As soon as I finished my exams and celebrated my birthday I was whisked away to Cyprus. To be more exact I was whisked away to Paphos to stay at the Cyprus College of Art for two weeks. I set off with one of my best friends, Rachel who was going to stay there for 6 weeks to paint. My other friend Adam also joined us during our first week and is going to stay their for 4 weeks. Cyprus was the exact thing I needed to get a new mindset and to clear all my problems away. For most of the time I read or I wrote (poetry and my novel which I will hopefully finish) in a multicoloured hammock that became my space.
As well as genuine relaxation I also did some sightseeing. For two days Rachel, Adam and I went to Nicosia which is the capital of Cyprus and the only city in the world still divided. Nicosia was beautiful, it was full of unique stores and the bars were to die for. Also the oldness of the place contrasted so much to the political graffiti which gave the place a unique character and you were amongst change. It was a brilliant place and completely different to Paphos because hardly any of Nicosia was touristy which Paphos is tourist international. I did buy a lot of unusual treasures in Nicosia which I would never find in Paphos, and I had my first Meze. A Meze is a selection of small portioned traditional dishes which everyone in the group can have. I have nearly grown up on greek food since my mum grew up in Cyprus but I have never had a Meze and I can tell you they are brilliant. So much food that you cannot eat it all but all equally delicious. Its also a good feeling being the only person on the table that knows what the food is. Meze’s are a beautiful invention. As my friend Rachel says Meze’s are the best since you don’t actually have to decide what to eat.
It was quite a surreal experience crossing the border from the Greek to the Turkish side. The time when we crossed was about 5 ‘o’ clock at night, on the greek side all the cafes were turning into bars for the nighttime crowd whereas on the Turkish side everything was closing. On the Greek side it was full of life, their was always something happening however, on the Turkish side it was still as if you walked into a photograph of a ghost town. All the shops were closing and their was hardly any restaurants or any life that took my eye. It was the complete opposite to the Greek side. The barbed wire going around where the border also didn’t help with the feeling of coldness from the place as well. However the couple I sat next to on the plane back to England suggested to me that if I went to the Turkish side during the day the atmosphere is completely different and the Baazar was an amazing thing to looks at. I guess we were in the right place but at the wrong time.
In Paphos we also did the tourist attractions; the Harbour, some churches, St Paul’s Pillar, the catacombs, Aphroditie’s Rock and the Tomb of Kings (which evidently no Kings are buried at). All of these attractions were amazing to look around however the Harbour, Coral Bay (a beautiful yet expensive beach) and the Market did let me down as both were overly touristy. For example the Harbour is literally the sea on one side then on the other side tourist shop followed by tourist shop or restaurant. All of the restaurants had a man outside trying to get you to eat with them instead of their neighbours. One man especially made an act that me and my homosexual friend Adam were on our honeymoon. As we walked by the second time he screamed at us, “Would you like sex on the beach, how about sex on the table”, I was so taken back that it was funny and i laughed a tiny bit too much at his suggestion.
However the church’s, catacombs and all the rest were absent of the tourist. In fact most of the attractions were dead whereas the areas with all the hotels were bloated. It was like walking into another country let alone a tourist attraction. I found these places however the most interesting. The Tomb of Kings took my breath away, there was so much engineering for something that was made when the Egyptians ruled. It was the same with Aphrodities rock, you were taken back with how much legend can connect with one rock by a beach and how civilisation used to look to it as a kind of alter. The catacombs had an beautiful eeriness to it that nothing could compare. The churches made me proud to be religious even though I am not a Christian, I felt the need to prey at most of the churches. The historical places in Paphos have this beautiful power to create a numinous effect on its visitors which make you feel so big yet so small at the time. It makes you realise how feeble life is since civilisations has come and gone with their beliefs yet these ruins remain like a footprint in cement. It truly was a charming experience.
The people I met at the art commune also made the holiday for me. Each person was completely different and had a different story to tell yet they all helped me realise little bits of my stress could be solved. For example Nell dropping out of her university because it wasn’t the right course for her and joining another course made me realise that liking university was not the be all and end all and if I did not like it I could change places. I also met a group of people their who were also at university and they described it as the best time of their lives, hearing this made me really think I would like university as well. Everyone their taught me a different thing from Martina’s feminism to Petra’s lentil shots to Chaz not knowing when he has had enough to drink to Betty’s unknowingness of what to do after university to Joe’s advice on music. They all taught me that life keeps on moving even if I do not have a plan and that is ok. It was definitely the advice i needed. I also learned I was ready for university since I can look after myself especially when it came to cooking.
All in all Cyprus was an amazing trip if their is anyone out their that needs some headspace or is an artist I would always recommend Cyprus School of Art is an amazing place to clear your head whilst you still get studio space all of it is quite cheap as well. Its perfect if you want to go somewhere alone but get lonely because straight away you make friends and Maragrett who runs it always makes sure something is going on so everyone feels a part of something whether that is going to the theatre or setting up a movie nigh (we watched Finding Sugarman, if you haven’t seen it you NEED to watch it, its AMAZING). Also her son also met us some nights so we would know where the cooler non tourist places were. For example we watched a band playing tango music and some tango dancers then went to an artist bar which was very cool and suave. So Cyprus School of Art is definitely the place to go and was definitely the holiday I needed. It was defiantly the coming of age story I needed so I could feel like I could keep moving forward. So thank you Cyprus.