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Old 26th December 2007, 15:10   #1
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Travelogues of week long holiday in Cyprus

Day 0 – 2007-12-05 Wed

We (my wife and me) boarded Thomas Cook flight from London to Pafos at 09:00 hr. Reached Pafos at 15:00 hr local time. I had already pre-booked a hired car. Paid via credit card on the spot. Cost C£63 for 7 days hire plus C£34 for full tank of petrol. The car was a 1.4 Nissan Note [17000+ km on odometer]. The airport was quite small, just besides the sea! Our hotel was 20 km away in Pafos. Came out from airport, was a bit worried about driving in a new country. But within few minutes I got rid of my nervousness. The road was like a country road in India [lots of coconut trees on sides]. After 20 minutes or so we reached Pafos town center. Bit surprised to find that there are no road name marking in towns [later discovered that it is a problem in all big towns in Cyprus]. By that time, it was getting dark and started raining heavily with thunder. The town center was not than impressive. There was minor water logging on roads at several places. I had a printed map towards hotel from airport, but that road was closed due to road-works. So, had to ask several people and after almost 2 hours of struggling finally reached our hotel Hilltop Garden Apartment in Kato Pafos area. The room was a 1-bed apartment with bedroom, living room and a small open plan kitchen – with gas cooker, fridge and toaster [but no microwave]. It was still raining. We went to a local shop nearby and bought some food for that night and next day evening.

Day 1 – Thu

In the morning we discovered that it was still drizzling. The sky was dark. We started our tour in the rain. We could not decide where to go because of rain. I followed B6 road towards Limasol. After half an hour we reached Kouklia. Went few km towards mountain and reached the open air museum amidst heavy rain. We could see from the outside that museum contains only some broken artefacts, was not impressive anyway! Then we drove towards Kolossi and reached the castle there. Went inside and climbed on the top of it – thru the stairs. Again nothing impressive. There was not anything inside either. As it was still raining, we decided to go for Nicosia [Lefkosia in Greek]. It was almost 150 km drive from there via A6 and A3 motorways. It took us nearly 2 hours to reach Nicosia. It was a big city. As usual I lost the roads again! Our destination was Cyprus museum. The Nicosia streets were very crowded. Traffic jam reminded me of typical Indian city at office time! To add to my misery, many roads were one way streets. With no road name marking, I had to stop several times and asked directions to passers by and shops. Many couldn’t speak English well. After an hour of effort, we finally reached Cyprus museum. There were some artefacts from ancient civilization in Cyprus. There was Cyprus parliament nearby. It was a very ordinary boxy building! But found Mahatma Gandhi’s statue besides the parliament! We then went to the place near the walls – dividing Greek and Turkish part of the city. Did not cross into Turkish side though. Nicosia was a typical commercial town – although it did not have the grandeurs of most European cities. It was dark by 16:30 and I thought it was better to leave for home. The return journey to Pafos took almost 2.5 hours via the motorways. The motorways had very sparse traffic. I could easily cruise at 110-120 km/h [official limit was 100 km/h though]. Till then I was not apprehensive of beauty of Cyprus. However, our grand tour actually began from next day!

Day 2 – Fri

Hooray, the sun was shining and sky was blue! We hurriedly had our breakfast and started our day tour at 08:30 hr. It was so hot that I had to switch on the AC in car. Our destination was Agia Napa beach – 200 km away, on the eastern part of the island. We continued our journey thru motorway A6 and then A3. A major part of the motorway was made by cutting rocks [mountains]. In the bright sunshine, the beauty of Cyprus unfolded in front of our eyes. At some places, I could see Mediterranean Sea from the car – as the road came so close to the ocean! The road was not that straight. Even though it was a motorway, it had some sharp turns and lots of undulations, including a 1-km long tunnel before Limasol. The areas on sides of the road were not green, rather yellowish because of the mountain/rocks. We finally reached Agia Napa around 11:00. It was a marvellous town. The beaches were gorgeous on bright sunshine. The water on the sea had some greenish look – as seen on the picture postcards! The sand on the beach was too soft. Temperature was around 23 C. It was pleasant. The tiny harbor was just besides the beach. We also visited Nissi beach 2 km away from town. It was almost secluded yet the beach was spectacular. From there we drove to Agia Napa monastery. It was again wonderful. There were lots of small shops near the road besides beach. We nearly spent the whole day there. Then in the late afternoon went to Protaras beach, around 20 km north of Agia Napa. This was also a good beach but was not as good as the Agia Napa. From there we went back to Pafos at 19:30 hr.

