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Beautiful Cyprus!

Written on: Wednesday January 27th, 2010

A journal entry from: Sun, Sand and Wind

Hello Again! 
 
So after two short flights and a layover in Cairo, I arrived in Larnaka, Cyprus. Cyprus is an Island in the Mediterranean sea, west of Syria, and North of Egypt. From Cairo, it is about the same distance as from North Bay to Toronto, and the flight was great with some really cool clouds and sunset. Cyprus is the 3rd largest Island in the Mediterranean, and has approximately 1,000,000 inhabitants. It is most often known for it's beaches, vineyards and incredible ancient history (Did you know; Cyprus is the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite?)

Upon my arrival, I decided to change my plans and rent a car instead of taking public transport around the island. There is no formal transport system here in Cyprus and therefore, in the end the car was not much more expensive, and offered me a world of freedom I could have never had if I was bound by bus. Renting the car was easily the best choice I've made of the whole trip so far. My car was a small Honda Jazz, automatic of course. Too be honest, not a bad car. I quickly adapted to driving on the left hand side, and made my way to the the town centre to find my hotel.

The hotel was right near the beach in an alright area, about 10min walk to the downtown. After my stay at the Swiss Inn in Dahab, this was certainly a step down, but it was alright nonetheless. That night I went out to explore the town a bit, since it is winter is was fairly quiet but still quite nice. The next morning I started my journey along the southern shoreline to the city of Paphos. Usually only just over an hour drive by hwy, I took the side roads and spent 7h getting from A to B. The landscape is so beautiful here, from the ocean and beaches to lush green fields, to orange and lemon orchards, to treed slopes and snow capped mountains.

I spent two nights in Paphos, at the Roman hotel, which was in itself an experience. The whole place was painted with ancient Greek themes, including the bedrooms. In Paphos I went and saw quite a bit of ancient ruins and historical areas. The neatest of these would be the Mosaics, dating back to the 3rd and 5th centuries. This area has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On my 2nd day in Paphos I was having some problems with my car, and seeing as I was headed to the mountains next I wanted to make sure to get it changed. So before leaving Paphos, I had it replaced with a new vehicle *Same model as the previous.

I then drove north to the baths of Aphrodite, and afterwards started to make my way back east towards the mountain hamlet of Troodos. I thought it would be fun and a good idea to take a shortcut between two mountain villages. My map showed there being a road between the two, but as I was making my way along, it seemed to be more like an atv trail on the side of a mountain, this was certainly testing the car and myself. After 3 of 4km until the next village, my journey was put to a halt, by a large rock slide blocking the rode... after a nice 8pt turn I started making my way back... this unfortunately set me back slightly in my dad, but was an adventure all in itself! 
 
Once on the right track, I had about 80km until Troodos, and about 2h of sunlight left. The driving was of the most intense I have ever done, and you really had to concentrate *I was lucky "if" I averaged 40km/h. As I started to near Troodos, you could see the snow in the distance on the mountain slopes. Finally, as the sun was starting to set I had reached the snowy areas. I decided I would drive up Mt Olympus. Mt Olympus is 1950m in altitude and is the highest point in Cyprus. I managed to drive my little 2 wheel drive car, SIX km past the snow chain area, and to the top! The view was quite breathtaking! I then made my way to the only hotel in the area, located a couple km away in Troodos.
 
After a good nights sleep I woke up early, the air was brisk and fresh with a slight breeze, with an air temperature around -5. I got ready to make my way back up Mt. Olympus to the Cyprus Ski Federation centre. That's right, believe it or not, most years from January until April, you will find many Cypriots on the small ski slopes of their one and only ski area. The snow so far this year has been nothing great and the ski runs were not yet open. But this suited me just fine, as what I really wanted to do was some good old cross country skiing.
 
I got suited up with some old rossignol skis and some retro boots and was ready to go. They don't have any groomed x-c ski trails, so I simply made my way around doing some backcountry touring along the top and bottom of some near by valleys. To say that is was great skiing would be an overstatement, but it truly was a unique experience, and one I will never forget! As a skier, coach and former racer, I have skied many different clubs throughout Ontario and Quebec, but none can compare to the unique flora and scenery of the Troodos mountains. After about an 1.5h it was time to get back on my journey and off the mountains before I got myself stuck in some snow storm or random back road.
 
I was now heading to the island capital of Nicosia, which shares a border with the Turkish part of the Island. Instead of cutting through the mountains, I decided to go back down to the sea and take the hwy. Although longer in distance, I think it was faster and much easier driving. I explored the city for about 5h, before getting back into the car and headed to the most eastern point of the Republic of Cyprus, Agia Napa. *The island is 60% republic/free, 35% Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Only recognized by Turkey), and the rest is broken down in UN areas and british army bases.
 
In Agia Napa, I settled in for a long and not so cozy sleep in my car. Now, as I look back and reflect on my time here in Cyprus before heading to the airport, it really has been an amazing 6 days. Unlike when I traveled through Egypt, I did not meet many people here, as it is a quiet time for tourist, and not really geared to budget travelers, but I can still easily say it has been the best part of the trip so far.
 
I would highly recommend those who can to visit the island some day. Physically speaking, I would put it up there as the 2nd nicest place I have ever been to, after New Zealand. It is a beautiful place, and some say even magical!
 
The next 24h are going to be extremely long, with a short flight back to Cairo, and then a 9h layover before a very early morning flight to Germany. I am very excited for this last leg of the trip, and most of all to see old friends!
 
Take care,
 
David W.

 

From Ryan on Jan 27th, 2010

hey buddaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy. finally got around to reading your blogs, Dahab to Cyprus. Nice work. Too bad about the windsurfing but loved your passion blog so glad you were inspired to write it. Enjoy the last part of your journey, I hope the wheels are in motion for your next adventure. Tamsin and I just booked our trip to Eastern Europe. Cheers!

From Tante Ingrid on Jan 28th, 2010

I have finally had time to go back to your blog. It sounds so beautiful in Cyprus. I think you have done it well spending so much time there and travelling so far. Thank you for the inspiration.

From dede on Jan 30th, 2010

Too bad about the pile of dirt in the middle of the road. I would have been nice to drive through the other side. Good compostion on your picture taking.

From s#2 on Feb 2nd, 2010

At this time, you're somewhere over the Atlantic on your way back HOME! À bientôt! xxx