on 18th of October and ended on 31st 2012. We had 12 participants from CAI-PNW, 4 from CAI-Milano, 13 from CAI-Spoleto and 17 from CSRC. The main purpose of the trip was to experience the environment and culture of Cyprus as we hiked with the several other hiking groups. This trip achieved that goal by coordinating with CAI Spoleto and CSRC. The 2 week program covered 4 areas of Cyprus. Pafos, on the western side, Troodos Mountain, in the center of the country, Paralimni on the eastern side, and north to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus, TRNC. The program provided a mix of activities such as hiking, visiting historical and religious sites, and city tours.
Transportation. Our main mode of transportation was by bus. We hired a bus with a driver, who stayed with us throughout the program. His accommodation and food expenses were complimentary, provided by hotels where we stayed.
Hotels. We chose budget hotels with half board options and were pleased with the food choices provided. Breakfasts were simple with a variety cheeses such as haloumi and cheddar, bread, jam and juices, as well as eggs and cereals. Dinners were usually Cypriot fair such as beef stifado, pork afelia, lamb kleftiko, and kotopoulo. Desserts were typically fruits.
Guides. All hikes in the Greek controlled areas of Cyprus were led by members of CSRC. They volunteered and their services were free to us. In Nicosia, we hired a city guide, Fabio Petrolillo, who spoke both Italian and English which made the participants from Spoleto very happy! He enlightened us with a brief history of the last divided city in the world, separated by a United Nations buffer zone or the Green Line. In TRNC, we had (to have) a compulsory guide for the three days we were there. We hired freelance guides, Salih Hamle and Huseyin Dagli. They guided us to St. Hilarion and Buffavento Castles as well as to the ancient city of Salamis. These required guides added to our understanding of the complex cultural situation in North Cyprus.
Trails. The hiking trails in Pafos(Akamas areas) were wide with moderate elevation gain but long. On average we walked 8 miles per day. The weather in Pafos was hot, averaging about 85-90° F. The first two days were hard for some, since most of the participants had just arrived and were still getting acclimated to the hot weather. The hiking trails in Troodos Mountains were narrower, with moderate elevation gain, mostly easy to moderate hikes. It was cooler in the mountains. We had rain and a hailstorm one day but not enough to warrant a cancellation. The trail in TRNC from St. Hillarion to Karmi was harder to maneuver, as part of the trail was a dry river bed, however, the views of the Mediterranean Sea from the top were spectacular. The same can be said for the Buffavento to Bellapais village trail, however, we were spooked by the sounds of gunshots along the trails. Our guide had warned us earlier about the hunting season which had just begun. Hunters were shooting for game birds. Overall, the whole trip went according to plan and within budget and everyone reported they had a great time in Cyprus. By Norizan Paterra, Trip Coordinator
The following are reports from participants:
Smigies/Kritou Terra. The bus took us to the start of the walk just beyond the village of Neo Chorio. The Smigies/Neo Chorio walk, about eight miles long, was circular going in a clockwise direction. The first half of the circuit was on very wide vehicle tracks (was this perhaps once a British army firing area). It was very hot and the advice to carry two liters of water was certainly vindicated. The two leaders from the British community rambling club led the walk efficiently. There were extensive views, at first over the west coast then to the cape at the north west corner of the island and then of the north coat of the Akansas peninsular to Polis and round the bay to the north. The vegetation was typical maquis with some signs of abandoned agriculture and an area of recent fire damage. We reached a lime kiln and passed a small chapel; goats were the only animals to be seen. Afterward the coach took us to Kritou Terra, where we met the mayor and Diogenese, who showed us around the village and was determined to show us traditional Cypriot hospitality. He had retired to his native village after fifty years in England where he had owned a hotel near Hatfield. The village had, when he was born in 1931, a population of a thousand, now it is sixty. We retired to the seats outside the taverna where the hospitality included coffee, beer, ouzo and versiliano (the village’s grappa). We left with a plastic container of the latter. After dinner we celebrated Erica’s birthday with cake and bubbly. By Peter Barrows
Lara/Viklari Restaurant. There were 2 hikes today. The Avakas Gorge trail was supposed to
