Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cyprus - Day 2 and 3

Cyprus – Days 2 and 3.
We woke both days to a blue sky and blue ocean. Not just blue – th kind of blue you see in the best picture postcards. Deep, bright sapphire. Temps around the 25 in the morning were a welcome change from the 35+ in the UAE. A lazy  start, then a stint in the gym, followed by breakfast and a swim, and getting some serious tanning begun, filled the first few hours both days.

Yesterday we decided to do a bit of a tour into the mountains. And so off we went at around 12:30’ish in the little Kia.  This is definitely the smallest car I’ve ever driven. A bit like a sewing machine on wheels – but thankfully it seems up to the task and we zip down the motorway to our turn-off into the foothills. The countryside is quite bare and stark. Signs of recent wheat/hay harvests are here and there, but otherwise there is little obvious agriculture, and certainly no grape growing to be seen (disappointing, that). A few villages pass and we stop for a coffee. The deep, small cup, boiled type that gives your heart the jumps and keeps you awake for the next 36 hours – yum. 

During coffee we decide to head for a monastery, about 30km ahead. The road takes us well into the mountains and the vegetation slowly changes from barren to sparsely wooded to forest. We pass charming picnic areas, a little old church dating back to the 1100s and push on over unsealed roads. Finally the monastery,  Macharais, is in sight – and quite spectacular (http://www.kypros.org/Sxetikos/Monastiria/MachairasE-1.htm). Apparently it also dates back to the 1100s.

Moving along, we wind our way over the top of the next mountain and begin the slow descent back towards Larnaca. Along this route we encounter a sizeable village called Lefkara, which turns out to be a little tourist hub for lace and silverware.  Totally charming and beautiful. An hour here and the call of an afternoon drink is too strong to resist so, with wallets untouched, we head back to the hotel.

Finally, dinner calls and we head out to a nearby local restaurant where we gorge on slow cooked lamb, pork and beef with assortments of veggies and salads. Best part of the evening is the live music trio – a guy on the balalaika, another chap on keyboards and woman with the loveliest singing voice. Replete with food, wine and lots of lilting Greek folk songs we return to the hotel and sleep soundly.

Day 3 begins as above. At around 1 o’clock we drive along the local coastline towards the nearest town – Agia Napa (pronounced Aiya Napa).  But there are again some sights along the way. Yesterday was filled with beautiful blue skies  - today is spectacularly so. And the ocean is the brightest blue I’ve ever seen. We stop to gaze at a little chapel on a headland, some tourist boats groups of people snorkelling in that deepest of blues. Agia Napa is pretty – lots of nice looking streets, but also a bit disappointing. Every shop is either a tavern, restaurant, or tourist souvenir shop. However it does have a redeeming feature. Hidden behind all these tourist traps is a lovely old chapel and monastery (I'm beginning to think that every town in Cyprus has one or more of these). And so after some browsing, a beer and buying a few essentials, we return to the hotel for a quiet end to the day, reading (and writing this!).

Tomorrow we’ve booked a cruise up the coast. I’m hoping the ocean and sky are still as beautiful and blue as today.

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