“What could possibly go wrong?” my DH said last week, referring to the holiday we’d booked to Cyprus.
“It’ll be fine,” he promised me, waving a whole envelope-full of Euros at me as I furtively googled things like ‘Do ATMs still give money in Cyprus?’, ‘Will our credit card work in Cyprus?, ‘Are there riots in Paphos?’.
I was a little nervous – understandably, don’t you think? We’d spent several days trying to come up with a holiday destination that ticked all the boxes – no more than four hours away (mums with small children will understand my logic here); good weather; kid-friendly; and no major sporting events going on (like the Grand Prix that quashed our plans to go to Malaysia).
And, for us – because we travel on stand-by – we also had to find a country that had space on the flights. “Cyprus looks good,” said DH. “The flights have seats.”
“All booked,” he texted later, as I sat at my desk grinning with anticipation at the thought of going to the land of yoghurt and honey, taramasalata and tzatziki.
Then I turned the TV on.
Cyprus was the top story, on every.single.news.programme I flicked to. The country was on the brink, practically bankrupt and in financial crisis. NO WONDER the flights had space.
“Oh no! What to do?” I nearly wept to DH. “Should we cancel?”
Of course not he said. We just need to take lots of Euros with us (if I’m honest, it wasn’t just the money I was worrying about; it had occurred to me that people might be panic-buying and all that yummy Greek food I’d imagined us eating might be in short supply).
Although my DH does have a history of ending up in the world’s hotspots (getting stuck in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion of 1990, for example), I did believe him – he’s as level-headed as a spirit level and immensely worldly-wise. And, anyway, packing for me and the children diverted my mind for the rest of the day.
We flew to Larnaka early the next morning, picked up a teeny-tiny hire car and set off across the island, past olive groves, fragrant citrus orchards and sea-lashed secluded coves, and discovered that life was, indeed, continuing as normal.
From the small fishing villages on the sparkling coast to the parts of Cyprus that are more like a sunny Essex suburb, tourism on this stunning but insolvent Mediterranean island was continuing unabated.
The banks were closed, but the lights were still on. The ATMs were being refilled with cash and credit card transactions were going through. We’d heard the Cypriots were running out of small coins, with taxi drivers rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10, but change wasn’t a problem in any of the towns we visited.
I like to think we did our bit – by spending our stash of cash, and eating our weight in the most delicious, creamy Greek dips and lemon-drizzzled dishes.