Intercultural Shocks in Cyprus

Drive left, Paphos, Cyprus

My favorite, and already traditional post in which I always share my observation of the things that I somewhat find different from what I’m used to in my country. Here are the ones I noticed in Cyprus.

Welcome to the Great Britain number 2

I was surprised when I first time landed in Cyprus. Until I realized that the whole island had been a British colony for a very long time (until 1960), but I didn’t really think much about it before, but even now in 21st century you really feel the British influence, immediately after you’ve landed on the island.

In Cyprus (also the Turkish part) they ride on the right side so it takes a while to get used to taking the roundabout on the left, and checking the correct side when crossing the road as a pedestrian. Well, better check both sides (twice) anyway.

British sockets

But except for British driving rules, they also use British sockets, but no worries if you forget to buy a European adaptor, they are well prepared here due the high number of tourists, you can get them basically in any shop.

But what is perhaps most surprising for me, even it also makes sense in relation to the former British territory, is that all signs, titles, products, or anything else are not only written in Greek, but also in English. Plus, basically everyone here has a pretty good level of English so you don’t have a problem with communication here.

Last but not least, and at this point I’m not sure how much this has to do with the British occupancy, but there are many, really many British tourists all around the island.

Three countries

Even though that not everyone may be aware of that, it’s generally known that Cyprus is divided into two countries. The bigger part (  “southern”) of the island is officially the republic of Cyprus, inhabited by the Cypriots, speaking Greek. The other part – “northern” – is, since 1964, under the occupation of Turkey and inhabited by the Turks. North Cyprus, called by the Turks the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is an autonomous country managed by Turkey itself, but officially not recognized by any other institution. For the UN, the whole island is considered Cyprus.

Not many people know, though, that on this island we can find a small bit of another country too. Strange? Well, as a matter of fact, there are two territories in Cyprus that still belong to the UK. They are called Akrotiri – near Limassol (south Cyprus) and Dhekelia -near Famagusta (north Cyprus), and the United Kingdom still keep them as they are important military bases in the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed.

Cyprus_UK military
Source: Wikipedia

Everybody speaks English

But only on the Greek side. The influence of the former British Empire is even after the tens of years still pretty noticeable in many ways. In the Cypriot part of the island, you really won’t have any problem, even cashiers at supermarkets speak pretty good English. And they automatically do when they see you are a foreigner. 

The problem comes in the north – on the Turkish side, though. People in Nicosia and Girne are used to tourist and foreign students, so the chance to ran into someone who can say at least a few words is pretty high. If you go anywhere else, however, don’t expect miracles. English won’t work, unless you run into British people living here.

Temperatures below 25°C are too cold for locals to swim

As mentioned before, I’ve come to Cyprus to escape the Czech cold, ugly winter. Well, in February there is a winter in Cyprus too indeed, but it’s definitely much much nicer and warmer. During those three February weeks I had around 17°C, but I also caught around 20 for a few days. Still not enough for the locals, however 🙂 I’ve heard that they only dare to swim in the summer months, even though the weather as well as the sea is pretty warm in autumn/spring too. But for the Cypriots it’s just too cold anyway. While I’ve taken a dip in the sea three times, they worn winter jackets most of the time. 🙂

Swimming on Akamas, Cyprus+Swimming on Akamas, Cyprus
Akamas, Cyprus

 

Cyprus also has its own Mount Olympos

I got confused when I heard about Mount Olympus in Cyprus. I always thought the famous Olympus can be found in Greece. Well, it is true, the famous Olympus you know from all these Greek legends really is located in Greece. But Cyprus has its own Olympus, which is the highest peak in Cyprus (1.952 m), located in the Troodos mountains. The only place in Cyprus where you can find snow. 

Mount Olympos, Cyprus

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