Mon, Jun 29th - 1:44PM
Day Two; Sunday, June 28
We woke up feeling well rested and ready to explore Nicosia! One of the guys had told us that if we wanted a REAL cup of coffee, to go to Starbucks, just a few blocks down. He DID give us directions, but that was late Saturday night, after the 15 hour flight, the 5 hour drive to Portland and generous amounts of Cypriot wine….so…we got lost. Ok…but wait…I have to backtrack a little again. We actually found the Starbucks quite easily, as well as a Gloria Jean’s coffee, a Costa Coffee, a Monaco Café (which is a coffee house)…but they were all closed. It seems that Sundays, especially early mornings, are pretty much shut down here. So…that’s when we got lost.
We decided we better head back to the hotel because they were bringing breakfast to our suite at 8:30. We figured we’d just have whatever coffee they brought. As luck would have it, in our dazed wanderings we stumbled onto a little Greek café that was OPEN! We went in and asked for coffee. The woman asked, ‘Nescafe?” We shrugged and said, ‘ok.’ Lesson one in coffee in Cyprus: Nescafe = instant coffee with Noy Noy – some kind of evaporated milk product. Hmmm…I know all of you coffee connoisseurs are cringing…but we NEEDED caffeine! (It really wasn’t so bad…) Ok…so after our lovely cups of Nescafe, we really had to hurry back to the hotel and that was when the fun began. We walked out of the café and stood there looking both ways. Tim said confidently, “ok, we need to go this way.” ‘Ok,’ I said (being directionally challenged). After a few blocks we stopped again and both said, ‘this doesn’t look right.’ We went – literally – round and round several blocks for over half an hour until I could not stand it any longer. Ok, women – what would you do here? RIGHT – ‘we need to ASK somebody,” I said. So, we asked the guy at the car wash who didn’t speak English, but called his boss out. The boss asked where we were from and smiled from ear to ear. “Car wash from Oregon,” he said. We weren’t quite sure what he meant, but we smiled back and nodded our heads. Then he said something very touching, ‘America good. President Obama is going to save the world. Yeah, we think so…yeah?’ We nodded in agreement, ‘Yes,’ we said, ‘we think so, too.’
We made it back just past 8:30, but they still brought us breakfast…with coffee…guess what kind? Yeah….Nescafe. LOL! So…fortified with food and caffeine, we set out to explore one of the few walled cities left in the world. Travelling on foot, we began to question our initial feelings of what good drivers Cypriots are (even though they do drive on the wrong side of the road). We had determined that from our drive, in the backseat, from the airport and then also to the farm with George. (Now remember, Tim may have been paying attention to the drivers and the road when George was driving us, but my mind wandered a little…lol). These people are crazy! We kept looking at the sidewalks, wondering what the bumpy, yellow row of bricks running down the middle was for. Well, we discovered that it was not leading to OZ; it was simply to delineate how far up on the sidewalk the cars could park. (Correction: George told Tim it is JUST a decoration. And we believe George.) But that is beside the point…the driving is SCARY.
The ‘old town’ section, within the walls, was super-touristy, yet also filled with local Cypriots just out for fun on a Sunday. Lined with souvenir stands and shops selling t-shirts and other Cyprus branded merchandise, it was very similar to the same kinds of places anywhere else in the world. We stopped in at a restaurant that opened in 1939, as they proudly announced all over their menus and signs. We had a delicious lunch of a sausage pie (British) and a Village Salad (Cypriot version of Greek Salad – fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, local greens, roasted olives and Halloumi cheese, all tossed with the yummy local olive oil and lemon juice – heavenly – I have become totally addicted already!)
We bought some little things, headed back to the hotel for a rest and a shower and then out again later for dinner. People here are definitely on the European schedule; the restaurants do not open for dinner until 7:30! Once again….when in Rome…so we had dinner at a nice Greek place and had another yummy Village salad as well as some seafood pasta and cuttlefish (which we learned is a cousin of calamari), grilled veggies and a delicate and light flan-type pudding with orange zest, which they just brought out after the meal. Good thing we were walking – we were so full!
Dodging cars in the dark we made our way back to the hotel and another good night’s sleep.
Mon, Jun 29th - 4:19AM
Day One, Take Two - continued....
Well, we survived our 15 hour flight to Cyprus! But wait...I should go back to the beginning that actually started with our road trip from Ashland to Portland. The road trip that we thought was the end, or at least a greatly delayed start, to the trip. We woke to the alarm at 3:45 a.m. – yes, A.M. – stumbled out of bed, hastily blew kisses and goodbyes to the dogs and climbed into the car. Praising each other for being such great little travelers with our pre-packing and quick exit, we cruised out of the valley, up I-5 toward Portland. At about Grants Pass, the pre-dawn jump start of adrenaline was starting to wane and we began searching for a Starbucks.
