Thursday, May 8, 2008

Love Cyprus

I ran Pepsi Cola’s Middle Eastern business and, in the mid 80s we had the pleasure of living in Nicosia, Cyprus for 5 of the happiest years of our lives. It is an idyllic island paradise with a great climate, great people and a wonderful variety of experiences. It will always be a Lovemark for me and my family. Marc Anthony (the Roman, not the singer) gave Cyprus to Cleopatra as a gift. Not bad, as gifts go. Smart man.

Cyprus is one of the oldest civilisations in the Mediterranean and one the newest, most vibrant members of the European Union. It has so much going for it as a Lovemark today that it’s been rebranded it “Love Cyprus”

Cyprus has more claim to owning love than most – it is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty. She emerged from the sea foam in 1,200 BC at Petra tou Romiou, a majestic rock on the south coast of the island.

Cyprus has lots of myths and icons associated with its long 10,000 year history. Not just the myth of Aphrodite, but stories associated with the many conquering foreign powers – Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Venetians, Ottomans and British - who have all left their mark.
• In the 15th century BC, Cyprus had its own "Cyprian Script", derived from Minoan
• Cicero, the eminent Roman statesman was Governor of Cyprus
• Cyprus was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity and the first to be governed by a Christian, the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus
• Richard I, leading the Third Crusade in 1191 took the island from the Emperor of Byzantium and promptly sold it the following year to the Knights Templar
• It is the only country in the world to appear on its own National flag

Cyprus’ economy and wealth in antiquity was based on its copper; it may even have given the metal its Latin name, cuprum. We have reflected this in our use of warm orange throughout the communications.
Cyprus’ position at the eastern end of the Mediterranean gives it a wonderful all-year-round warm climate – hence the positioning as “the year round island”. On average, the sun shines 340 days per year. The eastern coast is famous for its fine, white sandy beaches with shallow turquoise waters.
If you’re talking personal favorites, two of mine are:
Number one. Commandaria is an amber-coloured dessert wine made in the foothills of the Troodos mountains. It has the distinction of being the world's oldest brand of wine still in production. It was described in 800 BC by the Greek poet Hesiod, Richard the Lion Heart had it served at his wedding and (legend has it) it won the first ever wine-tasting competition held by King Philip of France in 1224.
And two. Halloumi cheese, indigenous to Cyprus, is traditionally made from a mixture of goats’ and sheeps’ milk. It has a salty flavour and it can be fried until brown without melting. Cypriots like eating halloumi with watermelon in the warm months for the perfect breakfast after the night before is Haloumi. Delicious.
The island concentrates many different, evocative landscapes into a condensed space – you can move in minutes from green forests to blue sea to snowy-white mountains.

With so many invaders over so many years, Cyprus is used to welcoming visitors. (The Greek / Cypriot word for hospitality, philoxenia, actually means ‘love of strangers’ and the first word you will hear is kopiaste – ‘welcome, come in and join us’).
Intimacy is well expressed in the traditional preserved fruit, glyko. Glyko is found in every home and is the first thing to be offered to a guest together with a glass of water. Cypriot women continue to make glyko in the traditional way handed down from generation to generation and serve it with pride. The local cuisine is based on meze – the intimate sharing of little dishes of food; local delicacies washed down with good wine and friends over many hours as the sun sets.

Cyprus - 9 places to fall in love with
1. Larnaka: Ancient Kitium; home to the Island’s first documented settlers, a city continuously inhabited for 6,000 years. Legend has it that the first settlement here was founded by Noah's great-grandson, Kittim.
2. Petra tou Romiou (Rock of Romios): This is the beach where Aphrodite emerged.
3. Platres: A mountain resort favoured by the rich and famous, like King Farouk of Egypt. The village inspired Nobel Prize-winning Greek poet George Seferis to write his famous poem, ‘Helen’.
4. Lefkara: The mountain village where women create the embroidered lace known as “Lefkaritika”. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have taken some Cypriot lace to Italy and visitors have done the same ever since.
5. Paphos: The town where you will find stunning archaeological gems such as the Tombs of the Kings and castle in the harbour. My own personal favorite.
6. Akamas: Site of the Baths of Aphrodite, where the Goddess is said to have bathed after entertaining her lovers.
7. Lefkosia: A city full of special secret places to get you rejuvenated, such as the famous 16th century Hammam offering traditional refreshment & beauty treatments.
8. Limassol: A cosmopolitan town where you can meet many people, stay at luxurious resorts and enjoy life around the yacht marinas
9. The Painted Churches of the Troodos: ten Byzantine churches, all United Nations World Heritage list, like Panagia Asinou, with some of the finest 12th and 14th century murals in the world
An, to top that off, 6 things that are not to be missed.

Smell the jasmine and the wild thyme in Kakopetria. Walk in pine scented forests, or ski on the snowy peaks in the morning, then take a dip in the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon.
Wonder at Greek temples, Byzantine churches and artifacts thousands of years old. Play a round of golf, go cycling, or hiking round the countryside.
Feel at one with nature, or dance the night away. Picture yourself getting spoiled and pampered in a luxurious thalassotherapy health spa in Anassa, a place we spent a great week a couple of years ago.
Visit Pedoulas, high in the Troodos mountains, known for both its luscious cherries and the Forest Park Hotel where Daphne Du Maurier wrote her famous novel, Rebecca. The inspiration for our choice of name for our youngest daughter.
Dance in the Anthestiria festival, a celebration of spring and nature's rebirth. Enjoy a delicious dinner in Limassol, rounded off with a glass of one of the oldest wines in the world.
Feel the religious spirit in Agios Loukas monastery.
So take a look at Cyprus. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it just like we have.