On Sunday the clocks rolls back an hour. Winter will start officially. And I hate winter. I hate cold and its friends; the grey days and the long nights, which always make me melancholic. This year though, I will beat the winter blues and you will do the same with me, because I found out how to do it!
Get out in nature
Yes, unfortunately, working out is the best way for all you busy people out there to beat the winter blues.
Do not dare to say that you do not have time because even 20 minutes of fitness a day, have been proven to produce endorphins (happiness hormones of happiness) and can really help one feel healthy and balanced.
There are plenty of gyms in Cyprus, but to me personally, the thought of a gym creates a panic attack. I definitely prefer to combine working out with nature which enhances my sense of liveliness, reduces anxiety and increases creativity.
Athalassa National Park
My favourite place to walk is Athalassa National Park. Located on the south-eastern edge of Nicosia it is an oasis of greenery set across an area of 840 hectares, with many endemic, indigenous and adventive trees, shrubs and herbs. Its network of trails – covering 20 kilometres – makes it a popular place for cycling, walking and dog walking (on a designated pathway).
The Botanical Gardens are open daily and are free of charge to visit, whilst the grounds of the park also incorporate a Visitor’s Centre that provides information about the environmental features of the park. A scale model replica of the park shows its basic natural features, vegetation and recreational facilities, whilst dioramas give three-dimensional representations of the area’s vegetation, 173 species of birds, 7 species of mammals, 6 species of reptiles, two amphibians and numerous butterflies.
Pedieos Linear Park
My second favorite place for waking is the 14-km Pedieos Linear Park, where one can admire the changing colours of nature, listen to the songs of the frogs, smell the aromatic plants and herbs, and for a moment feel lost in the countryside.
Molos and the pedestrian street in Dassoudi are some of the reasons I envy the citizens of Limassol. What else can one want but jogging while smelling the sea? Nearby there are cafes, restaurants and a playground. There are also ramps available to help people with disabilities.
Ayia Napa Sculpture Park
An original walk in the nature is located Ayia Napa, at the crossroads of Kavos Greco and Kriou Nero Avenue, where there is also a crossroads of nature and art. I am talking about the Sculpture Park, where in every step you are greeted with the combination of the panoramic view of the Mediterranean along with imposing and majestic works of art, that turn 20,000 squares into an open-air artistic workshop.
Make volunteering a way of life
I will not mention the self-evident benefits of helping those in need: we are all guests in this great “village” and it is our duty not to look away from the pain of fellow human beings and to help in any way we can. Apart from the fact that it is the moral thing to do, altruism is proven to give us a sense of purposefulness. It reduces cortisol levels (responsible for stress), makes us happier and lowers the risk of premature death.
How can you do this? By support these non-profit organisations:
Alkionides Charity aims to aid our fellow citizens by providing financial support to patients, students or the needy, meeting their medical or daily needs. You can contact them at 22 361295.
Sophia Foundation for Children
There are three ways to help this truly wonderful organisation. You can make contributions through their website www.sophia-foundation.com. The money is used for their countless help schemes, which include covering the basic needs of children (food, clothing, medical coverage, training), building hospitals, repairing orphanages, and more which you can see in detail on their website.
You can also register in a child adoption plan, where with only 20 euros per month you will help a child eat, have clothes, have access to clean water, get vaccinated, cover its medical expenses and go to school.
Finally, you can shop at the “Mikromagazo” located on the ground floor of the Mall of Cyprus. By buying an elegant handbag or a stone-made hippopotamus you give the opportunity to a young unemployed woman in Kenya to work and maintain herself and her children.
Try new spots
I know, I know! It’s cold outside, it’s all dark and you don’t feel like moving. You cannot even think of abandoning the warmth of your home, your pajamas and your blanket, your couch that understands and supports you, literally and metaphorically. And yet, my friend, you have to be strong. It doesn’t have to be every day. Once a week is enough. Go out to see the world.
The Weaving Mill
If you’re after a warm and cozy atmosphere, which will feel like you’re at home, but not actually be your home, try the Weaving Mill book club in Nicosia near Faneromeni. There you can have a hot chocolate or some wine, while chatting with your friends or reading a book.
Lefkonos, Nicosia, 99 409900, Monday-Sunday: 10:00-22:00
Kika’s Garden Homemade Food & Produce
If you prefer the light of the day for socialization, you must definitely visit the magic garden of Mrs. Kika! Here, in the middle of the beautiful countryside, you will sit out in nature and enjoy the delicacies they prepare for your breakfast.
Theodorou Kolokotroni 17, Kallepia, Paphos, 99 459400, Thursday-Sunday: 10:00-15:00
Brew Bar Starbucks
If you are one of those crazy people who drink coffee even in the evening (how do you sleep?), then you have to take a look at a place that was especially made for you. With a chic atmosphere and a Mad Men-like decoration (Don Draper would surely have drunk his coffee here), Brew Bar Starbucks stays open from 08:00 until 00:00 and from Friday to Sunday until 00:30. Watch the baristas as they raise your coffee to the next level, using alternative extraction methods and state-of-the-art technology.
Enaerios, Limassol, Monday-Thursday: 08:00-24:00 (stays open until 24:30 from Friday to Sunday)
I saved the best for last. I cannot describe how I feel for this place. There is no melancholy, anxiety or worries here. In this space, you will experience the harmonious synergy of man with nature. Between the idyllic and luxurious gardens of Columbia Beach Resort, there is a beautiful stone-built building with large and tall windows, so that one can enjoy the incredible surrounding views and the sea below. At Apollo Tavern you will enjoy Mediterranean cuisine in a five-star quality environment.
Columbia Beach Resort, 25 833000, Tuesday-Sunday: 12:00-24:00