Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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Catching up … again

November 2, 2012

Every time we plan on taking a minor break from the blog we caution ourselves not to let it become an extended intermission.  And yet it did.  Again.  Must try harder next time.

Anyway, we’re back again after another long hot summer.  Now, in the first week of November, we’re wondering just when autumn might turn up as right now things are unseasonably warm.  Nights are drawing in and the early mornings are cool but by mid-morning it’s hot enough to be sitting outside with a cup of coffee in just shorts and t-shirts.

The bougainvillea continues to put on a show, the pomegranates are ripening to perfection and the first of the mandarins are just starting to turn from their invisible green to their showy winter orange colour.

Returning to the summer, and our extended absence, it is safe to say that things haven’t gone quite to plan of late.

I could talk about learning experiences and the importance of chewing one’s food or I could just find a handy photo.

That, a piece of lamb bone, was embedded in Ian’s throat for a couple of weeks.

Unhelpfully it was several inches below his Adam’s apple meaning surgery was needed.  Apparently the oesophagus has three concentric layers and the razor-sharp bone had punctured two of the three.  One more and things would have been terminal.

It is said that there isn’t enough time to make all the mistakes in the world yourself so you should learn from others.  So, chew your kleftico well people, the consequences can be serious if you don’t.

As if that weren’t drama enough the surgeons spotted another problem on the pre-op scans.  “Did you know?”  They asked.  “No, no we did not.  When shall we schedule the next round of surgery?”  A more serious procedure from which he is still recovering.

In more cheerful news we snuck in a week in glorious Italy recently.  Booked before the medical dramas, and technically inadvisable, we spent wonderful days pottering around the fantastic city of Bologna followed by some time in Venice staying at the superb Bauer Palladio.   With a lucky piece of accidental timing we managed to be in Venice during the brief dry spell between two major floods.

Much of this, as well as worrying wildfires, naughty kittens and other random ramblings, can be found on our Twitter feed here.

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Taxi drivers demand higher bus fares

June 1, 2011

There are some local news stories that benefit from some additional reporting, and others that just don’t.  Welcome to the slightly mad logic of Cypriot taxi drivers.

FAMAGUSTA taxi drivers yesterday demanded publicly-run buses raise their fares and reduce their frequency of operation, among others things, to save themselves from going bust, irrespective of what was best for the consumer.

The taxi drivers blocked the Ayia Triada roundabout, in Protaras, for five minutes to protest the “dire financial situation they have been in for years”.

And they warned of “stronger measures” if their demands were not met.

Union representative Kyriacos Moustakas, said the taxi sector’s problems were chronic, adding that the operation of buses further worsened the bad financial conditions of taxi drivers in the area.

He said that the new bus system, “the frequency and cheap fares, became the reason taxi drivers were unable to earn a day’s wage.”

The full story is here at the Cyprus Mail.

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Cyprus: Crossroads of Civilisation

September 30, 2010

A new eight month long exhibition opened yesterday at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington.  The exhibition is designed to showcase 11,000 years of history of the island.

From the Cyprus Mail:

The exhibition includes gold jewelry and sphinx sculptures from the Cypro-Archaic period (750 to 480 B.C.), vases, bowls and sculptures, including an Aphrodite marble, from the Hellenistic period (325 to 50 B.C.) and Roman (50 B.C. to A.D. 330) periods, bronze and copper items, including lamps and jugs, from the Byzantine period (330 to 1191) and religious icons, paintings and vases from the medieval period (13th to 16th centuries)

Full details can be found on the Smithsonian’s website here.

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Greece – Cyprus ferry to resume

June 15, 2010

It is being reported in the local news that there are plans to re-introduce a ferry between mainland Greece and Cyprus.

There used to be a regular service but it ceased running in 2001.  For some years there was a summer service between Rhodes and Cyprus which allowed people to make a two-stage trip from mainland Greece.  When we drove here we were able to make the final journey, from Piraeus to Limassol, on board a local cruise ship.  She, the Princesa Marissa, was herself a converted ferry so the cruise line ran a lucrative side-line allowing a small number of cars and trucks to be carried on the one remaining vehicle deck.

That route ceased to be an option in ’07 when the Princesa Marissa was retired and sent to India to be broken up for scrap.

Departing Piraeus

On board the Princesa Marissa

That there is no ferry service between Cyprus and anywhere (excluding the TRNC service to mainland Turkey) often comes as a surprise to people planning to come to the island.

Until the announcement of the new service the only realistic way of arriving in the Republic of Cyprus by sea with a vehicle was to come via a Grimaldi freighter.  They run a regular service between the UK and a number of Mediterranean ports and allow embarkation at a small number of those locations.  Currently anyone wanting to make use of that service needs to drive to Salerno, in south-west Italy, and board the freighter there disembarking in Limassol seven days later.  Grimaldi’s current Med schedule is available here for those wishing to know more.

At this stage there is no information available as to when the new ferry service will start running.  Its route however has been announced as being between Lavrio, on the southern tip on mainland Greece, and Limassol.

From the Famagusta Gazette:

An ambitious project to restore a car-ferry to service between Cyprus and Greece is in the pipeline.

The ferry service linking Limassol port and Lavrio will use roll-on ferries, capable of carrying cars, lorries and busses according to reports.

