Sunday, 31 March 2013

Eat: Goodburger in Nicosia

When the need for a burger arises there are two routes one can take; the fast food Macdonalds style burger or a luxurious handmade burger with fantastic sides, Limoncello style (as discussed here). So when the boyfriend told me that there is a burger in Nicosia that combines both, well my stomach started doing shivers of excitement! 

Goodburger is that place. A New York burger house that has landed in the centre of Nicosia on Larnakas Avenue and can deliver to your door! They have a mind blowing choice of burgers; approximately 30 different types of beef, pork and chicken burger which mean reading the menu is a small achievement in itself. After much deliberation I narrowed my choice down to three. 

The Las Vegas (beef burger with cheese, caramelised onions and sautéed mushrooms), The Texas (beef burger with bbq sauce, bacon, cheese and onion rings) and The Tennessee (pork burger with bbq and Jack Daniels sauce, cheese and bacon). 

Seriously....how can you decide. In the end I opted for the Texas and oh my was it a taste bud sensation. Perfectly cooked burger, toasted sesame bun, all the extras crammed in tomato and lettuce, plus potato wedges and pickles on the side.



And for delivery everything comes in a great little box; I particularly appreciate the fact that the burger is left open for you to make as you wish. There is nothing worse than peeling soggy bun off melted cheese and trying to add more sauce etc. These guys have a good thing going on. 

Most burgers average at €8 which includes the wedges/pickles; there is also a great long list of classic and tempting extras like onion rings, cheese sticks and for the healthy people among us, side salads! 

And they cater for the veggies among us with a classic veggie burger, portobello mushroom burger and a fried shrimp burger for the fish people. 

If you want a big juicy burger, with a fast food feel, delivered to your door, give Goodburger a whirl! Visit their facebook page here, for more details. 


sunday sound #13

Thursday, 28 March 2013

midweek mix (on a thursday)

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Expats Blog Writing Competition: an insiders top 10 in Cyprus!

Thanks to the guidance of a wonderful friend that goes by the name of Aphrodite (otherwise known as The Time Out guide to Cyprus) I have seen, experienced and more importantly tasted my way through the past 2 years in Cyprus. 

And since the Expats Blog writing competition theme was top tips for expat life in your country, I thought I should share my secret loves of this island. I have to warn you, there are multiple mentions of food. Well it wouldn't be right if I didn't tell you the best places to go and eat now would it! 

As always I would love your support. You can find my entry here: Expats Blog/An Insiders Top 10 for Expat Life in Cyprus; please take a few minutes to read it and share your comments in the box below. 



And if you need a personal tour guide for Nicosia, I take dinner as payment! 



Wednesday, 27 March 2013

food: Oatmeal + Raison cookies

Funnily enough I have a soft spot food - not sure if I ever mentioned it before.

And over the long and lazy weekend, that saw me go from one pair of sweat pants to another, I decided baking was a good idea. Now I am not much of a baker; I wish I was. Although if I was actually good at it, I would probably be a thousand pounds heavier and on brink of a heart attack from one too many cookies. But i digress.

Given the current scenario we are faced with, there is no way on earth I could justify spending my hard earned euros on baking supplies. Luckily for me, I just so happened to have all the necessary ingredients in my cupboards for cookies. Step forward oatmeal + raison cookies!

I followed this recipe, but halve the measurements because i didn't have quite enough of everything to do the full batch. And I am pretty please with the results.

My experience told me that cookies should be taken out of the oven promptly (one too many burnt cookie situations taught me that) and I found for small size cookies, the 11 minutes was just perfect.

apologies for the awful photograph - I was too busy eating with the other hand!

Eh Voila. Soft, chewy oatmeal and raison cookies.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Cyprus Bailout: Deal or No Deal?

My intentions were good. I was going to stay up and wait for news of an agreement, or no agreement if that was the scenario we were faced with. But with the boyfriend away and my understand of Greek not quite up to the standard required to follow live broadcasts of political/economic discussions, I gave in. 

