The land of Gods … and grapes!
I should be a good teacher and give you the historical background of Cyprus, the lovely Mediterranean Island near Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Greece, etc. — it’s just a short flight or decent boat ride to a lot of places. It has also had more than its fair share of conquerers over the centuries — seems like at one point or another everyone wanted a piece of Cyprus, but most of the island gained its independence in 1960. Part of its northern lands are run by (or occupied by, depending on who you ask) Turkey — it’s a bitter story I’ll leave for the locals to tell.
What drew me to Cyprus was its connection to Greek literature (what up Odysseus?!) and mythology — if you believe tourist sites (and local legend) Aphrodite was born there, Adonis drowned in his reflection there, and for the low, low price of X you could even visit Athena’s bath — and thanks to it being off tourist season, the low airfare and resort price (holy moly we got off cheap!). With a long weekend for National Day (Happy 45th Birthday UAE!) and a zero-balance credit card — who could resist? It was such a good deal/idea I talked my friend Brandy into joining me.
And this is where good teacher ends because while I certainly saw a lot of Greek and Roman ruins, and I certainly learned a whole lot, I mostly fraternized and sampled their thousands of years of wine making expertise. Cypriots seem to love drinking, eating and laughing as much as I do — God Bless their ancient souls!
Day One: Transport from Larnaca airport to Pafos (or like we Westerners seem to prefer Paphos)
Luckily, our driver a British expat, figured out what we’d be most interested in seeing. Since we landed during an unexpected stormy weekend (yay for we desert dwellers!) we had to cut back on some of the outdoor sites, but we didn’t miss out on Kuorian, an ancient city destroyed by an earthquake in 365 AD. Awesomeness, yes — just check out the pics.
We hiked up a hill to get to Achilles house … it led to a cliff. Perhaps it’s made of air.
The red blocks kept their baths warm
Not pictured are the protected mosaics. Cyprus is known for its well-preserved mosaics. I was too taken aback by the clouds and sea to photograph those (although I did snap some shots of the mosaics in Pafos). What can I say? I’m a bigger fan of the Gods art than ours.
We also drove by the Rock of Aphrodite, which was basically one of three rocks in the sea (google will provide better pics than me — um, I was not impressed and it shows). My favourite part about this was learning that legend has it if a woman swims around it three times she’d be eternally beautiful, but our driver assured us he’s seen plenty of old Russian women do it to no avail. So, we didn’t jump in the cold, wild waters.
When we got to Almyra, our resort in Pafos, it was close to sunset time and oh my goodness. The Gods certainly blessed us with their art!
okay, see how rocky and rough that looks? And trust me it’s also cold. Both mornings we saw old Cypriots defrock and jump into those waters. I kid you not these people swam in that shit. A local driver told us he doesn’t know how they survive it because he as a 30 something isn’t risking heart attack or death by wave.
I could post so much more, but don’t want to bore you with my gazillion photos. It was amazing! We dined at a restaurant on the harbour shores and savoured our grilled meat and local wine. That night we slept with our windows open just so we could smell the rain, sea and citrus trees while listening to Zeus (okay Jupiter) pound the earth with lighting. Ahhhhmazing.
Day Two: Pubologists in Pafos!
In a nutshell the modern city of Pafos is built on top of the old one, and you cannot walk around the city and not run into ruins. Long story short we walked to the harbour, toured its castle (with the help of one of the city’s many friendly cats), walked its coastal walk and escaped rain showers in quite a few pubs. I won’t say how many, but we met a lot of folk, sampled some bevies and stumbled upon amazing ruins. My favourite is our accidental climb into an archaeological site — I swear we were just exploring a cave, which had a ladder, which led to yesterday. A man working it waved hi to us, so whew! we didn’t damage anything.
Day three: Wineologists! And one brewery (even I will drink Aphrodite beer)
I loved our drive into the mountains and through the small villages. Everything we did was a trip through time, but this one was my favourite. What made this even better was the lack of tourists (hahaha except us of course). We really got to mingle with the winery families and some British expats. We also walked through a monastery that was so quaint I had to light a candle for my dad. While he was Roman Catholic and not Greek Orthodox, I know he would’ve loved it there. Me thinks he may have even been at the table when Brandy and I were treated to a round of Zivania, local moonshine that tastes like Grappa (basically nose-hair burning awfulness, but I did mine like a champ). Sadly, as good as the wine is and as long as they’ve been making it, it’s not a big export. Basically, Cyprus wine is pretty much made for Cypriots — and those of us visiting.
There is so much more I could share, and we were there for only three nights. There is still so much more to explore. Thank you Cyprus for taking us in and showing us a good time!