A Goulash of Culture

A giant pot of British, Canadian and Cypriot culture.

Trials and Tribbles

As you know, I have had various levels of issues with Cablenet in Paphos over this last year. This has to do with the fact they don’t own the line, they rent it from Cyta and Cyta won’t deal with us because we’re not a direct customer of theirs. So we’ve been over to the MTN shop down the road and met the lovely staff there who were willing to give us a sim and a data plan to trial for a while after signing a cancel-at-any-time contract. Still unsure how a contract can be a contract if we can cancel or alter it at any time but this is Cyprus so who knows. At least they didn’t ask for a 500 euro deposit like Cyta did for my phone!
At any rate we have the sim card hooked up to the mobile phone modem (which acts like a normal modem but with a sim card instead of a cable to the tubes) and are currently giving it a go. Unfortunately we did only go for 2.5gig in the middle of the month which means we only got 1.25gig and that wasn’t much to use as our trial. So today we’ve gone over and ordered the bigger 25 gig package which allows us 9gig to use until the end of the month.

I’m impressed with it as a whole package, originally connected at 6meg a second and has been largely stable without overly changing to much. Though it did dip down to 2meg once or twice…that’s still okay as we’re lucky to see that off of our busted Cablenet connection.

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Every six or so months, we decide to head to the capital to do a bit of shopping at the biggest mall in Cyprus (known as THE Mall of Cyprus in fact). This time I actually needed a few things from IKEA as my book collection has seemingly grown out of control for the little shelving unit that once dealt with them. I know better than to buy anything of that size within Paphos, to expensive! This trip up to Nicosia was very productive and we managed to remember to get quite a few things, only forgetting one or two. A record for us!

My prized find is this little book written in the early 1950s by a man who moved to Cyprus to find a job, buy a house and save until something better came along. It takes place before the island saw itself split into two so it’s interesting to see the perspective. I’ve already read a book in the past written in the view of some British Army wives during just before the divide, when the British were battling uprisings around the island. At any rate I am completely in love with the Bitter Lemons of Cyprus as it seems the author really hones into the whole personalty of the Cypriot people without any major judgements behind him.  I may need to read more novels like this in the future, I find them incredibly interesting. The whole different view sets behind each culture all trying to exist and some trying to outweigh others and all on this small little island.

 

Cypriot-Greek Weddings

This past weekend I was fortunate to go to my first Cypriot wedding. I am close friends with my lovely landlady and on Saturday her first born was getting married. The live music was probably my favourite part as it gave a good quality feel to the whole event. A great Grandmother of the groom’s sang every so often and did so quite well considering she looked to be in her 90s. It was really touching watching her try her hardest at singing in front of so many countless guests.

The mix of informal and formal was an interesting combo for me as in North America we don’t really do formal until you’re at the church/venue. However in a Cypriot ceremony there are priest involved long before you get to that part of the event. He blesses the basket holding most of the Groom’s clothing before the groomsmen dance around the husband-to-be several times each. The music kicks up a notch and the groom is dressed (including a public old school shaving). Afterwards the family members take a lovely red scarf (which rests on the grooms right shoulder) and make the cross over his upper body three times before passing it around his midsection a few more times. It can go on for quite some time as you can imagine and with the family I saw there it was ages of this.

Despite the fact we had nearly an hour of just that alone, I found it all to be amazingly sweet and touching. In a way it made me think about my own wedding which is just shy of being two years ago now. The groom took it all in stride and to his credit, didn’t look that nervous. Though I would have been, his wife-t0-be is easily one of the most beautiful Cypriot women I have ever seen. Her English is impressive as well…which is actually pretty shocking in this neighbourhood.

I wish I could have stayed for the whole thing but without my husband home, I am without a car and I adore the family to much to ask one of them to ferry me about on such an important day. Turns out that was a rather good choice as most of the main family did not come back until three am.

Still…I am very thankful to have witnessed that, weddings make me very happy.

Oh the intertubes!

For the last ten days we’ve been having a rather chaotic time with our internet. Typically we see about 3.6 to 4.3 meg and that’s a healthy speed for our area. Till three or four days prior to us returning, our internet took an almighty nose dive in speed. Barely recovering by the time we came back. It’s been stable to a degree since that fun fest and we can just about get back to normal behavour for our little network.

We’re not light users and routinely use every ounce of what they can dish out so when it faults…well we notice quickly. However this weekend…it didn’t just fault it down right failed. Page load times went up to nearly twenty seconds and wouldn’t even do a dns error. Our speed dropped to under 52kbps at one point and just about hit 1meg. I didn’t call in because it is incredibly hard to get Cablenet to pick up late on a Saturday. Sunday all things are closed and so the fun fest continued on and on. It resync’d at 1.5 and dropped back down to 512kbps which is slllloooooooow. DNS errors all over the place, load times were still horrible and nothing was playing ball.

