I grew up in Limassol, Cyprus, at a time when there was only one multi-storey building, called “eftapaton”, meaning having seven storeys. I think it didn’t even have seven stories. All the houses were one or two storey houses, surrounded with a garden and having trees and flowers in the garden. All the houses I grew up in, until I got married, were detached houses with a garden, except for the period of three years, when we lived in England.
After the invasion and occupation of Cyprus by the Turks and all the refugees from the occupied territories moving to the free part of Cyprus, more and more buildings started appearing and by 1981, when we left Cyprus there were quite a lot of buildings.
Soon after we got married we moved to Greece and that’s where we started living in apartments. A few apartments had large verandahs and balconies and others not so big.
We moved a lot because of my husband’s job, being in the army. We lived in Northern Greece for three years and then in Samos island for another three years. We were then transferred to Athens in 1987, where we rented a house which was near my in-laws house, who used to live in Athens at the time, before moving to Sparta. We got transferred every 2 or 3 years the most, so we wanted to be close to our family.
The house, which belonged to one of my sister-in-laws, was very old, it may have been built sometime after WW2 or maybe in the early 50s, I am not sure but it was a two storey building with no central heating but at least it had a small garden infront which belonged to an old couple living on the ground floor and a small cement yard for the children to play in. In the meantime my husband had a severe operation due to which he did not get transferred again from Athens, so we lived there until 1992. We were not planning to move from that house as in the meantime I got a job and it was convenient for me having my mother-in-law close because we could always leave the children and go out when we wanted and I had some help when I was pregnant again and had to stay in bed until I gave birth to the child.
However, one day, just a few seconds after our two little boys got out of their bedroom, part of the ceiling collapsed and fell. Some of the furniture were ruined but we were shocked with the idea of what might have happened, if the children were still in their bedroom!!
After that incident, we decided to sell our house in Cyprus and buy an apartment of our own.
The amount we got from the house in Cyprus was just enough for a down payment but with almost the amount we paid for rent we could pay our mortgage. The apartment was about fifteen years old but it was quite big. The new apartments we saw were expensive and the rooms were really very small. The other advantage our new apartment had was that it was only 100 metres away from all the schools, starting from kindergarden, elementary and high schools and all the schools were adjacent to the park. I used to send the boys to private school as there wasn’t any school near our old house and public schools operate from 8 a.m. till 12 noon, so it wasn’t convenient to send them to a public school. The school bus of the private school would pick them up before I left for work and bring them back by the time my husband was back from his work. Now, I could save money on private schools as my oldest son was already 10 years old and he could take care of his younger brother and go to school on foot and come back together, while we were still at work.
The new house was a two bedroom apartment but after our little girl was born, we renovated the house by knocking down the walls of the kitchen – hall – living room, making it into one space and what used to be the dining room, which was very large became the third bedroom for the boys.
We were a bit crowded over the past twenty years as the living room was not very big and the boys continued sharing a bedroom but it was tolerable.
What I missed the most over these past twenty years was a garden. The small verandah in front was big enough for a table and a few pots with flowers and herbs. The balcony at the back was even smaller and I used it only to hang my laundry.
Ever since, I have been dreaming that one day when our children would grow up, we could leave Athens and move somewhere to the countryside.
We had paid off the 15 year loan, the boys had finished their studies at the University, the youngest one got a scolarship for his post graduate studies and my oldest son, had to work a few years to save some money and then decided to get a post graduate degree. Our daughter is now in University, so we are finally free to persue our own dreams…