be the more challenging and strenuous. I chose the “less strenuous” hike that was to go to the beach via the hills above the gorge. It turned out to be very hot – like 100 F and longer than the gorge hike. But there was the herd of goats with two males butting heads and a VERY large pig with a baby pig sprinting behind. Both hikes were to lead to the beach and after end for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea. But most of us chose to hang out at the restaurant – the Vikiari – rather than go further for a swim at the beach. Those who did found the current a bit rough but looked very refreshed. Rock tables under a grape canape, cool breeze from the ocean below – this was the haven we found at Vidiari. Wine, cold water & beer arrived and then the spit roasted pork and chicken which were delicious. There was music from Mimmo & his harmonica and some Italian songs for dessert. A short downhill walk to the bus and a ride to a better beach for a cooling off was a fun surprise. Our Cypriot-style dinner this night included, as always, wonderful Greek salad with haloumi cheese instead of feta and the usual shredded lettuce greens & cabbage, olives and wisps of sweet onion. By Cam Bradley
Avakas Gorge. On this day a part of the group opted to go with Enzo on a hike into the Avakas Gorge. We motored up the coast north from Coral Bay and started hiking from the sea. The route went up a road and over the crest of a hill adjacent to the Viklari Restaurant where the entire group was to meet later in the day for lunch. We descended the hill to a parking lot and the true trailhead for the hike. A short walk up a level road led to a narrowing and the start of the mini-slot canyon. This is a popular hike so there were a fair number of other people encountered. A small stream threaded through the gorge and some slippery rocks made the going fun and interesting. We walked up the gorge for about an hour before turning around. It was a cool and lush outing compared to yesterday’s hike. A minor threat was rock fall from above due to goats traversing the terrain above the slot walls. The many goats we saw were lower and not a problem. The gorge reached a minimum width of about 3 or 4 meters and the vertical walls reached a maximum height of 75 meters I would estimate. I asked one of the Cypriots on another hike what the maximum water level was in the gorge during a storm and was told 6 meters! After exiting the gorge some of the group walked back to the sea for a dip while others went directly back up to the restaurant for a refreshment before lunch. By Sam McClary
Pafos and Tombs of the Kings. The third day we got a cultural breakdown visiting the historical town of Pafos, where the most important spots are the mosaics and, above all, the Tombs of the Kings. Kato Pafos is the area near the sea which includes the excavation of Nea Pafos declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. In the northern part of the settlement of Kato Pafos we also visited the Tombs of the Kings. The foundation of Nea Paphos was probably between 321/320 and 316/315 BC under Nicocles, the last independent ruler of the kingdom. Shortly after the death of this, Cyprus fell into the hands of Ptolemy I Soter, king of Egypt and Pafos became one of the most important trading ports of the island and the main naval base of the Ptolemies, in which were built some of their larger ships; in the early second century B.C. it supplanted Salamis in the role of capital of Cyprus. Cyprus remained under Ptolemaic rule until the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC when the Romans conquered the island. Pafos has been the capital of Cyprus until the end of the Roman period. Cyprus remained under Roman administration until 330 AD, when the empire was unimpressed into two parts, the western part and the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Cyprus was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. The necropolis is contemporary with the foundation of Nea Paphos but, to tell the truth, no king has ever been buried. Since the Cypriot kingdoms begin to decline at the end of the fourth century BC, it is not possible to find tombs of the Cypriots kings. However the size, magnificence and monumental architecture of the tombs come to the conclusion that this part of the necropolis of Pafos was used for the burial of the rich and the most influential families of the time, as the high administrative officials. The tombs were carved into the rock and date back to the third century BC. The cemetery was used until the third century AD, that is, for about 600 years. Some of these tombs are built in imitation of the houses of the living, with the burial chambers, as the rooms of a house, overlooking a peristyle. Some tombs are similar in form and decoration to tombs found in Alexandria, Egypt, demonstrating the close relationship between the two cities during the Hellenistic period. Some graves are dug directly into the ground, others are off the ground, but the most interesting are those excavated in the rock, consisting of a dromos with steps leading into a peristyle atrium on which there are one or more rooms with niches for burial. The Doric order support an entablature with