I called them up and they did the typical “It’s not with us, it’s with Cyta so we can not fix the issue.” and since we’ve called Cyta in the past to complain they go to us “You’re not a direct costumer so we won’t deal with the issue”. Leaving us down right buggered. Again. You see this is the third time we have had to deal with an epic death match of the internet leading to our apartment. The line in the ground is ancient, faults constantly and is to expensive to replace. Since most Cypriots hardly do anything taxing to the line..nothing gets done.

Now we’re courting the major wireless providers including MTN, PrimeTel, Cyta and others like them. We’ve got a modem that needs a sim card with a data plan, after that we get whatever the company can output to us. Since my phone gets 2.6meg that means if we go with Cyta we will be no worse off than we were after the net stabilized at the end of last month. In theory it could be boosted to 5-10meg or higher, all the other companies promise that much.

Only time and trial/error may solve this and I hope we figure out which is best soon. I don’t think it’s all that fun to wait nearly 30 seconds for google.cy to load.

Photos of the honeymoon.

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Text of the Honeymoon.

A family member got some bad news, that their health is about to take a step down and down. There really will not be any stopping, just continuing side affects on and on. So I had to take a break from blogging to mentally deal with that. Family, even in their epic insanity, is still family.

I should be back now with regular updates about sunny Cyprus, starting with some rare photos! As you know, if you follow this blog that I finally went on my honeymoon. It was delayed originally to deal with Cypriot immigration who broke several international rules in regards to my case. I understand why they did it but not why I was singled out for no reason. Then came a MUCH needed trip home to Canada to recharge after that fun fest. Now we’ve been able to go and enjoy ourselves in beautiful Italy! Such a perfect place and yet not even remotely our first choice.

You see first we wanted Egypt, then their revolution kicked off and then we wanted Damascus but Syria had a civil war and then we wanted Greece and the economic freak show started. So Italy was not even close to being our prime pick. However….I don’t think anything could have matched it, I mean the trip was fantastic.

Due to distance, Italy is only four hours away by flying out of Larnaca so it was a perfect distance to travel. I had sneakily arranged for a luxury car and driver to pick us up from the airport in Bologna as a surprise to my husband. Our theme for this part of the trip was Luxury so it fit in quite well and for 50 euros it wasn’t a hard sell to me at least. The hotel in Bologna was beautiful! Close by the train station (less than a 1 minute walk away) but you didn’t hear a thing. The rooms were colourful (ours was a bright red), had nice showers, good breakfast service and lovely views. I’d happily stay at the Una Hotel again!

 

We took a Trenitalia across to Florence, which only took 35 minutes and oh boy first class is actually first class there. They bring a car by during lunch hour with wine/food if you need it at no extra charge. Would have loved more of a view but you do travel largely through a tunnel so you miss out on the mountain range that divides the region.

And our hotel in Florence…I could have died happy there! I had arranged for some champagne to be in our room for when we turned up. The hotel added some lovely strawberries for free and they were happily nommed upon I can tell you that much. The room was just so nice, I’d easily call it classic Italian in style with the artwork of the renaissance on the walls and the nice crisp look of the furniture. And that view! We were staying at one of the two hotels that border the old city center of Florence. So we get a nice big courtyard, a fantastic view of the doumo and the Santa Maria Novella is right in full view. We most definitely enjoyed some champagne there just soaking it in.

Did some walking around, not much though as the next day was our major tour (ended up doing SEVEN hours of walking on that tour) so just saw a few close by sights and found ourselves a nice place to have dinner. Had my first risotto there! Food wise, there were a few firsts like having tuna tar tar for example. I loved every bit of it. Saw so much, ate so much and my brain was happy to continue to the UK to take a breather.

Unfortunately my luggage went awol once again due to a bloody London airport. I am never connecting through any London airport if I can help it ever again. This is not the first time a London airport has misplaced my luggage, though this is the first time another North American was on the flight and HER luggage was awol as well. Her boyfriend had no issue getting his but her and mine luggage never made it out of London and to Newcastle Upon Tyne. Targeted? Probably. Paranoid gits.

So I was in a much colder country, in sandals and lacking anything warm! Luckily my husband had bought me a lamb skin coat while in Italy and I had the foresight that it would be a good idea not to keep it in my luggage. We got in quite late as well so we had to rush to get me some underwear  socks and flat shoes so I didn’t freeze and had something considered clean to wear. Since we were also not staying just in Newcastle I was slightly concerned about getting my clothing period.

We had hired a car and did the epicly long drive all the way down to Great Yarmouth, which wasn’t as bad of a drive as my husband warned me about. Growing up in Ontario…you kind’ve get used to massively long trips if you want to go anywhere. We stayed there for five days, saw the sights as while I knew him when he lived there it was online so I never got to see where he grew up or went to school. We met up with an old friend of his, a current friend of mine and had a lovely lunch out. My luggage finally made an appearance at FOUR pm…now if you’ve ever been in a hotel you know check out is generally at noon. So we killed time at the Pub on the Prom. I was annoyed but I wanted my clothing and more importantly my damn phone charger.

