Doing the tourist things
Although we wouldn’t choose the Crown Resorts hotel again, or even come back to Cyprus unless I was taking part in an archaeological dig, by being outside the main town of Paphos, you are more likely to explore further afield. As the bus terminus for 615 is just down the road at Coral Bay, we also found a mini-bus going from there to Agios Georgios (St George) through a local village and another that goes every 2 hours through hills and tiny villages north to Polis. We would not have found these if we had been based in Paphos.
Bus station staff are really helpful and times of buses are clearly shown. Bus 610 goes from the harbour bus station to the market, typical stalls you would expect to find in any market, but also some interesting local arts and crafts stands – I loved the sleek, black pottery but alas had no room to carry any home with me. All around this area the paths are fenced off with lots of road works (preparing for next year’s extra visitors) so it is a bit more difficult to get around. But we found a lovely little restaurant next to the market – Ktima’s – with a sunny patio and helpful waitress, very nice coffee and free WiFi.
If you cross the road back towards steps to the car park look for the signs for Hamam Museum. It is free entry and definitely worth popping in to read about its history. It is a typical example of Roman/Turkish baths showing several textile pieces behind glass plus couches you can actually sit on to rest. It was really interesting but I am sure it is missed by many who just go to visit the market.
You can get a brochure about their own trips (Ruslan Travel) from the bus station – similar to those on offer through the Reps at the hotels but definitely cheaper. You can do the three main trips for €64 each instead of €88 through the hotel. Best of all, they pick you up outside your hotel anyway. We booked two of the trips rather than all three as they would have been on consecutive days – a bit too much like hard work then!
Authentic Cyprus includes a visit to Sophia’s House, a typical village house with hand-made lace, furnishings and brightly-coloured woven costumes. We were treated to lovely home-made bread and local cheese for breakfast. Everyone enjoyed the visit to Yeroskipou and the opportunity to sample real Turkish Delight (loukoumia) – so many flavours to choose from!
This village also boasts the 9th century 5-domed church of St Paraskevi as well as the Folk Art Museum (not part of this tour but easy to reach by bus) with much older examples of traditional cottage industries. I was surprised that weaving and dyeing of beautiful soft scarves had been a speciality of this region, a fascinating mix of Greek and Turkish influences. It is amazing to see the superb craftsmanship in making pottery, fabrics and processing olive oils given what we would consider basic equipment. It shows that artists and artisans will always create beautiful things however limited their facilities.
One of the best parts of this trip is north to Latchi, near Polis, the town less commercialised with excellent restaurants and bars along the harbour front. Further along the coast is Aphrodite’s Cave and Baths, including her favourite pool where apparently she met up with various lovers, so the legend goes. It certainly is a beautiful location (see the Silver Traveller bag on location!) and if you are visiting on your own, you should make time to climb the steeper paths to the top for spectacular views along the coastline.
The trip to the Troodos Mountains is a bit of a test – a very long day on twisting, winding roads through the forested mountains. It is such a vast area, you could nod off for half an hour and the scenery looked exactly the same when you woke up. However, the monastery of Kykkos is what makes the trip worthwhile. This is the richest monastery in Cyprus with stunning gold-leaf mosaics everywhere and huge chandeliers made from melted-down solid gold or platinum. It has an incredible history and is well worth a visit. This trip ends with a brief wine tasting so that cheered everyone up.
For holidays to Cyprus Silver Travel Advisor recommends Sunvil