Trip report from Cyprus. Thursday 21. April 2005
Tombs of the Kings
North of Paphos lies the old necropolis Tombs of the Kings. There are no kings buried here, but it sounds better than for instance: "Tombs of the Upper Class".
The road also leads to Coral Bay, a tourist and hotel enclave, and the road is ugly. There are signs and awful house fronts everywhere all screaming for your attention.
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A side remark about Paphos and tourism
From nature Kato Paphos is a beautiful spot with the Mediterranean on one side and mountains on the other, and in springtime it is lush with flowers and green.
But in stark contrast to this beauty are the tourist industry's facade of neon, signs and sound. Everywhere restaurants, pubs, bars, discos, car rentals, souvenir shops, supermarkets and real estate agencies grow like weeds in an ornamental garden.
They all try to catch the tourist's attention with signs and strange house fronts. The sighs yell: "Property Developers", "Precious Jewelry", "Factory Prices" etc.
And it gets worse. They build everywhere and good roads are rebuilt with EU subsidies. Cyprus is a part of Commonwealth, and many Brits settle here with their pension. A villa on a mountain slope outside the city will easily cost you 400,000 €. Taxes are low - from 0 to 40 % depending on your income.
Lately many east Europeans have moved here. Some constitute a new proletariat, while other - well... the percentage of unsolved crimes has increased from about 2 to a considerably higher figure.
Tourism is important for economy in Cyprus, and Cyprus has a lot to offer the tourist besides the nice weather. But the way things go it will - at least in the Paphos area - become a self destructing mechanism, where bad taste and scrupulous pursuit of profit will destroy the original charm and uniqueness that originally attracted the tourists.
We enjoy our vacation, but none the less we miss Larnaca's innocent charm and peace. Prices in Larnaca (at least at restaurants) are also considerably lower. It isn't expensive here in Paphos, but the difference shows how the lemon is squeezed to the last drop.
We pay 2 * 75 cents to enter the necropolis. The burial ground is from 400 B.C. and later. Presumably Paphos' upper class was put to rest here. The area is big. There are no bodies in the open tombs anymore, but nature remembers with a mourning carpet of flowers, and the birds sing requiem.
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On the way back the public beach is on our right hand. The sandy beach isn't long, but there is a snack bar, deck chairs, parasols and a few beach guests. We settle in the shade a few metres from the lazy surf and order a cup of Cyprus coffee. A small girl paddles with Daddy and cannot get enough. She is soon soaked, and on the beach Mom searches the bags in vain for dry clothes.
From the public beach there is a gravel road to the city. It runs between the ocean and the area with archaeological excavations (House of Dionysus etc.). It is lovely with birds, sea and nature, but the sun is gaining power, so Helle speeds up. The road ends by the old fort at the harbour, and we continue to O'bar for a light sandwich lunch.
In the booze shop nearby they sell our favourite ouzo, Keo's extra fine. They only have half litre bottles, but we buy one plus a bottle of commandaria, and then it is time for siesta. On the way home we pass the unfinished roadwork.
There is a heap of steaming asphalt, and the workers are looking at it with displeasure waiting for the next guy to make the first move.
After siesta it is time to keep the balcony company. An older couple is playing cards on a balcony below. The only sound is the flipping against the table and the wife's low "Ha!", when she wins, and she wins almost every game.
Later the balcony needs a rest. On the promenade Helle pauses by a jeweller's window, and after a while she says that it is a pity that all price tags are hidden. I reply that one of the tags in the first window was turned upside up and revealed a price of 1158. "Danish kroner?" Helle asks with rising interest before she realises that I would probably have converted to a less precise figure.
At the ouzo-bar we enjoy the sea and the sky's blue encounter. Within 15 minutes the dark blue colours blend, and The Lord pulls the curtain.
At Othello's we have a three course menu with honey melon, kleftico and flambéed crêpes suzettes. With this an Othello 1992, which is good but past its prime.
It begins to rain, and the streets are wet and shiny, as we walk home. There is a wind and it is humid.