And overnight, finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. A Deal! Cyprus future is a little more secure than it was 24 hours ago; however that doesn't mean there wont be heartache and suffering. At this stage, I am sure everyone will be affected one way or another. Laiki bank is set to be closed, depositors with over €100,000 will be hit with higher levies than the one the government rejected just a week ago and the affect on the general population of this Mediterranean island is yet to be seen. 

Now the questions start; how is the plan going to be implemented? Is my job safe? How will small businesses survive? When will restrictions on banks and the movement of money stop? Yes, the light at the end of the tunnel is a now a big spotlight shining us in the face, but right behind that is more darkness, uncertainty and anxiety. 

While I would love to explain the details, I think its better coming from the horses mouth. Below is a statement released by the Eurogroup which gives more detail about the plan for Cyprus. 


The Eurogroup has reached an agreement with the Cypriot authorities on the key elements  necessary for a future macroeconomic adjustment programme. This agreement is supported by all
euro area Member States as well as the three institutions. The Eurogroup fully supports the Cypriot  people in these difficult circumstances.
The programme will address the exceptional challenges that Cyprus is facing and restore the viability  of the financial sector, with the view of restoring sustainable growth and sound public finances over
the coming years.
The Eurogroup welcomes the plans for restructuring the financial sector as specified in the annex.  These measures will form the basis for restoring the viability of the financial sector. In particular, they
safeguard all deposits below EUR 100.000 in accordance with EU principles.
The programme will contain a decisive approach to addressing financial sector imbalances. There will  be an appropriate downsizing of the financial sector, with the domestic banking sector reaching the
EU average by 2018. In addition, the Cypriot authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to step  up efforts in the areas of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and privatisation.
The Eurogroup welcomes the Terms of Reference for an independent evaluation of the  implementation of the anti-money laundering framework in Cypriot financial institutions, involving
Moneyval alongside a private international audit firm, and is reassured that the launch of the audit is  imminent. In the event of problems in the implementation of the framework, problems will be
corrected as part of the programme conditionality.
The Eurogroup further welcomes the Cypriot authorities' commitment to take further measures.  These measures include the increase of the withholding tax on capital income and of the statutory
corporate income tax rate. The Eurogroup looks forward to an agreement between Cyprus and the  Russian Federation on a financial contribution.
The Eurogroup urges the immediate implementation of the agreement between Cyprus and Greece  on the Greek branches of the Cypriot banks, which protects the stability of both the Greek and
Cypriot banking systems.
The Eurogroup requests the Cypriot authorities and the Commission, in liaison with the ECB, and the IMF to finalise the MoU at staff level in early April.
The Eurogroup notes the intention of the Cypriot authorities to compensate potential individual victims of fraudulent practices, in line with established legal and judicial procedures, outside the
programme.
The Eurogroup takes note of the authorities' decision to introduce administrative measures,  appropriate in view of the present unique and exceptional situation of Cyprus' financial sector and to
allow for a swift reopening of the banks. The Eurogroup stresses that these administrative measures will be temporary, proportionate and non-discriminatory, and subject to strict monitoring in terms
of scope and duration in line with the Treaty.
Against this background, the Eurogroup reconfirms, as stated already on 16 March, that – in principle - financial assistance to Cyprus is warranted to safeguard financial stability in Cyprus and the euro
area as a whole by providing financial assistance for an amount of up to EUR 10bn. The Eurogroup  would welcome a contribution by the IMF to the financing of the programme. Together with the
decisions taken by Cyprus, this results in a fully financed programme which will allow Cyprus’ public  debt to remain on a sustainable path.
The Eurogroup expects that the ESM Board of Governors will be in a position to formally approve the  proposal for a financial assistance facility agreement by the third week of April 2013 subject to the
completion of national procedures.
Annex
Following the presentation by the Cyprus authorities of their policy plans, which were broadly  welcomed by the Eurogroup, the following was agreed:
1. Laiki will be resolved immediately - with full contribution of equity shareholders, bond holders and uninsured depositors - based on a decision by the Central Bank of Cyprus, using the newly adopted
Bank Resolution Framework.
2. Laiki will be split into a good bank and a bad bank. The bad bank will be run down over time.
3. The good bank will be folded into Bank of Cyprus (BoC), using the Bank Resolution Framework, after having heard the Boards of Directors of BoC and Laiki. It will take 9 bn Euros of ELA with it. Only
uninsured deposits in BoC will remain frozen until recapitalisation has been effected, and may subsequently be subject to appropriate conditions.
4. The Governing Council of the ECB will provide liquidity to the BoC in line with applicable rules.
5. BoC will be recapitalised through a deposit/equity conversion of uninsured deposits with full  contribution of equity shareholders and bond holders.
6. The conversion will be such that a capital ratio of 9 % is secured by the end of the programme.
7. All insured depositors in all banks will be fully protected in accordance with the relevant EU
legislation.
8. The programme money (up to 10bn Euros) will not be used to recapitalise Laiki and Bank of  Cyprus.
The Eurogroup is convinced that this solution is the best way forward for ensuring the overall viability  and stability of the Cyprus financial system and its capability to finance the Cyprus economy.



