A few months ago my father shared that he was coming to Cyprus for 2 weeks to visit with my elder brother and his wife. I checked in if they were cool with an extra participant and booked my ticket for October 16.
Cyprus has a special place in my heart. Dad was stationed there twice- in 1963 and 1971. I don’t remember much about the first tour.
My brother had made a couple more visits to the island and had given me some updates on what had changed.
I’ve long wanted to return and my opportunity was presented to me.
I do commence preparations ahead of time albeit don’t formally pack until the day before. As I love traveling light, I once again packed just a carry on bag.
Normally, I drive to and from the airport, leaving my car in Long-term parking. As I have a lengthy flight home and arrive a little late, I opted for alternate transportation.
I have never done an Uber so was Keen for that experience too.
Final preparations completed, Uber on way- I was ready for the adventure to begin.
10pm on Monday seems like perfect time to fly from Newark. No traffic getting there, no lines at airline counter, TSA check or security screening. I was literally through in minutes.
Then it was time to wait for boarding. I don’t like to sit before a long flight and strolled around the gate area until time to join the boarding line.
Thiywas my first time flying Emirates and I was totally impressed. The aircraft was clean and comfortable. The cabin crew were wonderful. Two inflight meals were served- with plenty of coffee.
The entertainment system offered a huge array of movies, music and programs. I started watching Wonder Woman then slept for a bit. I then chose something I haven’t seen before. The Mummy with Tom Cruise. I love the movies with Brendan Fraser and was Keen to see how the remake compared. It didn’t. Effects were phenomenal albeit the rest of it was a let down. Guardians of the Galaxy II saved the day.
I had my usual aisle seat and, as the other seats were empty, slid over to the window seat to take in the Greek coast as we descended into Athens.
I was surprised how small Athens airport was. It was a quick stroll to the area for the next flight and a slice of Greek pizza and a cappuccino kept me company.
The gate area proceeded to fill up and we had a full flight to Larnaca.
I was in row 10 and was off the plane quickly. I rapidly made my way to passport control and customs and was through in minutes. (Unlike arriving at Gatwick or JFK). I stepped through the door and spotted my brother straight away. They had literally just parked and were amazed at how quick I got through.
Shortly after we were in the van, heading for their locale. We were chatting constantly as we drove, with Al and Di letting me know what had changed.
A stop at the local bakery/deli/coffee shop was in order for a late night snack. I opted for the souvlaki and chips which we took back to the house and enjoyed by the pool.
After we ate, it was time to pass out and catch up on sleep.
I awoke bright and early Wednesday morning and had a quick breakfast with Al and Di before they left for work. I went up to the rooftop area for my mantra and meditation, and to watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean.
I had a few hours to kill before we head for the dive site so a walk about felt in order. It was heavenly stepping out into the morning sun.
My primary destination was the bakery where a cappuccino and local pastry were procured. It was so blissful sitting in the sun, savoring the treats and watching a new world go by.
I had a bit of a cough and set out to find a pharmacy and pick up some decongestant. Didn’t want anything to impede my dive.
The pharmacist didn’t speak English and they didn’t have brands like Robitussin. So I was gesturing to convey cough and chest & head congestion. Was so grateful I wasn’t needing to buy condoms.
I procured a bronchial syrup and began a leisurely stroll back to the house. I sat out by the pool for a while until Di showed up to take me to the dive center and get me oriented. My concerns about clearing my ears were mitigated and the excitement building.
Al showed up and we piled into his van to head for the dive site at Green Bay.
The dive masters showed up and, as they observed the rough water at the entry point, opted to abort the dive until Friday.
So, we jumped back into the van and headed for the beach near Dad and Hazels hotel, where we camped out at a favorite watering hole. It was wonderful seeing how liked Al and Di are. Everyone was warm and inviting. Dad and Hazel joined us for a beverage then departed for their dinner.
We changed clothes then walked 20 yards to their favorite restaurant: Yianna Marie. Another wonderful experience of meeting more great people and some amazing food.
Shortly after we returned home and settled in for a blissful nights sleep.
I arose early Thursday and joined the fam for coffee, breakfast and coffee. I was on my own today and the plan was to get the local bus and join Dad and Hazel on the beach.
My bag was ready for the sun and sand, including snorkel gear. Which I haven’t done for years either.
A short trek to the bus stop by the local hospital and then waiting for the 708. It’s not New York where there’s a bus every 30 minutes.
