I am quite conflicted when it comes to the pleasures of spending a day, and particularly more in a row, at the beach. The first time I planned for a real beach holiday, as in not the high school trip style stay, which was more about bars visited in the dead of night, cheap food and ice cream parlours, but the full lying like a beached sea creature in the sun, possibly unmoving, possibly for hours treatment, I was actually excited. I’ve always loved the sea and assumed that spending time by the sea, occasionally wading into it, then splashing around Little Siren style, would be exactly as glamorous as fashion and travel magazines made it look like. And in the downtimes, I could read. What can be more wonderful than that.
Next, of course, came the reality check. First things first- I am not a good swimmer. Okay, frankly, I am a miserable one and will prefer sea walking to actual swimming, so in case the water temperature is not high enough and the shore not sandy enough, the wading in the sea part will turn into misery. Examples given: the cold, algae infested blast of the Black Sea or the asphalt and small pebble combo of most Croatian beaches, with a particular hatred to the extra sharp stones of Lokrum beach- though that is still nothing compared to our industrious co-photographer’s adventures with a local sea urchin.
Then there’s the air temperature. Which is either too low and you shiver when coming out of the water and then try to warm up with a soggy towel, either too high and any fair skinned continental will turn into toast in no time. When it comes to sunscreen, use it, absolutely, at all times, but remember that you’ll either apply to little, and get burned anyways, or too much and you will stay a pristine milky white for your entire holiday.
When arriving to your sunbed, getting rid of the sand will invariably prove a hassle- and yes I do know that a sunbed is a luxury already, and you should be able to very pleasantly spend time on a beach with only a towel. Nevertheless, I consider a sunbed and a shade the one extra I’ll always treat myself to- that and local beers of varying quality. This combo should mean that my happiness is complete, yet I’ll probably have sand crawling up my back and becoming extra itchy, the sun shining into my eye, and my book will have a sharp edge lodged into what I assume was my pancreas until a few minutes before.
I bravely soldier on, dry my back, adjust all my accessories and wait for sublime happiness to settle in. It does, for about 20 minutes, and then I get extra fidgety and want to do something beyond staring into the great wide open while pretending to read my crime novel. I ponder building an intricate sandcastle, and that enlivens my imagination for a short while, but then I realize I’d suck at it and just get more sand in itchy places. I look around me, though, and I see people who look very content with being beached, though, who knows, maybe their inner turmoil is just as wild as the waves before an incoming storm. But they look happy enough, so I decide to go for a little tour and snap some shots of people, in the hope that some of them are actually in the state of beach bliss that will forever remain elusive to me.
PS: The below beach in Larnaca is, however, very close to the type of beach which brings me as near to happiness as possible. The only thing it’s lacking is a view, but it’s very hard to have a beach with fine sand and spectacular backdrops, for those backdrops usually mean stony shores. Such a beach does exist though and it’s on Crete- I will leave its exact location shrouded in mystery though, so I can enjoy it all by myself, along the two dozen drunk Brits who accidentally stumbled upon it.
PPS: Cyprus is enamoured of Carlsberg, and many locals operate under the misconception that Cyprus holds the only Carlsberg brewery outside of Denmark. While this is not true anymore, the Cypriot brewery, opened in 1967 was indeed the first in the world to get the license. As other local options, such as KEO, don’t quite match the quality of Greek ’seaside’ beers such as the mythical Mythos (incidentally also brewed by the Carlsberg group), Carlsberg is indeed probably the best beer in Cyprus.
PPPS(last one I promise): There is a silent and mercifully bloodshed free war unfolding in the Balkans regarding the naming of what in English we do tend to call Turkish coffee. In Turkey it’s obviously Turkish, and most ex-Yugoslav states also grudgingly consent to the name, though local versions such as domaća (homemade) or more daringly bosanska kafa also exist. In Greece, though, it’s defiantly Greek coffee and if you thought you’d get along fine with that in Cyprus as well, think again- Cyprus coffee is at your service. So before you set out on your trip, practice the local version for a little while, so you can confidently order and avoid the risk of a coffee made more out of dregs than liquid out of sheer spite.