Cyprus: The Island of love, if legend is to be believed
One thing guaranteed in Cyprus is the weather. Temperatures in Summer often reach 40 degrees, sometimes more. That detail made me book flights before I could say ‘Yammas’.
However, on landing in Paphos I was overcome by the majesty of the mountain plains and the sheer history that encapsulates the island.
I soon learned there was more to this place than sunshine and Ouzo.
There are hotels in abundance in Paphos but I recommend staying at the Avlida Hotel. We have stayed here for the past two years and can’t fault the place. On the main strip of Paphos town (Tombs of the Kings Road) there is a bus stop directly outside so getting around is easy enough if walking is not your idea of fun. Bus rides are around 70 cents whichever stop you get off at. The Avlida is quiet but not quite enough to make you feel as though you are the only residents. The pools are large and the entertainment rep always has games on the go.
The strength of the Pound to the Euro is not great at the moment so expect to pay around the same prices as you would in the UK. A meal for two can range between 30 and 80 Euros depending on where you eat. Normally it is a good idea to change your money once you land in Cyprus. Obviously swap some before you leave so as to gather the essentials but once settled, scout around in the local kiosks for the best rate. This summer (2009) we found the highest was about 1.06 when the exchange rate in the UK was around 1.02
If you fancy a drink whilst in Paphos head to Bar St. The name itself gives the game away. For just 25 Euros myself and my partner had a very merry time. Why so cheap? The bar reps will not leave you alone. For some this may be a hindrance but as they work on commission they are eager for you to spend as much money in their bar as possible, therefore, you can take full advantage and barter for two for one offers and free shots. Speaking of shots, Cypriots like to offer you a complimentary shot when the bill arrives at restaurants – perhaps something to soften the blow!
If you do one thing in Cyprus - rent a car. The hire companies are plentiful, advertising their own ‘special rate’. Haggle, if not on the price then on the number of days you have the car for. Once you’ve got your wheels, you’re good to go.
Just two and a half hours away from Paphos on the other side of the island is Ayia Napa. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Cyprus, there is more to this town than partying – the beaches. This stretch of the island boasts some of the most unspoiled coastlines in the Mediterranean. Swimming in the warm waters certainly beats the near zero temperatures in Britain and the white sandy beaches and crystal clear ocean give Ibiza a run for its money.
Paphos to Ayia Napa, or one side of the island to the other, takes around two and a half hours to drive. The roads are clear practically all of the time and as Cypriots drive on the same side of the road as us Brits, there isn’t the added stress of finding yourself confused at any roundabouts! A road trip allows you to experience the ‘real’ Cyprus. Among the small hidden villages are some real gems that you’ll discover along the way. Stopping off at the various rest stops can unearth some wonderful characters. At one point we were invited to join in a family barbeque as we looked ‘starved’!
Driving through the Troodos mountains is where the sheer romance of Cyprus comes alive. Sunrise and sunset are the most glorious times of day as you drive through the peaks. The sky turns pink and suddenly passion erupts all around you. Driving back to Paphos in a convertible sports car as the sun sets simply has to ignite even the most hidden sparks.
Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, is said to have appeared from the waters around Paphos. If it’s good enough for the Gods, it’s good enough for me!
Places to eat
Demokritos, Agios Antonios Street, Paphos
Traditional taverna in the middle of the town. Quite pricey but the entertainment, in the form of traditional Greek dancing, is brilliant. Get there around 9pm.
Youkoso Japanese Restaurant, Tombs of the Kings Road, Paphos.
By far the best place I have ever eaten. From being greeted by the kimono-clad waitresses to the showmanship of the Teppanyaki chef, this place is out of this world. Be treated to traditional Japanese service and the freshest food.