Lessons Learned from the Cypriots

The list of things I love about travel is endless and clichéd; the new people, the amazing sunsets, the different and often strange cuisines, finding yourself a bargain, making new stories and memories… Everywhere I go in the world I often find myself learning new lessons – lessons as precious as a place’s culture and history, or as shallow as not drinking a whole bottle of vodka with ice tea before an unlimited drinks pub crawl…

My second visit to Cyprus was no exception. The Cypriot people, like many Europeans, live so simply and in such sharp contrast to my own way of living back in Melbourne. Yet, by standing back and taking it all in, there were a few golden nuggets I discovered on this recent trip that I thought I should write down for posterity… They seem to really have their shit together. And I don’t mean that in a financial or political sense – I feel I am altogether, absolutely unqualified to make any comment on that area… I just feel that from what I saw, and the people I met, they seem grateful for what they have, and not too caught up on focusing on what they don’t have…

Drinks don’t have to cost $12 for a house spirit and mixer

An average “domestic” or local spirit with a mixer was costing us around 4-6 Euros each in a decent bar or restaurant. Visit a less fancy venue and you can pay around 2-3 Euros a pop; especially during the Happy Hour (or Happy Hour(s) at our local Tommy’s Bar which had a 2.50 Euro cocktail list as a long as a telephone directory which we methodically made our way through in alphabetical order). Yes, I’m sure this alcohol wasn’t top shelf. And that’s ok, isn’t it? Not everything in life has to be top shelf.

Cars don’t have to look pretty, as long as they get you from A to B

I think the newest car I saw on the Island was from circa 1980. They were dented and scratched and missing windscreen wipers – but they were generally all driven by smiling people, using their horns to beep hello or hey there I’m here, coming through! My family from Italy are exactly the same, they literally bump and grind their way into a car spot and feel their way in… and they could not care less. I’m not saying having pride in your car is a bad thing at all, I’m just saying it’s not their main focus; they’d probably rather spend their extra money on Gyros and Raki rather than this year’s new release Jag…

Not one incident of road rage was seen, despite people swerving onto the wrong side of the road, people randomly stopping to let pedestrians pass or even when cars pulled in to park on the side of a road partially blocking the lane… No one seemed in a hurry and everyone was in holiday mode. What a dream.

You don’t have to dress up to get down

This rule of thumb can generally be said for most of Europe; you can have just as good a night out in your beach gear as in your Gucci dress; probably even better because you’re not stressed out about that strawberry daiquiri stain not coming out. I’m the first person to admit I take pride in my appearance, and I love to get all tarted up… but that’s not the focus here – it’s not a fashion contest and you won’t get knocked back from a bar if you’re not wearing this season’s latest trends. I felt comfortable in my denim shorts and thongs, and I walked past girls who didn’t look twice at me or scour me from head to toe as they might back home.

No one is going to die if you use your phone whilst working in customer service

I have also experienced this one all throughout Europe – people using their phones whilst dealing with customers. Whilst I think there are certainly ways to gain more votes in the customer service industry awards, I survived the experience – I still purchased whatever it was I needed, and no one was seriously harmed in the process… The shoppers didn’t seem too ruffled and I didn’t see anyone jotting down the employee’s name for a letter of complain to Head Office…

There’s enough business for everyone

There are literally dozens upon dozens of milk bars and supermarkets along the main drag in Ayia Napa. They all sell round about the same thing at round about the same prices, and they all have people pottering in and out of them all day. Share the love. You probably aren’t the first person to come up with your business concept, and you probably won’t be the last.

Do not wake before 11am

Because if you do, the shops will not be open and the streets will be empty.

What’s the point in rushing to wake up when the rest of the town is still sleeping? Instead, like so many other Europeans in summer, the Cypriots enjoy a lazy start to the day, enjoying each other’s company well into the cool of the evening instead. If you’re not a morning person this is your vibe. Being a night owl myself, I could get used to that.

Dinner should not be before 9pm

Because the sun sets at 8.30 so you should be tanning until then.

Regardless of size or shape – bikinis for all

I LOVE THIS. All over Europe you see women of all geometric measurements baring it all in bikinis. Apart from the fact that bikinis afford maximum tanning exposure, I am certain that the Europeans are not as body obsessed as we are. I am a strong advocate for a healthy lifestyle, and I personally feel like a bloated ass hole after skipping a week or two at the gym, but the fact that these women have the confidence to do and wear what I could only dream of makes me take my head scarf off to them… And the fact that the majority of them wear what they dare gives the others confidence to follow suit… You go girls!

So there you have my list of lessons… and whilst we may laugh about their priorities being on sunbaking, food and drinks… I personally think there’s something to be said for a life of simplicity and living for the moment.

Yamas Cyprus, thanks for having me again.

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