triglyphs and metopes, and in some it retains a rich artistic decoration. The visit includes only eight graves, a part of the necropolis, the north, which became part of the UNESCO catalog. The most interesting tombs are the number 3 and number 4 but all deserve the attention of the visitor who is also fascinated by the background of the sea, which makes the site absolutely magical, though by now it was surrounded by buildings of the hotels. The tombs #3 and #4 are built according to the Doric order, the oldest order of Greek architecture. The graves were constructed in this way, ie with the atrium colonnade, to mimic the architecture of the housing. The grave is the house of the dead, so should be similar to it, because they believed in life after death. Homes during the Hellenistic period consisted of an atrium with rooms around it. An example of a building of such architectural plan is the house of Dionysus, which has been visited in the Archaeological Park of Kato Pafos. Doric columns have no base, rest directly on the stylobate, and their capitals are simple. Above the columns the entablature restored and decorated with metopes and triglyphs is clearly distinguished. The metope is the smooth
surface between the triglyphs. Although this necropolis was always known, was not only stripped by thieves, but has been used for many years by miners and by people who used them as makeshift homes. This has led to the destruction of the monuments, unfortunately total in some cases. By Emilio Senesi
Travel to Troodos (Tou Romio Beach, Appolo Ylatis, Kolossi, Kourion). Today we traveled from our first base of four days to our next base at Platres in the Mount Troodos area. We enjoyed the countryside from our comfortable bus and visited four major sites of interest before arriving that evening at our new lodging in the mountains. Site #1 was a beautiful beach of tumbled stones below white cliffs where the mythological Aphrodite emerged. After a pleasant stroll we bid goodbye to Tou Romio Beach and proceeded onward on the bus. Site #2 was the Sanctuary of Appolo Ylatis, a 7th –century BC shrine to the sun-god Apolio in his role as Ylatis, or god of the woods and forests. Present ruins date from early Roman times and several columns still stand. Site #3 was the medieval Kolossi castle built by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem as their Grand Master’s headquarters around 1210. The present shape we observed was built by the Grand Master, Louis de Magnac in 1454. It sports a drawbridge and welcome hole in the wall above as we expect of such structures. From its flat roof top one can only imagine the expanse of sugar plantations, vineyards, olive groves, carobs, cereals and cotton that would have been supervised. Site #4 was archeological sites in ancient city-kingdom of Kourion. The town was founded in the 12th century BC by Mycenaean Greeks, and was a large centre in the days of the Ptolemies and the Romans. Kourion was destroyed by two catastrophic earthquakes in the early 4th century. The remains of the structures we observed were from the 1st to 4th century. This is a large area with views of the distant sea. As in many of these archeological areas much is open just to wonder through and explore. Portions of mosaics are prevalent as added incentive for exploring under direct sun. Arriving at the cool location of our new lodging in the Troodos Mountains was even more appreciated after an interesting day of dehydrating archeological sites. By John Burnett
ArtemisTrail. On Tuesday, October 23, I hiked the easier Artemis Trail while a heartier group hiked the Atalanti Trail. Both were led by the CSRC. We covered about 4.6 miles in the beautiful Mt. Troodos area. After several days of 90 plus degree heat, it was refreshing to hike this beautiful trail in cooler weather. Troodos National Forest Park is at the centre of the island and covers an area of 9337 hectares. The highest point is Chionistra or Olympos (1952 m) and the lowest is Moni forest (700m). The area is magical and suitable for a variety of activities such as hiking, skiing, mountain cycling, nature study and picnics. Over 770 plant species have managed to survive, making Troodos NFP the richest botanical garden of Cyprus. The area’s geology is of world-wide importance. The world’s best preserved ophiological complex is studied by scientists with a view to achieving an understanding of how the ocean’s crust was created 90 million years ago at the bottom of a vast ocean known to geologists as the “sea of Tethys”. Along the trails,
one can see samples of plutonic rock which were created by the crystallization of magma which took place 2000-6000 m, under the bottom of the ocean.
