I told you we had been totally jet set! Our final destination was Cyprus.
We have not had a family holiday (all of us traveling together) since before M was born. So when the Hubby said about 3 weeks ago he was totally free and off work for a week I was ecstatic. Then I panicked at the task of finding the perfect holiday for us at such short notice.
My first stop was Baby Friendly Boltholes a site I have use previously and have mentioned before (see my post on herbs). Both of us were knackered after a year of me basically raising the kids alone and the poor hubby traveling around Europe every week for business. As horrible as it sounds we basically wanted someone to take the kids away and give us a break. Not knowing exactly what was possible, and not wanting to sound like the evil person I felt, I rang their hotline.
The lady who I spoke with, Juliet, quickly sent me back a list of options with everything from babysitters to hotels with crèche facilities. One hotel caught my eye called the Almyra in Cyprus. It looked amazing with creche facilities, baby concierge service, spa, numerous restaurants and generally very good reviews.
There was one problem: despite being able to see direct flights existing between Switzerland and Cyprus I couldn’t find any I could book (except some stupidly timed ones leaving at 3am and the like). So feeling disheartened and now desperately wanting the Almyra experience I started to look at Kuoni.ch.
The funny thing was that by searching through Kuoni for Cyprus I was offered a huge selection of flights which didn’t seem to exist elsewhere. We could leave and arrive at perfectly civilised times for a decent price and then I found the Almyra. So I did the sneaky thing and thanked Juliet for her help and booked with Kuoni. Yes, I feel guilty. If I lived in the UK with the flight possibilities available I would never have done it but this is Switzerland and we are very limited.
Next thing we knew we were flying that very weekend out to Larnaca, Cyprus on an Edelweiss charter flight.
It was an interesting flight over with the lads all heading over for a week of partying in Ayia Napa… We were surrounded by the party group who had come with their own supplies for the flight. One was violently sick and passed out before the end of the flight while another decided to offer him pills to give him enough of a pick me up so he could get off the plane. Thank goodness the kids didn’t understand what was going on. Needless to say I wasn’t very impressed at Edelweiss. I know they don’t choose the clientele but I was shocked at how they ignored the walking around the cabin with drinks and the blatant lies the boys fed them when they asked if they had been drinking.
Any who we were just excited to arrive and get off that plane. After an hour and a half taxi ride to the hotel we had made it. We asked for a couple of glasses of milk for the kids on arrival and they were presented with beautiful teddy shaped cookies to enjoy with their milk while we checked in by the wonderful Guest Services Officer Lefteris.
The hotel was beautiful but what made it was the friendliness staff. The restaurant, porter and guest services team were brilliant as were the kids’ club! Actually Cyprus was a pretty welcoming place. Despite us being unable to speak a word of Greek (we were in the Greek half) they were always very accommodating and mainly spoke english.
Dinner at the hotel was included under the half board and consisted of a buffet affair from 7 onwards. There was a kids’ buffet in a room where they showed films so the parent of older children could eat in peace while the kids had a movie night. One night there was a family BBQ which was run by the kids’ club. It was well done as each family had their own table and could socialise as much or as little as they fancied. The staff were also only really interested in the children and left the parents who didn’t wish to play alone.
The Kids’ Club was closed on Wednesdays but we didn’t mind as it was nice by that stage to have a full day with the kids. I did see some families taking advantage of the babysitters that day though which could be provided by the Kids’ Club whenever you needed one.
The whole hotel was fairly family centric (especially as it was school hols) and I probably would be wary of recommending it to non parents. There was a kids free spa area with horizon pool and its own bar/restaurant but this was often pretty full as all the parents who had put their kids in the clubs would flock to escape the family swimming pool and make the most of the peace and quiet. This was where I spent my days reading and trying to get a tan and not burn.
Being a total bookworm I was horrified to figure out that I have not actually read a non-Baby book in over a year! Oh, I listen to audiobooks but its not the same. I had been given a few books that had been sitting on the side at home for months so I blew off the dust and brought them along on holiday.
