Monday, 15 May 2017

Car [window] shopping - update

Took a trip into a couple of the car garages in Qatar to have a look at the models that were coming into Cyprus, based on what the Cyprus dealers were stating.

So, the mind is made up...

Contacted the dealer again in Cyprus and confirmed that the 3 cars that were coming into country in July were still available. He confirmed, the scheduled arrival date and expected delivery date to customer and request some details should I wish to proceed.

Shortly after, he sent me through confirmation of the order, and the bank details where to send the deposit.

Given the timings, I should be able to get it the week after I arrive in Cyprus, providing there are no delays. This will save a lot of hassle with hire cars, short term leases etc. I'm sure the car will be fine, and certainly that variant get fairly decent reviews, and it wont break the bank too much, and take away some of the risk around 2nd hand cars etc.

I got a quote from one of the banks insurance division and it appeared to be quite reasonable at ~400€/year for the two of us, which includes off road insurance and the optional trailer insurance.

You will just have to wait for the reveal in July/August!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Car [window] shopping

Does it count as window shopping if it is done over the internet?

I have been trying to work out what car to get when we move to Cyprus. So while offshore, I have been trying to look at reviews and contact dealers etc.

Cars in Cyprus are expensive, particularly western brands. Also looking for a 4x4, but not a big petrol thirsty one like you get in Qatar, as fuel prices are a lot more in Cyprus compared to Doha.

Would also like one that would be able to handle the hills and maybe a bit of light off roading round coastal routes and into the national parks etc.

The second hand market is also expensive, with cars holding there value better than the likes of the UK or Qatar. Another thing is leasing, the dealers don't do leasing options. All financing is done through the banks and interest rates are higher than you would expect.

Would also prefer new, so at least there is warranty comeback, particularly with me being away for half the year.

Contacted a couple of the garages to see what 2017 models they have coming into country over the next few months, or what the typical lead times are for orders.

One garage I spoke to, has some pre-spec'd cars coming in May and in July, and they are the same spec as what I was considering, so this could simplify things. They have also quoted me a price which is favourable. I suppose if they can get a sale without having to have a pre-spec sat on their forecourt, it makes it easier for them!

Will need to take a trip into the local garages in Qatar, to see if they also have the equivalent cars to get an idea and maybe help make the final decision.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Time to go home....(to Doha)

Well it has been an interesting trip to Cyprus.

From the hike up the hills, to the tears over school tests, to the viewing of the villa's, I think we have achieved quite a bit.

As I said in an earlier post, at least we have achieved the two main objectives for the trip:

  • School places
  • Somewhere to live

Now it will just be a chaotic next couple of months in Doha, getting the house packed up and shipped off to here.

Anyway, we left the hotel and headed for the airport at Larnaca. Unfortunately, due to a lack of concentration on my part, I can't remember what we were all yapping on about, but when you see a person in a fluorescent jacket step out into the road, you know it isn't going to be good. I took my foot off the accelerator and was ready to apply the brakes. Initially I thought he was going for the car in front, but alas no. It was the local police and they were pulling me over. Yes, rumbled for speeding. After a small discussion and and given we were heading to the airport, the nice man gave me a warning and a receipt for the warning.

Still hard to find the speed limit for the area we were in was as low as it was, as there was no buildings, nearby, no hazards or obstructions, just a flat, straight road in the middle of nowhere. Now we know to be more careful! So does the guy who got pulled over while we were being dealt with.

Making it to the airport, needless to say, N&M managed to find things to buy (aka makeup) and I also bumped into someone that I hadn't seen for a number of years who was transiting through Cyprus! Small world...

See you in the Summer Cyprus!r

Monday, 3 April 2017

Spot of shopping...

Today, we took a trip to Kings Avenue Mall, wanted to see what shops they had and what it was like.

Ok, fair to say it is no Middle East mall......a few of the shops that I definitely think will be used. First they had a Public, which is a bit like a Virgin Megastore, definitely up my street, and then usual clothes shops etc.

Still managed to come back with a mountain of shorts and tops for the kids....'just looking' 😏

In the morning before we left, I had sent a message to a couple of computer shops in the area, I was on the hunt for a high power PSU for the machine back in Doha, so I could complete the graphics card upgrade.