Points of interest: The Pinus Nigra forest, rare species of flora and rocks of the area. Of historic interest are the ruins of rough fortifications built during the final year of the Venetian occupation of Cyprus (1571 AD) by a group of Venetian generals who decided to put up a defence against the Ottomans at that point. It ends at a point on the Atalanti trail. We picked grapes along the way, listened to Memmo playing the harmonica while the Italians sang, and witnessed tiny cyclamen blooming. However, at the end of the trail, it started pouring, and then started hailing!! As we ran for cover in a local cafe, the cup of hot vegetable soup, hot chocolate and cream cookies tasted so good. By Gail Adams
Foini-Xantara Trail. Our hike that day was particularly enjoyable because Memo played his harmonica and others joined him in song. Along the edge of the road were ripe grapes which we helped ourselves to. Song, grapes, and a well-kept road along which to walk–what more could a hiker want? Of course there were the three hills our guide, Antonio, had warned us about. The trail was a 15 foot wide firebreak which went straight up the three hills. Antonio said he had been worrying that the hill might be too much for us. We stopped at the base of the hills and had a discussion–could we climb the hills? After a bit I said, “I think we can do it, no problem. It’s a piece of cake.” Antonio put his hands on my shoulders and said, “I love people like you. I was so worried about the hill, I was even having nightmares. What if it rained? There might be a river of mud coming down on us.” We all scrambled to the top. Sam was the first one up. Later that day we had a nice lunch, sitting on a stone wall at the foot of a beautiful twin waterfall. By Frank See
Three Medieval Venetian Bridges. Today, Christina and Sue, from CSRC, were guiding this hike towards those three medieval bridges. We started with the blessing of a lovely weather, sunny but not too hot. It was perfect for a nice walk indeed! The hike was quite long but easy, no gain, crossing beautiful woods full of Aleppo pine-trees. Before reaching the first bridge- which had been discovered by Sue and Christina – we had the pleasure of “stealing” and eating some juicy grapes from abandoned vineyards and orchards. In fact, not only Aleppo pine-trees but also small farms scattered alongour trail gave us some flavours and feelings about Cyprus countryside. After one hour walk, we reached the first bridge. This bridge is anonymous and quite simple. We stopped for a while, taking some pictures and enjoying the freshness of the area. Then, we crossed the bridge looking at the stream below and we continued our hike among the woods. About noon, we reached the second bridge. This one is called “Elias” or “Olive’s Bridge”. There, our stop was a bit longer: a short rest and time to eat our packed lunch. The scenery was quite picturesque as this bridge is a cambered one. This was quite a surprise and it reminded me of many bridges which look quite the same around Italy. The water of the stream (Water is so precious in Cyprus!!) was clean but brown due to all minerals held in the rocks around a half an hour goes by very quickly, we had to leave that nice spot and start our way to the third bridge. Then, the group was split in two. Some of us chose a shorter but more difficult trail, the other ones continued along a comfortable partially paved route. This route was winding along the river, with steep slopes on one side. After almost one hour walk, the third Venetian bridge appeared. What a lovely place! This bridge is bigger and it looks much more important than the previous ones! All of them are stone built, but the arched structure of this bridge is quite imposing and more elegant! The river is wider there and it flows gently among old big trees. The Arcadian atmosphere of that corner made me think of ancient Greece, a place where nymphs could suddenly appear and play with us. Unfortunately, we had to leave…Our bus and our efficient driver came to pick up the group and we started our way back to the hotel. The return showed us more about Cyprus: mounts Troodos were around us, the landscape was wild and beautiful, the whole view unforgettable. The excursion was almost over. Hotel Edelweiss welcomed us. We were all ready for a pleasant dinner and a nice evening together. By Angela De Micheli
Kalidonia Falls, Panagia Lampidista, Kykkos. We leave the Hotel in Platres by foot, after few minutes we meet our guides and start the hiking to Kalidonian Waterfalls. The path follows Kryos river- more brook than river- going up and down. We cross it many times jumping from one stone to another or using little wooden bridge. The hiking is very agreeable in fact we walk in a shady wood . After one hour we reach Kalidonian falls, not so impressive- 35 metres of height- but very agreeable.
