Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200112 Greece Cyprus

Saturday 1 December 2001  Hear the sad news on the radio that former Beatle George Harrison has died.  Rainy day so we drive together back to Patra.  Shopping in Eurospar feels very seasonal with Christmas Carols blasting through the tanoy.  Park in the West Docks of Rio port and joins Malcolm & Claire for a Last Supper and Canasta session.
Sunday 2 December  Brighter dry morning but we notice more snow has appeared on the mountains overnight.  Head off towards Athens enjoying the drive along the coast to Corinth where we stop for lunch by the canal.  The coast road then deteriorates and in future we shall pay to use the motorway from Corinth to Athens.  More by luck than good sign posting we arrive at Piraeus, the port of Athens.  Ticket offices abound and after visiting a few we begin to accept the bad news that the passenger ferries to Cyprus have all been cancelled.  It’s a knock on effect of September 11th that fewer people are travelling in general and especially to Israel which is the final destination for the ferry.  Having come so far we have very few other options open to us and begin to investigate ferries to Crete.  Non have run since Friday due to the bad weather and are not scheduled to leave until things calm down.  Park within the port to mull over what to do. There are lots of fairly new and impressive churches around the port and one plays a lovely tune on the bells every hour, well it may be nice for the first hour or two but the novelty soon wears off and adds to our frustration.  Try to console ourselves with the "good" news which is that at least Mum booked a studio on Cyprus instead of just a flight and also we haven’t lost any money paid on pre booked ferry tickets. 
[Diesel 191 Drs (38p) – 238 Drs (48p)]
Monday 3 December  Giving it one final shot I set out at 8.00am to pester a few more shipping offices and investigate other options.  My persistence (which involves filtering out wrong answers) pays off when I stumble on the fact that freight ships are still going to Cyprus although this would mean us flying there whilst Charlie went by ship.  Eventually find out that Salamis Lines has a ship going to Cyprus tonight and although predominantly freight they have cabins for 12 passengers.  It’s called the "Ion" and we have to pay 50% more than if we went on the luxury passenger cruiser but we are getting desperate so we book.  They offer us a "simple" cabin and explain they are actually crew cabins but we must have one to use the ship.  Final cost just over 300,000 Drs (£600) return including food.  So my 3 1/2 hours foot slogging was worth it and as a side line I could write a book about the shipping companies in Piraeus!  Move to the International Dock then together walk back around Piraeus and to get our ticket changed as it has been dated 3.11.01.  It’s very busy around St Nicholas church where there are flags, TV cameras and lots of people.  Find out the bones of St Nicholas are due to arrive by ship from Italy.  Big crowds gather at the port with bands, naval regiments, Greek Orthodox priests, school children and 2 tourists.  Typical with most Greek information we are now told that St Nicholas is coming from Russia, not that he cares.  All the boats blast their horns as the naval ship docks.  With no co-ordination or consideration for anyone else the bands begin to play, priests chant and ships hoot.  When the procession finally passes by we see a silver tureen carried on a pedestal.  At 5.00pm the Passport Control office opens and we rattle around in the empty customs hanger.  From 1800 passengers going through here they now have only 12.  The 7.00pm departure time passes with the ship still loading.  At 9.00pm they admit they are having problems with the loading (we guessed) and suggest we go on board for our meal, it’s cold but probably would have tasted good.  We eat at 1 of 2 tables adjacent to the TV lounge which has an assortment of tatty sofas.  Everything looks very old and dirty including the threadbare carpets.  We are shown our cabin which is basic but as a bonus has an en-suite (we think because I am a female and the rest of the toilet facilities are communal).  Finally leave at 10.00pm.  Encounter a few cabin problems with bulbs missing from lights and no cover on the air conditioner so to turn it off the steward Ahmed shows us how to stuff a pillow into it!  Nothing is particularly clean but at least the bed linen and towels have obviously been washed.  Steve’s bed is an ancient sofa bed and mine a bunk, both pretty uncomfortable.  Manage to grab some sleep before things get a bit choppy.
Tuesday 4 December  At breakfast we meet the rest of our intrepid companions. 
