor is a bit dated but the food was delicious. Also one of the least expensive restaurants on the square.
-Manneken Pis. The infamous bronze sculpture depicting a little boy urinating into a fountain’s basin. We were lucky as we were there on the International Francophonie day, a celebration of the French language and Francophone culture across the world, so not only the statue had a costume on as it does in major events but there was a brass band playing music by it for most of the day!
-Choco-story.A chocolate museum situated very close to Manneken Pis (it has recently moved there). Chocolate through time, exhibits, chocolate to taste (the Peru dark one was my favourite by far) and a chocolatier making chocolate right in front of you!
-Grand Place. The central square in Brussels. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. The architecture is ma-gni-fi-que.
Though I have a vague plan and it just feels right, I’m still terrified, anxious and sometimes stay up at night, wondering whether I should do sometime more ‘sensible’. But let’s not talk about that right now. (*takes deep breath).
So hm hm (*clears throat) my thoughts on turning 33: I don’t feel any older than a year ago. I actually feel younger and I don’t feel I’m a ‘proper’ adult, or at least what the most imagine being an adult means.
Not that I care. I can’t wait to get out of the office and try and make living doing things I enjoy, with people I love. Because, really, that’s what life is about and honestly, every day passes by is one day less until I’m dead.
As my favourite Fleabag once said:
–What did Jesus do by the time he was 33?
–He died. That’s all he did.
So my Jesus year as I call it will be an adventure to say the least! Even if I die at the end of it, I’ll die happy.
I’m still non the wiser and most of the time I pretend I know how to navigate through life…
but for now, I’m spending most of my time having fun (and panicking) with my friends in Southampton I will dearly miss when I leave…
and indulging in delicious food.
If there’s anything I learnt from 33 years on this planet is that life is too short to spend in an office or worry about what others think or succumb to social pressures to be something you don’t wan’t to be or with someone you don’t want to be with. You don’t have to be an ‘adult’ the way society dictates, you can adult your own, special way.
Just be you, love and laugh, laugh until it hurts.
I won’t say much about our day in London, you can see it all on the vlog below but here’s information where we’ve been if you ‘d like to visit yourself:
Mercato Metropolitano– the first sustainable and inclusive community market with an Italian soul according to TripAdvisor. I’ve never heard of this incredible food hall until our Airbnb host recommended it. We loved it (Elephant & Castle).
Borough Market My absolute favourite. I rarely go to London without tasting something new and grabbing a snack from the market. The pastries, especially the doughnuts at Bread Head bakery are to die for.
Covent Garden. Another favourite London hot spot that never disappoints.
Iberica Victoria– A Spanish Tapas restaurant I discovered on TripAdvisor and I’m so happy I did. Finger licking dishes, each and every one of them.
Χριστός Ανέστη (Christos Anesti/Christ is risen) to all.
I’ve haven’t celebrated Easter back home for a long time and every year around this time nostalgia kicks in and I miss all the weird and wonderful traditions only happening in Cyprus (and some also in Greece).
Preparations for Easter start 10 weeks in advance. This is what I remember:
The first week is a normal one (fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, which are days of fasting all year around- you are not allowed to eat meat or dairy or anything with oil).
The second week,everything is allowed, (Apokreo week) even on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursday (“Tsiknopempti”) of that week a LOT of meat and other traditional dishes are consumed and most people celebrate the evening with friends and family. In Cyprus we make delicious, fluffy, sweet pourekia (fried dumplings) with anari (Cypriot cheese similar to ricotta), a local delicacy we make on different occasions, one of them is Tsiknopempti.
Also on this Sunday, the Cypriot Carnival takes place, with most of the celebrations in Limassol. A lot of dressing up parties going on during the week until the big parade on Sunday.
The following week no meat is allowed, but you can eat dairy products (Tirinis week).
The week after that the 40 days of strict fasting (no meat, dairies, chocolate, not even olive oil!) start from Green Monday.
Green Monday is a public holiday in Cyprus and Greece and most people spend it having a picnic in green fields and fly kites. The pic-nic usually consists of dips like hummus and taramas, olives, beetroot, halva, lots of different vegetables and fresh bread.
Every Sunday for the following weeks celebrates a different religious event that leads up to Easter and Fridays are dedicated to Holy Mary (beautiful melodies on those Friday services are sang, called ‘Salutations to Mother Mary’).
Here is a sample sang by nuns.
Then we come to the Holy Week.
The Saturday just before is dedicated to Lazarus resurrection and the dead, so we all remember our special ones on that day and light a candle in their memory.
Sunday marks Jesus arrival in Jerusalem where Jews welcomed him laying palm leaves on the street and chanting.
Holy Monday is dedicated to Jesus cursing a fig tree and also to Joseph, son of Jacob (of the Old Testiment).
Holy Tuesday is dedicated to the 10 Virgins parable.
Holy Wednesday is dedicated to a sinned woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and the hymn of St Kassiani is sang.
Holy Thursday is dedicated to Last Supper, Jesus prayer at Gethsemane, his betrayal by Judas, his arrest and trial. On that night a re-enactment of the Crucifixion is performed in church (no humans involved). It’s also tradition to dye eggs red, which we use for ‘Egg battle’ on Easter Sunday.
In Cyprus, on Thursdays, most of families bake one of my favourite traditional Easter pastries, flaounes. My dad makes the best!
Holy Friday is dedicated to Jesus death, during which a wooden Epitaph symbolising Jesus tomb is carried around the church and later in the neigbourhood followed by everyone (priests, chanters etc) and the most beautiful eulogies are sang. Some churches have choirs performed them (I used to be in one when I was a child). Whilst eulogies are sang little girls dressed in white throw flowers around the ‘tomb’.
In the evening all saints icons are covered with black sheet as a sign of mourning.
On Saturday morning the news that Jesus resurrected break out and this happens at church: (Maybe not as enthusiastically as this priest).
In the evening, around 11pm, we all gather at church to ‘officially’ celebrate Jesus resurrection.
Lights go off at 12am, and a hymn called Χριστός Ανέστη (Jesus resurrected) is chanted multiple times. We all light a candle and wish each other Χριστός Ανέστη! The service finishes at 3am usually, but most leave just after 12am. It’s a tradition to eat Magiritsa (a traditional soup made for Easter) or avgolemoni (soup made with rice, eggs and lemon juice) on that night.
This is from last night’s service (thank you Anna for the wonderful photo).
Also on Saturday evening, it’s a Cypriot tradition to light a fire that represents burning Judas, as he betrayed Jesus.
On Sunday noon, the Vespers of Love are on at church for about half an hour.
After that, families and friends are gathered for a LARGE meal, traditional games are played (egg and spoon and sack races amongst others) and we all clink our red eggs with each other, the one whose egg doesn’t break is the winner.
And that’s how we celebrate Easter.
Happy Easter!!! Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη, χρόνια πολλά!
PS. I do not own any images used, most I found online.. Thank you to my little sis for the cover photo and the church snap) x