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Cyprus: In search of mighty Aphrodite June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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The Greek goddess of love was a beauty. Visit her baths and temple or other sites where they celebrate her on Cyprus.

Aphrodite is mighty on Cyprus. Well, you can’t blame them for trying. Any island that has to boast Isaac Comnenus, St Spyridon and good King Evagoras as national heroes will have a bit of an uphill struggle when it comes to pulling in the cultural tourist. Thank God for Aphrodite. According to both Ovid and Homer, the place she called home was Balmy Cypressus and that was my destination, too.

So which way to the goddess of love?

While speeding west down the A6 from Larnaca, it was heartening every so often to see large brown signs reminding me that this was the right direction if I wanted Aphrodite’s Baths. Already my mind was racing with images of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in that sumptuous marble bubble bath which Hollywood campery constructed for her.

And were you seduced? (more…)


Paphos > Have a go on Aphrodite’s twister June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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There’s much to love about Cyprus, home of Aphrodite and playground of the gods.

Troodos Mountains > Get away for it all in the magnificent Troodos Mountains, where the air is filled with the fresh smell of pine. Expect dense forests, abundant wildlife and a great number of nature trails and hiking routes, and you won’t be disappointed. Discover charming mountain villages where time has stood still for centuries, and look for handcrafted goods such as lace and silverware. Mount Olympus at an impressive 1,951m is the island’s highest mountain and a winter- sports paradise. By car: take the highway to Limassol and then follow the Erimi exit towards Platres and Troodos; journey time one hour plus.

Lara Beach > Head for Lara beach, home of the protected green loggerhead turtles. Visit during June and July to see these extraordinary creatures haul themselves out of the water to lay their eggs in the sand, and in August to see the hatching taking place. Find out all you need to know about turtles at the excellent Turtle Information Centre. By car: take the Tombs of the Kings Avenue towards Agios Georgios and follow signs for Akamas peninsula; journey time about 30 minutes.

Aphrodite Water Park > For water-based activity, look no further than the Aphrodite Water Park. Adrenalin junkies of all ages should try the double-twist open slide, the black hole, the five-lane racer and the free-fall and kamikaze slides. The less intrepid can relax with a leisurely ride on the lazy river or by soaking up some rays in the landscaped gardens. By car: take the coastal road from the harbour towards the CTO public beach and follow signs; journey time around 15 minutes.

Time Elevator > Get to grips with the rich and diverse history of Cyprus in an educational yet highly entertaining manner with the Time Elevator in the Carob Mill warehouse, behind the medieval castle at Limassol. This simulated ride covers everything from ancient battles and religion to the legend of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. The Carob Mill warehouse development offers a range of traditional Cypriot restaurants, bars, cafés and local craft shops. By car: take the A6 east to Limassol and follow signs; journey time approximately 50 minutes.

Polis and Latchi > Situated on the rugged Akamas peninsula, the sleepy town of Polis is perfect for those looking for a little rest and relaxation. Take a leisurely stroll down the main street with its boutiques, bars and cafés, and stop off for a light al fresco lunch in one of the traditional restaurants. Fans of fresh seafood should make for the picturesque fishing village of Latchi, which has some of the best fish restaurants Cyprus has to offer. Tuck into delicious platefuls of sardines, swordfish and squid. By car: take the road to Pano Paphos and follow signs; journey time approximately one hour.

Aphrodite’s Bath and Akamas Trails > Legend has it that the goddess Aphrodite emerged from the sea, just as Cyprus did itself. Don’t miss Aphrodite’s Bath, a picturesque rock pool and waterfall where the goddess is believed to have bathed, which oozes with magic and mystery. Put your best foot forward on the Aphrodite and Adonis walking trails on the Akamas peninsula, which pass dramatic coastal areas and historical landmarks such as the ruins of a Byzantine Monastery, where the dynamic duo were said to have met and made love. Pick up a Nature Trails of Akamas leaflet from the local tourist-information centre. By car: take the road to Panos Paphos past Polis and follow signs; journey time approximately one hour.

For further information, contact Cyprus Tourism Organisation  > www.visitcyprus.org.cy

Down to the Mediterranean with a bump June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Paphos.
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A break in Cyprus is just what a pregnant Brit friend needs. But is it worth the risk? Let’s see what she has to say about it. 

And so it is that by the time I’ve packed my hospital notes and boarded the plane, I am shattered. Total delight then to discover that having informed Britannia of my condition, I have been allocated a special-needs seat (extra legroom!). Even more delight when we arrive at the Anassa, a five-star spa in an idyllic setting near the small village of Polis. If ever there is a time to throw money at holiday accommodation, pregnancy is it. I have never felt less sociable, less capable of dealing with minor irritations or more in need of a cushioned sun-bed high enough to roll off. The Anassa, reputed to be the best hotel in Cyprus, fits the bill nicely – a sanctuary of marbled luxury with the added benefit of a mum-to-be pamper package at the spa (£75).

I spend day one being massaged, exfoliated, and having my feet seen to (miraculously they know I can’t reach them) and day two lying by the pool. I speak only once, when the bleary-eyed mother of a newborn is moved to approach me. “I wish I’d come on holiday when I was at your stage,” she says with feeling, “but my doctor warned me off.” I say I know how she feels and nod off.

