By Michael Olympios
The pandemic has disrupted everything from work to shopping. Activities like dancing or gym workouts that keep people in shape and good spirits are restricted.
Socialising through dining or drinking is a thing of the past.
People everywhere are encouraged to stay home and avoid contact with friends and relatives, let alone colleagues and strangers.
Social life has become anathema for the spread of Covid-19.
We look at old pictures to see how anniversaries and parties used to be.
With leisure time-limited by work, weather and social restrictions, there’s a shortage of choices regarding what one can do and enjoy some quality time with the few people that current limits permit. But there are choices, as many people have already discovered.
Watching TV and reading books are undoubtedly good choices when it comes to spending time indoors.
But what about the time we have to do things outdoors?
Spring has come earlier than usual, perhaps as a result of climate change.
Whether one lives in the city or a coastal town, walking is the obvious choice that comes to mind.
Famagusta, Larnaca and Limassol have excellent roads and promenades on the sea exclusive for pedestrians, making them ideal for running or walking.
Even the capital Nicosia, the least attractive city in Cyprus, has many options for walking and running safely, not just in the centre but also in the suburbs.
And with fewer cars, cycling is the best way to commute and exercise.
But many people take cycling on a different level.
Some enjoy stashing every family bike onto the car and take to the countryside where the whole family can ride safely and enjoy the Spring colours.
Usually, Cyprus is hot and dry with hardly anything green.
The fresh air and the freedom enjoyed by anyone on a bike is reaffirming family bonds, so crucial now more than ever.
For many families, this bonding opportunity is essential to help them go through the pandemic’s heart-breaking restrictions.
Children get hungry and tired when they prepare to return home, and everyone feels happy and satisfied.
Another relatively new activity for many locals is hiking.
Often in less than an hour’s drive from a major city, one can find dirt roads and discover Cypriot nature. The higher one gets up the Troodos mountains, the more hiking opportunities one can find.
Although Cyprus doesn’t enjoy the variety of wildlife of the tropics or Latin America, it does offer many options for those who enjoy walking in forests and listening to birdsongs or wildflowers.
And all this magnificent nature at the cost of more muscular legs.
But like every other outdoor activity, it requires some preparation, both physical and logistical.
You need to carry water, fruit that can supply instant energy like bananas and some sandwiches to keep the body full of fuel.
One of the most amazing places I have visited in the last couple of months was the dam near the village of Lefkara, a short distance both from Larnaca and Nicosia.
I took pictures of pine trees that surround the artificial lake with the semi-mountainous area.
Without realising, I ventured on the dirt road in search of a better shot. And I think I took it.
My pictures became an instant success on social media, and many people expressed their amazement at the natural beauty the place had to offer.
And those who don’t have the stamina for adventure walking can resort to something more creative – photography.
Social media is full of fabulous pictures taken from ordinary people around the island.
And with a little bit of extra editing, many have found a new creative activity that is more fun than drinking beer.
Take it from someone who is a big beer drinker, especially during the summer.
Armed with a digital camera, even your average smartphone packs a good digital picture that enables one to take amazing shots and feel like a pro.
Finally, taking a walk or short family walks by the beach is both pleasant and useful.
Children get to play as they trail their parents.
And without the risk of catching the virus in open spaces, everyone can resort to different exercises and beach games.
Now the weather is so pleasant even staying in the sun is fun.
After all, people travel thousands of miles to get to these beaches, dreaming to have the chance to do what we can just half an hour’s drive away.
Not a bad deal.
Michael Olympios is an economist, business consultant and Editorial Consultant to the Financial Mirror