Ever been on holiday or on a trip to somewhere you’ve never been, and you’re so taken with the place you vow to return? I have, in August 2003 I visited Cyprus for the first time, with my soon to be wife. We were there to attend the Christening of her youngest daughter’s son. The Christening was to be in Paralimni and we were staying at the wonderful 5-star Grecian Park Hotel near Protaras. It was a short visit and in the few days we had we did the touristy thing and visited different parts of the area.
The day after the Christening we were in Protaras and we stopped off at a small shop selling all manner of hats, bags, food and drink for tourists, though despite it being August there were very few tourists. In this shop we bought a beach bag. Outside the shop there were no other buildings around, only a small boy sat under an umbrella at a table stuffed with watermelons. Trade seemed to be slow and he was asleep. Back in the car we drove down the Protaras strip and parked our hire-car in a dusty side street, looking for a beach to spend the day on. We found one that was deserted. It was a bay with a lovely sandy beach and nothing else in sight except for a handful of tourists and a small café that sold drinks and a small selection of food.
At lunch we entered the café and ordered Moussaka from the owner, a man in his mid-forties with a lively full head of hair. He was welcoming and when he realized we were here for a traditional Greek Christening, he treated us to a free glass of Zivania, the local brandy spirit made from distilled grape juice and pomace, which is the remains of the grapes.
I mention all this because we were so taken with this beach we decided we would one day return, not realising that five years later we would indeed return, to live on the island permanently.
In 2003 Protaras was not a built-up area and we didn’t particularly like the place at night, very loud music and very brash Brits on holiday, not our cup of tea. The next time we visited Protaras it had changed beyond recognition.
Fast-forward a little and it’s 2010 and we are visiting Protaras for the first time since 2003. What a difference a few years make. The whole area was built up with houses and shops seemingly grown from the barren dusty soil we saw only seven years earlier. We wanted to find the beach and small café we had been on all those years before, but nothing looked the same. We have been back to Protaras several times since and each time we failed to find the beach or the restaurant.
Last year we found an offer for a long-weekend stay at the Capo Bay Hotel, a lovely 4-star Hotel usually out of our league. So, despite it being in November and possibly a little cold, we had a great few days R&R. And finally, by pure chance, we found our little beach and café.
The small beach we had stumbled upon was Fig Tree Bay. In 2011 Trip Advisor had declared this beach to be the third best beach in Europe and the rest is history. Fig Tree Bay is now a renowned Blue Flag Beach and famous the world over. What a difference. The little side street with a small kiosk on the corner was now a large car park and the small café had been re-built into a full restaurant. It was even the same owner, though his head of hair had gone the same way mine had, gone with the wind.
Copyright Tom Kane © 2018
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