Travel Secrets editor Shubhra Krishan recently spent a few sunny days in Cyprus. Here are her suggestions on souvenir shopping on the island.
Typically, souvenirs and touristy tidbits will be sold to you as ‘Cyprus this’ and ‘Cyprus that.’ Steer clear of those traps, and take time to observe where the locals are going and what they are buying.
Commandaria Wine: said to be the world’s oldest. I cannot verify the claim, but can vouch for the wine: it is sweet divinity!
The name ‘Commandaria’ comes from the Grand Commandery, the feudal land belonging to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, where the original wine-producing vineyards were located.The wine can be made only in a strictly defined region comprising 14 wine-producing villages in the Troodos foothills about 20 miles (30 km) north of the city of Limassol. In 1993, the European Union registered ‘Commandaria’ as a protected name and geographical origin.
Honey: the blossoming farms on the island yield some wonderful varieties. Also, figs and fresh fruit from the local markets. Better still, pluck them straight off the trees. As my guide Georgia Constantin said, “You can never go hungry in Cyprus; there’s always fruit hanging low on the trees!”
Olive oil: after all, the locals have grown up with olive trees since times Neolithic! But beware: we bought a big can of olive oil at a farmer’s market, and paid 18 Euros for five litres. But when we weighed the can later, it was only four litres. Also, check with the airline if you are allowed to carry oil. Some don’t allow it, even as part of your checked baggage.
Lace and embroidered fabric: from Lefkara village if possible, where fine lacemaking has been a tradition for generations. In the streets of Omodos village, we saw old women working away at lace kerchiefs and tablecloths.
Local handicraft & ceramics: Browse and buy traditional craft items — weaving, basket making, wood carving, pottery, and the production of leather and traditional copper items are Cyprus specials. Mesogi village near Paphos specialises in colourful baskets made of bamboo and wicker.
Bath salts: did you know, Cyprus is one of the only regions in the world to produce gourmet bath salts!