Day 3 – Sat

Weather was good again and our destination for the day was Troodos mountain. I was very worried about the twisty mountain roads, as described in the books. I was not even sure whether I could actually reach the Troodos because of the roads. Anyway, with a brave heart, started the journey. Went via same B6 road initially. Then we turned left with the sign board of Troodos. First passed the village Nikoklia. Became worried as the roads became narrow [though paved] and had only one lane! But after some distance, it again became two lanes. Gradually passed Fasoula, Kidasi, Kedares, Mandria and Platres. At Platres, the hills became very steep and roads became extremely twisty. I started driving in 30-40 km/h speed. There were not many cars passing in opposite way. So, I started driving almost the middle of the road and honked [like Indian style] at each bend! Mostly there was at least a steel barrier at slope side of the road but it was missing in many places. Suddenly we started to see ice besides the road. We could also see the snow covered mountains at a distance. Within 10 minutes or so, everything on both sides became white! The road became very steep. I was driving at almost crawling speed. We finally reached the town of Troodos. Snow everywhere! What a joy. I didn’t expect this much of snow in Cyprus! As far as I could see, everything was white – including some remote villages on the lap of mountains. Initially I thought of ending the trip at Troodos. But after driving the last one hour in challenging mountain roads, I got some confidence and decided to head for Kykko monastery 20 km away. After 15 minutes of driving, snow disappeared from roadside and we started going downward. Then again started going upward and downward after few minutes. Realized that we were actually going up one mountain and then going down on other side and then climbing up another one! This continued for almost half an hour. We did saw some roadside warning for rocks. Soon, I saw rocks fell from mountains! At places, one lane was totally blocked with debris from mountain, with some rocks of 1-foot diameter. Finally we reached Kykko monastery. It was the richest monastery in Cyprus. There were some wonderful frescos and mosaics inside. The main prayer room had some stunning gold and brass decoration! It was around 13:30 by then. I knew I had to go back to plains before dark. And since it would take 3 hours to reach there, I started our return journey and came back using same route.

Day 4 – Sun

Today morning we took the B7 road from Pafos towards Polis. This road was also picturesque. Went over mountains but was not that steep. We passed Polis after half an hour and continued our journey towards Baths of Aphrodite, 8 km from Polis. Finally reached there. It was at the end of Akamas peninsula. Legends said that it is here where Goddess Aphrodite used to take her baths. It was a cliff. We also visited Lakki beach nearby. From there we started to drive towards Agios Georgios, another beach on west coast. We passed a small village of Pano Arodes. The roads in the village were very narrow. The houses were made of stones. We then further travelled thru Kathikas, Pegeia and reached Agios Georgios. It was a cliff besides the sea. Scenery was beautiful as usual. From here there was a 18-km route to Akamas. However, this route was only suitable for jeeps. When I reached near the White Sand beach, I was frightened to see the slope and condition of the roads! Actually it was totally unpaved and undulating road. But when I saw some 2WD cars were also going, I decided to take a chance anyway. After about 2 km of off-roading, when we reached the beginning of Avakas Gorge (the limestone rocks), I finally gave up the plan of going further. The road just became jeep track only (wished I hired a 4WD car). The return journey involved very steep off-road climbs over rough roads. Finally reached level roads and stopped by the Coral Bay beach. By then it was nearly dark. So, we returned to Pafos from there.

