Last month we finally took a trip to Paphos after 6 years of living in Cyprus and took the boys to the zoo. It really was a fantastic day out, and as such I couldn't fit it all into just one blog post!
The second part is actually the bit that I most wanted to write about, the bit that made the day the most memorable for me in some ways and also made me realise how different my boys lives are to mine as a child.
We decided to stop for dinner after leaving the zoo, and I optimistically suggested going to Kings Avenue Mall. For someone who once felt my heart sink every time I drove into Bluewater Shopping Centre in what now feels like someone else's life, the idea of going to a mall is stupidly exciting! There are only 3 malls in Cyprus, one in the capital, Nicosia to which I have been (never with the boys) maybe 4 or 5 times in 6 years, one in Limassol (which I have been to once when Leo was a baby) and the one in Paphos.
I didn't think for a second that it would be a fun idea with the kids, I thought they would moan for a playground or want to buy everything they saw but I was very wrong!
The reactions and comments from the pair of them were absolutely priceless and I hadn't realised that they had lived in such a different world. It started as we drove into the car park, a multi level basement one underneath the mall. As we entered Leo exclaimed 'Woah this is SO cool', at first I thought he was somehow being sarcastic but I turned round to see that he was genuinely amazed and impressed at this car park!
Having never been before Aaron drove around the busy car park deciding where best to try and park, I quietly asked him to drive to the lower level even if he didn't need to. He gave me the 'look' but did as I asked. It was more than worth it as Leo couldn't believe it!
Everything amazed him, with Louka copying his comments and getting caught up in his excitement, and I mean everything - the shiny floor with the different colours for different parking bays, the signs, the lifts and the best thing of all..... the moving walkway to take you up to ground level!
Well, as you can imagine, if the car park made such an impression the mall was a huge hit with them!
We had timed it well, as the Christmas decorations were already up and of course this added to the excitement as it was the first they had seen this year.
You couldn't help but share their excitement as they shouted (yep, so every passerby could hear our poor deprived children who have never been shopping) 'WOW ITS THE BIGGEST TREE EVER'
There were some great decorations, but I only managed one photo, enjoying their amazement rather than taking photos of a mall - which I sure you can imagine well enough.
I hesitated briefly as we approached a toy shop, wondering if it would cause huge tantrums when we refused them presents but I remembered the fun of going to them with my Dad and wishing for the amazing toys to be my own, and I decided to take them in.
To my amazement they were both fine, even Louka who is not quite old enough to really understand. I explained that we were just looking, not buying but maybe they could get some ideas of what they might hope to get for Christmas (hoping we wouldn't have to go back to Paphos to buy it!)
Although we chickened out of going in any other shops (the day was going too well to make the boys bored while we looked at stuff, and we didn't have money for shopping!) I was happy just wandering along window shopping and marvelling at the fact I was in an actual shopping centre!
We stopped for pizza for dinner, which also went surprisingly well. Of course there was moaning about being hungry while it was cooking, and lots of requests from us to sit down, stop fighting and be quiet but we have had considerably worse restaurant experiences!
After dinner, we stopped for the obligatory toilet trip at which point I realised they had never been in public toilets with more then 2 or 3 toilets! With wide eyes Louka counted the cubicles in amazement, while Leo played with automatic taps. They rushed back out to Aaron with their tales of the amazing toilets!
I couldn't believe how new and amazing it all was to them, to think that if we lived in England that all this stuff would be as normal as getting dressed. How many times would they both have been to Bluewater, Lakeside or the high street shops in our old home town had we not have moved here, they'd have never have known any different, never been impressed by a row of toilets or an escalator.
And how much is it going to blow their mind when we ever get round to taking them for a trip to England!