Our budget doesn’t stretch to 10 days of this so we move on to the Almyra in Paphos. Recently revamped into Habitat-catalogue grooviness, the Almyra (the old Paphos Beach Hotel) is perfect. We have a bungalow on the seafront (I emphasise again, money is well spent on this holiday) with a private lawn and daybeds with real mattresses. Pool and breakfast are a short stroll through the gardens and the general hospital just streets away. Finally I relax. (more…)

Skopelos: Rock me gently June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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Skopelos may lack the history, culture and scenery of its better-known neighbours – even getting there is a struggle. But this craggy Greek island is the perfect place for reflection.

Travel, according to Lawrence Durrell in his memoir Bitter Lemons (1957), “can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection”. The more so when that travel involves an island. Durrell’s subject was Cyprus: cosmopolitan, large, developed, Levantine, busy. Skopelos is at the other, western, extreme of the Aegean and is very different, being small, primitive, quiet and really very Greek. It’s an ideal venue for introspection.

Skopelos is one of a tight group of islands off the coast of Euboea whose names all begin with “sk”, reminding Durrell of scallywags. He also called them “maiden aunts turned pirates”. Like the more popular Skiathos and Skyros, Skopelos is almost wholly lacking in worthwhile antiquities. The ancients knew it as Paparethos, but then seemed to lose interest. It has a grotto that is not much visited, some ancient tracks called calderimi and there are some monasteries, mostly abandoned. One of them did, however, accommodate Skopelos’s first literary hero, Dapontes, a monk born in 1707 who wrote very long poems which even the guides describe as “of very limited literary interest”. As a result of its modest cultural patrimony, Skopelos has been largely protected from the worst indignities of archaeological, or, indeed, any other sort of tourism.

But if Skopelos is not defined by its heritage, it is most certainly defined by access and geology. The name actually means “rock” and the island is craggy and precipitous. With 67km of coastline and two towns it is more than a mere lump in the sea, but retains many of a rock’s characteristics. Skopelos’s coast is hostile, but it is a surprisingly green island: there is a bare flat plain in the middle, with abundant plum orchards, as well as figs, olives and vines, but nowhere is there space to meet the unnegotiable horizontal demands of an airport. With no concessions to cultural curiosity and a fine inaccessibility from the sky, Skopelos has maintained a unique personality.

Even as the island depends on the sea, the locals do not have the characteristics of fishermen. Ernle Bradford, author of the fine Companion Guide to the Greek Islands (1963), found a distinction between the gloomy Skopeliots and their more cheery neighbours in Skiathos: “In simple societies throughout the world I have always found sea people are generous and land people grasping,” he wrote. Bradford found the Skopeliot peasant farmers “apply to their fellows the same hard attitude that has earned them a profit from their fields”. The distinction is preserved today in a different style: Skiathos was long ago ravaged and humiliated by egregious tourism. Skopelos may not be exactly virginal in this respect, but retains measures of dignity and modesty unusual in the Mediterranean. One of the great sights is the old boys sitting in the shade on their wood chairs, drinking ouzo. Sometimes when the bar is not open they just sit anyway. A Greek proverb says “Work is hard, but no work is harder”, and this is what they seem morosely to be demonstrating. Occasionally, you still hear the click and flick of the worry-beads, but the mobile phone has largely replaced them as a therapeutic for manual fiddling. (more…)

Go green on Skopelos June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean.
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Villa Metochi is a three-bedroom property with a spacious garden situated on the edge of Skopelos Town on the Greek island of the same name. Set against the mountainside and surrounded by dense olive groves, the villa has uninterrupted views of Skopelos Bay and the harbour.

The town itself is a warren of tavernas, cafes and bars. The villa has a private pool and the beach, port and restaurants are only a 10-minute drive away. Skopelos is the greenest of the Greek islands so expect plenty of pine forests and majestic scenery.

Getting there: Simply Greece (0870-405 5005; simplytravel.co.uk) offers seven nights’ self-catering at Villa Metochi for £359 per person, based on six sharing, including return flights and car hire, saving £160 per person for departures on 30 August.

Opera without the boring bits June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus.
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Ten tenors from Australia have included Cyprus in their current world tour and will present classical and contemporary numbers (as well as an impressive stage presence).

Formed in Australia in 1995, The Ten Tenors have come to characterised as the ‘musical chameleons’ of the 21st century. They have captured the hearts of audiences across the globe, with their combination of classical, opera and international popular music.

Last May, local crowds were wowed by the Ten Tenors and following its huge success, the group have decided to include Cyprus in their world tour, this time with two performances in Nicosia.

The Ten Tenors all met at university in their hometown of Brisbane while studying opera. In 1995, they joined forces as the headline act for the birthday celebration gala of a major Australian television network. With requests for repeat performances, the group soon became popular throughout the country. They appeared together in operas, recitals and concerts as they developed a close and lasting friendship. The Tenors created and performed their first full-length show in 1998, while still full-time students, even undertaking an intensive touring schedule in Australia. (more…)

Cyprus: British Army Demotes Mascot Goat June 25, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News.
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British Army Demotes Mascot Goat > According to BBC Gruff justice as Billy is demoted The regimental goat of the 1st Battalion Royal Welch has been demoted – after refusing to keep in step at a parade to mark the Queen’s birthday.

The parade on 16 June was held in the presence of a number of invited dignitaries including the ambassadors of Spain, Netherlands and Sweden and the Argentine commander of UN forces on Cyprus. His handler Lance Corporal Dai Davies, 22, from Neath, South Wales, dubbed the goat major, found he was unable to keep him in line.