2 Germans – Harry on his way to Israel where he has lived for 15 years and a truck driver en route to Jordan.
2 Israelis –  David who now lives in Germany but is going home for a holiday plus a chap with a pedal bike who cycles round the world with his puppy and funds his travels with photography.
1 Cypriot truck driver returning from a pick up in Leeds.  He normally puts his truck on the ship then flies back but missed the plane because of loading delays.  Reckon it says something about the ship if even the truck drivers try to avoid it!
1 Austrian – Ludwig, a private detective going to Cyprus for a holiday and taking his car.  1 Italian – A geriatric punk who now lives in Israel.  He must be our age and has ears weighted down with jewellery and a bald head except for a pink fluffy patch on top.  He claims to be a musician and is totally weird.
2 British – Crazy motorhomers en route to Cyprus for a holiday.
What a motley crew! We have a continental breakfast which is pretty good.  Off to explore the ship where I suddenly realise how fortunate we are in having the en-suite.  The 2 showers and one toilet stink so badly I am nearly sick from poking my head in to take a video.  There’s an empty peeling swimming pool, a rusty BBQ with an assortment of broken seats, a lifeboat that looks to have been painted so many times in situation that it probably won’t move and fish hanging out to dry.  There was a TV in the lounge but it fell off in the storm last night and broke.  To avoid the rough seas the ships detours through the islands which makes very pleasant viewing.  On the bridge they pick up an SOS from an oil rig just off Israel which has come lose in the storms and is now floating out to sea.  Having spent a long time running down the coast of Rhodes we head out into the open sea and are lucky to have quite a calm night.
Wednesday 5 December  My 45th Birthday and I had visions of being on board a luxury cruise liner – wrong.  At breakfast (fried eggs and bacon) Ahmed comes in with a mini Christmas Tree and wishes me a Happy Birthday then starts everyone off singing.  Steve had previously arranged with Ahmed for me to have a "special" breakfast but things didn’t work out.  He takes Steve into the kitchen to show him what a mess the chef  made with the fruit he was preparing for me.  It’s a sunny day so we sit out on deck in the "comfortable" chairs covered with the blankets off our beds.  Late afternoon clouds appear and things deteriorate until it begins raining.  Dock at Limassol port CYPRUS at 4.00pm much later than scheduled.  Unloading is as bad as the loading was.  Two different men try to direct us off the ferry but both give different directions.  In the customs shed we fall at the first hurdle as we don’t have any Cyprus pounds to pay a £35 fee.  Can’t seem to get any proper explanation as to what the fee is for but if we don’t cough up we don’t get past "Go". We are presented with an official paper with a rubber stamp on but Steve still reckons it is for their Christmas fund.  Due to the lack of tourists the exchange bureaux and banks at the port are all closed but we eventually get offered a lift by a British man to the nearest bank machine. He’s amazed that we have come on the Ion.   Return and move through a further 3 traumatic stages to eventually be free to leave the port.  In Cyprus they use pounds and cents with CYP £1 = 90p UK. Diesel is amazingly cheap at 17.1c (19p) litre so Charlie gets a big drink.  Driving is on the left so we have to concentrate at junctions and roundabouts.  Fortunately the traffic is very busy so it is difficult to go wrong at this stage.  Limassol seems to stretch for miles in both directions so we head off East around the coast but give up trying to get out of town and settle on parking on waste ground behind the beach.  Luckily for Steve (or was it planned) we are opposite a bar which just happens to be showing the Championship League on TV.  Turn on the radio to find BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) in English which is a bit of a novelty.  Believe you can also pick up a forces TV station but have no success. 
