Travelogue from a holiday in Cyprus, Wednesday 20th April , 2005.
Villages in the Troodos Mountains
The Neophytos Monastery
We are going on a village tour today. After stops at other hotels the bus heads for the Neophytos monastery in the mountains. The monastery was founded in the 12th century and has some old caves with fine frescoes.
The monk Neophytos was actually a hermit and single-handedly made some rock caves where he could live and write religious and critical articles about the society, he had left. Some of his writings have been preserved and are (I think) at the British Museum. Over time Neophytos was considered so holy that he got proselytes, and a monastery was built below his caves. What a nuisance when you want to be without company! Neophytos retired to his cave and pious solitude for lengthy periods, and then of course it must have been quite convenient to have others take care of trivial tasks like cooking.
A monk sells tickets at the entrance to the caves. A cat walks up to his cage and commands: "Meow!" and instantly gets a meal and water. Having fed the cat the monk resumes selling tickets.
Wine Tasting in Panagia and Lunch in Nata
The tour continues to Vouni Panayia Winery in the village Panagia. We taste samples in the cellar, but despite trying to be positive we don't think higly of the wine - quality and price do not match.
Not far away lies arch bishop Makarios' parental home. Makarios, who became Cyprus' first president, is quite a national hero, and the loo in the courtyard is proof that he was rooted in Cyprus and the people.
Lunch is in the village Nata at a tavern with a magnificent view over the mountain landscape. The meal is Greek salad followed by deep-fried tourist keftedes (spicy meat rolls) with tourist potatoes. Then we return to Paphos.
After siesta we enjoy life on the balcony. The weather today has been the best so far, and the balcony's corner pole throws a narrow shadow where you can hide, if you move with the sun.
Agia Kyriaki, Erik Ejegod's Burial Place
At about 6.30 p.m. we go to see the church, Agia Kyriaki, where Erik Ejegod is said to be buried. On the way we pass the Frankish Baths, as it says on the map. I was under the impression that people didn't bathe much in the Middle Ages, but this may be an exception.
The church of today is small compared to the original basilica. The old foundations cover a much larger area. A humble broken pillar is said to be the one to which they tied Paul, when he was whipped for preaching Christianity.
Not far from the church lies a more worldly temple: the supermarket Ermes. Here we find a wing corkscrew that might be able to defeat the obstinate cork of the quiz red wine.
Ouzo Aperitif and Supper
We enjoy the blue half hour at our ouzo place. The evening is warm and there is no cooling sea breeze today. At nine we feel like having a light meal - pasta or pizza would be nice. At the end of the long restaurant street we find a ristorante, Porta Romana.
It is a nice place with good service. The waiter speaks French with the table next to us and English to us. Helle wants garlic bread with cheese and then spaghetti carbonara. I order a pizza with anchovies and olives. With this we get an Othello vintage (1996), which is the best red wine we have tasted in Cyprus: it is full bodied with character and a taste of oak, but is also round and velvety. Helle's spaghetti is good and the cook has been generous with my anchovies. I pay the 20-21 £ (7.1 for the wine) with VISA. When as a matter of routine I check the bill the attentive waiter asks, if there is something wrong. No-no, everything is fine.
The Cork's Defeat
Back home the exposed parts of skin are sprayed with Helle's mosquito repellent, and smelling like lemonade we make ourselves comfortable on the balcony. With the new wing corkscrew I finally succeed in opening the quiz red wine, but the bottle is so spinsterish that the wing corkscrew suffers irreparable damage on its first mission. The virtuous wine is a Fikardos from the Paphos district, and fortunately it is okay, so I dress the rest of the bottle in a plastic bag, before we go to bed. The cork has been reduced to dust.
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