The view from our hotel
Paphos and North West Cyprus
Sandy beaches, deep blue seas, bright sunshine
and warm temperatures - some of the attractions
we were told we could expect in Cyprus
We had never been there
before and decided to spend ten days at Paphos, towards the
northwestern corner of the island. This is an area that seems to
have been under used and under developed until the relatively
recent (and significant) growth of tourism.
Our hotel was alongside the beach and within walking distance of
the town itself - either by road or along a beach-top promenade.
Beautiful views of the seas and beach.
Paphos is an ancient city with a long, attractive waterfront
leading to a small picturesque harbour area with many places to
eat and drink. A distinctive fort on the harbour promontory was
once used as a Turkish prison; it is open now to the public, and
a short tour leaves no doubt how uncomfortable a place this once
must have been.
The other major 'must see' in Paphos is the site of
excavated mosaics from the Roman and Hellenistic periods,
they are amongst the best-preserved mosaic floors anywhere in the
world. Even if this is not your usual fare, a stroll through the
site (which is also close to the harbour) will leave you
wondering at the work and skill employed in creating them those
many centuries ago. All around Paphos are references to figures
from Greek Mythology, with the locations of supposed mythological
sites as well as the remains of tombs and other structures going
back seemingly for ever. We found it eerie to stand besides
almost perfectly preserved pottery dating back (in some cases) to
Although Paphos and the
surrounding beaches had plenty to offer we wanted to see more of
the island. A beat-up old four-wheel drive, hired for a week,
enabled us to get to places that otherwise we would not have
seen. If nothing else we learned that it is possible to
take a car through terrain that previously we should have thought
North of Paphos the Akamas Peninsula is an area of mountains
sloping down to the sea and accessible (for the most part) only
along unsurfaced tracks that are several miles long, littered
with small boulders and potholes along the way. The beaches and
views in the Akamas Peninsula are simply spectacular. Almost
deserted during our visit in April (except for the occasional
fellow 4WD) they include Lara Bay, a long stretch of coastline
where attempts are being made to protect turtles and provide safe
sites for their egg laying. Sadly at the time of our visit (in
April) the turtles were all out somewhere at sea, far away.
|The Lara Bay Sanctuary - which has been in
existence for more than 25 years - provides a protected breeding
ground for two types of turtle, the Green Turtle and the
Newly hatched turtles are brought in to Lara
from other areas to encourage them to home on Lara as a breeding
ground in later life. Turtles can breed from an age of 25 ears,
and may continue to do so until well over 100!
Survival rate is not high; baby turtles have
many natural enemies (gulls, crabs, foxes) as well as plastic
bags which they mistakenly try to eat, assuming them to be
Close to the tip of the
peninsula is The Aphrodite Trail, a four-mile walk up into the
mountains overlooking the sea with fantastic views from the top.
Along the trail lizards and wild flowers abound, and the going is
steep in parts but manageable. Worth the trek!
Having the car also made it
possible to go for a number of long walks - both alongside remote
beaches and in the nearby Troodos Mountains - away from all the
Roads up into the mountains are frequently narrow tracks running
along sheer drops and without any surface apart from loose earth
and stones. We travelled along these for miles, through villages
that are gradually shrinking (in some cases, dying) as the
inhabitants move towards the coast and the greater opportunities
there for them and their children.
On one occasion we had to turn around (which was a little
nerve-wracking) and retrace our steps for 5 miles or more after
turning a corner to find the path blocked by a landslide.
|The legend of Aphrodite and
Adonis was loved both by Aphrodite and
Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld. This led to an argument
and squabbling, and so the Court of the Gods ruled that Adonis
should spend one third of his time with Aphrodite, one third with
Persephone, and keep one third to himself. He cheated, spending
his own third with Aphrodite - and so Persephone killed him by
having him attacked by a wild boar. When Aphrodite heard the news
she ran to Adonis, cutting her legs en route - and the blood that
she shed caused lilies to grow.
About 15 miles south along
the coast from Paphos is Petra Tou Romiou, the mythical
birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love (hence Aphrodisiac).
Legend has it that Aphrodite rose here from the white
sea-foam, and floated on a seashell to nearby Paleapaphos.
Overall impressions? We
enjoyed Cyprus more than expected good and varied food,
beautiful if sometimes rugged scenery, and interesting places to
drive. Plenty of sunshine, wonderful beaches - but can be a
little hot in summer!
One of the most striking features, we thought, was the cheerful
and friendly local people who seemed to go out of their way to be
open and welcoming - more so than in other tourist countries that
we have visited. Supposedly many of the people now living in that
part of Cyprus moved there after being displaced from the north
by the Turkish invasion in 1974 - certainly there is no mention
of Turkey anywhere, and the English seem to be very