Thursday 6 December  Up early to find people already swimming in the sea and others fast walking along the promenade.  Leave Steve in bed and explore the seafront area of "old" Limassol.  A ships has run aground in the storms and they are now making attempts to re float it.  Realise how lucky we were in the relatively smooth crossing we had.  Find at 59c (70p) shop to stock up on Christmas decorations for the van.  Having arrived without our trusted "Rough Guide" the tourist office are pretty good in supplying brochures and maps. Opticians in Cyprus sell spectacles and contact lenses at half the price of England and eye tests are free.  Following laser surgery 5 years ago I was warned to expect to need reading glasses in my early 40’s so call in for a check with good results.  Spot the Salamis shipping lines head office and report on the conditions aboard the Ion.  She tells me we shouldn’t have been sold a passage at all as they know how bad it is but will still put in a report.  Return and send Steve for an eye test which also shows he doesn’t need glasses. Set off heading East along the coast.  Limassol runs for a good 5 km and is even more tourist orientated as we progress.  A little further on at Governors Bay is 1 of only 2 campsites open in the winter.  It’s isolated and almost deserted and doesn’t appeal to us.  Join the motorway (free in Cyprus) to Larnaca and turn off by the airport to find a quiet beach for a snooze.  Get lost when we leave as the diversion in one village runs out of signs.  End up in the middle of nowhere on a maze of wide unsealed but graded roads.  Eventually flag down the only car coming our way and he leads us back to the main road.  Consequently we arrive in Larnaca after dark and immediately realise we will not be able to park by the promenade or anywhere near the place Mum is going to be staying at over Christmas.  Continue back towards the airport finding a spot on the "Fishermen’s Shelter" jetty.
Friday 7 December  Rain again through the night.  Cyprus is having the worst weather for years but it seems the rest of Europe is also suffering.    Walk into Larnaca which is quite busy.  Visit the church where Lazaros was buried – for the second time.  The tomb is empty so maybe he is up to his old tricks again?  Find an Internet Cafe CY £1.50 (£1.65) hour and get my Christmas mail sent.  The studio Mum will be staying in is in a nice location on the edge of the old town opposite the marina but with no parking at all for us.  Stop for lunch in the Blarney Stone cafe and chat to many of the British residents.  It seems we can find most things to suit our needs here except LPG gas and good weather!  The local paper reports that almost all of  the December rainfall has already fallen and many areas are flooded and suffering severe storm damage.  They even had a hail storm in nearby Ayia Napa last night!  We are thankful for a long enough spell without rain for us to explore the area. 
Saturday 8 December  The storms continue with only short pauses between the thunder, lightening, wind and torrential rain.  Drive around the ring road where there is a multi screen cinema but not showing anything we want to see.  The roads are flooded with vehicles stuck in some parts and car parks looking like lakes.  Visit Woolworth’s which has a grocery department on the ground floor and 3 more floors with other goods.  Most British products are on sale but a higher prices although my Heinz Soup is only 75c (82p) here and cheaper than on Corfu.  Park between the marina and port to walk back to the old town.  Notice in the newspapers that a stretch of the Venetian Walls surround Nicosia were blown down in the storm last night.  Could this be divine intervention as they are undergoing talks to re-open the border with the Turkish side?  Use the "Laundrette" in a courtyard behind one of the hotels.  It’s rather strange because although undercover it’s technically outdoors but for CY £1 (£1.10) there’s a large industrial washing machine and for another CY £1 a tumble dryer, essential at the moment.  Avoid a heavy downpour by nipping into "The Meeting Place" for a drink.  A popular haunt of the ex pats it is right on the seafront but still has reasonable prices.  Spot a British motorhome parked opposite and call to introduce ourselves.  Ray & Elaine from Huddersfield are desperate for company so we stay for a long chat.  Return home just before dark and shortly after Steve goes out again to watch football – that’s quite a tribute to Liverpool considering what a fowl night it is.  By the time he returns the rain has stopped and the storms seem to have blown themselves out.
Sunday 9 December  A calm night and a brighter morning with occasional sun.  Explore another area of Larnaca and notice lots of storm damage including smashed plate glass windows, uprooted trees and broken signs.  With debris strewn everywhere it looks a bit like a war zone.  The newspaper reports that Pafos and Larnaca were the worst hit areas on Cyprus – typical for us to be in one of them.  After lunch Ray & Elaine call round for a drink and tell us they have been moved on from their prime spot (not surprising really as we thought they were pushing their luck) and will be round to join us later.  Evening news reports on the worst storms in 65 years with many ships sinking at Larnaca Fishing Shelter, 2 mud slides wiping out houses, numerous cars washed away in floods but fortunately no deaths.