When we got back from the mall, one of the shops had replied saying they had one in stock, so Maya and I took a run out to check it out. It was Paphos Computers in Kissonerga, just along the road from the hotel, after clearing the confusion on where they were, Facebook said one thing, Google another, and just using the address on their website was fine! Arrived in the shop, exactly what I needed, so job done.

Maya and I headed back into the car and headed to have a look at cars, but couldn't find the garage we were going to originally look for, so gave up, but passed a large DIY shop and Maya wanted to have a look in there. It had everything from paint to Sofa's, Garden furniture to kitchenware, so a bit more than just a DIY shop.

I have a feeling when we move here, there is going to be a lot of general shop hunting!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Visit to Akamas National Park

Nice day and didn't want to do an indoor thing, so dragged the kids to the great outdoors.

We headed up towards the Akamas National Park, and took a visit to Aphrodite Baths and then followed the nature trail up into the hills.

Now, this is where we maybe could have been better planned! We hadn't a clue how long the walk was, and the maps for area were not the best, and neither were the sign posts. There was a sign at the bottom that pointed up the hill and had 2.5 km, I had it in my head that this was one of the trail lengths. There were numerous trails shows on the map, but these did appear on the sign posts.

After making it to the top, the sign gave no indication as to whether the trail to the left or the trail to the right was longer/shorter or even how long it was. We went with the left as it felt more 'down' than the trail to the right which looked it was heading up another hill.

After a while we stopped walker coming the another way and his '800m' and pointing indicated that we might be 'nearly there'. We did keep passing distance markers, in Km I must add, and by the 5 Km, the youngest was pooped. Then 6 Km came along....think we were out of water by this stage...Then 7 Km appeared, at least by now we were heading down and appeared to be on a normal wide track. We had just come down through a rocky gorge with narrow paths. When Sasha took a tumble and face planted, I thought there would have been more 'damage', but fortunately there were no scratches and just a few tired tears.

Looked like we were on the home straight, with the 8 Km marker being on the actual proper road on the way to the car park, so only another 500 m to go.

We got back to the car park and headed straight for the ice cream! Some other tourists were tasting the flavours before messing about with there purchase, must have been about 10 of them, they were taking ages. N&M had a hair appointment back in Paphos and time was already ticking, and this was the last thing we needed.

Back on the road we headed, and made it back to the hotel, only 10 minutes late for the appointment.

Good to get out and about however. Maya said around the 6 Km marker that she wants to do this 'every weekend', will just have to see how long it takes for the novelty to wear off!

Lots of lizard spotting and Maya was delighted to spot a big black snake slithering into the grass.

There were plenty more walks to do, but next time, I think we will be more prepared and not have any appointments that force us to rush!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Visit to Saint Neophytos Monastery

Today, we went out for a drive along the road past the Tala villa, round the back of the hill to the nearby monastery, Saint Neophytos Monastery, about 12km North West of Paphos.

Dating back to the 12th Century, the monastery is set in the hills. With the original chapel and tomb carved into the rock, and featuring the painted walls and ceiling. There is also a small museum with various artifacts to see.

You can read more about it here on Wikipedia:

Friday, 31 March 2017

And then the rains came!

Today, we had just been out and about wandering around, but as the day went on, it was clear that there was a storm brewing.

Out over the sea, the clouds were getting darker and darker.

Late afternoon the winds started to get up and the then the thunder and lightning started. It got closer and closer and there were several that strikes were very close as the noise was deafening.

I tried to capture some of them on camera, but you know how it is, never pointing in the right direction, or stopped and started the camera at the wrong time, or they just didn't show up on the videos.

However, I did managed to catch one strike that came out perfectly, out over the sea...

As you can maybe see in the video, it also looks like heavy rain in the distance and it looked like a wall of water slowly heading towards the hotel.....sure enough it rolled in and it tipped down as you can see below:

At least the kids made the most of it. also clears the air and gives everything a wash down!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

3rd School Visit and Villa Lease Signing!

Today was time for another school visit, the 3rd school on the list.

