On Friday, September 6th, Rebecca and I set out for Larnaca, Cyprus. I would be attending a workshop on Monday to Wednesday of the next week so we decided to go a bit early and explore Cyprus.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and the third most populous. The Republic of Cyprus is partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic, comprising about 59% of the island’s area, and the Turkish-controlled area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and recognized only by Turkey, covering about 36% of the island’s area. The international community considers the northern part of the island as occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish forces. You might be wondering about the missing 5%, that is controlled by the United Kingdom and used as a naval base.
We picked up our rental car and drove to Limassol, the island’s second largest city located on the southern coast. That night, we had a traditional Cypriot meal (very much Greek cuisine) at one of the hotel restaurants.
The next morning, we drove up to the Troodoos Mountains passing a lot of vineyards along the way. We set out for a 14 km hike that circumnavigated the island’s tallest mountain, Mount Olympus, at 1,952 metres. The clear Mediterranean skies offered great views of the entire island right down to the coast. We stuck around Troodoos Square for a lunch of lamb souvlaki and chips. The Troodoos Mountains are also home to a great number of Byzantine monasteries hidden away from marauding seafarers of days past. We started our drive back to Limassol but made one stop at a vineyard for a tasting. A few weeks earlier, Rebecca had discovered there was an annual wine festival taking place while we were there. So that evening, we took the bus down to the Municipal Gardens and participated in the wine festival. It was a real family event with local entertainment, food, and great wines.
The next morning, we set out on a driving tour of the old coastal road between Limassol and Paphos. Our first stop was in Old Limassol to visit the medieval castle where Richard the Lionheart was married during his Crusade. We then drove to Kolossi Castle first built by the Frank’s in 1210 then later re-built to its present day appearance by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1454. Our next stop went a little further back in time to the Roman ruins of Kourion. It is a very well preserved site with Roman baths, agora, gladiator houses, a restored amphitheatre, and many excellent floor mosaics. We continued along the coast to Petra tou Rominou (Rock of the Greek), but it is also known as the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. A swim in the waters around the rock are said to grant you eternal love. We then drove to Paphos for a nice dinner by the harbor before starting back to Limassol on the new highway.
The next day, I started my workshop so Rebecca took the car back to the airport and headed for home. Cyprus was a great getaway for us to a cooler, Mediterranean climate with lots of delicious Greek food and wine as well as an abundance of history.