An Englishman abroad

I’m still in Cyprus and, apart from blogging on this Blackberry, it’s the first time in years that I’ve properly relaxed and disconnected from the t’interwebs for a decent length of time.

We’re in Protoras and it’s easy to see why there’s so many ex-pats. Firstly, everyone speaks English. Secondly, the sockets and electricity is all British standard. Thirdly, everyone drives on the left and the roads, traffic lights, signs and everything else is all from back home. There’s more reasons too – you can enjoy brands from home and the local Carrefour Supermarket is much like a Tesco, although there’s a lot more local veg and fruit.

This brings me onto a question. Sure, if you intend to move out here then fair play. It’s the closest home-from home island you’ll find. Sell your house in the UK and you can get a very decent home out here, complete with pool and 3 or 4 bedrooms, for around €200,000. Stick Sky TV in (which is always possible thanks to the local satellite installation company) and you’re done. There’s many ex-pats here and many local restaurants open all year round catering for British tastes. Egg and Chips, Gammon and Chips, English breakfast and so on. Buy a car, go up the newly-build motorway and get yourself some furniture or pop on a plane and, in just 4 hours, you can pop back to Britain for the weekend.

But my question, and one I can’t understand the answer to, is why so many people on their precious one or two weeks in the sun want to feel like they’re still at home. There’s an “Only Fools and Horses” bar, an Irish bar, several mock “local pubs” called something like the “Rose and Crown” and all of them have Sky TV. There’s large chalk-boards outside with, “Eastenders, 10pm” or “Coronation Steet, 9.30pm”. It’s almost as if the British Empire is still going strong and we’ve simply colonised the place.

It’s not cheap, beers cost around 3 Euros as I type. That’s more expensive than at home but it doesn’t stop people ordering Carlsberg and sitting in front of a large plasma to watch Holby City beamed from home.

I don’t get it. If I’m abroad I want to be immersed in the sights of the country. I want to see the sun set over the water whilst sitting in a bar playing local music and eating food I’ve never tried before. The trouble is that many Brits and other holiday makers want the branded bars, the stream of restaurants and the McDonalds. To be honest, I know what I want isn’t what the majority of you reading this wants. I’ll tell you how I know..

The locals are making a mint. At night, and especially at the weekends, you’ll see them cruising through Protoras. They’re not driving blinged-up bangers, they’re driving top quality motors. Last night, an Audi A6, several Mercedes, BMW’s and a Ferrari went past us as we ate. Locals were in the driving seats and, as another 3 Audi’s came past with an M5 at the rear it became clear that tourism and being part of the Euro is generating a lot of cash.

There we sat, eating at a “Caribbean style” restaurant which had house music blasting out the speakers and Sky TV on the walls. It hit me right there that perhaps our tastes had changed after all. Here we were, in a family restaurant because we wanted a good childrens menu and somewhere for Billy to play. Our miserable Polish waiter asked us if we’d like another Keo (the local beer, which is really very nice), when the owner (I presume) pulled up in a brand new Audi Q7, only stopping to block up the entire road. He walked in, took the takings and went. Yes, I will have another Keo please…