A Family Wedding and a Summer Holiday in the ‘Homeland’ of Cyprus
As cheesy at it sounds (make that squeaky halloumi cheesy in this case), returning to Cyprus, ‘the motherland’ as my other Cypriot friends and I call this special island, truly touches me on a cellular level. No hyperbole, being back in the country my parents were born in (they met at university here in the UK and never returned) and one I’ve visited many times since childhood hits differently to anywhere else in the world for me. I say that as a seasoned traveller, too.
I feel totally myself in Κύπρος. At peace, content, alive with a capital A. Having a tan helps too of course.
Seriously though, if my therapist ever asks me to think of, ‘my happy place’ (it hasn’t happened yet), Cyprus would be it.
It’s funny (strange) being a second generation immigrant. For some, like myself, your heart belongs in two countries simultaneously. You belong yet are somehow still displaced. Torn between two loves.
Visiting Cyprus reconnects with my inner child (more cheese I know, we’ll go with feta this time) as not only do I retrace my formative childhood steps when I holiday there but I’m able to take new ones with my own little family in tow.
And boy do my three, love that magical island.
Florence, being a 21 month old toddler this year (as opposed to 9 months old when we visited last year) meant she was able to experience more of the holiday from swimming to meals in tavernas and playing with her brothers. Florence is always so full of beans.
But back to my own core memories of childhood when it comes to the country. I remember early evening swims with my cousins as the sun went down with stop offs for kebabs on the way home, as well as chatting with my beloved namesake, my Grandma, Yiayia Vikentia, in her summer home in the breathtaking biblical looking village of Philousa (we also revisited the village this time and enjoyed a Garlic Festival there, below).
‘Vicki, the husband should always love his wife more, like your Petros’ she would say and, ‘I worry about all of my children and grandchildren. I worry all day long. My full time job is worrying, Vicki’. I think I’ve taken after her.
It was wonderful spending time with my family from her side, my aunts, uncles and cousins spanning Auntie Maria and Uncle Andreas and Auntie Nicky and my cousins Chryso and her family and Marios (not everyone is shown in the picture below). Distance doesn’t matter when we’re all together.
Cyprus to me is sweet jasmine in the air, gilded icon-adorned Greek Orthodox churches, the baking heat I never tire of, turquoise waters as clear and warm as swimming pools heated by the sun, my Grandma’s olive groves swaying their shiny, lance shaped leaves, Pinterest-worthy terracotta pots, bright bougainvillea enhancing every single selfie; evil eye amulets as blue as the deepest sea hanging outside homes and around people’s necks; ripe, juicy figs you must pull open to check for bugs within and never just bite into (and even juicier loukoumades, below), and prickly pears that are worth the pain to pick.
Beach restaurant Yialos, Latchi
Cyprus is creamy Frappes on tap, cold KEO beer as the sun goes down, scooters humming alongside crickets in the dust, refreshing rose (petal) Mahalebi dessert and ice cream for the win, Greek dancing, arms out drunk-like to the steel strings of the bouzouki, it’s family at its core, and tradition, and religion, and food marinated and drizzled with and in olive oil and/ or thick, creamy Greek yoghurt, thick slabs of feta cheese, and soft in the middle, crispy on the outside slices of halloumi, and more garlic and oregano than you could possibly imagine enhancing every dish: pure sunshine on a plate.
That’s my Cyprus, and that’s my holiday.
A moving family wedding thrown into the mix this year and the reason for our trip, where my stunning first cousin Georgia married her very own handsome beau Pete in a perfect wedding in Larnaca.
Georgia was my bridesmaid, and I was a bridesmaid at her parents’ wedding. The circle of life is wonderful isn’t it?!
We divided our time between Polis in Paphos to catch up with my Dad’s side of the family, and then travelled to Larnaca for the wedding for a few days which made us feel like we had two holidays in one.
Highlights, aside for the wedding where I cried all day (thank goodness for MAC waterproof mascara hey) was hanging out with my family (my folks came too), swimming 40 lengths most days, finding a playground in Polis in the shade Florence loved, feeling calmer than I have in two whole years, laughing until my face ached and I almost peed many times thanks to my hilarious first cousin, Stef, chats with my wise Auntie Lou poolside and watching my kids grow and mature not only in physicality (my eldest is taller than me now) but also in joy thanks to this trip.
Florence even knocked her intolerances and allergies on the head which was remarkable and a result of Enterosgel (ask your doctor for advice).
Here with my handsome and utterly hilarious cousin, Stef.
Aww, what a holiday.
Cyprus, you never, ever disappoint. My sweet island in the Med, you will always have my heart. Well, half of it at least.
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