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Cytamobile-Vodafone issues two new guides for tourists to Cyprus September 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus, Telecoms, Tourism.
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The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority’s mobile division, Cytamobile-Vodafone, has issued a pair of free booklets aimed at tourists.

The Cyprus Visitors Guide 2007 and the International Roaming Services Guide are issued by CYTA’s Directory Services that include interesting information about events taking place in all tourist areas.

The revamped Cyprus Visitors Guide will help tourists find the most popular sites, museums, nature trails, the beaches, traditions, legends and cultural activities and entertainment taking place all over the island. It also includes addresses and contact details of leading businesses that a tourist may be interested in while visiting Cyprus.

On the other hand, the Roaming Services Guide contains all the information that a visitor would need regarding the mobile phone operations in Cyprus and how to reduce high roaming charges. It also includes a map with all the natural beauties of the island.


Cyprus > for the body and soul August 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus.
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Take a trip to Cyprus where, legend has it, if you have a dip in the sea off Paphos where the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, rose from the waves the years will simply melt away.

Sound far-fetched? Well, a trip to the goddess’s reputed birthplace truly can be good for body and soul. Our trip to Cyprus, the third biggest island in the Med, began at the luxurious InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort Hotel at Kouklia just 15 minutes drive from Paphos airport.

This sprawling, yet stunning, 290-room resort with low-rise buildings and fabulous views of the sea to one side, and mountains to the other, has simply everything you could need, even its own wedding chapel. In between the golf course, the tennis academy and the Retreat spa, you could be tempted to spend your entire trip “on site”. And that would be a mistake. This island has lots more to offer.

We also visited the stylish Annabelle Hotel at Paphos and the Columbia Beach Resort at Pissouri, both the last word in luxury. Spa breaks seem to be flavour of the month, though, and where better to indulge yourself than a sunny Mediterranean island only a few hours flight away that offers not only pretty well all-year-round sunbathing weather but a wealth of culture.

Cyprus’ history, ancient and modern, is fascinating. The island, advantageously situated at the crossroads of east and west, has been invaded many times and the result is a blend of cultures. It’s predominantly Greek, but its north area is currently under Turkish military control and occupation, and as a former British colony, with RAF bases on the island, English is widely spoken. They also drive on the left.

And as the only divided country in the Western world, it’s culturally interesting in terms of 21st century European politics. Turkey are the last invaders in July 1974. A trip to the capital Nicosia underlines the split. The green line couldn’t be more defined > if you head for the 11th floor of the Hermes department store in Ledra Street, a glass-walled observatory offers superb, panoramic views of the entire city, including the occupied area of Nicosia, the last divided city in Europe. 

The capital, however, is at once cosmopolitan and traditional, high fashion stores next to traditional restaurants. We enjoyed a super lunch in one of the many tavernas. But if you opt for the meze, small dishes similar to tapas, be warned: the courses just kept coming.

Culture vultures won’t be disappointed. The island, which was part of the Byzantine Empire for 1,000 years, has a wealth of excavation sites, ancient monuments and fortifications, and splendid churches and monastries.

Kourion is the most important archaeological site on the island with excavations dating back 140 years. It is perched on the cliffs above Limassol and nowadays in its restored open air theatre, plays and concerts are performed against a stunning seascape backdrop. Nearby, at Kolossi, the medieval Castle of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem is also worth a visit. Younger members of the family will be enthralled to see where boiling oil was poured onto invading enemy soldiers.

And it’s not all sunbathing on one of Cyprus’ excellent beaches or hot, archaeological sites. In the cooler months there’s excellent walking to be had in the Troodos mountains and, in January and February, skiing too on Mount Olympus.

It’s in the mountain villages that the true taste of Cyprus can be experienced. We had lunch at a superb taverna in Omodhos village. Its rustic charm, home killed meat, carafes of pretty passable local wine and again a seemingly never-ending rolling meze menu meant it was the perfect place to while away an afternoon.

The experience of the stunning beauty of the scenery, the excellence of the food, and the friendliness of the people will be unique to you too!

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Cyprus internet TV introduced August 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus, Cyprus News, Internet & Web, Media Radio TV.
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The Foreign Ministry and the Press and Information Office (PIO) presented the Cyprus internet TV, which aims at informing all those with access to the internet all over the world about various aspects concerning Cyprus.

