Friday, 23 September 2016

Day 6: Back in time, again

After yesterday's long day we decided to stay closer to home today with a trip into Paphos to see one of the most historic sites on the whole island: the Paphos mosaics.  I've visited a couple of times in the past but as with all historical sites, there's always work going on and it was so exciting that they were excavating!  I've never seen a "live dig" before and there was certainly a buzz around the place.

It's amazing to think that these mosaics (just back from Paphos harbour) were discovered by accident in 1962 by a ploughing farmer!  They are now considered to be the finest mosaics ever discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean: dating from the 2nd to the 5th century, most of them are in stunning condition.  It's believed they were originally the floors of Roman noblemen's villas and you can see the excavated outlines of rooms and corridors and let your imagination take over.  There were really big earthquakes in 332 and 342AD which is blamed for the destruction of the actual buildings but around 40 mosaics have been found and excavated so far.  Some are now housed in big shed-like structures to protect them from the elements and the outdoor ones are protected by raised platforms so that you can look at them from above.  

We didn't visit the House of Aion as there was a large tour already inside, so we moved straight on to the House of Theseus - the main mosaic shows Theseus brandishing a club after defeating the Minotaur (above) - note to self: MUST visit Crete and the Palace of Knossos. 
There are really good information signs showing the layout, how big each house was and where you are standing, along with a description of the mosaic you are looking at...

The Romans would usually establish colonies in their territories to strengthen their hold over them, however, in Cyprus this did not happen and is proven by the words on the mosaics being in Greek.
Further back the team were working on the excavations - lots of expensive looking equipment for measuring as well as the familiar tools of a dig ...

We stood watching for a while and then headed past the House of Orpheus to the shaded area for a drink and some respite from the sun and then on to the House of Dionyssos.

The biggest and best preserved villa is the House of Dionyssos and has been under protective cover since I started visiting here over 17 years ago.  All of the mosaics are easily viewed from the raised platforms and are absolutely breathtaking, the tiles (tesserae) are so small and precise and the colours are beautiful.  My two favourites have always been the peacock for the colours and intricate design ...

And Narcissus, I love the stories associated with him ...

The Roman tale goes a bit like this ... Narcissus was so beautiful that everyone fell in love with him, his parents were worried about his extraordinary beauty and were told by the prophet that he would grow old "if he didn't get to know himself". 
Aged 16 he was out hunting one day when he was seen by Echo (the talkative nymph) who fell madly in love with him.  Of course, proud Narcissus rejected her and poor Echo hid in the woods and mountains never to be seen again.  Tormented by her love for Narcissus, she became thinner and thinner until her body withered into the air, only her voice was left: heard by everyone but seen by none.
Nemesis the Goddess of Revenge heard how Narcissus had caused so much unhappiness and decided that he had to be punished; one day he saw his reflection in a clear pool and immediately fell in love with himself, realising is was his reflection and that his love could not be addressed, he killed himself.  The Gods took pity on him and turned him into a flower that grows near to water so that he can always see his reflection.

We left the House of Dionyssos and followed the path towards the lighthouse and the Roman Odeon

And then past the agora area to the Saranda Kolones Castle ...

Built on the site of a Byzantine fort, the castle was completed around 1200AD but was destroyed in the earthquake of 1223 and never rebuilt.  The name literally means "Forty Columns": the original castle was built on a base of 40 granite columns with an external wall with eight towers and a moat.  

Dusty, hot and worn out we walked along the harbour for a frappé and some shade before going home for a swim!

Day 5: An epic journey

Argh, I'm so far behind I've almost been lapped!!

Anyway, keep on blogging...
Up early this morning and said our goodbyes to Joan and Malcolm who are heading up to the Troodos Mountains for a few days.  We are going "up east" to see friends, it's a long journey to do in a day but more than worth it and I'm also curious to see how things have changed / developed since I was last there around 9 years ago.

We are literally travelling the length of the coast from left to right (I don't think google maps keeps to the speed limits) so will see a lot of new things along the way.

I worked in Pernera/Protaras/Ayia Napa area back in 1999 and 2000 and had a whale of a time, my first friend on the island was George who was doing karaoke at the place where I lived and we hit it off.  I always joke he's my big little brother as he's older but shorter than me but I'll never forget his friendship and how he looked out for me and we've kept in touch all this time.