Settling for a Dutch Bros. in Sutherlin, pulled in, ordered a couple coffees to go and were impressed that the talkative young guy behind the counter actually knew where Cyprus was, in fact, he had been to Malta (which we had to look up on the map). Back on the road we were growing more excited as the miles passed. The after affects of the coffee were growing as well, so we stopped at the Oak Grove Rest Area. We chuckled as we noticed the trash cans overflowing with Dutch Bros. cups.
A quick pit stop and back on the road! We jumped back in the car, Tim put the key in, went to shift from park to drive and….NOTHING. It would not move. The thing was frozen in park. We looked at each other in silent panic. ‘I should call Triple A,’ I said, fumbling through my purse for the card. Tim turned the car off and on again – still no movement in the shift. ‘Even if we call now, and they tow the car, we will never get to the airport in time,’ he said. We looked at each other again. ‘Shit.’ ‘Shit.’ Hours passed (probably 3-4 min, really) and I said, ‘Try it again.’ Holding the AAA card in my hand seemed to threaten the little Honda, as Tim tried once more and the thing slipped easily from park to drive. We both let out the breath we had apparently been holding. Needless to say, we drove the rest of the way to Portland and did not take the car out of drive until we pulled into the parking space at the park and fly motel.
The shuttle picked us up within minutes and dropped us at the Lufthansa terminal. Before we knew it we were in the air, flying half way around the world! The flights were thankfully quite uneventful aside from a rude flight attendant on the way to Frankfurt. We had just reached cruising altitude and they came by with our first drink service. The solid looking German woman asked, ‘Would you like something to drink?’ I smiled (sweetly as I always do), and said, ‘Sure, what are our choices?” Without the slightest HINT of a smile, the attendant said, ‘What do you WANT?’ I jumped involuntarily in my seat and quickly blurted, ‘white wine, please.’ She practically slammed the plastic cup onto the tray as she pleasantly asked Tim what he would like. He did not make the mistake of asking what the choices were.
Unpleasant flight attendant aside, both legs of the flight were good. We got to watch a couple movies and eat some ….interesting…plane food. We tried to sleep but didn’t have much success at that until the second flight from Frankfurt to Cyprus. By that point we had been up over 13 hours and the exhaustion was starting to set in. Still, that was the last leg and we were excited to be so close to our destination, so sleep came in fits and starts.
Finally! We arrived in Larnaca where Steve, our business partner here, sent a taxi to pick us up. It was about 2:00 p.m. Steve called and asked if thought we would be up for dinner that night and we said sure. He said he would have a car come to the hotel for us in a few hours. We checked into our room the Almond Business Suites in Nicosia, showered, drank a coke and waited. We had no idea where we were going for dinner or who would be there. The jet lag was beginning to set in and we were both sort of in a daze. I began to drift off to sleep sitting on the couch, just as the phone rang to let us know that George was downstairs to pick us up. We walked out of the air conditioned hotel into the heat and were greeted with a smile, a handshake and a broken English greeting from George. (*note to the ladies: George is young, tall, dark and handsome…and well, let’s just say that looking at him you would believe that Greek gods are alive and walking this earth – he is proof! I have to find out if he is single, and if so, introduce him to Lindsay!)
Ahem, but I digress…Needless to say, I was newly wide awake and happily chatting with George as we whizzed down the Cyprus highway. Tim and I were wondering where he could be taking us when suddenly the age old female question popped into my head and I wondered if we were dressed appropriately! (We were in shorts, t’s and sandals.) I asked George and he smiled and said something like ‘no worries’. Shortly we arrived at an old Greek farmhouse that we soon learned belongs to Makis, a business partner of Steve’s here in Cyprus. The farm has been in his family for generations and the area itself bears his family name, (which I will have to look up the spelling of and tell you later).
At the farm, we received a warm Greek/Cypriot welcome from Steve, Makis and his wife, several of the guys Tim will be working with; Tony from the UK, Rene from the US and assorted relatives of Makis and Steve’s youngest daughter, Mikhala (sp?), a darling little toddler! We feasted on traditional dishes; savory lamb sausage, Halloumi (‘squeeky’ cheese made from goats milk), lamb and pork slow roasted in clay ovens, a delicious salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and greens all grown on the farm, dressed lightly in locally made olive oil and lemon juice. And as is customary, we liberally doused everything in extra lemon juice from fruits just plucked from the trees. And of course…lots of luscious Cypriot red wine!
The evening was unforgettable. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and there was no lack of conversation and laughter. It felt like being among old friends – or family! In fact, one the ‘uncles’ said that we were almost family now, having shared a meal; all that was left to complete it was to dance. So, hopefully before we leave the island, we will have the opportunity to join them in dancing!
Happy, full, lulled by wine and jet lag, we fell immediately to sleep back at our hotel.