Visitors to this site http://www.cyprusonfilm.com can have free access to selected documentaries about Cyprus in Greek, English and French, which introduce the viewer to the island, its land, history, culture, the political situation on this divided island, its people, its customs and traditions.

The site will be periodically enriched with new films, covering various aspects of life on the island in German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The above site serves as an internet portal for all government sites of Cyprus and other useful links.

The site was introduced during a press conference in the presence of Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoulli and Director of the PIO Yiannakis Solomou. “Internet TV was created to offer internet users free access to information covering a wide range of Cyprus issues,” the Minister said and described the site as a ”useful tool in the hands of the diplomatic missions of Cyprus abroad”.

In his statements, Solomou said that internet TV would show at first 17 films in Greek, 30 in English, four in French and nine in other languages. At a later stage, the site will include TV interviews of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, the Foreign Minister and other officials.

Asked why the site has no movies in the Turkish language, which is one of the two official languages of Cyprus, Solomou said that this is due to the lack of translators. “We are facing a big problem with translations. We cannot find enough translators to cope with our needs” he added.

Furthermore, a CD Rom was introduced during the press conference which can also be accessible on www.peri-kyprou.com.

The CD Rom, entitled “About Cyprus” gives information about 100 aspects of life, including Cyprus geography, environment, history, the political system, transport, communication. It also gives information on local agriculture, natural resources, social policy, services, education, the arts and culture.

Summer celebrations in Cyprus July 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Cyprus.
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Visitors to Cyprus this summer can add a cultural or gourmet experience to their trip thanks to the numerous events taking place on the sunny island. Main dates for the 2007 diary include >

Festival of Ancient Greek Drama > until 7 August > Now in its 11th year, the Festival of Ancient Greek Drama showcases performances in Nicosia, Pafos and Limassol by companies from all over Europe. This summer’s plays include ‘Iphigenia in Tauris’ by Euripides and ‘Ajax’ by Sophocles.

Cultural Summer, Agia Napa > until 26 August > Greece holds centre stage during Agia Napa’s Cultural Summer, with several shows dedicated to traditional Greek music and dance. Other highlights of the event include traditional Cypriot dance performances, a Children’s Dance Festival and an International Dance Meeting. For further information, phone 23 816307.

Summer “Medfest” > 28 July > The first international music festival held in Cyprus, Summer “Medfest” 2007 is a must for all urban music fans. Taking place in Nicosia, lead acts will include 50 Cent, Akon and ex-Mis-Teeq singer Alesha. For more information, visit www.medfest2007.com.

Pafos Aphrodite Festival > 31 August – 2 September > Set in the atmospheric Pafos Medieval Castle, the 9th Pafos Aphrodite Festival will showcase ‘Il Trovatore’, one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most famous masterpieces. As per the previous years, operagoers will be able to make the most of the performance with subtitles both in English and Greek. More information can be found at www.pafc.com.cy.

Wine Festival > 24 August – 2 September > Held annually in Limassol, the Wine Festival is a celebration of wine and local culture. Visitors can enjoy free wine on offer from 8pm to 11pm, while taking in local culture with traditional grape pressing demonstrations. Other highlights include open-air music and dance performances.

For more information about Cyprus visit > www.visitcyprus.com

Agrotourism in Cyprus > Tochni steps you back in times July 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus.
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Agrotourism in Cyprus can become a more important area of the economy. But what do the hills have to offer?

‘Discover the heart and soul of Cyprus’. I’m handed a colourful brochure with an enticing motto splashed across the front and told that what we have so far known about the beauty of the island is only half the story. So what’s the other half? A far cry from the sea and sun that are often praised as the true gems of the island, one word is about to change my perception of the place I’ve been discovering during my many trips to this magnificent island > agrotourism.

Allright, so the concept may be nothing new. After all, tourists have been encouraged to visit Lefkara, Troodos, Platres and Kakopetria for relaxation and tranquillity for more than a while. But the island has over 500 villages and only a handful of them are known to holidaymakers.

For this reason, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, CTO, has recently implemented an agrotourism programme, which aims to revive and preserve local traditions as special-interest tourism is developed in historically less popular areas. Agrotourism programmes are designed to give visitors the chance to become part of the rural community by living and working with its people, while still having the chance to enjoy the beauty and serenity the island has to offer. It’s a new and alternative holiday ideal that lets anyone slip into the true rhythm of country life.

