What originally started out as a trip to London with friends, ended up being a trip to the island of Cyprus instead with the same friends. Oh well… we still got our “Brit fix” because Cyprus used to be a British colony until 1960 and there is still a large community of Brits living on the island. After what we saw, we can understand why they stayed. In addition to the sunny Mediterreanean disposition of weather and people, we were surprised at the modern and well-tended environment that existed along side the ancient ruins of antiquity. We ended up being totally enamored with Cyprus, wishing we had stayed longer and now wanting to return. A short, direct flight on Ryan Air put us into Paphos on the Greek side of the island.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterrenean and has a troubled and complicated history of foreign domination, violence and civil war. Since the 1950’s when it was a colony of Britain, it has been a battleground between its two major ethnic/religious populations – the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. Traditionally, Greece and Turkey have a long and ancient history of conflict, and modern day Cyprus still has remnants of this discord. The Green Line separates the island between the northern Turkish providence and the southern Greek Republic of Cyprus. Despite the ongoing attempts over the years to reach across lines of hostility in order to reconcile and unite the two sides, there is a still a stalemate. However, most Cypriots agree together that their island is rich with ancient history and beautiful natural resources worth protecting.
After squeezing into our convertible 4WD Jimny “fun car,” we headed out to see some of the sites near Paphos. Ancient Kourion is an archeological site not to be missed! Perched on the hillside overlooking the sea, it was particularly beautiful in the late afternoon light of the day, not to mention, peacefully empty of tourists.
Our trip farther east into the city of Lemosos proved to be a wild goose chase but on our return home we stopped to ponder over the famous rock in the cove where legend has it Venus (Greek – Aphrodite) stepped out of the water in all her glory and nakedness – no Venus sightings for us but the view was spectacular nonetheless!
Another place worth noting was the Panagia Chrysopolitissa site where the 13th century Agia Kyriaki church was built over original Byzantine ruins. Here one can see also the pillar of St. Paul where it is said that the apostle was flogged before the Roman Governor Sergois Paulus was converted to Christianity (Acts 13:6-12). The basilica floor has intricate mosaics some of which are still preserved today.
We took a bumpy road trip to the Akamas peninsula where, after visiting the Baths of Aphrodite, we found a private cove of our own for some serious swimming to beat the heat.
As always with travel, it’s an endeavor to find the balance between sightseeing and just plain relaxing in a new environment. We did a lot of both in our short three days on the island. Finding a delicious Indian restaurant, hiking the Akamas and a sunset walk along the shore of Paphos were definitely high on our memory list as well as those little unexpected pleasures we enjoy as friends together.