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A Larnaca girl in Limassol - Paula Manoli-Gray

Last week my family and I went on a mini-holiday to Limassol for two nights and two-and-a-half days, which many found strange. After all, locals tend to holiday in Pafos and Protaras/Agia Napa for a beach break, or the mountains for some cool respite, but Limassol is generally considered to be a non-holiday destination for those who live here.

Having done both Pafos and the Famagusta areas in previous years and finding them to be lacking in good family activities, we actually had an amazing time and crammed in the zoo, marina, castle, mall, Science Museum and waterpark in our short time there, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed.

It was also very interesting to see the differences in Limassol and Larnaca and the two are indeed so different that at times I thought we were in a different country!

For one – and I don't like to generalise but there seemed to be a pattern – drivers in Limassol routinely run red lights. Hubby thought it must be because the seafront road is so long and has so many sets of traffic lights that residents of the big town have lost their patience driving down the coastal road. Personally, the coastal road is way too long for my liking and I much prefer our compact Finikoudes. The beaches along that vast strip also feel too close to the road; more exposed with too little pavement separating sand from tarmac. But I could see more facilities for children than we have in Larnaca with most beaches including a playground of some sort, definitely something we could do with having more of in Larnaca.

I do have to say that the new marina is marvellous and residents certainly think so too judging by the way they flocked there at night. It is truly a lovely place to have a meal or drink, and I hope that we too will get our marina soon and that it will be just as charming. My only criticism of it would be that one company that owns many fast food franchises dominates for dining and drinking, and this seems to be contradicting the luxury element that the marina boasts of itself. It could definitely benefit from a greater variety of options and a higher quality of them. When the time comes for our marina to come to life, I do hope that the powers-that-be will watch and learn from their Limassol counterpart.

Limassol also has an unusually high number of frozen yogurt and ice-cream places, but they are also considerably more expensive than Larnaca's. I was shocked to find a small (and it was small) yogurt ice-cream was €3. Now, this may seem to be trivial, but I love my frozen yogurt and normally go for a large… a pleasure taken away from me by the price tag of €4.50 for a large that was the size of Larnaca's medium! I might have just got unlucky but methinks that for them to be charging that on a road lined with competition, it must be the standard.

I think we saw and did the best that Limassol has to offer and enjoyed every minute, but coming from a smaller town, Limassol can be intimidating in its size and chaos, which made me appreciate our compact nature and bring to mind the old adage of 'there's no place like home'.

Beep beep! - Paula Manoli-Gray

There is no doubt that the driving situation in Cyprus is one that frustrates everyone, whether it is the state of the roads or the drivers themselves. Whilst we are by no means the worse in the world (yes, there are countries that are much worse!), we are still not reaching acceptable levels.

At the moment, the bone of contention for me is the massive road restructuring near my area of Vergina – near the new stadium. At present the roads are in a temporary formation, around a semi-ready future roundabout. How people are not crashing left right and centre is beyond me as no one has a clue whose right of way it is, and most cars don't stop to check!

Logically, because it is an intersection-cum-future roundabout, the rule is 'priority to the right in a right-of-way system' (or so I believe), but this is not adhered to. The actual roundabout itself looks finished from one direction and I have seen a few rental cars naively try to get round it, only to find it blocked half way! Furthermore, from one direction as you proceed straight, you kind of fly over a very raised left-hand part of the road, which I am also amazed has not seen carnage.

The outcome of the unclear road system is one of three: drivers who understand, stop and give way to the right; those who just carry on going and wait for everyone else to stop for them, and those who are unsure/cautious and stop to let everyone through on both sides, waiting for a gap in the traffic to quickly drive through. I fall into group three, which incurs much beeping from the cars behind, but I am not risking the assumption that the cars on my left will stop for me, because up until now, only a small percentage have! Temporary or not, construction site or not, everything should be clear, logical and safe.

But enough about the roads, and on to the drivers… My biggest gripe of all is drivers who do not indicate. Aside from the fact that it is a legal safety requirement, it must be one of the simplest, easiest things to do in the world, yet so many cannot be bothered to flick their wrist up or down. If these people find such an easy and essential task so difficult, how on earth are they coping with the big things in life?

The second bugbear is the lack of care or respect when it comes to parking. This encompasses those who sashay blatantly out of their car once they have parked in a disabled spot, to those who park fully on a pavement, thus blocking pushchairs and wheelchairs, and of course the violations in between (like parking outright in more than one space). I think that more than the violation, it is the sheer arrogance and 'say something to me about it if you dare' attitude that gets to me.

Personally, I no longer say anything after many an argument, and now think that my sanity is worth more. If the powers that be are not enforcing the traffic laws, then it certainly isn't my job!

First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, 22/08/14

Smell the roses, not the manure - Paula Manoli-Gray

If you have read my column before, you may be mistaken that I think Larnaca is the most perfect place in the world; a paradise where nothing can go wrong and where life is all rainbows, unicorns and souvla!

I may sometimes give this impression, because I like to highlight the good and speak positively of my adopted hometown (adopted because I was born in the UK, but both my parents come from a Nicosia village called Lymbia). But I can assure you my eyes are wide open, I just believe in sometimes shutting them for the sake of being happy where you live.

For me, expats / foreigners / Cypriots from abroad who live in Larnaca – and Cyprus in general – fall into two categories. The first are those who bemoan everything. They love nothing more than to whinge, complain and criticize everything about this island, from the fact that you have to pay more for Kellogs (duh, imported!) to receiving some of their bills in Greek. They are miserable and lament the good old green grass of home, forgetting that they left home because they weren't happy with certain aspects there and chose to come here of their own freewill. The other group are those who are fully aware that wherever you go in the world you will find the good the bad and the ugly. They appreciate the positives of the lifestyle here and try to take the infuriating, mismanaged, unjust and illegal aspects with a big bucket of salt, because, if you don't then you move over to Camp Misery.

Of course things aren't perfect here! There are so many things I can instantly list that are wrong; cracked pavements with cars parked fully on them, dog poo everywhere, rude and unhelpful civil servants, overpricing in certain areas, a lack of empathy and support for certain groups of society, rife nepotism, a severe failure to implement many laws such as no smoking and no parking in disabled spots, and, and, and. If I were to get irate over every little thing I come across in daily life, I would have packed my bags long ago. Instead I choose to focus on the community spirit, the flavoursome fresh produce, the low level of crime, the climate, the beauty spots and beaches, the enviable lifestyle my children enjoy, the al fresco dining at quality restaurants, the short driving distances, the simple pleasures, and, and, and…

…That is how we need to live – wherever we live in the world. We need to smell the roses, not the manure and appreciate the good that balances the bad. This is why you will often hear me speak highly and passionately about Larnaca, and this is why I am generally happy and content with my life, as difficult as it can be at the moment with the financial crisis.

It's only natural that sometimes the stench of manure does get too strong, at which point, I just hold my nose till it passes!

First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, 16/08/14

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