I spent the first 23 years of my life in Limassol. I love the vastness of the sea and discovering the invisible threads that link me to it, but most of all I enjoy the warmth of its people because they are simply different. They carry the Mediterranean spirit inside themselves. Aggelina is one such person. I admire her for both her positive outlook on life as well as for her impeccable taste. Having studied costume design in Florence, Italy, she has been the curator of the Cyprus Theatre Museum since its inception. So we arrange a meeting at “her museum” as she refers to it.
Located on Panos Solomonides Street, the museum occupies a beautiful stone building. Sheltered within, is a mystical world full of theatrical eccentricities that urges you to travel – to follow Oedipus’ footsteps, to listen closely to Ekave’s mourning, and to come face-to-face with the “Madwoman of Chaillot”. Peruse intricately made costumes, props, authentic manuscripts, sheet music and enjoy storyboard sketches that are on display. Finally, choose a costume to don and portray Hamlet on stage – simply magical!
Stepping outside, I make a conscious effort to come to terms with reality. The clock strikes past three, the atmosphere is sweet and autumnal, while the air is filled with the scent of the city. The feeling is nostalgic yet modern, and the saltiness of the sea in combination with the cool breeze make you want to throw a shawl over your shoulders as you discover the city. Limassol is beautiful during this season. “Most people identify Cyprus with summer. Nevertheless, this is the time when you can truly enjoy and fall in love with the city!” Aggelina tells me. As we walk around the picturesque streets surrounding the museum, with its wonderfully preserved buildings and courtyards, the colourful graffitied walls and hip hangouts, she introduces me to an adorable, American-style café – Dear All. “I stock up on my daily ammunition here; cappuccino, brownies and bagels with smoked salmon”.
Leaving the café behind us, we find ourselves in front of a renovated building featuring hand-carved balconies and ornate metopes (plaques) that houses the Municipal Library, where Zena Gunther, also known as Princess De Tyras, lived for a portion of her epic life.
Just a few meters away, right in front of the little, orange house smothered by jasmine and bougainvillea, a sign in front reads “Michaela’s Ceramic Art Workshop”. “It is here that I vent all my artistic anxieties” she confides in me. Colourful walls, impressive sculptures, interesting figures and a small inner courtyard; “Where we like to drink lemonade during our breaks”, she adds. This lovely space also operates as a shop.
While crossing Plateia Iroon (“Hero’s Square”), which has completely renounced its infamous past as a red light district and has been transformed into a hotspot, we hit Tempelis’ café. Tempelis (“lazy”), whose best friend is a sweet, four-legged creature, sets the atmosphere inside with a wood burning stove and the serving up of smoothies made from berries from his own garden, not to mention platters heaped with Cypriot goodies such as halloumi cheese, fresh baked “koulouri” (a ring of bread), “lountza” (dried smoked pork tenderloin) and other local delicacies. Further down the street we reach Sta Ouza Mas, which has been the venue of many unforgettable and inspirational “rebetiko” (Greek blues) music events, with the crowds paying tribute to the locale’s divine orange pie. As we move on, we exchange meaningful glances at Madame, where we always seem to end up after each performance at the Rialto Theatre, to enjoy a few signature cocktails, thus ending our night in style.
Passing streets one by one, we finally end up at Pantopoleio Square and make a quick stop at a dollhouse-like café, Angel’s Cup. The smell of vanilla essence and freshly roasted coffee is so inviting it literally drags us in by the nose. “I could spend endless days and nights here” Aggelina tells me. A few small wooden tables, little frames that hold a few thoughts on the meaning of life, cozy pillows, soft lighting... We decide to hold our ground and avoid succumbing to the homemade lemon cheesecake, in the knowledge that we will end up having an early dinner somewhere close by. Classic Burger Joint is located just across the street, featuring yellow glazed windows and its juicy burgers. “There is also Living Room further down on the side street”, she points out, “with Greek flavours... bean soup, miniature burgers, oregano-seasoned potatoes, and pouches with goat, cottage cheese and pepper!”. This will obviously be the capping stone of our stroll!
It’s already dark and the city is getting ready to welcome its first regulars who have just finished their work day. “I love this scenery. I could walk for hours”, she confesses. Walking along Saripolou Street, our eyes turn to Chaplins’ window, with its rustic and atmospheric decoration. Winter moves into another “dimension” here, with beloved rock music, traditional pea soup and branded wines.
Eventually, we make our way to Ayiou Andreou Street where the “stomping grounds” of our childhood can be found. We examine the “inner world” of Character Studio, with its handmade jewellery and creative objects and pay homage to Fabio’s Gelato, an Italian gelateria that makes the best ice cream in town. We drop by Dragon of Coffee, a joyful place with table games and we crack up in front of the Duck Store where the iconic likenesses of Marilyn Monroe, Elton John and Mother Teresa, among others, are transformed into... ducks! Moving on, Aggelina grabs my arm and we sneak into Zik-Zak Street, which has a lovely Christmas feel to it! A narrow street with yellow lights, greenery and relaxed crowds enjoying hot chocolate and wine at Xouzouris and at Guest. I make her promise me that we’ll come back and sit here for a nightcap!
The truth is that I want to enjoy her company as much as possible; she has taught me the most wonderful things! I will never forget the first time she took me to Piatakia where I tasted Herodotus’ Pavlova. It performed pirouettes inside my pallet! Also the night we spent with a tray of stuffed donuts from Glykopolio having a much needed girl talk. With Aggelina by my side, I learned how to discover the brighter side of life. There’s no better way to conclude than in her own words; “Life is short and sweet, so don't waste it! There is no need to stress out about the things you don't have. Enjoy all you have”. Coming from anyone else this may sound cliché, coming from Aggelina, in her evocative voice, it sounds like the simple truth.