Read my other post on the current situation in Cyprus here and here and here

is it too early to buy a bikini?

The sun has been making it's presence felt more and more over the past few days and temperature feels positively spring like in Cyprus (i'm sorry for any UK based readers who are battling with snow and freezing temperatures). 

And so it's only natural that my mind has been wandering towards swimwear for the a new season. Especially since pinterest seems to have been feeding this idea with conveniently placed pins that scream summer at me. 

It does seem a bit ridiculous to buy a bikini in March. Especially since the economy in Cyprus is in such a delicate balance and who knows what is going to happen over the next few months. However the past week has been super serious so please let me have my moment of superficial frivolity. And cast your eyes upon my swimwear picks for summer. And of course if your an expat reader who is based in a hot sunny wonderful country, you will find this a lot more relevant than most!

It seems I have a print preoccupation or something....

ASOS

Piha

Zinke
Piha

Ted Baker

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Cyprus bailout: update 24th March 2013

By tomorrow (Monday 25th March 2013) Cyprus has to raise €5.8 billion and come to an agreement with TROIKA in order to receive the €10 billion EU bailout. In the event that an agreement hasn't been reached, there is a strong possibility that the European Central Bank with cut its current funding to the banks here and the economy will collapse. 

While they rejected the initial levy on bank depositors on Tuesday, it seems after much talking, a bank levy of some sort might be back on the table. Which kind of annoys me, since this option was already overwhelming (and hastily if you ask me) rejected by the government and the majority of the people, when clearly it was a good route to go down.  

I know the levy on all bank depositors is harsh, but in this situation, everyone has to contribute to the recovery of the economy and the country. Now it's been reported that the levy on depositors is an option again, but this time it could be as much as 20% for deposits over €100,000 in the Bank of Cyprus and a 4% on the same amount at other banks. 

Along with a host of other legislative measures that the government has been frantically discussing over the past few days, is the restructuring/effective closure of Laiki bank. 

Which people are extremely angry about; it would mean the loss of money and jobs, a situation the Cypriots do not accept lightly. But I honestly don't know what other options there are. 

The situation is so bad that every single person who lives in Cyprus is going to suffer one way or another. But people in Cyprus have lived a very nice lifestyle for a very long time, without asking any questions; civil servants have bloated pay packets and ridiculous benefits, the banking sector is obviously flawed, the expat community reaps the benefits of life here and the island is the Russians sunshine playground. 

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Today Mr President has jetted off to Brussels for more talks and to present the governments plan in the hope of sealing the bailout Cyprus so desperately requires. With banks closed for nearly a week and many businesses only accepting cash payments, the situation is as serious as it gets. 

Tonight we should know whether tomorrow will be the day the Cypriot economy collapsed or was saved at the final hour. 

But as Olli Rehn, EU comissioner for economic affairs has said, there are only hard choices left. 

