Monday, 17 August 2015 21:44

The annual disappearing act returns

A common sign in the streets of Limassol in August  A common sign in the streets of Limassol in August

It’s mid-August and – once again – Limassol has emptied. Maybe to a slightly lesser extent than in previous years but, still, I’ll probably never get used to it. “How does most of a town just shut down?!”

marvel each year. Yes, it’s hot out; yes, August 15 is a big holiday; yes, school’s out and people take their annual vacations, but everyone at the same time? Being a bike rider, I probably notice it more than most, but the streets really are empty. The same streets that were bumper-to-bumper with cars a week ago are now a ghostly void.

I know little about economies, but surely this cannot be good for business. Without a doubt, gas stations for one see a fraction of their customers with the roads being so bare.
Did all those places close because there are no customers or did all the customers leave because there’s nothing open, one is inclined to ask.

Talking to some local business owners, I discovered some are closing for shorter periods in summer out of economic necessity, but won’t it take time to change that pattern? To get the message out that: yes, it’s mid-August but we are open for business?

I often wonder as I ride to work on empty streets, about the other half, who, like me, do not take any time off. Do they just hide at home until things come back to life?

With my birthday falling on that auspicious August 14, I should be happy to be assured a day off every year – or even a long weekend – but can’t help feeling a bit lost each year.

A little research on this ‘annual disappearing act’ of Limassolians made me find out that they are not alone. In Italy, I am told, many towns go absolutely dead for all of August. Even parts of Paris apparently become a bit spooky mid-month.

Imagine being a tourist, thinking you’ve come in high season (and certainly having paid high season prices) and then arriving in the centre of town to find most cafés and streets devoid of humans. I guess it’s time to relax, time to hog all of your waiter’s time, talking to those shopkeepers who are there – surely they must be particularly keen to have your custom.

I’ll certainly make it a point of going out there, looking around, nosing about a bit and if nothing else, buy something at the small grocery stores in my area that have decided to stay open.

It’ll be interesting to watch how things develop, attitudes change, businesses adapt in the years to come. Hopefully the empty streets will become a little more lively, bringing business to shops, customers to bars and restaurants and maybe even have people do business, being in a holiday mood while in town.

As published in The Cyprus Weekly of August 14, 2015 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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