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Travel & Holidays in later life

CYPRUS FOR OFF-SEASON SUNSHINE

Sunshine was what Reg Butler had in mind when he embarked on a mid January break to Cyprus. He was not disappointed for the sun was setting in a dazzling blaze as he walked out from Larnaca airport towards his transfer coach. 

The sky was totally cloudless, with daytime temperature at the normal January average of 62°F. That remained the pattern during our week in Cyprus, apart from some night-time showers. 


Cyprus is the third largest and the most southerly island in the Med. Since the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, Greek Cyprus has boomed with a dedicated tourist industry.

Britain is the top market, attracting 1.4 million visitors a year - 60 percent of the total - followed by Germany, Greece, Russia and Sweden. 

 

Travel Facts

 

 

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TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Tourist Information

Cyprus Tourism Organisation

Currency
Cyprus has been part of the Eurozone since January 2008.

Mobility

For anyone with mobility problems, the newly-developed hotels in the Paphos area are better equipped.






Travelsphere escorted holidays

 

 

We stayed a few days at Limassol, the hub of holiday business. Greatly improved roads now connect with Larnaca, Paphos, and the capital, Nicosia. 

The Limassol waterfront, built on reclaimed land, has been transformed into a continuous line of hotels, restaurants, bars, holiday apartments, car-hire offices, and small supermarkets that supply self-caterers. 

Folk-dancing in Limassol
All are served by a Number 32 bus. There are regular bus services and shared taxis to other resorts and to Nicosia.

A  star evening was spent at the Carob Mill folk-show restaurant, located close to the medieval castle. The meal was in classic Greek meze style, with a series of small dishes of varied hot and cold delicacies - salads, fish, meat, cheese. 

The meats included smoked pork, meat balls and little sausages. Finally came kebabs, slices of grilled chicken and kleftico (oven-baked lamb).

Sixty percent of Cyprus' overseas earnings come from tourism. The rest comes from the only heavy industry - cement, based on the island's limestone hills; and from wine, olive oil and textiles. Greenhouses grow tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines for export. 

Thousands of carob trees produce beans used as cattle feed, and also as a substitute for chocolate. On slopes towards the 6,000-ft Troodos mountain region, vineyards and olive groves date from ancient times. 

The Commandaria sweet dessert wine is claimed as the world's oldest brand name, given by the Crusaders. In Homeric times it was called 'Nama'.

The cobbled main square of the wine village of OmodhosWe took a coach tour to the wine village of Omodhos, where one of the island's 25 wineries is located. Cyprus now produces much more quality wine than before, thanks to better wine- making know-how, and the import of new varieties. 

The village has some charming little shops that sell craft products such as lace and varied textiles.

Looking ahead to next Christmas I bought several 350-gramme boxes of loukoum - the traditional sweet of the region, otherwise known as Turkish Delight. But on the Greek side of the island, they call it Cyprus Delight.

The cost per box was about half of that in a waterfront souvenir shop in Paphos.

Paphos is delightful for its harbour, crammed with yachts and boats for water sports. There are plentiful waterside tavernas, where you can watch the world go by and admire the pelicans. 

Enjoying morning coffee in the January sunshine on the Paphos waterfrontDominating the harbour is Paphos castle - originally built by the Byzantines, dismantled by the Venetians, and then restored and strengthed by the Ottomans. 

Hotels in and around Paphos are newer developments, mostly overlooking the beaches. Coral Beach is the largest sandy beach, but in summer is the most crowded. 

If you prefer somewhere quieter, there are small bays along the coast, and many have Blue Flag status and a lifeguard in attendance.

All this coast is rich in classical Greek sites, with an overlay of Roman. Behind the Paphos waterfront are mosaic floors of noblemen's houses, dating from 3rd to 5th centuries AD. They are rated among the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Paphos was the island capital in Hellenistic and Roman times. The area was a major pilgrimage centre of the ancient Greek world, wrapped around the cult of Aphrodite. 

The legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, is called Petra Tou Romiou (the Rock of the Greek). That's the glorious coastal location where she rose from the waves.

Our tour coach stopped at a superb viewpoint, where the January sun gave an extra sparkle to the waves and the rocks.


Further along, a few miles from Limassol, we visited the spectacular remains of Kourion - an amphitheatre dating from 12th century BC. 

Reconstructed in 1935, the theatre is used today for musical and theatrical performances. An adjoining villa has mosaic floors from 5th century AD. 

Our final memorable occasion was a group lunch at Larnaca before taking the Cyprus Airways flight home.

A few of the platters of seafood served at a fish mezeAt the Fish Harbour restaurant we had the full works of a fish meze. As each dish was cleared away, more dishes arrived - certainly twenty or more. They included octopus, barbouni (red mullet), huge prawns, taramasalata, mussels, squid, sea bream, calamari, swordfish on skewers, and six-inch sardines.

Cypriots believe in slow food, not fast hamburgers. So no time was left to waddle across for final snaps of the harbour, shimmering in the January sunshine. 


 

Some other suggestions on where to go in the Med region

GIBRALTAR - fortress into tourist resort

LUXOR - Luxury living and the pharaohs

MALLORCA - Breakaway to the Spanish grandee rural life

MEDITERRANEAN CRUISING - get Insight into the ports of call

TUNISIA - the sandy-beach oasis.


"Books to read - click on cover pictures" or click on the links below

Cyprus (Rough Guide Travel Guides) - an up-to-date survey of the island's tourist resources, including hiking trails etc.

The Rough Guide Map Cyprus - An essential companion to the Travel Guide, it covers both sides of the divide between Greek and Turkish Cyprus. Amazon offers a combined price for the two together.

Cyprus (Lonely Planet Travel Guides) - updated coverage of both north and south Cyprus, and how to travel between them.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell - a classic description of living in Cyprus, leading into a sympathetic account of the disturbances between the two communities.


 

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