Again on the bus, after few kilometres we arrive in the Marathasa Valley at the Kalopanayiotis Village. Here, a little far from the village, built opposite of it we visit a fantastic place: the Monastery
of Agios Ioannis Lampadistis: The place is patronized by UNESCO and is regarded as one of the most interesting and better preserved of the Cypriots monasteries. It is built in the traditional Troodos mountains style. The roof is built with wood; the building includes three churches built from 1200 on during 400 years. As soon as we enter into the churches we realize that we are in an absolute darkness, but after few minutes we discover that all around and up in the roof we are surrounded by impressive, unexpected pictures. The colours are very bright, vivid and realistic. The frescoes were realized from 1200 to 1700. Great part of these is dedicated to Virgin Mary. In the middle of the Monastery a little court-yard, two cats sleeping one over the other, a deep silence, a lot of quiet. We visit also a very interesting museum; here a 15 icons collection painted from1500 is kept; founded in 1998 after having been hidden by the orthodox priests before escaping from the Ottomans invasion. Reluctantly we leave this very special place to reach Kykkos Monastery. Here, the buildings are modern and imposing, rebuilt from 1831 on after
having been destroyed by earthquakes. His history is modest and peculiar: one hermit lived here in a cave in the eleventh century, God appeared to him asking to busy himself moving the holy Virgin Mary icon painted by Saint Luca from Costantinopoli to Cyprus. The hermit succeeded and since the fifteenth century the icon is kept in the monastery, well protected and not visible to the public except in very particular events. In the Monastery there is a magnificent museum with a great number of Byzantines and religious works. Among these, a valuable icon collection. Two kilometres from the Monastery, on the top of the Throni hill,we visit the Archbishop Macarios grave. After having seen the Macarios imposing statue and a little walk we reach the very simple grave covered by a large black stone and watched by a soldier. The sight all around is really impressive. By Giovanna Leone
Nicosia-the Divided City. After an almost two-hour drive from the Troodhos to Nicosia, we met Fabrio, our Italian guide who also knew English very well. He was well-acquainted with the city and took us to the major historical sites beginning with the Monument of Liberty which symbolizes the release of prisoners in 1959. After a quick look at the aqueduct ruins we went into the cathedral dedicated to John the Evangelist, a small but ornate structure. Started in 1666, the gold leaf and frescoes on the walls and ceiling illustrated biblical stories as well as showing the people (unable to read) what was right and wrong. In previous days, men got to sit (or stand) on the main floor whereas, women and children occupied the small balcony! Once allowed after 1831, a bell tower was added. We had a peek at the archbishop’s palace with a statue of Makarios III, the first president of The Republic of Cyprus and archbishop of Cyprus until his death in 1977. From the sidewalk we viewed the closed balcony on the current Ethnological museum where at one time was the only place women were allowed to look outside – during an era they had to stay indoors! The Omeriye Monument was a church, but now a mosque used by Muslim migrants living on the Cypriot side, but from countries other than Turkey. At the 20th October Square we saw a beautiful building where students from other countries attend, built in 1859 so girls could have a secondary education. A small church in the same square was where slaves from Egypt worshiped. Some of our group went to the Cyprus Museum while others spent time in one of the old areas with interesting shops. In the afternoon we walked across the heavily guarded and armed “green line” (the cease fire line since the winter of 1963-64) to the Turkish side of Nicosia seeing shell-pocked and destroyed buildings along the way that at one time must have been beautiful. Signs in the UN-controlled, no-man’s land told us that photography was prohibited, which I abided by! We just walked through the Greek checkpoint, but had to show passports and complete forms for the Turkish for them to enter information about us into their computer system while they gave us a “loose” visa. Since garbage collectors in the north were on strike, much garbage was overflowing from the collection bins, stations and onto the streets. Most interesting was the architectural delight of the Buyuk Han (shown here), built in 1572 to provide accommodation for travelers and their camels from Anatolia and other parts of Cyprus. Back through the green line to the Greek side and along the busy pedestrian Ledras Street with the contrasting modern shops with familiar names. A full day after we arrived back in the Troodhos and our farewell dinner with our CAI-Spoleto friends. By Bev Riter