Last March, during one of my short trips to Cyprus, I was lucky enough to be invited to stay the night in the village of Tochni, situated in the depths of the countryside between Limassol and Larnaca to see what the whole experience is all about. I was, however, unlucky enough to drive up to the village on one of the few days of the year that the skies decided to open. But what started off as bad luck actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In a land where blue skies and warm weather are the norm, I approach a village covered in a blanket of mist where the sky couldn’t have been a deeper shade of grey and the whole feel couldn’t have been more ominous. The magic of it was that this is a part of Cypriot life that often goes unnoticed but can be just as enticing as all the hot weather and various activities associated with it.

Then came the second best thing, the accommodation. As we run through the rain, we’re shown to our studio room that is part of a renovated village house decorated with Cypriot antiques and artefacts. Even more impressive is that standing on the balcony gives a view over the whole village and surrounding mountains as they meet the sea. Strolling through the complex, we’re soon greeted by Sofronis Potamites who has taken the whole project under his belt, establishing Cyprus Villages in 1987 in an effort to revive rural communities and preserve the traditional houses from bygone days. The lodgings he has renovated are dispersed through different villages across the island, from those in the countryside just outside Limassol, to others in the Troodos, Paphos and Akamas regions.

As we walk through the picturesque village of Tochni, set on the slopes of two hills, we set our sights on stone-built houses that line the narrow streets winding their way up to the Church of Saint Constantinos and Eleni. We then reach the village square and have a drink in the ‘kafenion’, coffee shop, where old men playing tavli, backgammon, seem more than happy to accommodate us in the place that they’ve made their second home.

What strikes me most about the kafenion is that it looks like the kind of place that has just stepped out of a 1920s movie set, where every detail looks like it hasn’t changed for decades. The walls are thick and whitewashed, the wooden shutters are old but still retain their bright blue hue, and the paintings that hang proudly on the wall depict heroes from the 1950s EOKA struggle for independence. Even the men that chat and joke seem to have spent their whole lives here and are intent on sticking to their old ways. What worries me is that this generation will soon disappear and some of the island’s oldest rituals and pastimes will no doubt vanish. Who will go to a traditional kafenion when they can go to a trendy new cafe?

This is where the purpose of agrotourism comes in, as it’s all about making the most of traditional cuisine, taking part in various village activities and going on outdoor adventures in the depths of nature, like hiking and cycling. As the sun sets over the village, we prepare for a dinner that consists of local delicacies and traditional food cooked the way it has been for years. A band plays bouzouki, the wine flows, and it feels like we are a world away from city life.

“This kind of tourism, especially in more remote rural areas, is very important for both domestic and foreign visitors,” says the Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s Koulitsa Demetriou. “It provides a great alternative from the typical sun and sea holiday to show what the countryside has to offer, from the cute local tavern to the small museum tucked away in the village.”

When it comes to statistics and the numbers of tourists coming into the country, the attention now placed on alternative holidays is also crucial as new types of individuals are targeted. Those who come to Cyprus to follow their hobby, whether its hiking and trekking, or visiting quaint vineries and olive farms. “These people usually opt to come to the island off peak, from late autumn to spring, and that means they inevitably expand the tourist season. So it’s not just about having more numbers arriving to stay here, it’s about giving small hoteliers and enterprises that extra bit of income when times are slack,” says Demetriou.

The next day is probably the best part of the experience, a visit to ‘Mrs. Loula’s Halloumi Farm’. As we drive through winding countryside roads, our bus pulls up to a house that’s hidden in the middle of a striking valley. “This is Mrs. Loula’s place,” shouts our guide and out comes the halloumi lady herself to greet us with open arms. All this comes as a bit of shock for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I had never imagined people still engage in large-scale halloumi making in their own homes, always having known that the halloumi cheese I eat is mass-produced in some dairy factory. But this wasn’t your usual halloumi, it’s true village halloumi and people from nearby areas take the time to travel to Mrs. Loula’s house to pick it up. It all happens on such a personal level that sometimes goods are exchanged instead of money. If Mrs Loula wants meat and a passerby wants halloumi, it’s a sealed deal.