The International School of Paphos, was a larger school, probably about the same size as the current school in Qatar. We arrived in the school and waited in reception to meet the registrar and just people watched. You can get a lot of subtle signals just from how the staff/pupils come and go, the staff/pupils interact and the general buzz around the place. The Registrar took as through to her office and we had a general chat and then took a tour of the facilities. met some of the classes, met the school guinea pigs and had a good look around. The school had a lot more non-Brits compared to Aspire and TLC. Today was just a visit, and tomorrow we had assessments.

After we left, we had a good chat between ourselves and the kids, and in the end decided that we felt Aspire was a better fit for both the children. We didn't want (and they didn't want) the children to go to different schools, and taking everything into consideration, Aspire topped the list.

I drafted and sent emails to all 3 schools thanking and notifying each of our intentions.

That's the first key objective of the Cyprus visit accomplished - School Places!

Next up we headed up to the Tala villa again, this time we were also meeting the owner. We had agreed to take the villa and I had sent Demetra a copy of my passport the day before so that she could prepare a draft lease agreement.
While we waited for them arriving, we had another wander around. then it was time to do the business. Lease agreements signed and witnessed in triplicate. All done!

That's the second key objective of the Cyprus visit accomplished - Housing!

When I got back to the hotel, I set up a bank transfer for the deposit. Once that was confirmed as received by the owner, I would send the main advance rental payments as agreed in the lease conditions.

It certainly was a relief getting those two objectives met!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

1st School Feedback and Tala Villa 2nd Viewing

We started the day off with another visit to Aspire British School. We met with the principle (the girls waited in reception) and spent almost 2 hours doing a through review and discussions of the kids assessments, understanding individual needs and discussing how the school can provide the needs of each of the kids. This session was most enlightening and valuable. It certainly wasn't the half hour session I expected!
Fortunately, we came away knowing that the school was offering places for both the children in the next school year. We met with the Registrar again and she gave us the paperwork and a quick run down on the next stage should we wish to proceed once we had made a decision following visiting all the schools.
At this point, we both felt that this was the right choice, but would wait and see what the 3rd one was like and had to offer.

After leaving the school, we headed back up to the villa in Tala. We had arranged a 2nd viewing with the agent. I had a good look around, took lots of pictures and tried to image how our furniture in Qatar would fit in, which bedrooms would be the girls etc.

I think our minds are made up, this is the villa to lease......

We also did some timings from the villa to both Aspire and International, and they were both less than 15 minutes, which is great. Reckon there is still optimisation to be had in our routes, as still felt like a lot of unnecessary turns, but this will come with time as we explore the options more.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

School visits and assessments begin.

Today was the start of the school visits, two on the list today, of which the first also included assessments.

The first school appointment was just round the corner from hotel, we headed up and into the school reception. Aspire British School, is a relatively small school (compared to what we are used to in the UK and Qatar), with only 1 class per year. We took a tour round the school with the Admissions Registrar, viewed the facilities, popped into a few of the active classes and had a good general discussion about the place. Then it was time for the kids to do the assessments, they settled down into separate offices and went though maths and English question papers, we decided just to wait in the reception area, but could have easily disappeared out for a wander. About an hour and a half later, the kids were done. We had a follow up appointment with the Principle the following morning to review the assessments and feedback and determine if we had secured places/wait list or rejections etc.

Next up we headed west for the next school appointment, fortunately this was just a visit and no assessments, don't think the youngest could have handled another one. We arrived a bit early so took a drive round the coast a bit to kill some time.
TLC - The Learning Centre, is a very small establishment, with classrooms set within the main building and a number of smaller outbuildings. We met a number of staff on arrival and the principle, then had a sit down and discussion with the registrar, followed by a tour of the facilities and another follow up chat. We hadn't booked an assessment yet, and was going to wait and see what all the schools looked like before deciding if we should put the kids through more assessments.

Both schools had a there own unique characteristics and differing approaches, but the main thing was we felt positive about them both with nothing that induces panic in us or the kids!

See what the next couple of days bring!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Property visits

On the weeks/months before coming over, I had spent many hours scouting the various property websites looking for options.

After identifying a few options and contacting the respective sites, in the end I elected to deal with Demetra from OnlineCyprus. I had previously shared with her what I was looking for and in what general area, and she came up with a few options that were available.