Monday 10 December  A very nice sunny day so we stop just along the coast for a sunbathing session.  Cutting inland we notice lots of corrugated roofing panels and debris strewn over the fields.  Our friends Karen & John have friends who live here and we’ve made contact with them.  Maureen & Lenny are at the RAF base near Famagusta and we drive to meet up with them.  Son Aaron (6) is a scream collecting anything and everything for his den. 13 year old Zoe is out with her boyfriend so we don’t meet her.  We get on very well and end up being invited to join them for a leaving party in the evening.  On the edge of the nearby village of Vrysoulles is a traditional Greek restaurant "Louloudia" popular with the people on the base.  We have a superb Meze style meal.  Too much food for me to mention everything but it included the local deep fried Halloumi cheese topped with ham, Tavos – pork in a tomato sauce with onions and potatoes and home made chunky chips.  Free brandy and the local spirit round off the meal which totals CY £8 (£9) a head including lots of drinks. 
Tuesday 11 December  We’re having difficulty getting water on Cyprus.  Although the dams are now full to overflowing they are normally in short supply so taps cannot be found on the street.  In desperation I ask at the Fire Station in Paralimni.  They say they will fill us up this once but give me a phone number of a man who delivers water by tanker for in the future.  Steve ends up like a drowned rat as he has difficulty controlling the enormous high pressure hose pipe.  Follow signs at the edge of town to the Famagusta Gulf Look Out.  CY £1 (£1.10) admission to an interesting museum, zoo and look out combination.  Learn from videos about the Turkish invasion in 1974 which sounds terrible.  From the lookout we see over the Turkish occupied holiday resort of Famagusta which used to be the main resort on Cyprus but is now almost a ghost town.  Following the coast down we climb the 168 steps to Ayios Elias Church for good views over the rapidly developing coast.  Protaras has a few Hotels open and we find a good spot behind the nice sandy beach.  After a spell of sunbathing we set out to explore.  Visit "The Greenery" bar for the 5.45pm video movie which turns out to be a very poor pirate copy shot at a cinema with muffled sound.  The 7.00pm movie at "The Rising Sun" is good quality – The Race with Rowan Atkinson which gives us a few laughs, a bit like "the Wacky Races" but with humans. 
Wednesday 12 December As forecast the rain returns but armed with a set of Harry Potter books and a pile of videos from Maureen we don’t mind at all.  Take a walk between showers and notice that "Woody’s" offer an all day cooked breakfast for CY £2 (£2.20) which tempts us even at 11.30am.  Tea, coffee or juice followed by toast, 2 fried eggs, bacon, sausage and mushrooms accompanied with big screen Sky TV.  Returning past "The Rising Sun" we get side tracked by the advertised 1.00pm film "The Animal".   Fit in a spell back in the van before the 7.00pm showing of "American Pie 2" after which Steve escorts me home then returns for the football.  In poor weather this is turning out to be a good base for us.
