Coffee, mating grounds and mezze

#BEDN19

(c) Arte

(c) Arte

One of the things I like about Cyprus is that it’s cool to like coffee. It’s the social thing to do.

The kids these days like coffee, like me. Black. White. Decaf. Double decaf. Skinny. Tall. Grande. Extra hot. Extra shot. Mocha. Cappuccino. And with sprinkles.

They like coffee, like me.

What did we do this evening? We met up with some of my cousin’s friends down town at a place called Segafredo Cafe, an Italian coffee house on the seafront. If we were in England, the only sort of place we’d be able to meet up with friends at this time of the evening would be a pub, bar or restaurant. Yes they all tend to serve caffeine-based products too but coffee shops in the UK will most likely close around 6-7pm, whereas here they close when the last person leaves. Plus, I tend to find that in the UK, meeting up in the evenings usually involves alcohol. It’s like it’s expected of us.

segafredo-cafe-larnacaIt was so nice to sit down outside, relax and meet new people on the seafront sipping a mocha. People our age were sitting with their friends playing card games, tavli and backgammon. It’s such a different culture that people sit around playing board games and smoking, two things we wouldn’t really do in a coffee shop in the UK.

Having said that, like a pub or bar in the UK, coffee shops are the ‘places to be’ as a mating ground for scouting out ‘new talent’. If you like a guy, you find out where he likes to drink and you make sure you’re sitting in the coffee shop having a laugh with your friends, looking all cool for when he walks in. And it works.

IMG_3799Everyone seems to know each other, saying that Larnaca is so small it’s hard not to know everyone. Sitting there listening to my cousin and her friends chat in Greek was soothing because I feel at home whenever I hear the Greek language. I like to listen, only paying attention when I hear the odd word or phrases I understand. I also like it when they try to speak English so I don’t feel left out. Their English is broken but still good, and I appreciate the effort they put in to talk to me in my mother tongue.

On a caffeine high, we moved onto a small mezze restaurant for a late dinner where we were met with such generosity it made us laugh with joy. The restaurant was so busy, that the owners offered to open up next door’s room for us. When we found a table, they told us they’d bring out the mezze food as well as anything else we wanted.

If you’ve been to a proper mezze restaurant, you’ll know that they only stop bringing out food when you tell them to stop, otherwise it’ll keep coming. Pitta, sausages, cheese, ham, tomatoes, salads, potatoes, chicken, stuffed aubergine, bread, egg, lamb, pork, fish, you name it. Even when you tell them you’re full, they tell you what else is on the menu…hell, I’m on holiday, there’s no way I can refuse good food, so keep it coming! We were talking to the owners and they offered us their homemade sweet white wine, and some shots that tasted like sloe gin they’d made themselves – on the house.

St Lazurus Church

St Lazurus Church

After waddling out of the restaurant cradling my belly, my cousin and I waved goodbye to her friends and wandered through the streets of Larnaca to find the car.

It’s dark. It’s cold. Yes you read that right, it’s cold this time of year in Cyprus, especially in the evening, and there’s no one about.

There are a lot of back streets that are derelict and dimly lit. There are old buildings that are falling apart with holes in the walls and windows, and it’s strangelynot scary. It’s beautiful in an eerie way.

We pass St Lazurus Church on the way to the car and it’s wonderfully lit at night. I remember we’d go there a lot when we were younger with our grandma where we’d light candles and kiss the icons, giggling as kids.There are so many memories here in Cyprus and I hope to remind myself of them while I’m here

I feel safe here in Cyprus, and I feel like I’m at home.

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