The bus ride was a pleasant experience and dropped me off 2 blocks from the hotel. Dad was waiting for me and invited me to join them for the breakfast buffet. It was definitely geared up for British and Russian holiday makers. I did partake in a few things I don’t normally eat as I was present to this experience.
The coffee cups were a bit on the small side and I felt like I was doing shots, rather than drinking coffee.
We sauntered out across the pool area then picked a spot on the beach to claim as ours. Al and Di would be joining later that afternoon.
Dad was keen to take me for a walk along the Boardwalk to Fig Tree Bay – one of the spots we camped at in the early 70s. It was wonderful strolling with my father, chatting and reminiscing, observing the diverse array of people enjoying the weather & beach.
We arrived at Fig Tree and I instantly recognized it. Except when we were there, it was open land with a dirt road a solitary shabby house. Now, it’s all built up, surrounded with hotels.
As I looked at the small island just off the beach, I remembered an incident I shared with my brother. We got ona paddle boat with a friend and set out to circle the island. As we rounded the west side, we got caught in a current and were sent straight out to sea. No matter how we paddled or turned, we couldn’t change direction. Finally, as we were about 400 yards offshore, we decided jump in the water and swim back. We started off, with my brother assisting our friend who was not a strong swimmer. Thankfully, someone was watching from shore and a boat came out to get us and the paddle boat. To this day, I’m not comfortable being on a paddle boat in open water.
We strolled back to Hazel and joined her on the beach chairs soaking up the sun.
The water was calling to me and it was time for some snorkeling. The temperature was perfect and it was so sublime swimming over the rocks looking at the variety of fish.
After an afternoon of enjoying the beach, Al and Di joined us for the prerequisite beverage and snack at the beach bar. We all then made our way back to the beach chairs and napped until the sun sank to kiss the sea.
Al, Di and I went for a stroll around town so I could hit a couple of gift shops. They have some rather interesting artifacts. We wound up at Costa Coffee which had one of the best Cappuccinos.
We were invited to partake in the dinner buffet at Dads hotel, which was the usual overload of breads, entrees, desserts one would expect.
I opted to start with a plate of salad so I wouldn’t go overboard on the other stuff. It was a wonderful meal with lots of laughter.
And then returning to the abode where we sat for a bit before retiring.
Friday morning, I overslept and missed Al and Di. I did my usual morning routine of coffee, yoga and meditation. Not quite my full practice albeit perfect for that now.
Plan was for me to get the bus again, join Dad and Hazel, then be at a certain location for Di and Al to pick me up on way to the dive site.
I enjoyed a breakfast and time out by the pool. Dad and Hazel wanted to go for a walk and wanted go by my pickup point.
It was a pleasant walk although hot. After a brief sojourn in the store , we set off in a different direction to complete a loop. Everyone was thirsty and peckish by this point, so we stopped at the first decent looking eating emporium we found.
After a snack and a couple of cups of coffee it was time for me to get back to the pickup point.
Within minutes, the van pulled in and we headed for Green Bay again for the dive.
We were first there. Al and Di commenced preparing their gear. They’re both certified so were going to do their own thing.
The dive master arrived with all our gear shortly followed by the other participants. A short briefing was held on safety protocols and to outline the dive plan. And then we suited up.
I had a shorty wetsuit, which covers the torso, upper arms and thighs.
The BCD vests had already been fitted with the air tanks and breathing regulators. We sat on the tailgate as we put them on and the dive team secured them. We picked up fins and masks then walked to the entrance of the bay and into the water.
First order of business is to dunk your head underwater. Then spit in the mask and rub it around, rinsing it before putting it on.
Regulator was in mouth and I bent forward to put my face in water to experience breathing through it.
Then, let all air out of vest and sink to bottom. Idea is to get you neutrally bouyant. I kept rolling to one side so weight had to be distributed to keep me level. Including dropping a weight down the front of my suit.
And then we were off. Starting out in shallow water it progressively dropped to about 4 meters. I equalized my ears a couple of times and all was well. We stopped at Fish Rock. One of the guys tapped it with a stone and we were instantly surrounded by thousands of small fish. I was handed some bread which the fish would eat from my hand.
Then it was time to go deeper. We were heading for 10 meters to an open area of seabed where there’s several statues to swim around. I went straight to the bottom and putting a little air in the vest compensated appropriately.
Then we get the signal to start heading back. We started a slow gentle ascent, allowing ears to do their thing. I was going up a bit too fast so my buddy kept bringing me down.
Then as I broke surface, my brother appeared next to me. And a high five was in order.
Check this off the bucket list.