March 20, 2013 at 2:04 PM ET
Andreas Pavlidis owns a small ice cream and frozen yogurt store just off the main shopping street in Nicosia, Cyprus. He opened the store a year ago, but said he is earning enough to make a living.
"Sales have dropped somewhat over the last few months because of the uncertainty around the economy," Pavlidis said. "People may not be going on holidays or buying clothes, but at least they are still buying food. Our products only cost one to three euros, and people still want a little treat now and then, so we are doing fine."
Pavlidis' store is an exception. In the city center of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, many stores are closed or rundown and store windows are plastered with "for sale" signs.
Teenagers sit in cafes, pensioners huddle together playing backgammon, known as "Tavli." A few tourists snap pictures of old churches. The only luxury they seem to enjoy is their afternoon coffee at Starbucks or the local coffee shop.
Reacting to Tuesday's overwhelming vote against the controversial deposit tax, Pavlidis said: "It is good. We sent a clear sign to Europe."
During the short visit to Pavlidis’ store, he stressed twice that Cypriots are not like Greeks, a sentiment shared by others in the capital.
"We are hardworking,” Pavlidis said. “I work 60 hours a week. We want to rebuild the economy ourselves. We do not want help from (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel."
He added: "We much prefer Russia to be involved than Germany's Merkel, who has been bluffing all along. The Germans will do whatever they want with us."
But others disagree. One man, who identified himself as George, said: "If Russia makes a bigger investment in Cyprus, we will be like slaves."
If Cyprus strikes a deal with Russia for a loan in exchange for gas reserves, he said, the country will have to give in to Russia's demands for years.
Pavlidis remains optimistic: "Going back to the Cypriot lira may just be what we need. It may be difficult in the first three to four years, but it will certainly be better in the long run."
A graphic design student named Efi said the job market is tough.
"It is so difficult to find a job, with so many young people from other countries coming here and accepting lower pay," she said. But Efi says she will stay in Cyprus.
"Where else should I go?” she said. “I hope the situation will get better soon."
© 2013 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved