Friday, February 20, 2015

Cyprus | Larnaka | Zeno | Stoics

Since childhood have always considered myself more or less of a Stoic, although admittedly I later became enamored by other philosophies, creeds, and beliefs.  The belief system known as Stoicism was founded, as most of you know,  by the Greek Philosopher Zeno (352 B.C.–255 B.C.—other dates have been proposed), who was born in what was then the city of Citium, on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. Citium is now the city of Larnaka in the Republic of Cyprus. Hoping to get back in touch with my Inner Stoic, I decided to visit Larnaka, the birthplace of Zeno, founder of Stoicism.

Thus it was that at six o’clock in the morning I found myself standing in snow flurries at the Pazartekke Metro stop in Istanbul just inside the Theodosian Land Walls. I took the first train of the morning to the Zeytinburnu stop and there transferred to the airport train. The one-hour flight to Athens left at 9:30. Of course I have heard about the economic downdraft in Greece, but I was not prepared for the Athens airport. There were maybe two dozen passengers in the transit area. Besides myself there were only two other people in the Aegean Airlines Business Lounge. This is the airport in the capital of a major European country, and it is practically deserted. Maybe thirty people finally assembled for the 1:00 P.M. flight to Larnaka. We arrived at Larnaka an hour after take off. A cab driver wanted an outrageous 50 Euros ($57.17) for a ride to my guesthouse, which I knew was only slightly more than a mile away. I offered him a ten, which he refused, and finally gave him a twenty, which I soon found out was still a ripoff.

My guesthouse, a rather humble affair inhabited by European backpackers,  down market Russians, and furtive local gay couples shacking up for the night, is a little less than a mile from downtown. Actually, one night cost a little less than the cab fare. I threw my portmanteau into my room and headed down the Phinikoudes, as the seaside promenade is called. Past a long stretch of restaurants and bars (including McDonalds, KFC, T.G.I.F., Starbucks, Pizza Hut, etc.) I finally reached the statue of Zeno. After a proper period of contemplation on Stoicism I returned to a Gloria Jean’s coffee shop (the Australian equivalent of Starbucks) I had noticed on the way to the statue and ordered a large Flat White. They are having a special two-for-one offer, so I actually got two large Flat Whites. Stoics and two-for-one coffee offers—what’s not to love about Larnaka?
The Phinikoudes (click on photos for enlargements)
Another view of the Phinikoudes
Another view of the Phinikoudes
My man—Zeno of Citium