Paphos, Cyprus – Revisiting the Paradise of my Childhood

I’m back! Sorry for the long absence. I’ve been on two back-to-back holidays. I went to France, had two days back at work, and then went to Cyprus for a family holiday. It’s Cyprus that I want to talk about today.

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Cyprus is a divided country. The North is ruled by Turkey and the South by Greece. Ironically, it is also the birthplace of love, beauty and fertility, being the legendary home of the mythological goddess Aphrodite.

Cyprus is special to me because I feel I grew up here. For 11 summers, I came here with my family, each year getting a little bit taller and a little bit blonder. What I think of most when I think of Cyprus is warm, hospitable people, endless numbers of cats, delicious Greek food and beautiful seas.

Our chosen spot has always been Alexander the Great Beach Hotel in Paphos, a place that feels like home and is in my opinion, the best hotel on the island. When I was a kid, I wanted to live here when I grew up. Today, I’d be happy owning one of the hotel rooms or cabanas.

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Coming back after an 11-year hiatus, I felt a mix of excited and unsure. What if the island had changed beyond recognition? Would it be the same without the community of amazing people we’d met? I don’t tend to ‘go back.’ I always pick a new holiday destination, mainly because there is so much of the world to see. Revisiting a place of nostalgia can provoke melancholy. Fortunately, being carried back to Cyprus was not a disappointment.

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The island had stood still in the most beautiful way. Cyprus has since joined the EU and so it is far more expensive than it was. The mayor has also demolished much of bar street which was always bright, full of colourful characters and family friendly. We used to frequent the Robin Hood Pub as kids with an alcohol-free cocktail and plenty of popcorn.

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Aside from these two things, Paphos still feels like an oasis. It’s busy yes, but it seems to attract the nicest people and there are still plenty of places on the island where you can escape. July and August are ideal months to visit if you like your sun sizzling but September and October offer a (slightly) cooler experience. There’s something about the way the water kisses the shore and the boundless blue skies that inspire the artist in me and whilst here I revisited a novel I had gotten half way through writing.

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The pace of life is slow, steady and people we’d known from years before were still here, still going about the same routines which was beautifully comforting. We didn’t find everyone that we used to know but we did see Andreas, Andreanas and Cleo (our water sports friends from childhood), Andreas and Costas from Gemens (the tasty restaurant opposite the Alexander), the man who works at Freedom, a spiritual store stocking dreamcatchers, magic lamps and carvings, and to my surprise, the man who owned the sunbeds on the beach was still there, still raking in the seaweed.

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In big cities, things feel so transient. On small islands, as is the case with small towns, people stick around and there’s a rhythm to life that is humbling. I learnt a valuable lesson here. Sometimes it’s okay to ‘go back.’ Sometimes you find a place that feels like home. Maybe it is because I spent adventurous summers here as a child and sleepier summers here as a teen. Maybe it’s because this is where I did my growing up. Whatever the reason, I now know that you don’t always need to move so quickly to the next place. You can go back to somewhere you’ve been and embrace it as a friend, knowing that it will have a few new stories to tell you.

All my love,

K

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