St Hilarion and and Move to Bellapais. This was a moving day for all of us. Before packing and checking out of our comfortable mountain retreat in Plano Platres, we bid a fond farewell to our hiking friends from CAI Spoleto. Once aboard our minibus, we headed northeast to Nicosia and on into North Cyprus, where we met our local guide. As we left the somber border crossing area, we were greeted by a riot of brightly colored flags, owing to the 4-day long Turkish National Day holiday. Flags of countless nations festooned the streets, with the bright red and white flags of Turkey and North Cyprus most prominent. Having left the Troodus Mountains behind, we traveled across the plains, admiring the Pentadaktylos Mountains in the distance. As we neared the mountains, we were surprised to see turrets carved out of the stone. Upon hiking up to the ruins of St. Hilarion Castle, at 732 meters elevation, we were treated to a panoramic vista of Cyprus’ northern coastline. The turrets proved to be only a small part of the Crusades era castle, reputed to have been the inspiration for Disney’s palace in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After the day’s hike, we moved into our new home, situated on a hillside above Bellapais, which offered views over the sprawling seaside city of Kyrenia and the Mediterranean beyond. By Flo Burnett
Buffavento Castle to Bellapais. The main feature of today’s itinerary was a visit to Buffavento castle. The name is derived from Italian and means “Defier of the Winds.” It is the middle of three castles in the Kyrenia Range built around the 11th century to ward against Arab raids. The St Hilarion castle visited yesterday is to the west and the Kantara castle is to the east. The position of the Buffavento castle allowed signaling between all three. All three have excellent views of the northern Cyprus coastline. The trip to the base of the castle hike took us through a pass back to the south side of the Kyrenia Range and then along a somewhat narrow unpaved road to the parking lot. The hike to the top required a 1500’ gain on a well-built stone trail. The amount and acrid smell of goat droppings was memorable but not a goat was to be seen! Once back to the bus we motored a short way to the trailhead for a hike that would take us up and then down to the west to a small town above Kyrenia. This was a favorite hike of our guide, Hussain, who accompanied us for two of the three days in northern Cyprus. This hike took about 2-3 hours as I recall. Hunting season had recently opened so we were advised to not hike quietly. Gunshots were audible but not threatening. The bus picked us up soon after we hit tarmac and back to Bellapais we went. Here, some opted to visit the central abbey while others had a beverage near Lawrence Durrell’s “Tree of Idleness” of Bitter Lemons fame. The last event of the day was a trip down to Kyrenia where we visited the main harbor as the sun went down. There were people, shops, lights, boats and a bit of a bustle; this was quite a change from our secluded lodgings higher in Bellapais with a million-euro view of the coast! By Sam McClary
Famagusta and Salamis. On the way to Paralimni the first stop was the visit to the ruins of Salamis. We had our own guide and the visit went very nicely and smooth. First we visited the Roman Theatre, a huge theater capable of 15 thousand spectators. The theater has been almost completely restored, with the exception of the tallest part, which is still missing. We climbed up and down the high steps and could listen clearly without any problem the person speaking in the middle of the arena. Beside the theater an Amphitheatre, almost completely destroyed by a violent earthquake in the 6th century and never restored. Much more interesting was instead a large rectangular Gymnasium surrounded by columns of different height. The palaestra inside the colonnade was very large. While visiting, it came to my mind an old dispute among archeologists and other scientists, debating among them whether rebuilt the old temples, with the same original material, or leaving the ruins as they came out while