What we decided to do was meet our friends Jill and Simon for lunch and then head into Pernera and surprise George.  Jill and I used to be neighbours waaaaay back when we were at primary school and our parents were/are still friends (my dad is Jill's sister Laura's godfather - hope you're keeping up!) and she moved out to Cyprus a couple of years after I left.  Facebook is a wonderful gift and has reunited and been a way of keeping in touch with so many people from long ago and as soon as I knew I was coming over I said to my parents that we must go and see Jill and meet her husband Simon and their fab dog Mogpog.  

They have their own photography business and I love seeing their images on Facebook.  They helped me buy my "proper"camera a few years ago and are always very complimentary about my pictures.  If you get a few minutes have a look at their awesome work...

Jill suggested meeting at Ayia Thekla, which used to be just a tiny church and a smattering of houses back in the day.  A lot more houses and a beach development have appeared but the little church is still there and just as beautiful as I remember it.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch and chatted like there was no tomorrow.  And of course we all fell in love with Mogpog!

After lunch, we had a little wander up to the church and I found the perfect spot for one of my "looking forward" pictures.  A thank you to my mum for paying attention to how I wanted the picture taken :)      I could have sat there for ages looking out to sea it was so beautiful ...

After saying our goodbyes we headed further along the coast through Ayia Napa and Protaras into Pernera and oh my goodness the changes are unbelievable!  Houses, hotels, bars, shops you name it there have been so many built there's hardly any spare land.  And what happened when we went to surprise George? Oh yes, it was his day off!!  A quick phonecall and we arranged to meet on our way back.  It was so good to see him after such a long time...

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell reunited - briefly!!

Our drive home went quickly and we chased the sunset all the way.
A long day but more than worth it.  And can you believe we met 2 photographers for lunch, I had my camera and my phone and we never got any pictures of us!!!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Day 4: Family outing over the hill

We were all up, fed and ready for action by around 10 and we piled into Uncle Malcolm's luxury vehicle (I know, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit) and headed over the hill behind the house to Steni.  The view from the Panorama is absolutely beautiful and you can see straight down the valley to Coral Bay...

We passed through a couple of lovely little villages as we wound our way to Steni.  once a month this sleepy little village holds a crafts and farmers market in the grounds of the Village Museum and there's a lovely community feel as you are welcomed by ex-pats and locals alike who are all more than happy to chat as well as feed you free samples of delicious home made and freshly grown produce.  I picked up a couple of lovely photo cards that I'll frame at home and a jug (heaven knows how I'll get it home!)
Mam and Auntie Joan bought some lovely nibbles and pickles to have later.  I could definitely have myself a little pitch here - I'm sure my photos, jewellery and crochet bits and bobs would go down a treat!

We crossed the road and went into the Neromylos "Watermill" restaurant for lunch, obviously it was busy due to the market but we didn't wait long and the food that arrived was absolutely divine!
Me and Mam shared a platter and for €15 it was an absolute steal

The whole bill for 5 of us including beers was less than €60 - bargain!!

We made our way home and lazed around the pool all afternoon in the sunshine.
The nibbles and dips went down a treat (along with lots of gin)  and after lots of laughs another day was done.

Day 3: Better late than never...

A really lazy day at the Big Brother House today after a late night last night.
We all ambled down to breakfast at random times and everyone pottered around: Dad and Auntie Joan tackled the bougainvillea around the pool, Malcolm fixed the Mary Poppins parasol and then moved on to pool maintenance duty and Mam kept us all fed and watered.  The poor washing machine was the hardest worker of the day!!!
Me? I was in my favourite place: on a sun bed with a cold drink and a good book :) 

We headed out early evening down to the Sea Caves for cocktails, dinner and the sunset.
A lovely little bar/restaurant with the most stunning view over the sea...

We sat chatting and enjoying our cocktails whilst Mother Nature did her thing and we reached the end of another day...

An absolute stunner of a sunset!

As if on cue, our dinner arrived just after the sun had set.
I've never seen a pork chop this size in my entire life, how my Dad managed to finish it I'll never know!!