We had arranged to meet at our hotel and we headed out with her to visit a few.

The first one we visited was in the hills of Coral Bay, built over 3 floors with 7bed/5bath and private pool out to the rear of the property. It was certainly an option, but I felt that the garden felt a little bit overlooked by neighbouring properties. 

The second one we visited was in the hills of Tala, and this was currently top of our list. again, built over the 3 floors, 7bed/7bath, 700m2 with a private pool to the front of the property, with amazing views out towards the coast and down into the lowlands. On top of this it had a lovely outdoor dining area and the garden was private with nobody looking down into the grounds.

The third property Demetra had identified had just recently been rented out, so she took us to visit a 4th property that was still under construction, but the owner (who was the builder) said he could have the place ready for when we need to move to the country. It was just down the road from #2. The property (7bed/7bath) was definitely still under construction, built across 3 levels,  it was still open with none of the final fit fixtures or fittings in place, in fact none of the bathrooms were even in place, just a shell with the floors and wall finishing in place and the carcass of the kitchen units. The 'garden' was just a building site, but the builder showed us where the infinity pool was to be installed and which walls on the ground floor would be closed up to form the lower level living room/kitchen/4 car garage area.

We know which one we ideally wanted, but really had to finalise schooling, to make sure the location was best/acceptable for daily travelling etc.

It was great however to get out and start looking at places at last!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

St. George Beach

Yesterday while we were out exploring we came to the end of the road heading west, and ended up at the St. Georges Beach. Didn't get a lot of time for the kids to explore, and the kids asked if they could come back again.

Woke up this morning, the sun was shining and the kids wanted to go back again, so why not! After all, with blue sky, blue sea and beautiful views, who wouldn't.😏🏖

The kids had a great time exploring the rock pools, found a couple of different types of starfish, Maya must have the photo's, as I can't find them.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Touchdown - made it to the hotel!

Well we are off to a good start, could have been better, but we made it in one piece.....

Landed in Larnaca without any problems, through immigration and out to the Sixt car hire desk. Signed all the necessary paper work showed the driving licenses, all the usual stuff.

Out to the car park, over to the car pick up area and presented with a Opel Zafira, I'm sure it will do fine, its only 12 days..

Found our way out the airport, having to remember which side of the road to drive on and get used to using a clutch again, and onto the motorway no problem.

Passed Limassol.....must be heading in the right direction.

Then we arrived in Paphos, dropped down off the motorway, and then it got sketchy, the map from the car hire didn't really help much, but somehow managed to get across Paphos and headed out west. However, we dropped down onto the coast road after the hotel, so ended up miles passed the hotel.

Got myself confused where we were staying, seen a sign and thought, "oh there it is", and headed into the hotel car park....parked the car...and emptied all the suitcases out, and started walking through the car park towards the reception.

Then I spotted the hotel sign at the reception entrance...things just didn't look right. You guessed it, we are at the wrong hotel...D'Oh! Could have been worse, could have actually made it all the way to the reception desk and made a right pap of myself!

About turn, re-load the car and we are off again...

This time, heading back towards Paphos, and spot the correct hotel this time. Parks up, checks in and off to the rooms.

I was late booking accommodation, so couldn't get into the hotel originally wanted, and then trying to find family rooms/suites at a reasonable price was pretty limited, as everything was full.

However, in the end got the last of the 2 bed suites at Capital Coast Resort & Spa, turns out it was only a couple hundred metres from one of the schools which made things a bit handier.

First thing first was to head out for a wander, find some food and get our bearings.

The kids of course needed to test out the pool, now were they in for a surprise or was BALTIC! The outdoor and indoor pools were freezing. I know who will not be going in (yes, me, that's correct).

Not a bad setting
Nice Sunset
More on the hotel later....

Let The Reconnaissance Begin!

It is 4.30 in the morning, the taxi has arrived and we are all tired!

We are heading to the airport for a visit to Cyprus......

It is simple, two key objectives:

1) Schooling, visit the 3 shortlisted schools, complete any required assessments, GET PLACES!

2) Visit villas, determine locations relative to the schools, FIND A SUITABLE ONE!