My first book was Sharon Osbourne’s third autobiography: Unbreakable. I would never have chosen it for myself as I don’t really know the woman, not being an X-Factor fan or a major Ozzy Osbourne fan, but I felt obliged to give it a go. It was interesting but I put it down with a intense dislike for her character. She is a wonderfully loyal wife and a strong protective mother to her children but on the other hand she seems suffocating, interfering and completely thoughtless at times. In a way I admire those who say “I only care about myself and my own” but that is so far from my own character it rubs me the wrong way.
Feeling in need of some mental stimulation I picked up the book my father had given me called Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding. It was the story the Jewish investigator (Hanns Alexander) who pursued and captured one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious war criminals (Rudolf Höss – the Commandant of Auschwitz). My father had given it to me saying that it had been written by a cousin. This didn’t mean much to me though as most people seem to be “cousins” according to him – he seems to include cousins by marriage and right down to fourth removed sometimes – but I was surprised to recognise some names as I read it and it made it all even more real. The book drew me in and I was left sobbing at some of the descriptions of the atrocities however it was written in such a balanced way I felt sympathy for both sides. It was definitely one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read: filled with information that I didn’t know about that period and I thought myself a bit of a WW2 history buff. Its a sad one but really recommend reading it!
Feeling a wee bit fragile after the berating of Sharon Osbourne and the tales of Auschwitz I moved on to the American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. This was a book I had been given and recommended about three years ago but never got around to actually reading. I discovered that it was a fiction very loosely based on Laura Bush’s Autobiography and it was very gripping for the first half while you she laid the background information down and we rode the roller-coaster of teenage emotions but I found myself starting to wonder how much was left as I got to the middle of the tome. I couldn’t put it down unfinished though and I stuck it out through her difficult marriage and realisation of her mistakes. It was a good beach book but it did leave me rather wanting to read Laura Bush’s Spoken From the Heart to compare.
We did some exploring of Paphos but it all fairness it was too hot to go very far during the day and our holiday aim was to relax. It was amazing to see the amount of Roman ruins about though including the surviving roman habour wall.
We also did some diving with an excellent diving school called Cydive which provoked us into doing a PADI refresher course and hubby finally got his Open Water Qualification. I must say I was impressed at how thorough they were after some of my previous experiences with dive schools. While there aren’t many fish (due to over fishing) there are plenty of wrecks to see and hubby even saw an old Roman anchor on one of his dives.
One other this I feel I should mention was an amazing restaurant we visited while in Paphos called 7 St. Georges. We were hesitant as the name sounded less promising than the other authentic Cypriot restaurant Laona with good reviews but were pleasantly surprised. The food at the two places was probably on a par but the welcome and authentic atmosphere of the 7 St. Georges stole my heart. I loved the idea of it too: they give you local organc wine and bring you various meze until you say stop. We had to get a cab there but they were really easy to organise and it was a €20 round trip but considering the all you can eat meal including wine was excellent and only about €20 per person we were happy to pay that.
Leaving was tough as I would ideally have liked another few days but it was time to go. We had our only major unpleasant experience with the hotel on checkout too. Despite trying to negotiate the reception were being very tough on our checkout time and made us vacate the rooms a couple of hours before we were due to leave. On departure when we asked about our bags we were told that they would be brought up to the reception from our rooms meaning that our rooms had been sitting unmade and empty since we had been made to leave them and that we had been unable to shower properly before leaving for nothing. When we asked the reception they were apologetic and unable to explain why we had been forced to vacate the rooms early. Unfortunately I think the reception and their staff were the weak link at the hotel but not having to deal with them much it was generally ok. My word of advice would be to preorganise everything with Guest services to avoid having to deal with them. During our stay we mainly managed this by always going to Lefteris for restaurants or the Kids’ club directly.
Ah but it was so beautiful!