Thursday 13 December  The far end of the beach is known as Fig Tree Bay.  A Blue flag beach it’s a lovely spot with a small rocky island just off shore.  Continuing round the coast we arrive at the Grecian Hotel where we park up to take a walk.  It’s a fair hike down to Konnos Bay an attractive spot heaving with fishermen.  Scrambling round over rocks we eventually reach one of the more famous sea caves known as "Cyclops Cave".  Drive out to Cape Greko which is wild and windswept and quite barren.  Following the coast towards Agia Napa the terrain turns very rocky and there’s a cliff on our right.  Agia Napa claims to be the "Club capital of Europe" and heaves with youngsters in season.  Park in a new car park by the Fishing Shelter and set out to explore.  The old square is most attractive with lots of Christmas decoration and a monastery in the centre.  The main pedestrian street extends from here and this is where we start to see some of the 19 mega clubs which hold up to 2000 people.  What an amazing place, like a down market version of Vegas with most clubs having a theme.  "Bedrock" is brilliant with life-size Flinstone characters.  Others are a huge "Castle", "Titanic", "Gas" like a gas station, "Aqua Club" with an indoor pool and fountains,  "Club Inferno" with a rainmaker machine, "Shagwells" based on Austin Powers.  Music offered is Garage, House, Trance, R ‘n’ B, Hip Hop, Soul ‘n’ Swing, Funk, Old Skool, 70’s 80’s & 90’s sfunksouljazzdisco and party style or so the book says.  Glad we don’t have to choose.  Photos show the street jam packed with people but today it is like a ghost town. For anyone who survives the night clubs there are Extreme sports on offer in the day.  Bungee Downunder with 150 foot drop, Pure Bungy dropping 200 feet then Bungee Rocket and Sling Shot which are reverse versions.  Shame they aren’t open as although they are quite expensive they are free if you do it in the nude.   Return to in the evening for the Pizza Inn all you can eat buffet CY £2.95 (£3.25) which includes salad, pasta, pizza, ribs and chicken.  Just sit down to eat when the heavens open up big time.  Within minutes the road is awash (drains are as scarce as hens teeth here ) and soon becomes a stream.  Shortly after people from the restaurant rush outside as the level is over the kerb and it’s flowing like a river. Fortunately for us, having come out without raincoats, it stops abut half an hour later.  Walk around the old square which looks brilliant with fairy lights all over and 4 different Christmas scenes.  Two huge Santas recline in rocking chairs, a life-size nativity has been created, a grotto shed has carol singers and another area has an enormous Santa and lots of snowmen.   
Friday 14 December  Just out of town Nissi Beach is really nice but parking is not so good.  A little further on at Macronissos we can park right behind the beach.  Walk around the headland where there is a Roman Necropolis.  Beachcombing uncovers a huge Conch Shell (9" long), a football and 50c. 
Saturday 15 December  A very short drive to the lovely Blue Flag beach at Agia Thekla where we are soon stripped off enjoying the hot sun.  There’s a little island off shore and people snorkel and drag the bay with fishing nets whilst dozens of other fishermen use traditional methods from the shore.  Late afternoon drive to the Potamos river which is heaving with fishermen and small fishing boats.  Need to get to a phone to wish our Granddaughter Natasha a Happy 2nd Birthday so return to the outskirts of Agia Napa and settle behind the beach at Sandy Bay,  yet another lovely parking place with a great view.
Sunday 16 December  Return to Agia Thekla to make the most of the nice weather.  Tom & Margaret were here yesterday and return to chat to us.  They invite us to visit them at their Hotel in Protaras.  Afternoon drive back to Agia Napa for Steve to find a bar to watch soccer.
Monday 17 December  Join the tourist boards guided walk which starts at 10.00am.  It’s called "The other side of Agia Napa" and takes us around the back streets and then onto a very old bus for a drive out into the country.  Return to Protaras where Tom & Margaret have offered us use of their bathroom.  They visit us in the evening bringing a back of groceries which they won’t be using as they leave this week.  Reckon we must look needy or something.
Tuesday 18 December  Drive to Paralimni to visit the big "Orphanides" supermarket which sells the British Safeway products. Return to take up the offer of a long soak in the bath at Tom & Margarets.  In Tom’s rented car we return to Louloudia restaurant (where we went with Maureen & Lenny) which they thoroughly enjoy.
Wednesday 19 December   Our plans to visit Lenny & Maureen have to be postponed as Lenny’s Mum (who lives in Limassol) has been rushed into hospital.  Return to Larnaca
Thursday 20 December  Business day.  Tank up with gas for just CY £2 (£2.20) then get an oil change for CY £18 (£20).  Call in to the marina to use the washing machines.  There’s a Christmas fete on and we end up taking part in some of the games.  Steve wins the darts and I win a can of coke on the Hoop La.  Canadian Clarice puts in a good word for us with the Marina manager who says we can return and park in the marina whilst Mum is visiting.  On the outskirts of Larnaca is a big salt lake where migratory birds gather.  Find a lovely spot to park just near the mosque which makes a stunning photo reflected in the lake. A rental car pulls over and Peter, Margaret and daughter Anne introduce themselves.  On holiday in Cyprus for 2 weeks they have a motorhome in England and want to chat.  Like us they have visited Australia and are hooked.  Unfortunately they have to get back to Limassol but will find us when they come back to Larnaca for a longer chat.