Satisfied, we headed home to continue the chattering and giggles!
Out and about tomorrow, na'night everyone xxx

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Day 2: In the company of kings

The "farm" animals opposite were a rather rude alarm clock this morning - pigs, chickens, geese, turkeys you name it and the racket was ridiculous!

Early breakfast on the terrace and we headed off under a cloudless sky to the Tombs of the Kings.
It's about 16 years since I last visited and the new car park and entrance area make it look a lot more professional and organised.

Evidence shows the area was first inhabited in the Chalcolithic period (copper-stone age around 3500-2300BC) but the current cemetery dates back to the Geometric (900-700BC), Archaic (750-500BC), Classical (500-336BC) and Hellenistic (336-146BC) Ages

The name "Tombs of the Kings" comes from the impressive style and columns rather than any regal inhabitants, close associates of the royal family governed Cyprus from the luxury villas at Nea (new) Paphos and this was to be their final resting place.

There are 7 tombs dotted around the sprawling site and all are accessible to the public.  Restoration has/is taking place but it's discrete and (in my opinion) well done.  They're unique to Cyprus but have Egyptian influences: the ancient Egyptians believed that tombs should resemble houses in order to live on in the next life.

The most impressive (and probably most photographed) is tomb 3: reached by a covered staircase, as you emerge into the light the well (essential in every large tomb complex) is on the left and the portico is supported by 4 Doric columns on each side, some of which have been restored.  Burial chambers, and loculi line each wall and there's a chamber leading off to another tomb complex but I didn't venture that far! 

I took most of my photos on my big camera so will edit and post them when I get back but I like this one of my parents in the atrium area of tomb 3.  By the time we emerged from the tombs and started heading back to the car it was so hot - there's no shade at all so make sure you take a hat or a brolly for a little bit of respite! We made our way down into Paphos and had a walk along the promenade area and grabbed some shade and a frappé

I love a frappé, they just don't taste the same at home!

We got back to the house and had a dip in the pool before enjoying a late lunch and a lazy afternoon.

Only to be woken up by familiar voices, my aunt and uncle (whose house we've taken over) had been further up the coast visiting friends and decided to drop in for a day or two on their way to the Troodos Mountains.  As they live down in Surrey, it's ages since we've had a catch up and it was such a lovely surprise (another birthday present!) 

Dinner down in Coral Bay was absolutely divine - moussaka and salad followed by a cheeky Bailey's and a good old giggle before I was the one who went to bed first! 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Day 1: relaxing

Flight landed on time, I was met by the lovely Yianna who has been picking my parents up for a number of years and by the time we got to Peyia and had a catch up it was after 1am!

After such a late night I woke surprisingly early - thanks to the cat wanting her breakfast!  It was a bit cloudy but warm and we sat out on the terrace and I began to get familiar with my surroundings. 

A quick tour of the gardens and fruit trees and it was time to get ready and head along the coast to Akavas.  No, we weren't off to hike the gorge, but to have lunch at The Last Castle ...

I've heard so much about this place I couldn't wait to get there and see it for myself and I wasn't disappointed!

There's no menu - you can have chicken or pork, comes with salad and oven baked potato wedges. HOW amazing can simple food be? Absolutely amazing!

Not just the food, the view is stunning as well!

Whoever thought it was a good idea to build a restaurant up here had their head screwed on!  The area is full of beautiful coloured flowers and big bunches of grapes hang overhead. 

We headed back down the track and headed into St George's just before Coral Bay.  What a pretty little bay, backed by a  church and a little chapel too.

After lighting some candles we sat overlooking the quiet little harbour for a while before going home for a snooze by the pool ...

and then a lazy evening watching the sun go down over the hills 

Na'night people xxx

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Counting down to some sunshine

Waved my parents off to sunny Cyprus last Wednesday and can't believe how quick the week has gone - my time to fly already!

Dad asked if I wanted to join them for a week (they go for 3) so how could I say no, especially as he bought my flight as a birthday present?!

So here I am getting comfy on another charter flight (lots more leg room on this one with Jet2 rather than the Thomas Cook one to Skiathos!!)

We've had some lovely days so far this September but today is a typical dull one, glad to be leaving it behind!

See you on the other side!!