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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 7 October 2013

How the hackers made me travel to Cyprus (except I didn't)

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post takes a look at how being hacked on line allowed me to find out a lot about Limassol in Cyprus. Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).


Not quite Limassol, Cyprus though there are ruins and a sea view
at Harlech Castle in Wales. The Welsh coast here is full of sand dunes -
Limassol makes more use of its coast & has planted lines of palms
between the seafront and the city.
A few days ago my whole email list received a spam.


THIS IS SPAM.... (except the subject was SOS help)
Sorry for the inconveniences, I'm in Limassol, Cyprus and I just misplaced my bag containing all my vital items, phone and money at the Bus station. I am stranded at the moment, I may need a little help from you.
thanks Nicola

My email signature (with my phone numbers) had been deleted. This meant that anyone who didn't smell a grammatical rat and replied asking what help I wanted didn't send their email to me, instead they were redirected to a false yahoo email account which looked similar in name to my gmail account. They were then asked for 550 euros. I really hope no one handed that over. It's a lot of cash, especially when the obvious thing to do in a situation like that would be to go to the embassy...

Now I'm a journalist and I have ridiculous numbers of email contacts - many people don't know me very well. The moment I figured out I'd been hacked... (9am on a Friday morning)  I worked out a plan  about what to do - change my password, and cancel the email redirection (which I was frankly lucky to pick up as it just popped up for about 30 seconds near my dashboard before fading. 

I assumed that was it, but quite soon people started contacting me asking if I was OK. I had more than 30 calls/emails that day alone. It wasn't long before I was getting rather curious about LImassol, Cyprus. TripAdvisor has 65 hotels listed for this busy holiday and business centre. At the bus station (I couldn't resist looking at the timetables on line) there are zillions of buses including ones that run night, day, Sundays and to rural stops as well as the city. The restaurants look lovely - although some visitors aren't so keen on the many stray cats that turn up when you eat.

I may not have heard of Limassol before, but it's a big place: there's a port, a posh yacht club, fabulous ancient ruins, a lot of tourists, a sea front lined with palms, gardens (and a busy road of course).  Indeed it's such a cool spot that in 2017 it will be European City of Culture, see this link http://www.limassol-2017.com/index.php?pageid=26


On the LImassol bidding page for Culture Capital there is a fascinating poem written... 
...with the aim of obtaining the title European Capital of Culture, the long voyage towards the destination that is the city’s Programme for 2017 has begun. The words of Constantine Cavafy, one of the most important Greek poets of the modern era, are characteristic, as he described Odysseus’ journey to Ithaka.
“As you set out for Ithakahope the voyage is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you are destined for.B ut do not hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you are old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.” Constantine Kavafis
Culture is both a destination and a process and through the process comes the benefit, overcoming obstacles and dangers, gaining experiences and knowledge, always looking forward to arriving at the final destination. 2017 will be a special year and the city of Limassol will celebrate the success of reaching the final destination, having taken on board all that is required for the next voyage. The long voyage, however, begins with bad weather and stormy seas. The whole of Europe is still being buffeted by the effects of the global financial crisis while many neighbouring countries are experiencing social unrest and a great deal of questioning. Culture is nothing less than a catalyst for solutions and answers to all these passing challenges.
Here's a video which might help you get to know the place.

Looking at the pix I'm struggling to imagine where in the UK looks the same. But Kavafis' poem and interpretation for the Culture Capital 2017 certainly matches the spirit of this blog. This hacking incident not only gave me a taste of virtual travel, it also revealed that I have a stunning number of contacts who were willing to check I was OK, ranging from an ice cream seller to a lawyer, many people I've interviewed, even the guy who cuts my hair!

It's not quite like reading your own obituary, but it certainly made me realise that I'm a very lucky person blessed with a lot of friends. I'd rather not have been hacked (and will be changing my passwords far more regularly now) but on the plus side I have I've learnt a lot about Limassol in Cyprus and other people's generosity. Written up properly it would make a sweet little screen play, but that's a task for another day.