Friday 21 December  A distinct lack of birds who have probably flown further south to find sun, wish we could join them.  Walk to the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque where the aunt of Prophet Mohammed is buried.  There’s also the tomb of one of the grandparents of King Hussein but the building itself is very basic and the nicest thing is the location.   
Saturday 22 December  Phone Netty and find that Mum & John have been put on a later flight so instead of meeting them at the airport we shall go to the hotel this evening.  Stroll round town and into the market.  One stall specialises in fake football kits and we buy a Liverpool one for Daniel and an England strip for Natasha.  Stall holder Dinos insists we join him for a brandy after which we decide to treat each other to a shirt.  I get  a red England shirt and Steve a green Liverpool to match Daniel and Natashas’. Spend the evening watching football in the Sun Hall Hotel bar.  Mum & John’s flight is delayed and they eventually arrive at 8.00pm looking a bit weary with Mum struggling under her usual winter cough and cold.  Their studio Sun Hall Apartments is bigger and nicer than expected with a balcony overlooking the sea and the marina.  After dropping their bags they join us in the van for a Greek salad washed down with Cypriot wine to set the scene.
Sunday 23 December  Meet Mum & John in time to enjoy the concert on the beach stage.  Carols and other festive melodies are sung in both Greek and English.  Down the back streets there is a stage with more music.  Mum & John join us for lunch then we all go back to their studio with Steve slipping out to watch a match.
Monday 24 December  A lovely sunny morning.  Walk to the laundry to get the bedding done then Mum & John join us for lunch.  Drive out to the ring road to visit the hypermarkets.  First Chris’s Cash & Carry which is not busy but has sold out of many of the special offers.  Next Orphanides which is packed but Mum still succeeds in wrestling the last loaf of bread off a man who is clutching the other side.  Mum still keeps bursting into coughing fits which would be embarrassing at the cinema so we drop them off then go on to Cineplex.  Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone is showing CY £4 (£4.50) and we are expecting queues but find none.  In fact by the time the film starts there are only about 30 people in the theatre.  The film is good with excellent casting and realistic sets.  Glad we have already read the book though which seemed a lot deeper.  Now looking forward to Lord of the Rings.  Return to the back street car park and get changed to go out on the town.  The place is dead with just a few people scattered between the bars and no atmosphere.  Settle for visiting Mum and watching "Miracle on 34th Street" on TV
Tuesday 25 December  Merry Christmas.  A warm morning with the sun occasionally sneaking through the clouds.  Walk to Mums where we make use of the bathroom whilst they go to church.  Sandy Beach Hotel offers a Christmas buffet lunch CY £10.75 (£11.85) and we are greeted with a champagne reception.  The meal runs from 1.00pm – 3.00pm and is excellent with traditional food and typical Greek specialities.  John & Steve make a lot of visits to the starters and main course sections whilst Mum & I concentrate on the deserts.  Entertainment is provided by a group of dancers who are quite good and this is followed by Greek dancing.  Return late afternoon and after Mum & John have left we watch videos.
Wednesday 26 December  Take Mum & John for a drive out around the coast starting with the river at Potomas.  There are less fishermen here than when we came before.  Then they were onto a winner as the fish farm nets had broken in the storms and the fish had all swum into the river making an easy catch.  Brief stops at Agia Thekla a favourite beach spot for us, Macronissos to view the tombs, Nissi Beach where the island is now completely cut off and Sandy Bay which is deserted.  Park at the Fishing Shelter in Agia Napa and do a conducted tour of the old square and the club area.  Out near Cape Greko we pause to inspect the natural bridge and then look in the tiny church and the sea caves below.  Through Protaras and back to the lookout for Mum & John to view Famagusta. 
