Paphos & Nicosia
We came from a warm London to an even warmer Paphos. We were met by the woman taxi-driver we had arranged with the hotel for €25, (approx 20 mins). She took us on what must have been the back way to the hotel, as there were lots of small roads and I was starting to worry the place would turn out to be in the back of beyond. We arrived at the Pagona Apartments (€40 per night in a very good location) and got a quiet room, as arranged. We were surprised at how spacious it was. The room was ground floor, no telly or WiFi in the room, it was slightly dated but had a basic kitchen, sofa and balcony. Great for us! WiFi was available by the pool and in the bar (perhaps if you ask to have the rooms either around the pool or next to the bar, you might have WiFi signal there).
That night we wondered towards the centre and found a friendly eatery called Georgia Meze House claiming to serve the best meze (mixture) in town; 26 small plates of local fare (salads, meat and seafood) for €18 each (min. 2 people), solely meat or seafood or veggie versions also available. The meze included many Greek favourites such as Calamari, Stifano (beef), Tzatziki (yoghurt and cucumber dip), Tahini (sesame seed dip), Taramasalata (pink roe dip) and Hummus (chick pea dip) with pitta bread. The local wine at just €9 a bottle was pretty good too. Our waiter was a chap from Cornwall who emigrated 18 months ago, sporting a tan reminiscent of wood varnish (no sun cream was his secret) who gave us tips about a locals beach called Rocas just opposite the water park.
The next day we woke up, had some breakfast we had bought from the supermarket the day before, and strolled a good 15mins to the Tombs of the Kings. The place was larger than we expected, with a dozen or so of vast tombs spreading across many acres of coastline, each full of graves carved into the limestone. They all were different shapes and sizes, each with steps leading down to arched vaults and large piers supporting whatever ceiling remained after 2,000 years of erosion. The info said that tombs were probably not of kings but rather rich noblemen. In one we even saw some of the paint remained. On the way back to the hotel the soles of my feet started to ache, and Mark was beginning to regret buying his cheap, sports-sandals from Sports Direct, after his feet started to blister. Once home we put our feet up and ate the remains of the meze that the waiter kindly plated up for us the night before.
The following morning we got up early to get a taxi to the central bus station (€8) to the capital. There are public buses available too for €1.50 to the bus station but we took as taxi to the central station, as we had doubts if the local buses were running on a bank holiday. We caught the 10am Intercity coach to the walled city of Nicosia €7 single, €13 return for the 90minute journey through some attractive yet rugged Cypriot landscape. To our surprise we saw many beautiful banks of pink and purple flowers punctuating our route. We quickly discovered that the tourist info office and museum were shut for the holiday, but we managed to get a map from a local restauranteur. The two of us wondered through the narrow cobbled streets past countless souvenir shops before taking a few snaps outside Panagia Phaneromeni church which was sporting the Cypriot flag. We found a little shop were a young guy who served us pointed us to the border and tried to help me locate the Buyuk Han caravansary. The places were easy to find and within walking distance. Arriving at the immigration office they asked if we wanted our passports stamped, and naturally we obliged. The Turkish side was crammed full of stalls selling jewellery and clothes; we even saw fake Nike trainers for just €8! We found the restored caravansary, which looks great in the sun, with its arched courtyard and high honey-coloured stone walls. These days its full of craft stalls selling homemade jewellery and mosaics and a few restaurants. Very pretty. Nearby we found the beautiful, stone Selimiye Mosque and the smaller St. Nicholas Church (Bedestan). Checking the time we realised that we could still make the 4pm coach back so we crossed back over the border. We alighted at the bus station and caught number 618 to the Harbour (€1.50 each) where I found a sweet corn stall that cooked it using charcoal and a mini fan. Yummy.
We strolled down the promenade to Paphos Fort/Castle, a small, rectangular fortification overlooking the bay. Then we walked (7-10min) back to the room and cooked a big pan of vegetable pasta while drinking the Black Balsam miniature bottle of spirit from Riga, which to be honest wasn’t to our taste.
The next day in the morning visited one of their beaches, relaxed in the pool area of the hotel and spent some time towards doing some bookings for our next destination. In the afternoon we enjoyed the view of the bay, the harbour and Paphos Castle before taking a leisurely stroll back to our room.
The last day we took a taxi to Kato Paphos bus station, by the harbour, (€8, min charge, 5-10 mins). We than caught the 612 bus to the airport at 10.30am (€1.50 each, 25 mins), a taxi to the airport would have been €23-25.
We had a very relaxing time there. It was excellent!
Our five day, four night trip to Cyprus cost €485 for two people excluding flights. (Prices accurate as at June 2014).