Spring holiday in Paphos, Cyprus
Impressions and photos from our holiday in Paphos, April 2005. Paphos was once the main city on Aphrodite's island and is now a popular holiday resort for English tourists in particular.
Paphos is on Cyprus' south western coast, and there are beaches and restaurants to every taste. There are also historic sites, and it isn't far from the Troodos mountains with villages and beautiful scenery.
The flight goes directly from Aalborg to Cyprus on Saturday 16th April, 2005, and 13:15 we land in Paphos Airport. It is by the sea some 10 km from Paphos. An hospitable ATM in arrivals gets on friendly terms with my credit card.
The bus drive to the hotel takes about 20 minutes. The sky is blue and the roadside a profusion of yellow and lilac flowers. Along the road are vineyards, olive groves and orange plantations. The weather in Cyprus is pleasant in April.
At half past two we have checked in at Hotel Mayfair, which lies between the tourist ghetto Kato Paphos and Pano Paphos, the "real" city. Once upon a time Kato Paphos was the real city and it was also the Roman's headquarters when they ruled Cyprus, but later the population moved further uphill to get away from pillaging Arab pirates.
The apartment has two rooms, and there's a tiny kitchen in the living room. The balcony has a view over the hotel pool area and the city, which lies between the sea and us. The double bed is extremely narrow and designed for couples that are very much in love.
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A walk in upper Paphos
We walk towards the town - that is the "real" city: Pano Paphos. The hotel's neighbourhood isn't a pure tourist area; Cypriots live here too and many small shops have signs in Greek only.
The traffic is lively and it isn't easy to cross the streets safely. We reach the city centre and settle down at an outside café. We get a menu and order toasts, but are then told that the kitchen is closed. Why then give us a menu?
We are a bit hungry and continue our quest. A small coffee shop has a sign saying "sandwiches". Inside two local men are patiently waiting for the next earthquake, and the shop is closing. The whole city seems to be closed - it is Saturday afternoon.
We give up, turn around and walk back to "The Pie King". We rejected this at first sight hoping to find something more substantial. It is a small café with pastry and pies. Tables are outside facing a green oasis. The baker is a kind man with kind eyes.
We get Cypriot coffee and a warm tasty pie (cheese for Helle, apple for me). Cypriot coffee is like Greek or Turkish coffee - strong, good and with "mud" sediment at the cup's bottom. It is customary to get a glass of water too.
The water is great for flushing until you have learnt to avoid the mud, and once you master the art it is the perfect alibi for staying and doing nothing. When we have finished the water and finished doing nothing, I ask for the bill. The kind baker says that we can stay and relax: "In Cyprus we are not in a hurry".
We are tempted, but the breeze has grown into a wind and it is a bit cold, so we return for home. At a super market we do some shopping - in the tourist ghetto shops are open.
Århus Charter has put a bottle of water in the room (nice touch), but we need more. The supermarket has a wide choice of fruit and vegetables, and the meet looks appetising. Live snails are establishing an infrastructure in some red plastic boxes.
At five we enjoy a local beer, Keo, at the hotel bar and at six the info meeting starts. The guide, Søren, tells about the place and about the bureau's tours.
Evening in Kato Paphos
We head for the harbour to find a place where we can enjoy the sunset. The road to the harbour is a minefield of bars and restaurants with 'fishermen' outside trying to catch customers: "Good evening!" they say with a smile as we pass.
The sun sets at eight and we don't get to the seafront in time; when we finally find a bar with sea view and two ouzos, The Lord has pulled the curtain, and sea and sky have merged in blackness. However it is comforting that the Ouzo is Keo's good brand, where the anis oil creates small greasy flakes when cold.
Supper at restaurant Alkion
There are many guests at restaurant Alkion in the restaurant street. Axel and Nina from the Italian class have said that the place is ok. The angler outside is a middle aged English woman.
We order a 3-course menu at 8.5 £ and a local red wine at 7.95. Halloumi (salty grilled Cypriot cheese) for starters, kleftico (lamb) for Helle and stifado (beef stewed with wine and onion) for me.
The meat is tender and tasty. So are the boiled potatoes and we would rather have had more of those than the tasteless bag-boiled rice. The wine is ok, but is definitely not dry as declared by the wine list - it is definitely sweet.
Nobody smokes. A small sign on the wall declares "No Smoking", but there are ash trays on all tables. I ask the waiter how to interpret these contradictory signals, and he explains that Cyprus has joined the EU and they just want to please everybody. I take the pipe outside for a breath of air.
Next to us is an English couple with a teenage daughter. Daddy gets spaghetti with ketchup and drinks beer. Mother wears a low-cut lilac blouse and must be a favourite in any cleavage competition.
Helle has yoghurt with honey for dessert and I fresh fruit. We are billed 24 £.
It has been a long day and we are tired, but I persuade Helle to join me for a nightcap at the hotel bar. Some girls perform noisily with country & western dance and we find a table as far away as possible. There is a TV showing soccer, but of two evils … Off to bed.