Thursday 27 December   Walk around town and bump into Mum & John in the market.  Drive out round the ring road trying to find a TV to fit into our cabinet.  The British TV has a picture here but no sound and a standard TV from Europe would have no sound in England.  We need a multi system portable TV and eventually find just what we want but it is 1cm too high.  Give up in frustration.  Back on the car park I am just doing some paperwork when John comes dashing round, it’s about 4.30pm.  Mum has been hit by a car and is just about to be taken off in an ambulance.  They were crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing when it happened.  I arrive to see Mum being strapped onto a stretcher.  She is conscious and acknowledges my being there.  They won’t let us go in the ambulance so Steve fetches the motorhome and a police car escorts us to Larnaca General Hospital.  Mum is in an assessment room and after some time I am allowed in to see her.  She is talking but doesn’t know what happened, has quite a lot of cuts and her right leg is in a splint.  I stay whilst they monitor her heart and do tests.  Steve & John go to the apartment for Mums tablets then have to phone the doctor in Drayton for more information.  I stay with Mum when they take her for an ultra sound scan and then numerous x-rays.  Whilst waiting outside x-ray they wheel in the car driver with a suspected broken finger.  He is a very smart middle aged man and is devastated, asks about Mum and keeps saying how sorry he is.  On one of my visits to the waiting room to see John & Steve  I am introduced to the drivers family – his father, brother and wife who are all extremely upset.  A good few hours later they admit Mum to the surgical ward.  Unbelievably she has no broken bones and  the injuries appear to be superficial.  She has stitches in a wound on her forehead and another by her eye which is almost closed.  The right side of her face is badly bruised and swollen as is her lip and tongue which are still bleeding.  She also has cuts and is bleeding from the back of the head and her lower spine but they are not too concerned about that.  Her head is completely bandaged.  The hospital seems very efficient and most of the staff speak good English so we feel confident we are leaving her in good hands and just hope nothing crops up through the night.  Steve & John go to the police station to give a report but they tell us we need to go to the separate Traffic Police tomorrow.  Drop John at the studio and make numerous phone calls.  
Friday 28 December  Speak to Mum in hospital and she doesn’t sound too bad.  She says the British Embassy have been in touch to check if she needs assistance but as we are here she is OK.  Manage to buy a Get Well card but at the flower shop the man tells me you are not allowed to take flowers into the hospital.  Fill in a report form with the holiday representative and contact Mums holiday insurance company.  Return to the hospital where Mum has had the bandage removed from her head.  Her eye is slightly open and all things taken into consideration she is doing very well.  Visit the Traffic police and I assist John in making his statement.  It transpires that a police car was stopped at the far side of the crossing and the policeman witnessed everything.  This explains how quickly he was on the scene to assist and also reassures us that there can be absolutely no doubt the driver was at fault.  Back to the TV shop as John has had an idea of how to make the TV fit and it works so for CY £105 (£115) we get a portable multi system TV with teletext which is great.  Visit the Salt Lake for a rest and to install the TV.   Return to the hospital where Mum is not so good.  She is feeling very sick and her blood pressure is high but they still insist she is doing OK.  Back to the Traffic Police where we have to speak to the policeman who witnessed the accident and to get details of the drivers insurance.  Mention that the driver gave us his number and we are tempted to phone him to tell him how Mum is but in England this would be frowned on by the insurance company.  He tells us in Cyprus it is normal for everyone to be friendly and in contact with each other.  Steve phones the driver and his wife tells us he has gone to visit Mum and will do so until she is out of hospital. 
Saturday 29 December  John arrives just after 10.00am and Charlie automatically sets off for the hospital.  Mum is still very uncomfortable and her left eye has now bruised to match the right one but she’s a little perkier and allowed to get up and go to the toilet.  However they are now concerned about her right eye.  Yesterday they put drops in to dilate it for tests but it is still dilated now and shouldn’t be.  She is still completely with it which is a good sign.  The car driver visited last night and was very distraught but told her all about his family etc. and said they would do anything they could to help.  I’m surprised he is only 35 years old as he looked much older.  At the time of the accident he was glancing back at his dog in the back of the car.  Spend about an hour with Mum and give her feet and hands an aromatherapy massage.  Leave when they take her off for a Cat Scan to check on her brain.  Drive back to Larnaca and John helps Steve to mend our diesel heater and then we bide our time at the fishing harbour sitting out in the sun.  Arrive at the hospital shortly after Mum returns from her scan in Nicosia.  None of the Doctors are available for comment but the fact that she wasn’t kept at Nicosia is a good sign.  Mum’s well enough to be frustrated with her blood matted hair so I do the best to clean it up which makes her feel a bit better.  Steve goes off to football whilst I get to grips with the new TV but soon give up and fall asleep.
