Whilst in Amsterdam I booked a trip to Jordan, and that was to be one of three trips in 2020 with the others being Guernsey for an ultra marathon, and a tour of Germany following the Berlin Marathon. There was to be a lot of sightseeing, and so many plans made. However, even with the most detailed planning things do not always go the way you plan. I think it’s said best by Robert Burns:
“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley”
What this means is that no matter how well you plan, things out of your control can change them. In a year that started with horrendous wildfires in Australia, we soon saw the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic like we’d never seen in living memory. It wreaked havoc on those plans, and each one in turn was cancelled; but the details of those are a story for another time.
Before Germany was cancelled, the last of my planned trips for the year, I’d seen the opportunity to do a half marathon in Limassol. This was a race I’d heard a lot about, and the people that go always talk about how good it is. Due to the pandemic it meant that the date had changed to be November instead, and would work perfectly for timing. Surely the world would have started to recover by then, and things would be approaching normal?
Not being able to leave the house for anything other than one form of daily exercise, and for food shopping lasted longer for us than most. After the first round of easing restrictions, just as restrictions were going to be relaxed further, Leicester was sent straight back to the beginning, and this lasted for another month. It seemed like there would be no end in sight, and I wondered if I’d ever get to travel again. During this time though I decided to take another look at Limassol, was it ridiculous to be thinking I could go away for a mass-participation event in another country when I couldn’t even leave the house at the time?
As it was possible to reserve a place and not make a decision for a month, I decided this is what I’d do. When the time came, not only had our restrictions been eased; but looking at the statistics for Cyprus it seemed things weren’t too bad there either. They had also moved the United Kingdom from their Category C list, to Category B. What this meant in practical terms was that instead of a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, it’d be just a negative COVID-19 test that would be required. The UK also had Cyprus on the ‘travel corridor’ list meaning I wouldn’t even need to quarantine when arriving home.
I spent the next week researching what sights there were to see, and guessing how much time I’d need there. Once I started looking at flights I realised the choices were already slim, and it’d be better to arrive slightly earlier than planned. This resulted in me adding Paphos to the list, and taking the plunge: booking the flights and a tour from Limassol, and paying for my race entry. Over the next few months I wouldn’t just be keeping an eye on currency to determine the best time to purchase; but for the first time ever I’d be looking at infection rates in both countries, and keeping a close eye on the FCO advice. Travel had already changed so much, and I wondered what it’d be like to fly during these times. Has that once ordinary world gone for good?
Unfortunately the race got postponed again until the following November. It was starting to seem like I’d never leave the house for anything again, but then it started to feel like my Germany trip might go ahead, and at that point I rebooked everything for this trip as well. In the intervening months, the flight options had changed and it now meant that it was more cost effective to have an extra day in Paphos. This gave me the opportunity to book a tour from there to North Cyprus to see more of the island - it just meant seeing what was required for the border crossing. Initially this was to complete a form called the AdaPass, similar to the CyprusFlightPass, take a PCR test up to 72 hours before entry, and have proof of vaccination as a print-out.
By the time I got back from Germany, it’d been announced that land crossings into North Cyprus would not require a PCR test for the vaccinated, but you may be randomly selected to have a PCR or antigen test. This certainly made things easier, but I still kept my plans for getting a test in place, just in case. There was a place where I could get one for €25 and would have the result the next day by SMS and email. I wasn't sure if I'd need these details when completing the AdaPass or not, and realised I'd find out soon enough.
Beyond that, my plans were as before: I’d spend a day seeing the sights in Paphos, and would split the sights in Limassol across two days. I’d then attempt to visit Larnaca by public bus for a day trip, and would visit the Troodos mountains. Originally I'd have been seeing these as a tour from Limassol, but when my booking was cancelled, all tours from Limassol now had an earliest date of May 2022 for booking. It seemed likely this was down to COVID-19 and a lack of tourists. My next option was to hire a bike, and cycle there - I felt I could do it, and I'd found a handy website that provided estimates based on different fitness levels too. It sounded like it could be fun.
I wasn't that confident about the bike hire though; looking online I found very few options for bike hire, and the one I emailed for a quote I didn’t get a reply from. So I decided that it'd be better to book a tour of them from Paphos instead. I could either take an early bus to Paphos from Limassol, do the tour, and then take a bus back to Limassol, or I could shuffle things around so I'd the mountains the day before North Cyprus. This meant instead I'd need to do the sights in Paphos on the Saturday, and leave my luggage somewhere after checking out until it was time to catch the bus. This wasn't a problem in terms of time-on-feet before the Half Marathon either, as that had now been postponed until March 2022. It also meant I was likely to have plenty of free time in Limassol, and would again in just a few months after.
Without the race, my planning in terms of what to take could now be simplified as I wouldn’t need to think about breakfast on the day of the race, but I’d still want enough tech with me to cover the various photography requirements I may find.
- Paperwork (photocopy of passport, printout of bookings, etc.),
- FFP2 masks,
- Canon EOS 5D mk3,
- Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens,
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens,
- ND 16 filter,
- Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fibre travel tripod,
- Bluetooth adapter for DSLR,
- MacBook Pro (Retina 15-inch, 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM),
- Garmin ForeRunner 235 and charging cable,
- 2x batteries for Canon EOS 5D (one of higher capacity),
- Lens pen, and cloth for cleaning equipment,
- Chargers for MacBook Pro, and iPhone; along with travel adapter,
- Electric immersion heater (for making cups of tea),
- A collapsible bowl, spoon, and aluminium mug,
- Reusable sandwich bag and bag clips.
Some of these things I felt it was very unlikely I’d need, but as I wouldn’t be short on space, and wouldn’t need to move them around much, there was no harm in having them just in case. I'd reduced my battery count down to two after having found in Germany that one of the three I usually take no longer holds a charge. Fortunately even in Germany I hadn't needed to switch batteries until I'd reached Mannheim anyway, so I would probably only use one in Cyprus with the second as a backup.
I could certainly have gone into more detail for planning this, such as I had with Germany, but I felt I didn’t need to. There were parts I wasn't completely sure how they'd work out, but I'd made it as simple as possible for as much as possible. This felt like it would be a relatively easy trip; hopefully I wouldn't come to regret saying that.