The authorities are putting together the necessary paper work for parliamentary approval to allow Cyprus to become a ferry hub.

The aim of the sea link is to improve trade ties with Greece and offer tourists from both countries an alternative option.

Approaching Limassol by sea isn’t the most scenic route; however the resumption of a regular ferry service is much welcomed.

Approaching Limassol

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Don’t mess with Cypriot women

June 9, 2010

‘cos they sometimes bite back!

Back at the start of the year the owner of a local media company was killed in what appeared to be a contract killing.  Such things are incredibly rare in Cyprus.  This week the criminal trial of those alleged to be behind the murder begins.

Central to the trial is a TV host who worked for the deceased.  The prosecution will claim that she organised the killing as revenged for being sacked, for losing her job.  A secondary motive, a move to gain control of his media company, also plays a significant part in the case.3

The BBC are covering the story here.

Cypriot prosecutors have begun presenting evidence against a TV host, Elena Skordelli, accused of ordering the murder of a boss who sacked her.  The glamorous 42-year-old media star is alleged to have paid for the contract killing of the millionaire head of the Dias media group, Andis Hadjicostis, who was shot in January.

The Cyprus Mail are calling the case the “Trial of the Year“.  It is certainly an unusual case for a country with such low crime rates.  Interestingly they are also implying that the trial is long-awaited.  This for a case that began less than 6 months ago.

Hadjicostis, CEO of the family-controlled DIAS media group and Sigma TV, was gunned down on the night of January 11 just outside his home in Engomi, Nicosia.  He was killed instantly by two shots – one to the chest and one to the back – most likely with a sawn-off shotgun which has not yet been found.

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Limassol likes cruise ship spending

May 8, 2010

Well, they’d like to like the spending power brought in by the cruise ship ships but have been hampered by the fact that their opening hours on Sunday were restricted.

Legally the shops have not been allowed to open until 1pm, resulting in them missing much of the cruise ship trade.  Having had no success in changing the law the shop owners took matters into their own hands by opening illegally.

Last Sunday, the shopkeepers defied the ministry’s orders and opened up earlier. But instead punishing traders, the move alerted Minister Charalambous to the problem.

In her announcement, the minister said she had revised the area’s working hours after receiving new information she hadn’t been aware of.

More specifically, Charalambous explained that the town’s Advisory Council had not informed her on the matter, as was its duty to do so.

There you go.  The Minister would have resolved the problem had only she known.  The upshot of all of this is that, over the summer, some Limassol shops will be open on a Sunday morning.

SUNDAY shop opening hours in Limassol’s coastal area will be changed to better serve tourists arriving on cruises, the Labour Ministry has decided.

The new hours will allow the area’s shops to open from 10am and apply for 12 Sundays in total, during which a series of cruises are scheduled to arrive bringing with them thousands of tourists.

This summer season, shops in Limassol’s tourist area will be open from 10am on May 9, 16 and 23, July 18, August 8, September 5,12,19 and 26, and October 24.

The full article is here at the Cyprus Mail.

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Nicosia not so keen on foreigners

May 6, 2010

So the Cyprus Mail reports.

The information apparently comes from an European survey on quality of life.

Reconstructing the data from the article the question they appear to have asked, and the results of the question are as follows:

The presence of foreigners is good for Nicosia.

Strongly agree 7%
Somewhat agree 24%
Unsure 4%
Somewhat disagree 24%
Strongly disagree 41%


That makes for fairly grim reading. It is true that the people of Nicosia have a reputation for being less friendly and welcoming that those of other Cypriot towns.

The report itself does not seem to include this data, or question, in its 98 page summary.  Anyone with an hour or two to spare can find the report here.  Skimming it briefly it seems that for most of the survey results Cyprus falls pretty much in the middle of the respondents.

Except … one table stood out where Cyprus bucks the trend, is not the norm, where the perception of Cypriots vs the perception of the world differs.

This chart plots the average life satisfaction level against the Corruption Perception Index as compiled by Transparency International.  The bottom axis shows the Corruption Perception Index which ranges from 1 for the most corrupt countries to 10 for the least corrupt.  The vertical axis shows how satisfied with life people are; the higher the number, the happier the people.

The points plotted show where each country scores on each of those two elements.  Cyprus, “CY”, is ringed in red for ease of reference.

As the chart shows there is a fairly strong correlation between perceived corruption and how happy the residents are.  Lots of corruption means less happy people such as Bulgaria, “BG” near the bottom left.  Little corruption means happier people, as seen in Sweden, “SE” near the top right.

Except in Cyprus where, despite scoring a 5 on the Corruption Index people are still happy!

It is easy to see why Cyprus scored relatively highly on the Index.  Nepotism is rife, personal ties are near-essential in getting through some bureaucracy.  In a survey of Cypriots last year a majority said that, for dealings with certain Government departments (Land Registry springs to mind) they would expect to have to call on someone they knew just to get something done.  No wonder us foreigners (sorry Nicosia!) get frustrated sometimes.

However, the results of this survey suggest that although such behaviour exists Cypriots accept it and are happy in spite of it.  If there was a single word to describe the Cypriot people then pragmatic would have to be it.