Friday, September 19, 2014, 1:49pm
Introduction to CYPRUS
Date travelled: 7th September to 21st September 2003
Tour Operator: Argo Holidays
We chose this holiday because it gave us the opportunity to stay in a traditional Greek house in the village of Tochni. We also had a jeep included in the package which allowed us to explore the island in our own time.
Tochni is a small and picturesque village in the foothills of the Troodos mountains. The village lies between Larnaca and Limasol and is only a short drive from the lovely Governors Beach. Stone built houses line the narrow streets that wind their way to the beautiful church of Saints Constantinos and Eleni. The village square is the centre of life in Tochni and has a supermarket, coffee shops and a bank. Governors Beach is approximately 15 km east of Limassol and can only be accessed by car or taxi. There are small sandy spaces, tavernas and a camping site but no hotels or apartments.
The village of Kalavasos lies 3km west of Tochni. It's name in Greek means good base which is true due to its central position. It is a 30 minute car ride from Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol. It is a very short drive from Tochni and offers more choice of eating establishments than Tochni.
Paphos is situated in the south-western corner of Cyprus and the area is closely linked to the goddess of love & beauty. Paphos and its surrounding villages are still relatively unspoilt and the town is rich in archaeological sites which has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The town is divided into two parts, the old town which stands on a high rocky plateau and the new part that has developed by the harbour and is called Kato Paphos. The whole area around the harbour is steeped in history. The spectacular Roman mosaics, discovered in 1962, depict stories & characters from ancient mythology and date from the 3rd century AD. The Ancient Odeon is an impressive semicircular theatre, built in the 2nd century AD, which today is the stunning setting for music recitals and choral performances in the summer. Nearby are the ruins of the castle Saranda Kolones (the forty columns), built in the 12th century. The Tomb of the Kings is a famous labyrinth of underground tombs which were used for nobility rather than royalty. Also nearby is the beautiful church of Ayia Kyriaki which is now used by the Anglican community. There are also the remains of two older churches on this site. A short walk away and you will find the church of Panayia Theoskepasti & the underground chapel of Ayia Solomoni. If archaeology is not your thing then there is the bustling market in the old town where you can buy fruit, local wines, honey, nuts and other edible souvenirs that are hard to resist. Close to the market are some small workshops where you can watch craftsmen making shoes ot traditional styled chairs with woven seats.
The legendary birthplace of Aphrodite is on the main road of Limassol to Paphos, 25 km east of Paphos. According to legend, Aphrodite, goddess of love & beauty, rose from the waves in this strikingly beautiful spot. The Greek name, Petra tou Romiou - The Rock of the Greek is associated with the legendary frontier-guard of Byzantine times, Digenis Akritas, who kept the marauding Saracens at bay with amazing strength. It is said that he heaved this large rock into the sea destroying the enemy's ship.
According to legend, the goddess Aphrodite used to take her beauty baths in a pool of a natural grotto, shaded by a fig tree, which can still be visited. The Baths of Aphrodite are situated in the Akamas Peninsula, near Polis, about 48km north of Paphos.
Lara Beach, in the Akamas peninsula, as well as neighboring Toxeftra Beach and three other adjoining beaches are nesting grounds of the rare Green Turtle and were declared a turtle reserve in 1989. This area has in recent years come under considerable pressure, mostly from developers aiming for large-scale tourism. If you are planning a trip to Cyprus then the Akamas Peninsula is most definitely worth a visit. A four-wheel drive is probably the best way to travel since the roads in some parts become dirt tracks with lots of boulders and rocks to negotiate.
Unless you like the noisy nightlife I would avoid staying in Ayia Napa at all costs. During the peak season the place is crowded with mainly young partygoers who literally party all night long. A lovely place to visit during the day for a spot of swimming & sunbathing. Its beaches are absolutely beautiful, long strings of white-sand. Nissi beach is quite long and crowded but my favourite is Makronissos, a smaller beach with beautiful white sand and shallow waters.
The Troodos mountains are located in the centre of the Greek part of Cyprus and cover most of the central mass of Cyprus. The green slopes dotted with tiny villages, forest paths, the cool weather and the ancient monasteries are a great respite from the heat of the beaches & city of Nicosia. Some of the monasteries in these mountains date back to the Byzantine period and the main highlight is the Kykkos monastery, about 20km west of Pedhoulas village. Founded in 1100 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it possesses one of the three surviving icons ascribed to St. Luke. The icon, covered in silver gilt and enclosed in a shrine of tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, stands at the front of the iconostasis. Religious fairs are held at Kykko on 15th August and 8th September.
Omodos is a village in the Troodos mountains. Situated 11km south west of Platres, in the foothills of the mountains, this lovely wine producing village was once the property Sir John de Brie, Prince of Galilee. The Monastery of Stavros (Holy Cross) stands in the centre of the village. The monastery contains old icons, excellent wood carving and other ecclesiastical objects of interest, as well as a small National struggle museum. Centred around its monastery, this quaint village is a warren of small cobbled alleyways, all of which seem to contain picture-postcard vistas of traditional Cypriot life. It is hard to believe that somewhere so often visited has retained so much of its own identity. The village produces a lot of wine and holds a wine festival every August. This place was so lovely and was holding some religious festival that we visited two days running.
** Information on the travel pages was correct at the time of publishing. Passport & Visa information applies to UK citizens.