Every year during March or April I come back to Cyprus to visit family and friends. Although the weather isn’t ideal for the beach, this is still one of my favourite times of year to visit. What is usually considered to be desert land is surprisingly vibrant – flowers are in bloom, orange and lemon trees bear their fruit and the ever so green grass provides a brilliant contrast to endless blue skies. Out of the countryside the capital is bustling with Easter preparations and students who have returned from abroad for their holidays, many of whom you can find enjoying a frappé in the afternoon sun. Venture into the Troodos mountain range and you’ll find snow if you’re lucky. At the moment there is so much snow that the slopes are open, as are the chair lifts which carry a small number of eager skiers up to take advantage of the diverse climate.
The food is best at this time of year as winter brings a sort of coolness to the air creating a hunger which is absent during the summer months. Meals are often enjoyed outside with the assistance of a scarf or thin jacket, and hearty yet healthy dishes such as fakes me rizi and fasoulia are enjoyed with a slice or two of horiatiko psomi. Let’s not forget to mention the oh so mouthwatering flaounes, a traditional Cypriot celebratory bread made to observe the end of lent. Luckily due to it’s popularity you can find the delicious things in bakeries all year round.
Evenings are spent in the company of friends, although in my case they are also spent in the company of food! City dwellers will hit the various bars, restaurants and of course coffee houses along the traffic filled streets, or seek refuge in dimly lit venues tucked away within the old town’s back alleys and narrow streets. Yet before the night falls upon the island and it’s inhabitants, you’ll find me enjoying a whiskey and some peanuts with my 92 year old grandpa – precious moments which really make these visits special.