By Kyveli Kardas
After arriving from a much colder and rainy climate, finally my body is feeling the much awaited heat in July in Limmasol. The Larnaca airport terminal is a modern tasteful building that is easy to navigate. The smiling people at the passport check welcomed us to Cyprus with the well – mannered geniality that becomes a standard operating procedure in countries that are not only accustomed but dedicated to receiving travelers.
And after leaving the air-conditioned realm that was the terminal… heat happened. It felt like an insidiously aggressive wave that caressed the skin and filled the lungs with the certainty that this is a whole different climate. Travel guides vow that the Mediterranean climate is temperate but there is nothing temperate about Cyprus. When, half an hour later, I arrived in Limassol, the second largest city in Cyprus, I experienced the thrill that every modern and historical place offers travelers.
Cyprus is set on what the oceanographers call the “Levant Basin” of the sea. This means the summers are long and hot -from early April well into November- and that is one of the reasons why Limassol swarms with visitors from all over the world. They are a colorful and cosmopolitan mix that gives wonderful opportunities to enjoy people-watching at the marina or molos (as the elder Limassolians call it), Saripolou street and the South West Bay of Limassol. The beaches there could make Ulysses forget Ithaca. They are sprinkled with posh and luxurious beach bars that match the pleasures of Calypso’s island. The service lives up to the standards of hotels, the food and drinks are better than what I tasted in established restaurants in urban areas of other countries.
As I was watching the dancing and drinking crowd in one of those beach bars, I thought that perhaps cities have a destiny or an ancient DNA that prevails and will forever shape their character and historical course. Limassol has been receiving ‘guests’ of various nationalities forever. Merchants, pirates, crusaders, kings and their armies, everyone has been here leaving a mark that is still visible today, especially in the urban area. I discovered how decades before Saripolou street became the place to be, the municipal market must have been the main point of reference in the city. And even before that people must have gathered around the Kepir Mosque to meet and exchange news and information. And going even back further and a bit deeper into the old city I found myself walking around the Limassol Castle, where Richard I of England married Berengaria of Navarra for love and conquest. And strolling right down again, I ended up in the old Port, where pirates came to rest, sell or steal what was left to be stolen.
Today there are no pirates or crusaders in Limassol. There is modern infrastructure, design hotels, and interesting events to attend. There is nothing to steal other than the beautiful images and the sun that every Northerner so longs for. There is this prevailing memory and feeling among the locals: as everything changes, the tide shifts and the powers are forever re-allocated, it is important to receive that change with the well – mannered geniality that they receive their guests and tourists. They seem to have figured out what it is all about. It is their destiny. Not in the sense of an inevitable end but in the sense that they use the lessons of their past to create their future.
A few tips:
My main point of interest was the city of Limassol. I mostly walked or biked around, fully protected by sun block and a wide brimmed hat. I stayed at the Londa Beach Hotel in the Executive Suite, the balcony of which had the most magnificent view to the beach. The service deserves more than five stars rating. I would definitely become a Lotus Eater if I stayed a few more days.
To catch a glimpse of the ancient history of the island, visit the ancient city of Amathus. It is situated just 5km east of Limassol and is another vivid example of how people of various ethnic origins, Phoenicians, Jews, Egyptians and Greeks lived and prospered in the area.
If you feel like strolling around Limassol consider attending the fully guided tour that takes place every Monday at10.00 am and lasts about two hours and a half. Starting point is the Tourist Information Office (CTO) on 142 St. Andreou Street.
About the Author: Kyveli Kardasi travels for business and writes for pleasure. She loves islands, people watching and yoga.