Leaving Malta was bittersweet, as we had a very nice relaxing stay in a great hotel in St. Julians [Hotel Juliani if you are ever in the neighborhood]. It was easy to get around, and of course, there was little in the way of a language barrier. We boarded an Air Malta/Emirates codeshare flight and were on our way. A few hours later, after I watched James Franco cut off his arm in “127 Hours” [which should have been a 30 minute film] we arrived in Larnaka, Republic of Cyprus [I’ll deal with the issue of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in another post – if I remember]. A 60 Euro cab ride and an hour later and we arrived at our home base, Limassol [in Turkish] or Lemesos [Greek]. It was a quite dangerous ride for me, as I was in the front seat and every time the driver would enthusiastically point to something across the way he would miss punching me by only a few inches.
Since my travel companions and I have travelled extensively together [Russia, Mongolia, China, Ecuador, Iceland, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Malta and now Cyprus] there are certain experiential reference points that sometimes need not be spoken but are painfully obvious. Upon our arrival at our beach hotel, we were greeted by Irina and Yelena at the front desk. Both bleach blondes with thick Putin-esque accents. While we were waiting, we saw posters for some tacky, eastern-bloc-style shows. We all looked at each other.
“What is this, an Intourist hotel? And where are we, Yalta?” I thought. Adrian, Lydia and I had travelled to the Ukraine together and knew well the texture of post-soviet-style hospitality, not to mention the prevalence of spectacular, sequined variety shows where the performers outnumber the audience.
The question begged an answer: why all the Cyrillic in Cyprus?