Big Night Out in Cyprus’ Party Town, Ayia Napa

I’ve never been a fan of the term “girls’ weekend.” For some reason, it implies shrieking all night at slumber parties, lots of wine, and nail lacquer. I don’t think this is actually what goes on, but no one says “girls’ weekend” and thinks rowdy pub crawls and beer chugging.

Myles, Laura, and I decided to have our own weekend away in Cyprus in early June. Laura’s moving to Dahab with her boyfriend and since I’m off to Manila, and Laura and Myles are my closest girl friends in Cairo, and because they’re into rowdy pub crawls and beer chugging, we decided this merited a few days in Cyprus.

Many doubted the trip would even happen, including Ryan, Laura’s boyfriend. (I hope you’re reading this, Ryan. Doubter.) I guess I can see why, though. None of us are especially keen on planning things, so flights weren’t booked until about two weeks before and hotels until two days. But in the end, we found ourselves seated at Cairo Airport’s hippo bar sipping Heinekens on a Thursday afternoon.

I knew immediately that this would be a good trip because 1) Laura, Myles, and I enjoyed two beers each prior to boarding the plane and 2) we all gorged ourselves on airplane food because we like to eat. I travel best with people who are always hungry. (I traveled around California once with a friend who didn’t eat all day save for Skittles. I was not very happy.)

We landed in Cyprus just before dusk and were whisked through Larnaca airport with welcome efficiency. The Sixt desk was exactly where it claimed to be and was staffed by an amicable woman named Vossa who added two extra drivers to our car at the expense of one.

“I have a daughter your age in New York,” she explained. “I like to think that if I help other people, maybe people will help her if she needs it.”

Very zen and karmic – and friendly. And she wasn’t the only one. We ducked into a coffee shop to grab some extra energy before the drive to Ayia Napa and ordered iced espressos.

“Ah, those are called freya espressos here,” the barista told us with a smile.

I loved the place immediately.

Coming from Cairo, Cyprus is a breath of fresh air. Literally. Exiting the airport into the hazy pre-dusk, I could taste the Mediterranean in Larnaca’s balmy air. I took a lungful – something I wouldn’t dare do in Cairo – and we followed the signs for Sixt rent-a-car.

Driving out of the rental lot via the left lane was a heck of a lot smoother than it was in Ireland. (Sorry, Kacey and Allison.) I didn’t stall the car or run over the curb. Instead, I flung us out onto Cyprus’ A6 toward Ayia Napa and we were off through toffee-colored hay fields and rolling hills of spruce and pine. It wasn’t hard to find Ayia Napa. Laura and Myles had both been there before, and Cyprus gets an A for relatively direct roads and signage (apart from the mountains, anyway). We hit Ayia Napa just after sundown. It was impossible to miss; the road bisected a neon city with bright, seedy bars advertising toga strip clubs and margarita specials. Had the road been a boardwalk, you could’ve convinced me I was in Seaside Heights.

Fresh off the plane in Larnaca.

Fresh off the plane in Larnaca.

I’d been told that Ayia Napa was a party town, where fresh-faced college sophomores went to party at Senor Frogs. This was correct. I was pretty glad that our hotel, Cavo Maris, was 10 minutes outside of town in a slightly less chaotic town called Protaras. Plus, Cavo Maris had planted itself right on a crescent of beach that cradled the Mediterranean. Way more up my alley than a sticky bar and plastic rum buckets.

We were all a little sleepy and in that weird stupor that comes with getting a buzz pre-flight and then coming down, but this was our Big Night Out. At 26, Myles still has a few BNOs to go, but Laura and I are practically ancient and pushing 30. It was necessary to cake on some makeup and short shorts before the wrinkles set in, and Ayia Napa seemed just the place to do it.

Plus, our legs were aching for exposure to air. Cairo is not tolerant of legs and shoulders.

The bus from Cavo Maris to Ayia Napa claimed to arrive every 20 minutes, but this was a lie. When the bus did come at 10pm, 30 minutes after we’d camped out in the bus station, it compensated for lost time. I thought driving in Cairo was scary. This bus driver took his cue from the Harry Potter knight bus, whipping us around corners at breakneck pace and screeching to a halt whenever someone’s finger even thought about going near the STOP button.

The upshot was wobbly legs and increased appetite. Cypriot food is very Greek in nature, which makes sense since the southern half of the island is controlled by Greece. We opted for mezzas at a breezy outdoor restaurant that served cold pints of Keo, the local brew.

Cyprus is still chilly this time of year, so we sat shivering over keftedes and moussaka until Laura ran across the street to buy us scarves. It was kind of her, especially because she left shortly before the mussels arrived and I had to try very hard not to eat them all.

Waitin for the bus.

Waitin for the bus.

Mmmmmussels.

Mmmmmussels.

After eating, we debated where we should go for our BNO.

“That karaoke bar across the street,” Laura suggested. “It looks warm in there.”

This was a bar that, for the past hour, had been emitting golden oldies like the Everley Brothers. We could only assume the demographic was older people.

We were right. I can’t be sure why so many 50+ men and women were hanging out in spring break crazy Ayia Napa. I think maybe they were on a swingers cruise or something, but they were fun. The three of us parked ourselves in front of the beer taps and ordered drinks.

“This is a good place for three taken women,” Laura said, and I agreed. Perhaps our BNO would be some calm karaoke with the 50+s.

Don’t worry. It wasn’t.

Just before closing, we sang Man of Constant Sorrow for a crowd of somewhat confused patrons who lingered, including a tattooed woman in a bowler hat who gave us a hearty thumbs up. We insisted that the bartender give us plastic cups so we could play him the cups song from Pitch Perfect. This earned us three tickets to some after party beginning at 2am at a place called the Castle, which we somehow found.

The Castle was nothing like the old karaoke bar. There were poles that connected the bar to the ceiling, available for fit bartenders to swing on and drunk, sloshing women to clamber onto. Every so often, the bartender would get excited and throw fistfuls of neon straws into the crowd for no reason. I know this because I found clumps of straws in my purse the next morning. It was wild.

So wild, in fact, that we somehow wound up going back to our hotel in a very strange taxi/limousine hybrid. Myles sat in the front next to the driver and Laura and I sat in the way back. I don’t know why this was. We got in at 3 and sat up talking until the sun came up, which was fun, but meant that we missed breakfast the next morning, which is my favorite meal of the day.

Still, I guess it’s nice to know that we’re not as old as we thought.

Good morning, Mediterranean!

Good morning, Mediterranean!

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