Sunday 30 December  Visit Mum who still has a lot of pain in her head.  This is not surprising when the Doctor explains to us that the x-ray revealed a small fracture in the skull (at the top of the right eye socket) with swelling around it plus some bleeding.  The best treatment for all this is to wait and let nature take it’s course over a period of time.  Meanwhile they will be assessing her every hour to monitor any changes.  Call at the laundry to catch up on the washing.  In Cyprus you have to provide your own towels etc. in hospital.  John treats us to a meal at a waterside fish restaurant where it is lovely to sit out in the sun.  A short visit back to Mum as she is very tired.  Mum is not likely to be fit to fly back to England on Saturday 5th but John has commitments and needs to go back.   The insurance company offer to fly John back on the 5th and then treat me as the travel companion and if need be I can then fly back when Mum is ready to go but will have to pay my own costs to return to Steve in Cyprus.  (This is when we realise the limitations of Mum’s insurance cover.)  In Cyprus they don’t send you out from hospital to recuperate but discharge you on the day you are fit enough to fly.  Mum’s holiday insurance company will liaise with the hospital to tie everything in, will fly a Doctor out to accompany Mum if needed and sort out onward transport to Mum’s home.  One thing less to worry about.  Steve & I return along for an evening visit.   Mum’s a little brighter and appreciates the aromatherapy back massage I give her which Doctor says is ideal. She also enjoys me reading briefly from the second Harry Potter Book "The Chamber of Secrets".
Monday 31 December  An early visit – too early as they are cleaning the wards and we have to wait.  Mum is starting to have less pain in her head but having arrived in Cyprus with a chest infection this is now causing her breathing problems which they ease with a nebuliser and oxygen from time to time.  The staff seem to be anticipating and dealing with all Mum’s problems.  The hospital was built by the Americans in 1985 as a gift to the people of Cyprus and Mum is in a 2 person room with en-suite.  It’s on the 5th floor with a fabulous view over Larnaca towards the sea.  God Bless America.  Having taken advice we now feel it is in Mum’s best interest to appoint a solicitor to deal with the driver’s insurance company for things not covered by Mum’s insurance and any possible repercussions in the future.  The Embassy put us onto a solicitor who meets us at the hospital.  We pay C£50 (£55) for him to obtain medical and police records then his costs plus our claim will all be paid by the drivers insurance.  He assures us we have a 100% case and he has never had a more solid one.  Back in Larnaca I get a phone call from the  people we met out at the Salt Lake.  Peter, Margaret and Anne come round for a drink and we sit out in the middle of the car park chatting.  Ironically the weather has been much better since Mum was taken into hospital.  John joins us for lunch then back to the hospital.  Mum’s needing more oxygen and the nebuliser so as a precaution they are preparing take Mum for a chest x-ray just to make sure her lung has not collapsed.  Meet with the rep at the hotel, shower in the apartment then return for a rest before our night out.  Call for John at 9.00am  The streets and bars are deserted.  The Country Pub has been recommended and has quite a few people there, a roaring fire and a free buffet.  Can’t really get into the spirit of things so sit in a corner.  At about 1/4 to 12 people start to pile in including young children.  Having watched the New Year in on the big screen TV we venture back onto the streets.  The promenade is heaving with people.  Fireworks are been set off over the bay, street bars have appeared, there’s a vendor offering bottles of whiskey another doing a roaring trade with scratch cards.  Once the fireworks stop the normal continuous procession of cars resumes.  Reckon the cheap fuel here accounts for people spending most of their evenings just driving round.  Leave John and return to the van having no inkling to stay out. 

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