"It is essential that an agreement is reached by the eurogroup on Sunday evening. This agreement then needs to be swiftly implemented by Cyprus and its eurozone partners.
"Unfortunately the events of recent days have led to a situation where there are no longer any optimal solutions available," he added. Source.

A week after the gravity of this situation became truly apparent, I really hope tonight sees a bailout agreement for Cyprus; I hate to think of the alternative situation.

sunday sound #12

Saturday, 23 March 2013

something for a friday #7 - Cyprus bailout

Im biased, but I really do like the way the BBC report on stories. I mean, they tackle all angles; from the factual side, to opinion pieces and they take the time to breakdown the situation. 

The BBC is probably the only reason I understand what is actually going on in Cyprus. 

To summarise, no one knows what is going on. No one knows what is going to happen. And I am not sure if the governments "plan b" will actually come to fruition. It's nearly midnight on Friday night and we still have no news about the proposed package, which the government will present to Troika. And you better keep your fingers crossed that they have something good up their sleeves and Troika does agree to it, because come Monday, if there is no "plan b" in place, the European Central Bank will most probably cut Cyprus' emergency funding. 

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By cutting the ties, Cyprus' banks will not reopen and the Cyprus government will be bankrupt. If that happens, the options for Cyprus are limited but would probably involve an exit from the EU, so Cyprus could start printing it's own currency and try and salvage it's economy. This is the worst case scenario.

The best case scenario (in my humble expat opinion) is that the government comes together to agree on a solution for the island as a whole; the bank levy should have been accepted in the first place because in situations like these (and let's face it the crisis in Cyprus is about as serious as it gets) everyone has to pay a price. Indeed it's painful and unfair, but thats the reality of the recession.

Neither has the situation here magically appeared overnight and I actually feel quite sorry for the newly elected president who has inherited this mess. But now is the time for solutions not the blame game.

In a country with a ridiculous amount of government workers, over privaledge bank employees and low personal income tax threshold, I totally believe there is a solution out there. It's just whether everyone can overcome the pain and realise that for the greater good and for the future of Cyprus for that matter, everyone, and I include myself in this, has to contribute.

My opinions are completely my own and come easily as I stand on the expat outskirts of this situation, looking in. But if you want a more proficient explanation of the scenarios that could lie ahead for Cyprus, I suggest this article from the BBC.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

midweek mix 20/03/2012

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the day Cyprus said No

All of a sudden the spotlights are shining a little brighter on Cyprus. 

Since the bailout package was announced on Friday, the banks have remained closed and public opinion has been divided. And tonight, a vote in parliament has rejected the European Union bailout terms - a levy on depositors was not acceptable to people of Cyprus, nor the government, but what are the alternatives? 

I am by no means an expert on the situation here in Cyprus; as an expat I feel like I don't have much of a right to comment. However, I have worked hard for the money that now sits in the banks here and as such I can't help feeling an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. 

The problems in Cyprus haven't happened overnight. But we are now at the stage of sink or swim. And  unfortunately the newly elected president, Nicos Anastasiades, has a lot of tough decisions to make in order to move forward; to avoid the closure of the islands two main banks and to avoid Cyprus exit from the Eurozone. 

This man has a lot to think about.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Photography: Hollie Fernando

Hollie Fernando is one multi-faceted photographer. She has this great documentary approach which means her images are filled to the brim with light, colour, texture, detail and depth. She shoots in colour and black and white and her images always retain a grainy depth to them that draws you in.

And her mixed images really fascinate me; by combining two images, the whole notion of capturing a moment in a photograph changes. 






visit http://www.holliefernandophotography.com/ for more. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Kathara Deftera (otherwise known as no-meat-day)

Today marks the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox calender. And while we will probably be giving up more than we bargained for, Kathara Deftera (or Green Monday) traditional is the start of the fasting period here in Cyprus. 

And they take their fasting quite seriously, especially the older generations who seriously restrict their diet and remove any animal products from it completely. None of this i'll try and give up chocolate stuff we do in England. 

