I must start by stating that I'm not a fan of shopping. Large malls, bright lights and rows and rows of things to buy are of little interest to me.
On the other hand, I don't utterly loathe shopping. Sometimes, it has to be done, after all, and I'm thankful to be able to buy what's needed so easily. I'm also glad to be living just a few minutes' walk from a smallish supermarket, an excellent fruit shop, and two or three very good bakeries. Then there's a local gift shop (of sorts), a shop that sells coffee beans, a couple of pharmacies, and - just around the corner - a useful small hardware shop. Now we've lived here three years, I can usually pop out (preferably at about 7am at this time of year), buy what I need within five minutes or so, and return home promptly. What more could anyone want?
(I should, for the sake of transparency, probably add that bookshops are not categorised in the same way as regular shops. I can spend a LONG time browsing in a bookshop. Second-hand bookshops, if well-supplied and reasonably well-organised, are even better. I like charity shops too, and car boot sales, and even jumble sales so long as they have book sections. And I LOVE online bookshops)
Summary of the rest of the post, for those who don't like long-winded rambling: we did some shopping this morning.
Long version of this morning:
When the boys lived at home, Richard (who, strangely DOES like shopping) and I made a once-a-week trip on Fridays to Metro supermarket, where we usually filled a trolley easily. Since they have both left home, we now go once every two or three weeks. I would much rather pop out a few times per week to the local supermarket anyway, unless we need really heavy things such as cat litter.
We didn't need to go to Metro today. But I did realise, yesterday, that I needed a new photograph album. A few years ago, I spent a lot of time searching Larnaka for suitable albums (I prefer the slot-in variety that holds about 300) but I now know exactly where to buy them - at Estia. Which doesn't open at 7am, as far as I know, and - worse - is near the sea-front. Not five minutes' walk from our house, but about twenty. No problem at all in the winter months... but I didn't want to wait four months before filing away the last few photos that arrived recently.
Richard also realised, yesterday evening, that we needed a few items for our guest flat. A fluorescent tube had blown, and the bathroom door wasn't closing or locking properly. So we decided to go out, with the car, to do a little shopping. Or, as they say in the USA, to run a few errands. This might not sound like anything remotely interesting (or worth blogging about), and perhaps it isn't. Except that it's not something we do very frequently. Estia is in the town centre, and we prefer not to go there by car.
Still, since we were going anyway, we called by the PO Box to collect mail, and for me to post another small parcel (containing almonds, chocolate and herbal tea-bags, just under 300g) to send to Daniel on the Doulos. I send these by SAL, a special Cyprus style delivery standing for 'Surface Air Lifted'. As far as we can gather, it means airmail speed at surface mail prices. I'm not entirely sure why anyone would use any other method of posting parcels internationally... but I suppose that's how they effectively tax newcomers to Cyprus more heavily.
Richard was able to stop outside Estia, so I dashed in. Last time I went there (probably 18 months ago) they only had one album of the sort I wanted. Today there were about ten, so I decided to be extravagant (they were marked at 9.75 euros each), and picked up two of them. I took them to the elderly woman at the counter, who speaks almost no English but is very friendly.
I handed her a twenty-euro note.
She smiled at me, then pulled our her calculator. DEE-scount', she said. Of course. I was buying two albums, so naturally they wouldn't charge me full price...
She clicked away on the calculator, then turned it around so I could see. 1.75 was showing. Was that my discount? Was it a percentage, perhaps? The change I would expect from my twenty euros?
She then opened the till, and removed a one euro coin, which she handed me with another beaming smile.
I wasn't going to query it. Richard probably wasn't parked legally, and since I had only been expecting fifty euro-cents change, I could hardly quibble at being given twice as much.
Next we went to the shop that sells fluorescent tubes. We needed one four foot long... and Richard found it quickly, for 1.58 euros, while I sat in the car.
This, I thought, is my kind of shopping. Go to the correct place, put the car outside leaving one of us inside in case it's not a legal parking space, pop in, buy the item, return to the car.
Finding a fitting for the bathroom door wasn't so easy. First we went to EOL, Richard's favourite hardware shop, knowing that if they didn't have it they'd suggest places that might. As indeed they did: Mastris and NEC.
Mastris was not far away, so we went there first. They told Richard that the door fitment was too old - that they didn't make it that size any longer. They suggested a shop called Capella.
So Richard tried NEC, and again was told they didn't have it. So he walked the short distance to Capella, and was successful. Something else we'll know for next time, if another door closing mechanism fails.
By then, we'd been out for nearly 40 minutes, but the car has air conditioning and we were, at least, buying what we needed without too much difficulty. All that was left was to buy some diesel for the car, and then call into the fruit shop. I could have walked there, of course, but I wanted to get a watermelon and even the lightest ones are several kilograms. And by then it was 9.45 and getting rather hot out.
So we got the diesel, then I bought slightly more fruit and veg than I would normally, knowing I didn't have to walk home with it. Richard chose the smallest watermelon, which was still nearly 7kg (and cost us the grand total of 1.50 euros).
All in all, a successful shopping trip. Definitely preferable to the ones where one doesn't find anything one wants - or (worse) the 'window shopping' kind where one doesn't know what one wants anyway and doesn't necessarily expect to buy anything at all.