Day 5 – Mon

Today we started our journey towards Limasol. We first entered B6 road, which continues to Limasol besides see. It was far more spectacular than motorway. The road was good and it just went up and down, with see on the side of the road. We reached to a place called Petra tou Romiou. It was a marvellous place! Took lots of photos there. Then continued to Santurary of Apollo Hylates near Kourion. Saw the remnants of Apollo temples. Near to it were Kourion, the ancient city of middle age. The ruins contained theatre, basilica, Agora (market place), public baths, house of Gladiators and Achilles, lots of mosaics etc. This magnificent city was destroyed by earthquake at 4th century AD. From here we climbed up Troodos mountain again and went to Lofou village. It was situated in the heart of the wine making region and was widely regarded as one of the most enchanting and unspoiled villages in Cyprus. The roads were paved with cobbles. The calm and tranquillity prevailed everywhere! From here we went to bustling town of Limasol. As usual, I lost road inside the city so were late at reaching its beaches. We spent time there till the sunset.

Day 6 – Tue

It was our last full-day in Cyprus. In the morning we started our long journey as usual, destination was Larnaca. Continued thru B6, passed Petra tou Romiou again and then re-entered motorway. Reached Larnaca around 11:00 hr. We did not enter into town, rather continued towards Agia Napa and took right turn on B3, which led to the scenic sea side road, where most of the beaches were. It was a bright sunny day. So, we could enjoy the sea side really. After spending one and half hour there, continued towards Larnaca town and reached Hala Sultan Tekke, just besides the Salt Lake. It was built during Ottoman era and consisted of mosque, mausoleum and cemetery. Now it is open to all religions. From here we visited Lefkara village, in the valley of Troodos mountain. It was famous for lace making industry. We went inside the church. The roads inside the village were basically narrow cobbled alleyways. The buildings were made of stones – most of them were built during 16-19th century during Turkish occupation of the island. Like other Cypriot villages, it was formed in several steps (layers) on the mountain. Even walking thru hilly steep paths inside the village was exhausting!

Day 7 – Wed – 2007-12-12

In the morning we checked out from hotel. With all our luggages on the car, we cruised thru the B7 road and then via E703 to Panagia. It is again a picturesque village on mountain. The road till here was good. From here we started our once more challenging stretch of 20 km towards Cedar Valley. This was an F road – so no lane marking and just a single lane poorly paved road. Some hair pin bends gave us a frightening feeling. Fortunately no other came from opposite of the entire 20 km journey. We finally reached Cedar valley. The place itself is small. The road continued from there towards Kykko monastery but we didn’t have time to venture on that route. I was getting a bit impatient as we had to catch the flight. So, after spending 15 minutes there we followed same route. En route we stopped at a dam site (name forgotten) for few minutes. Finally reached airport around 13:45 and boarded our return flight London on 16:00. Landed Gatwick at 20:10. This concludes are eventful trip to Cyprus.

I covered total 2000 km in 7 days. The hired car, Nissan Note, gave no trouble and it was quite comfortable to drive.

Most cars in Cyprus were quite old [10+ years]. Mostly the hired cars were newish ones. Common cars were Mitsubishi, Mazda, Suzuki, Isuzu, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai etc. Merc & BMW were very few. Most taxis were old Mers though. Audi/VW/Ford/Opel etc. were quite rare. Peugeots were also common. Saw few Maruti-Suzuki 800! Gypsies were badged as Suzuki Santana or Jimny.
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Old 26th December 2007, 15:11   #2
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Agia Napa harbor


Agai Napa


Nissan Note


Nissi beach



Kykko monastery fresco


Kykko monastery fresco


Sunset at Pafos


Village church in Ago Pardes


Avakas Gorge



Santuary of Apollo Hylates


Theatre


Kourion - ancient city


Petra tou Romiou - from roads


Petra tou Romiou - from sea shore




Hala Sultan Tekke


Lefkara village


Cedar valley


Alps from plane window


Venus in Cyprus museum

Last edited by sbasak : 26th December 2007 at 15:13.
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Old 26th December 2007, 15:30   #3
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Troodos mountain road


Agia Napa beach


Petra tou Romiou


Akamas
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