Sunday, June 07, 2015

Plan C: Cyprus

Today we had been planning on going SCUBA diving but that was cancelled due to the weather. I think we are SCUBA cursed. Every time we try to get something set up either the weather is bad or one of us is sick. It’s getting to the point where we are probably forgetting how to do everything.

Plan B was to go to Piraeus where all of the ferries depart from and take this nice sounding cruise that visited three different Greek islands. Well… we got to the docks and couldn’t find the right boat and none of the travel agent offices seemed to know what we were talking about so we gave up.

I was having a little brain storm though. The island nation of Cyprus was very nearby and when we looked it up a round trip ticket was only $100ish. Why not?

We had a fruit juice break.

We booked a flight later that evening and then had a few hours to spend in sunny Athens. We headed over to the Acropolis Museum to learn a little more about what we had seen the day prior.

Even the area outside the entrance to the museum is cool. The ground is made of giant glass panels where you can see active excavations taking place.

Apparently many of those nice white marble statues that you’re used to seeing used to be in full color. Some of the statues in the museum had a replica nearby painted how it would have been to give you an idea of the original. Lydia liked these but I thought they looked pretty garish. Especially when the statue is of a god I don’t want to see it with candy apple red lips and bright yellow hair. It reminded me of something a little kid would color. Oh well.

A nice statue with its clown equivalent.

This was an exhibit I enjoyed about how they made the different pigments. That cross section of a pot in the center there is illustrating how they made white by suspending some lead in vinegar and something else to get it to oxidize, which they would then scrape off.

The Erechtheion’s Caryatids were an especial favorite of mine and they were in a section of the museum which allowed pictures which was nice.

The Acropolis is so important it even has a Lego model.

The museum has a section built for the Parthenon’s marble exterior statues, many of which are in the British Museum, as a way to pressure the British to return the statues. I thought that was an interesting bit of international politics.

This is a little model of what one end of the Parthenon's top part is supposed to look like. There's a lot  of godding going on there.

We did a little bit of strolling afterward to find lunch at a place our guidebook said was killer.

The Drachma was Greece's currency prior to the Euro.

The cheap flight we snagged was on Ryanair which was a notable experience. They are one of those airlines with an initial low price which then attempts to fee you to death. They were going to charge us $15 a person just to print out our boarding passes so luckily we found an internet cafe ahead of time to print them out ourselves. Baggage is another danger zone but luckily we just have our backpacks so we got through the fee gauntlet unscathed.

Once on board it was kind of amusing. There were ads on the backs of the seats, and spots for ads on the overhead compartments although they weren’t being used on this flight. During the flight they came by with maybe 5 or 6 different carts full of crap they were selling: food, drinks, toys, perfume, some kind of portable cell phone charger, etc. The music that plays while boarding even had ads in it.

My favorite sell was when they came out with these scratch off lottery ticket things that were supposed to benefit charity.

There were no tray tables and no seat back pocket things, I assume to save on weight and to make cleaning the airplane faster. It was sort of like if IKEA ran an airline. It wasn’t a long flight and it got the job done so more power to them.

The emergency info was just printed right on the seat back.

Paphos, Cyprus is sort of like what the Caribbean was supposed to be. Very quaint and serene. Somehow I got wrapped up in this minutes long conversation with the hotel man about the banana plants next door. He was very friendly and had plenty of time to spend talking with us. Cyprus is sort of like Greece’s little brother, so I got the impression that Greece’s economic woes are being shared with Cyprus.

Said banana plants.

The hotel was pretty nice and dirt cheap.

I don't know if it's the whole country or just this hotel but they had that unfortunate "no flushing toilet paper" policy.

Cyprus has an interesting history. Apparently it was conquered by King Richard I while on his way to the Holy Land for some crusadin'. He wasn't even planning on conquering the island but some of his soldiers ship wrecked there and were imprisoned so he laid the stomp down. Richard apparently didn't even want the island because soon after he sold it to the Knights Templar. So awesome. More recently there's been a bit of a tug of war over the island between Greece and Turkey. The Republic of Cyprus has legal authority over the island but the northern half of the island is under Turkish occupation, which is a major roadblock in Turkey's flirtation with joining the EU as Cyprus is a member state.

I would say that some people who asked how long we were staying acted just shy of insulted that our stay would be so brief. This was pretty similar to how locals responded in the Caribbean. I wonder if really small countries are self conscious of the fact that there isn’t really much to see and do.

Well it was already pretty late so there wasn’t much time to do anything other than walk to a little restaurant in the neighborhood. Lydia had some souvlaki which is what the Greeks sometimes call gyros. It's a long story. This was comparable to what we’ve had in Greece except it had an unfortunately large amount of cilantro.

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