This short holiday was completely not in keeping with our usual style of travel. Those who are looking for cultural insights, history, archaeology etc can safely skip this post. It really was a bit unprepared and me trying to be spontaneous, especially considering that we are off to Japan for the Big Japanese Adventure in less than a month! But the fact that friends kept posting about Cyprus and especially Paphos , and the cheap deal that sprang up in my face are the only defenses I can make. In any case, we bought a cheapo package deal (another thing I never do) to Paphos from Friday to Monday. It was $456 for both of us, which included bed and breakfast at the *3 Hotel Veronica and transfers to and from the airport. This was all very novel for me, as those who know me know that I love to go it alone, including all the stuff like how to get around and am not one for boarding a/c buses with lots of other Israelis. Anyway that is what we did. I apologize to my serious travel buddies that we skipped all the usual stuff like the Paphos mosaics and archeological park etc as we only got back from Sicily in July and had done there all that stuff (Tomb of Kings, Villa Romana etc) and were too hot and lazy this time to trudge around more antiquities. Mea culpa.
The flight to Paphos took 45 minutes or so, the sky was blue and the views as we descended into the airport , perched rather close to the sea I thought, were lovely. We exited the airport (Exodos in Greek, of course) and immediately found our lovely clean blue bus that deposited us within 15 minutes outside our hotel. There we discovered that , as per their website check in was only at 2pm. ( it was 10 am when we arrived) . Anyway the nice man on the desk said we could dump our stuff in the lobby and come back at 13.45 and we were welcome to use the pool. Instead we walked off down the promenade next to the beach and checked out which beach we might want to frequent. The promenade was gorgeous and so were the views. After eating our sandwiches and apple from home, we had a quick ice cream and then returned to get our room.
The room was reasonable and clean not luxurious. For those of you wishing to be pampered skip this hotel. But the front desk were most helpful. I shan’t go into great details about the room, but let’s say no hooks in bathroom , extra charge required for use of fridge and safe, and NO ELECTRIC KETTLE! If there is one thing hubby likes it is to sit on the balcony with his cup of coffee and read a book or doze. So no kettle is a biggie for us. Anyway the view pretty much made up for it.
We rested a bit and then went out again to explore. A brusque walk up the promenade from one end to the other, as far as the harbour took about 45 minutes, during which we checked out restaurant menus for the evening. We were frequently assailed by touts trying to get us to patronise their establishment. We discovered that the predominant language of Paphos is Mancunian, and that there is a preponderance of fish and chip establishments and pubs with massive LCD TV screens broadcasting all manner of sporting events. None of this is particularly our cup of tea (although I have been known to eat a good English breakfast) .
Obligatory holiday sunset
Dinner was a wonderful swordfish served with baked vegetables and chips at Romantica Restaurant with a nice bottle of Neo beer each. All in all a good first day.
Next day we got up and had the Hotel Veronica version of an English breakfast (buffet) but with added bits, olives, yoghurt, cereal etc. It was ok but hardly anything to write home about. Some things seemed to have a weird after taste (coffee, juice) and most of it was pretty cold. But hey, three stars, people. We also made some nice sandwiches for our lunch. We then walked up in the direction of the harbour but didn’t make it all the way as it was too hot. So instead we got ourselves a couple of sunbeds and umbrellas (2.50 Euro each item) and installed ourselves on Sodap beach. Here we discovered that since we usually do very active holidays and not tummy- back as the Israelis so charmingly describe it, we had omitted to bring our kindles. So we had to just read annoying articles on the internet, and do nothing. The sea was beautifully clean and transparent, and rather bracing.
When we got too tired of this exhausting activity we returned to the hotel and tried doing the same thing by the hotel pool (also freezing but quite invigorating). After a rest we went out again to look for dinner. This time we had most fantastic meal at a place called Viva Cyprus, where D had the swordfish again (even better than the first) and I had a lovely Beef Stifado with tons of spices and wine . Very satisfactory. Then having to walk off dinner we continued in the direction of Old Paphos. At the recommendation of the lovely Claire from Brighton whom I had met at the hotel pool, we went off to Demokritos tavern, where she said there would be live Cypriot dancing and a belly dancer. She was not wrong. The place was not that full when we arrived and indeed was not as crowded as I had expected. But the dancing and music were a lot of fun and the belly dancer extremely talented. We enjoyed this free show very much (cover charge 4 Euro, so one beer each consumed). Sorry pic is blurred but she wouldn’t keep still.
The best part was at the end of the show when we joined in the dancing and then they sang some Israeli and Jewish stuff. We discovered how many Israelis were there (tons). Apparently the owner of the place, Dina, is rather keen on us. And she also sings very well. WE are of course the nation that loves Ari San and Glykeria. Anyway it was lots of fun, we staggered back home quite happily.
Next day being Sunday most shops appeared to be closed, although the restaurants were open. On our way up to the harbour I noticed how weirdly English Cyprus is. Pillar boxes (yellow) , belisha beacons, the aforementioned fish and chips and driving on the wrong (right?) side of the road.
At the harbour there are lots more restaurants, some nice statues and lots of people hawking tours to see turtles, snorkelling and similar aquatic things. As I am not too keen on boats generally, and the sea being rather stormy we passed on all these activities.
Fake pirate ship
Statue- Sol Alter, by Yiota Ioannidou
Boy holding a fish, same artist.
We had another go in the pool and retired to rest before dinner. We had intended to go back up near the night club to look for dinner, but were checking out a place called Michael’s tavern when next door we found a lovely Indian place called Maharaja. Being rather deprived of decent curries here in Israel I was tempted and succumbed. And rightly so. This place does the real Mc.Coy. A fantastic chicken biryani with accompanying chutneys , poppadums and nans such as I remember from London, and all for the princely sum of 25 Euro for two including large bottle of beer! How excellent.
With that we retired to bed as our bus was picking us up bright and early the next day at 7.10 for our 9.50 flight home. The nice man in the reception said that we would be able to quickly have some breakfast before that even though it was supposed to open only at 7.00. Which we did. And were given packed lunches of a sandwich and apple as an extra.
The flight home took a ridiculously quick 37 minutes and we passed through passport control in a record 2 minutes. So all was well.
Stay tuned for Japan in November!