Then comes the second shock, the halloumi was made in a small storeroom that connected to the kitchen, that connected to the bedrooms, that connected to the outdoor living room, with couches gracing the length of the construction, made of aluminium. Do people still live this way? The answer was yes and yes again, as we’re then greeted by Mrs Loula’s ten children who love to help her with the cheese making. Outside in the yard, long tables are decorated with flowery tablecloths and what seemed like any random ornaments that could be found in the house, Mrs Loula is delighted to see us and some ornaments hold signs that read ‘welcome’.

As we huddle around to watch the cheese being made we’re soon handed thick, hot pieces of cheese that melt in our mouths. Any packet of halloumi you pick up in the supermarket cannot possibly compare. Everyone is in a hurry to buy bags of the stuff and Loula explains that tourists who visit the countryside flock to her place in the morning just to eat some fresh halloumi with tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast. Now that’s really what I call living it up traditional Cypriot style! Certainly you have to be part of this experience!

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Quad bikes in Cyprus July 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus, Racing & Motors.
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Quad bikes, also known as all-terrain vehicles or ATVs, are essentially four-wheeled motorbikes.

The first production-model ATV was made by Honda in 1970, but with three wheels it was relatively unstable. The first quad to be mass-produced for recreational use was Suzuki’s Quad-Runner LT125, which came on the market in 1983.

They can have either manual or automatic transmission, and steering is done via a set of handlebars. The engines are similar to those of a motorbike, typically ranging from 50 to 1,000cc.

Today’s bikes fall into two broad categories: sport ATVs are two-wheel drive and capable of speeds of up to 120kph; while four-wheel-drive utility vehicles are primarily designed to handle rough terrain and have a top speed of around 100kph. There are even amphibious quads (AATVs), invariably with six to eight wheels. Prices range from Cy£800 to in excess of Cy£9,000.

Where to go in Cyprus >
Fun Buggy and Quad Safaris, Paphos, tel 26 912491, 99 118250 or 99 325 753
DK Buggies Rentals, Paphos, tel 26 930337
DMS Motorsports, Paphos, tel 99 912857
Sayious Motorsports Ltd, Limassol, tel 25 366525
Force 8, Limassol, tel 25 579919
Cyprus Quad Safari, Pissouri, tel 25 827020
CKJ Motorsports, Nicosia, tel 22 780280
Force 8, Nicosia, tel 22 760010

Time for a spa treat at Cyprus’ best hotels July 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus, Health & Fitness.
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Cyprus isn’t just known for its sandy beaches and warm weather; various spas from around the island have been featured in top women’s magazines from all over the world as one of the most luxurious and healthy ways to unwind, detoxify and beautify. 

Columbia Beach Resort, Columbia Spa > The spa is cosy, quiet and private in an utterly luxurious environment. The 1,050m² Columbia Spa is equipped with top-of-the-range products and professional therapists, boasting five treatment rooms, a spa bath, plunge pool, sauna and steam room. Recent refurbishments to the spa have taken place to coincide with the launch of partnerships with Molton Brown and Phytomer, both modern luxury companies offering professional spa treatments, detoxifying, contouring, anti-cellulite and firming body treatments.
They recommend the Celestial Maracuja Body Cocoon and Massage, a rich and indulgent body therapy that will drench the skin with moisture and exotic maracuja passion-flower oils. A fusion of raw sugar and flower extracts is first massaged into the body to boost circulation and to polish and brighten skin tone. Then experience being cocooned in a warm and creamy infusion of acacia and rich natural moisturisers to hydrate, plump and firm the skin. Once cleansed, you will be left to drift away as your body is treated to the hypnotic and soothing body massage with Indian sandalwood oils, leaving you deeply relaxed and wonderfully perfumed and hydrated. Price: £92 for 100 minutes. Contact: 25 833756.

