I had met an
Englishman seated at my Cafe Costa table called
Andrew at Gatwick airport en route for Zagreb and
nearly missed my Easyjet flight. He was
travelling home to Paphos and so we kept in touch
on Linkedin for a couple of years as I knew one
day I would visit the island of winter sunshine
and gentle breezes - Cyprus.
Andrew was a helpful soul and knowing I liked
traditional architecture suggested the Hotel
Kiniras in the old town in a 15th century
restored building having stayed there with his
wife Ruth before they bought their studio flat in
the old town. An introduction to the owner artist
George was on offer so I thought it would be 'home
from home'. Boy was I wrong! Photographs and
descriptions on Booking.com et al are very
The first problem in Cyprus was being
outrageously overcharged by the aggressive non-caring
mafioso taxi drivers on arrival at the airport.
Unknown to me there is a ring at the airport
which certainly gives a bad impression. Beware!
My driver begrudgingly called the hotel on his
mobile to find out exactly where it was located
as the traffic had been diverted due to ugly
roadworks for the Paphos, City of Culture, 2017.
George was not around. Why? Because, without
telling me, he had gone to the airport to pick me
up! It was in George's car, when he finally
arrived at the cafe where I had been dumped,
with an French African girl, that I discovered he
spoke excellent French and had lived in Paris.
From then on we always spoke in French.
Back in the hotel which I had booked for a week
with the idea of staying longer, I was hungry so
cauliflower soup was on offer with orange juice
served in a litre carton, not in a glass. I was
then shown to my basic ground floor room which
George told me was only for his family despite
having the rates posted on the back of the door.
The window looked out onto no-man's land with
gravel so not exactly picturesque.
I was exhausted after a long flight and, after
dinner in the hotel's traditional restaurant,
fell into bed, peeling off my leggings, leaving
my socks and shoes caught up inside the ends of
my leggings, on the floor. The next morning I was
late for breakfast so I left my nightie on and
just went to the adjoining restaurant without
locking the door, wearing a wrap over my long
gown and slippers, too lazy to pick up last night's
clothes left on the floor. A bad habit left over
from my childhood as the spoilt little girl
Gillian Tessa would leave her clothes and
knickers on the floor for her mummy, Peggy, to
put away. A bad habit that has been with me
throughout my life.
I speak basic conversational Greek which is
obviously limited in a crisis. There was no sign
of George at the breakfast bar, just an elderly
village woman dressed in traditional black, her
head covered with a patterned scarf, forever
brushing the floor with a broom. I smiled with a
'Kali mera!' and got a nod back. Breakfast was
abundant and delicious. Suddenly the same woman
appeared at my table clutching a blue plastic bag
containing my soaking wet vest, black leggings
and socks. 'Nero pandou!! Nero pandou!' She cried
thrusting the bag at me. What did she mean? How
could there be water everywhere? I got up
accompanying her to my room. The door was wide
open. My window closed and the woman wildly
gesticulating 'Nero, Nero!!!' I was livid. Wet
clothes and no water. What the hell had she been
doing with my clothes and why was she in my room
in any case without my permission at such an
early hour leaving the door wide open?
Worse still, George arrived and agreed with the
hysterical woman about the water being everywhere!
I finished my interrupted breakfast and demanded
my wet clothes be dried. Fortunately I had
another vest, socks and leggings but where were
my lovely German red leather shoes? I searched
high and low. Tipota! I called George again for
my shoes. Of course he knew, out on the window
ledge drying! They could have been stolen. One
red leather shoe was soaking wet and t'other dry!
One must have gone in the washing machine and the
other not. Obviously it had got caught up in the
leggings. Mon Dieu!
I decided to leave this chaotic uncomfortable
hotel before there were more Greek dramas. George
tried to charge me for the whole carton of orange
juice too, not a glass. Fortunately I was meeting
Andrew and Ruth for lunch and had found another
hotel, The Roman, between the old and new town
that was just my style with ornate frescos,
catering to Russian tourists with a roaring log
fire in the Romanesque lounge.
An apologetic George turned up at my door for the
keys to say 'Adieu' before going to the Sunday
Greek Orthodox Church service. He knew I would
not be staying the agreed week! Thankfully I had
booked privately and not prepaid. One night was
enough chez George! I never asked if the
woman with the broom was a witch or his wife!
A lesson to be learned. Don't leave your clothes
on the floor! I got my revenge, however, by
writing a brief resume of my 'watertight' story
at St Benedict, Hastings on Xmas day 2017.
Read on 'Your voice matters' on BHCR on 29.12.17.