uncovering them from underground. There are archeologists and scientists, in favor of the reconstruction, and other scientists who prefer leaving the ruins as they were found. Well, I am in favor of rebuilding the Temple with the original material, than leaving them as a cumulus of ruins. I recognize that the second solution is more stable, but is also less interesting to visit and to enjoy the Temple. I may be superficial and naive, but I do like to see a Temple standing and not laying down, as a death body! In one of the corners of the palaestra there were the Latrines, in Italian we still use “latrine” for toilette. Well, one of the most important functions of the human body was, at the Roman time, a social event! The Latrines here in Salamis show that 44 people could simultaneously use them, at the same time. The latrines were set in a semicircular colonnaded area, and there are still visible the hydraulic structures used by the Romans for the drainage of the residuals. As usual, the most fascinating parts in a Roman settlement were the Baths, as they were here in Salamis. Suddenly, you have the feeling to enter in a very sophisticated environment, once decorated almost everywhere with mosaics, where Romans were enjoying some of the pleasures of life, bathing in particular. You can see the Sudatorium, a steam bath with an under floor heating system, the Caldarium with the central heating system under floor. Very astonishing is the heating system, as well as the pipes, used for transporting the steam and hot water to warm both the Sudatorium and Caldarium respectively. The world, more than 2000 years old, seems to me so much more sophisticated than the life of the actual people. An incredible gap in time and an incredible larger gap in the quality of life! No time to see other ruins and, after a short break at the coffee bar, back to the bus.
Famagusta. The name in Greek is Ammochostos, while Gazimagusa in Turkish, and Famagusta for the western countries. Famagusta was our last visit of the day. Our guide, as usual sober and not prolix, showed us the Gothic St. John Church, the ruins of the Othello Tower, and the powerful and majestic Venetian Walls! Then we were left alone to enjoy our own food for many of us, and to visit the best local restaurants for others, and then for all to explore the old town, before continuing the trip to Paralimni. Many of us visited the Mosques, which for a personal feeling I omitted to visit. To me it seemed like a sacrilege visiting the Christian Cathedral, converted in a Mosque. The church was meant for a purpose which was not the one which is now dedicated for. It was, and it is still now a sacrilege!
Anyway, many visited the beautiful Gothic Cathedral (built in 1289-1312), which reminds the Cathedral of Reims, from which the design was inspired from. The cathedral is now the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Before leaving, just before embarking the bus, the guide showed us one of the most astonishing Cafe of Famagusta: Pastanesi! An extraordinary display of sweets, Turkish delights, chocolates, cookies and whatever sweet is available in this country! The shop was so well decorated and specialized, to be suitable to stay among the most sophisticated shops, existing in the center of London! By Francesco Greco
Sea Caves/Beach Day. Our last day in Cyprus and we awoke to a perfect day, warm and sunny with a slight breeze off the sea. Slated to be a free day, most of the group headed out for a walk along the beautiful coastline with the objective being Cape Greco. Cape Greco is a rocky peninsula at the far southeastern tip of the island and it is accessible by foot or bicycle. It was a leisurely walk and eventually people stopped at various points along the way to swim or eat or just sit on a bench and take in the amazing views. In the end it was Sam, Francesco, Ron and John who eventually walked all the way out to the Cape. Once back at Mimosa Beach Hotel, many enjoyed a swim in our own private swimming cove; others relaxed and read. Before dinner we all gathered and enjoyed wine and each other’s company on a large balcony overlooking the resort and the sea. The group presented Norizan a beautiful lace tablecloth and CD of Cypriot music as appreciation for her hard work and long hours of planning this trip. She also presented Peter, Francesco and Emilio tokens of gratitude for their assistance also. Finally, down to dinner one last time and then early to be for most of the group as flights home for many were leaving in the wee hours of the morning. By Gail McClary