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Paphos January 2017
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

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 et al are very deceptive!

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 on TripAdvisor!

Written at St Benedict, Hastings on Xmas day 2017.
Read on 'Your voice matters' on BHCR on 29.12.17.