Elysium Hotel, Opium Health Spa > The spa boasts one of the most impressive ranges of products, which have been carefully selected and formulated to combine the therapeutic benefits of spa treatments, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy and skin care. With a collection of exceptionally natural, high quality products, deeply relaxing and anti-stressing oils, revitalising seaweeds, cleansing mud, exfoliating sea salts and therapeutic herbs, you can achieve outstanding results on both face and body while bringing a calm serenity to the mind.
They recommend the Espa Total Holistic with Hot Stones. “As a spa manager, I understand the importance of relaxation,” says Ana Manuela Silva. “To achieve this at the Opium Health Spa I would recommend this treatment, which is one of my personal favourites.” There are seven subtle energy centres in the body, which control our equilibrium and inner harmony and through which one’s life force energy flows. Total Holistic begins as the body is massaged with Espa blended aromatherapy oils using volcanic hot stones. The stones are carefully placed on the energy centres and gentle stretching helps release deep-seated tension around the neck and shoulders. Critical tension points around the eyes and ears are massaged before an acupressure head massage is given. Price: £85. Contact: 26 844513.

Aphrodite Hills Resort, The Retreat > The spa boasts one of the most unique designs in Cyprus. The outline concept of The Retreat was that of a monastery, built on the ruins of a Roman thermae. In line with this, the design of The Retreat is truly monastic, spacious, with galleried hallways and an emphasis on the use of local materials, such as stone. With a total of 24 tranquil treatment rooms, the luxurious spa facility has an expert team dedicated to providing the ultimate spa experience to clear the mind, soothe the body and indulge the spirit. The Spa was also voted one of the top three destination spas in Europe at the Professional Beauty Awards 2007.
They recommend the Full Hammam Ritual.
The Greco-Roman bathing rituals of cleansing and relaxation are truly represented in the ultimate hammam experience, combining the benefits of hammam steam bathing, with exfoliation and massage. Starting with 15 minutes in the steam room, you are then led to one of three hammam treatment rooms, where you can recline on a heated marble plinth. After being deeply cleansed using a natural loofah lathered with essential oil soap, a full-body soap massage will follow. It will relieve tension, built-up stress and tired, aching muscles. Price: £65 for 85 minutes. Contact: 26 828100.

Anassa Hotel, Thalassa Spa > The spa has recently reopened after an upgrade and refurbishment. The new concept involves a holistic approach to well-being, offering The Organic Pharmacy’s and Osea’s 100% natural product lines, complemented by an expanded Thalasso programme, holistic and therapeutic lifestyle consulting, acupuncture, spa cuisine and natural treatments using local produce. You can indulge in a one-off treatment or immerse yourself in a four to ten day retreat or detoxifying programme.
They recommend the Anassa signature Cypriot scrub and wrap. A local flavour of Cyprus with Organic Cypriot virgin olive oil, sea salt, oregano, yoghurt and honey. This natural, potent remedy will leave your skin healthy and radiant. Price: £70 for 60 minutes. Contact: 26 888000.

Azia Resort, The Asphodel Spa > The spa is a hymn to nature, intriguing yet calming to the mind. The sound of falling water, the fine essence of ouzo and anise, the breeze in the garden rooms and the rich natural textures are enough to make you want a massage right now! After all, Elle magazine in the UK featured it in their Best 10 spas in the world and The Times wrote: “It is like entering a capsule of tranquillity. Azia manages to do luxury without snootiness or class ostentation, a rarity these days.”
They recommend the Ritual Renewal. A combination of five treatments including the Elemis Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow, Deep Tissue massage, Amethyst steam bath, phototherapy wellness room, water movement pool, infrared body healing sauna and use of the indoor pool chill-out area and Jacuzzi. The Renewal Ritual can even be organised for a couple in a double garden treatment room. Price: £85 each for approximately three hours. Contact: 26 845100.

Londa Hotel > The spa is the perfect place to recover from the pressures of everyday routine. You can do so through exercise, pampering and relaxation. Chose from 50 individual Darphin Spa range treatments for total well-being or use the well-equipped gym for cardiovascular optimum fitness. The new Spa Range, Payot, has also been introduced. The spa, with its sauna, steam bath, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, and jet power pool, provides total relaxation and body rejuvenation. But whatever you do, take some time to relax on the terrace and deck overlooking the sea and get a hand and foot massage by the pool.
They recommend trying the oxygen therapy, which is one of the most effective skin treatments for anti-ageing. The treatment helps restore elasticity, so once the appropriate serum is applied to the skin, the oxygen is pushed into it, helping to restore depleted moisture levels, leaving you with a sense of well-being and amazing skin. Price: £65. Contact: 25 865561.