It arrived and off we went to Nottingham for 2 days (stopped off at Cambridge enroute for dinner and a little sight seeing there too) where we visited a close friend of mine and her boyfriend. Wish I had more time available for them but unfortunately we also needed to drive north back to Newcastle. Before that though, managed to eat at a Jamie Oliver does Italian restaurant and I am sad to say it but his chefs shame the Italian one that made my risotto! I’ve never had such a nice tasting meal in my life. Mmmm!

Stayed with some old uni friends of my husbands once we got to Newcastle, didn’t really do sight seeing as I’ve spent 2 1/2 months in that area a few years before. Managed to find a replacement laptop for old Besse who wasn’t quite up to gaming hard core any more. Bought my first ever non-HP laptop, have to say it hasn’t disappointed me yet either. Samsung makes good tech I have to say. The husband even found the drives he wanted to put into the media server (three three terabyte drives) so we made that PC worlds employee’s day that’s for sure.

Got to the airport and returned the hire car only to find out………..four hour delay on our flight! Urgh. We bummed around the airport for a while, got some shopping and discovered the UK needs a bit of a slap. They have ‘deals’ if you play out to international locations but not within the EU so my husband was unable to buy the special gin he had his eye on. Why do airport deals if you restrict them to non-eu travel destinations? Especially if you’re flying out of Newcastle.

You’d think the trip ended there but oh no, it continues! We called Avis to verify someone would be in despite our now late arrival. They assured us not an issue, we’ll have someone at the desk they said. So we get in and their awol too, not even a sign saying call this number. We tried calling over and over, got fed up and got quotes from those actually at their damn desks. Got a very nice car from Budget instead. 

And that was the long awaited honeymoon!
 

Sorry!

I have so many photos and tails of our time in Italy and the UK, it really was the perfect honeymoon. Florence stole my heart away I can most definitely say that much. However a bit of family issues have arose with someone close to me and I’m afraid the mega update will have to wait.

Only a handful of our closest friends have been told for the moment and we’re not expanding that circle any more for a while. Once more comes to light, likely within the next week, the tales of Italy/UK will be told.

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Starting up

In just five days I will finally be on a flight heading to Italy after a  very long wait and much work! I’ve managed to sneak in a surprise for my husband who was worried about flagging down a cab at midnight, the night we arrive. Instead we shall have a nice Mercedes Benz picking us up for just 40 euros ($60) so no more worries.

I still have to confirm with the first hotel that we’re a late arrival, pretty late arrival. However tickets are booked for flights, other hotels are all set and we have our train tickets printed out. Every thing is set and ready! Can not wait!

Dark Skies a Head.

Sadly, yet another friend is thinking about leaving the island due to the rising cost of electricity and the lowering of wages. This would be my third friend going back home in as many months. A part of me is happy that they are going home to enjoy family a lot more. A bigger part of me is extremely saddened by the fact so many are being faced with such hard choices. This is well before the IMF, the EU lot and whoever else makes up the big bad Big Three do their worst.

Cypriots aren’t spending money and Expats are running out of it, in this economy that spells pretty big doom and gloom. Spenders help keep the river flowing and moving during the driest and hardest economic conditions and typically the Cypriots are BIG spenders. However they are saving instead, a rare change of pace. Expats aren’t spending as much money any more as well for they have limited finances usually due to pensions coming in. This is quickly becoming Greece 2.0 if more smart spenders avoid doing what they do best.

We have plans if things get to the point of being horrible, going back to Canada is always an option for me. It complicates my husband’s plans if that becomes the final solution, he’s British after all and Canada has the worse immigration that I’ve faced. Friendly to locals and quite rude to regular travelers. If you’ve been tracking this blog from the start…you know that’s what finally pushed me to move.

The other option is we apply for my British spousal visa which could be difficult as it’d mean going to the capital city a few times. To be honest it would be easier to apply from Canada, just based on traveling alone. Either way it is likely a year to two year wait for that.

Things are going to be complicated but that’s life!

For the last tw…

For the last two weeks of August, nearly all the locals flee the island for vacation homes/ family plots/ any where not here. It makes for a helluva difference around the stores, kiosks and so forth. In fact it was nearly barren on my street…which is pretty rare. We’re right off of the main road and trucks just love using our street as a cut through despite the fact there is rarely enough room for them.

On top of the nearly barren Paphos, it has been rather nice with weather as well! It’s still in the low 30s but with a higher wind, making it feel much easier to handle. I hope this means the last of the summer heatwaves are long done. I had to run my AC all last week due to fighting off a sinus infection, an infected tooth leading to a root canal and a minor fever. That with another heatwave was just not within my level of sanity.

I feel better this week and plan to prep for the honeymoon and trip to the UK. The husband’s work mates have an interesting picture of me and it will be fun to see how to play with that.

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