And if your in Cyprus on Kathara Deftera, don't be surprised if you look up into the skies and see hundreds of kites; a tradition which I still haven't got to the bottom of. 



What I do know is that I ate a lot of salad today; Rocket salad, Potato Salad, Beetroot Salad, Lagana bread (a flat bread with sesame seeds that is only made on Green Monday), Olives, Humous, Taramasalata and Tahini. 

And I havent moved for a fair few hours since the feast ceased. Maybe a meat free 40 days could be on the cards? Well if the banks dont reopen, it may be an enforced challenge!



Places: The National Gallery

On my most recent trip to London, I managed to squeeze in a trip to The National Gallery. I realised it was one of the places in London that I hadnt visited. Ever! I know. I know. Bad Londoner.

But when you live somewhere your whole life, it's so easy to overlook these things. I mean you know it whats out there, but daily life gets in the way and you never actually get time to stop and be a tourist in your own town. 

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That has been rectified though. With 3 lovely and relaxing hours, spent wandering the multitude of galleries on offer. The galleries are split into time periods, and after three hours I had barely touched the surface. You could easily spend a whole day inside this beautiful building; which makes the gorgeous restaurant pretty useful!

My first stop was the 18th - early 20th Century paintings, because you cant go to The National Gallery and not see Van Gogh's Sunflowers. And along with that were some fantastic Turner and Monet Paintings. (Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the gallery so you will just have to go visit to see this for yourself).

My real favourite paintings were found in the 16th Century galleries where the Renaissance came alive. It's these paintings that I really find fascinating; for their technique, their texture, their content, the depth and the sheer amount of detail.

So, your next visit to London should without a doubt include a trip to The National Gallery; filled to the brim with wonderful paintings, this is definitely a must for art lovers. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

girl crush: Zooey Deschanel

In one word, Zooey Deschanel is quirky. She has the simple beauty and equally glamorous thing perfected. And she is a pretty darn good actress too with films like Elf and Almost Famous. And (while I may be a bit late with this since news of great series takes a while to reach Cyprus) my new favourite series, New Girl, is a perfect fit for Deschanel. Hilariously funny in the a dry sort of way, with a little bit of cringe thrown in for good measure.

Zooey Deschanel is definitely a girls girl.

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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

It's a good weekend for women. Well for mothers actually. Since today is the day where mums all around the UK will wake up to breakfast in bed, flowers, a sunday roast they didn't have to cook or an afternoon of relaxation. And the reason. Well they are mums. What other reason do you need?

Mothering Sunday falls on the 4th Sunday of lent and is a day, in the UK for sure, that mums are meant to be spoilt rotten. It's easy to forget the sheer amount stuff they do on a daily basis that make our lives a little better. They love us unconditionally, cook for us, clean up after us, raise us and nurture us until we fly the nest and stand on our own two feet. And then we just return for sunday lunches, loans and love when feeling low. 

Baby me!

Unfortunately my mum isn't here to enjoy the delights of mothering sunday, but I have turned into a wonderful young women (even if I do say so myself) that she would be proud to call her daughter. 

But I have an amazingly supportive and loving step-mother who should have some flowers landing on her doorstep right about now. The wonders of the internet make it possible to spoil someone even from a different country. 

Happy Mothers Day!

sunday sound #10

Saturday, 9 March 2013

something for a friday #6 a day for women

Today is international women's day; a day to celebrate the women of the world who make it the place it is. If I am totally honest with you, it wasn't until I moved to Cyprus that I really appreciated international women's day. I mean in London I am sure there was stuff centered around this day, but I never really took notice.  

And now for the history bit. 

In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.


Thanks Wikipedia. 

Women come in all shapes and sizes. We are resilient, ambitious, motivated, organized, passionate, creative, stylish, loving, responsible, dynamic and emotional. All of the above make us special. Make us who we are.

And what better way to celebrate International Women's Day than championing my favourite women's style of late. Im going through a simple, structured, sport luxe, casual kind of mood and I am loving this seriously stylish ladies. 








Source: Pinterest


For more information about International Women's Day, visit their website here.