...images from planet Earth
4 - 6 September: Polemidia
When I stepped off the plane in Larnaca, I realised the smell I remembered was not just the smell of humidity, it was the unique smell of Cyprus. My cousin picked me up and I spent the first three days with my relatives in Polemidia near Lemessos. It felt nice to be back. On the first two days I went to the local beach, Lady's Mile, which is not the prettiest but it's fine for sunbathing, swimming and beach ball. On the third I went with my cousin to Fassouri water park, which was actually really good and made a nice change from the beach. 7 September: Kourion - Paphos - Drousia Picked up my hire car and drove towards Paphos. The first stop was the ancient site of Kourion. The amphitheatre is not so ancient anymore as it's been restored and is used for performances today. Nearby is the Annexe of Eustolios with its well preserved floor mosaics, all against a background of the bright blue ocean below. I drove on to Paphos town where I stopped for lunch and visited the famous Paphos mosaics. Then to Avakas Gorge which was quite dry this time of year but it was a pleasant shady place to relax. Driving back I noticed loud crashing waves against a rocky beach so I parked up and walked down. I stood there for a while watching in awe the power of the sea. Drove through Kathikas and lots of small villages up to a hilltop at Pittokoppos, from where I saw the sun set. That night I stayed at a nice apartment at Drousia for CYP15.
8 September: Akamas Peninsular, Latsi
Drove northwards to the coast at Latsi. Parked near the Baths of Aphrodite which I walked past on my way to the Aphrodite trail, part of the Akamas peninsular. The first half was a steep climb and under the heat of the midday sun it was quite exhausting. But the views of the greenery and the blue and turquoise ocean below made it worthwhile. On the way up I saw a campsite overlooking the ocean and decided that's where I'll be sleeping tonight. Spent the late afternoon relaxing at a deserted pebble beach then set up my tent and showered using a hose pipe. Had dinner at the nearby beach resort of Latsi and drove to Polis briefly before catching the world cup qualifiers involving Greece and Cyprus back in Latsi.
9 September: Latsi - Stavros tis Psokas - Kykkos - Troodos
Didn't sleep well in the tent. It was hot and I kept getting bitten, although the sound of the ocean was nice. After breakfast I left the coast behind and drove up winding mountain roads to Stavros tis Psokas. It took less than an hour to get from beach to mountain. Here there's an enclosure where moufflons are kept, the species of goat that are endemic to the island. After a brief stop for lunch, I drove on to Kykkos monastery, which was one of the most impressive I've seen with its extensive gold decor and large and imposing icons on the walls and ceiling. Also impressive was the museum next door, not just for its exhibits but also the marble floor, the atmospheric lighting and the haunting Byzantine chanting that is played in the background. I then drove to Troodos, the town within the mountain range of the same name. The hostel I planned to stay at had closed but the ranger found a room for me which was actually a converted office which was dusty and had no power. Despite this I managed to sleep for 12 hours, so it was well worth the CYP2 I paid for it.
10 September: Troodos - Platres
Drove up the Mt Olympus road to the trailhead of the Artemis trail which runs around the summit of Mt Olympus. (The summit of Cyprus' tallest mountain is out of bounds because it's occupied by a military installation). Within minutes I was in a forest rich with the smell of pines. It was cool and flat with nice views of the forests below. I was pleasantly surprised and it turned out to be the best hike I've done anywhere. No steep climbs and no sweating. The other good thing was that you never get used to the smell of the pines; it was so strong you notice it all the time. I took my time and three hours later I was back at the trailhead. I then drove to the mountain resort of Platres, less than 15 minutes drive away. The helpful guy at the tourist information centre found me a cheap hotel for CYP13 (it was a bit easier to find accommodation now the busy tourist season was over, and the prices were sometimes lower too). After lunch drove up to the start of the Kaledonia waterfall trail head. You can walk all the way to Troodos from here. It was fairly steep on the way to the waterfall but it took just over half an hour. Cooled down under the waterfall and stayed there for about an hour before heading back, which seemed to only take about 15 minutes.
11 September: Platres/Troodos - Polemidia
I thought about relaxing in Platres this morning but there isn't much to do there at all. I really wanted to go back to the Artemis trail so I drove back up to Troodos. I didn't do the whole trail again. I just walked in a short distance and sat there relaxing, reading and breathing in the forest air. That afternoon I drove back to my relatives in Polemidia. Although it was overcast it was still very hot and I went to the beach for a few hours to escape the heat. Went out with my cousin that night in Lemessos town.
12 September: Polemidia - Kalo Horio
Phoned up the car hire guy so I could keep the car for another day but someone else had reserved it, so I had to drive to Larnaca lo drop it off before collecting another one from the airport. Drove back to Polemidia and went to the beach again. That night drove to Larnaca again to spend my last night with my other relatives who lived in a village called Kalo Horio.
13 September: Pera, Maheras forest and monastery
I had thought about spending my last few hours at the beaches of Protaras, which are some of the best in Cyprus but I decided I'd spent enough time at the beaches and that I should head to some mountain villages. Inspired by a photo I'd seen in the Lonely Planet guide, I decided to go to a village called Pera, a short distance south of Lefkosia. It was quite difficult finding it but the locals were very helpful in directing me. Pera was small and very picturesque, and there were no other tourists here. I took a detour on the way back and drove through Maheras forest. Again I was treated to the fresh smell of pine forests. At one point, I parked my car by the side of the road and walked a short way into the forest where I sat for a short while. I continued along some more winding roads towards Maheras monastery before returning to Kalo Horio. I flew out later that day.