Other objectives......have a look around the area, have a bit of a holiday.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Schooling applications...

I remember the pain and suffering of completing schooling applications for moving to Qatar, and here we are again 2 years later going through the process again!

There are 3 British schools in Paphos so really need to apply to them all to hopefully get places somewhere.

The first school provided all the information and application forms etc, so they were duly filled in and submitted.

The second school is currently full and short waiting lists for next year, so no applications can be made yet. However, we have booked a viewing and entrance exams as a preliminary measure for when we go visit Cyprus at the end of March.

The 3rd school is being very quiet, no response to emails, bit strange, wonder if they are even getting our messages!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Reccy Visit...update

Made contact with another agent and have arranged a meet for when we go over for the reccy.

He has a basic specification of what we are looking for and will give us a list to review before we go over, so see if there are any we won't bother to go and look at.

Today, booked the accommodation for the visit, so that is us ready to go!

Last week I also contacted one of the relocation companies, and today they came round to do a survey. I wanted to get an idea of things before I engaged with my employer.

It will be here before we know it!

Needless to say I have still been surfing the rental websites, telecoms websites and also car sales places. Still in information overload mode...

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Reccy visit!

The flights are booked, the car hire is booked just need to sort out accommodation!

Yes, it is time to go on a reccy visit to check out the schools and do some villa hunting. With my current rota, unfortunately the school holidays don't line up, so will need to take the kids out of school. Needs must however.

I managed to use all my accumulated air miles from the last couple of years to pay for the majority of the flights for the 4 of us, so that is a bit of a boost!

I have continued to trawl the websites of numerous agencies, but still no closer to pulling together a shortlist!

This next 5 months are absolutely going to fly by!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Villa Blindness! Schools and Cars...... :-/

I have spent free time this week doing mad villa searches.

I don't know how many sites I have looked at, and how many listings of long term rentals, but my head is minced and they are all blurring into one another.

One of the hardest parts with some of the sites is 'availability'. Some of the sites make it perfectly clear when they are Rented. Very few tell you when the rented ones will be available from, and a lot of them don't tell you anything at all.

I have stumbled across some really really really nice ones, but sadly they are out of the price range! There are a few contenders to consider.

Another issue is of course location. The sites give you a general location, but I want to know exactly where, i.e. show me on Google Maps! I like to look at the earth view and see what other properties are near by, where the main roads are and what the facilities in the area are.

By pulling different information from a few of the listings, I have successfully managed to find some of them on the map. It is a bit like "Where's Wally", but for property. Swimming pool shapes, villa buildings, distance to estimates etc. all help, but it is not easy!

More hunting required.

I contacted a couple of agents this week, just to test the waters, so see what sort of response we get.

We also dropped a mail to the 3 British schools around Paphos, so see what they say, but really need to get formal applications sent. That will be a job for when I get back onshore next week.

I also had a quick look at a few car the hell can they justify those prices! This is going to need more work.

Monday, 23 January 2017

And the offers are in........

So, today was the day, the offers came in from the future employer.

Mixed emotions and time to reflect, but looks like one things for sure, we will be leaving Qatar.

The question is: will we, or will we not go for Cyprus?


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Is Cyprus Calling? We just don't know yet!

Hello and welcome to my Cyprus is Calling blog.

So what is this all about? Well, as you can see from the link in the header, I have another blog, Qatar Is Calling, which was and is all about moving to and working in Qatar. There have been some changes announced at my employer, which will result in a change of employer and possibly a change in residential status.

I say possibly because we still do not know the details yet and it may or may not have an impact. As I look towards the timings, we (me and the wife) cannot take the risk and leave everything to the last minute, and need a Plan B, just in case we do have to move out of the country, for either residential sponsorship withdrawal or financial constraints due to terms and condition changes with an employer transfer.

My wife and I had previously discussed options when I first applied for a position in Qatar about where we would live etc. etc. and Cyprus was an option. At the time, it never was needed and ended up moving to Qatar. Now the Cyprus option is back on the cards.

This blog is ultimately the Part 2 of the Life Changing Adventure for the family, with another country, so another blog.

Let us see where this takes us!