Expedition Cyprus

Day 1: from Schiphol Airport to Pafos, Cyprus

When I hear the word expedition, I think about people who climb the Mount Everest or board an expedition ship towards the Arctic to do research. By the way… I actually dream about going on one of those ships towards remote corners of our amazingly beautiful planet. I will have to keep on dreaming though, since these kind of trips needs a bit of savings. I am going on an expedition though, but a slightly different one ;).

Cyprus (officially called the Republic of Cyprus) is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean. Cyprus has a complex history, but… let me skip that part! What is important to me, is that it is a beautiful holiday destination and not just for a beach holiday. I have often booked holidays for clients because Cyprus really has loads to offer: culture, history, religion, nature, good food and more!

The Cyprus Tourism Office organizes an annual expedition. A group of travel agents gets the opportunity to explore the country in a playful way. This year I am one of the lucky travel agents and I cannot wait to discover Cyprus for myself. These kind of trips always work in 2 ways: I get to enjoy the destination and I learn more about it and will be able to inform my clients better! My friend (and ex colleague) Sandy is also a lucky travel agent. We will be exploring Cyprus in different teams, are actually competing against each other, but we will be sharing a room and catch up a bit and share our experiences about Cyprus.

On a Friday afternoon in April all the lucky travel agents meet the Inge and Karin, representatives from the Cyprus Tourism Office, at Schiphol Airport. We introduce ourselves, check in and fly with Transavia from Amsterdam to Pafos, where we arrive early in the evening. The flight goes smoothly, offering great views over the Alps, the Greek islands and the Turkish coast. We arrive at Pafos Airport on time!

Pafos (also known as Paphos) is located in southwestern part of Cyprus and it is one of the main tourist resorts on the island. It is only a short drive from the airport towards city centre. It is dark, so we do not see much on the way. After about only 20 minutes we arrive at Avanti Village where we will be staying for the next 2 nights. We are warmly welcomed at the reception upon arrival and drinks and (lots of) delicious snacks are served. That will do as dinner 😉 ! We chat with the manager of Avanti Village and then relax for a while.

Avanti Village is a spacious apartment complex, which is built around a huge lagoon-style swimming pool with swim-up bar in the middle. Next door is the hotel with the same name (and same owner). The beach is only 300 metres away and from Avanti it is a 20 minutes walk to Pafos harbour. While we are enjoying our drinks and snacks, we are checked in and after about an hour Sandy and I leave to have a look at our apartment and are pleasantly surprised. The apartment is spacious, modern, air-conditioned and we have a private terrace and fully equipped kitchenette (which we will not use, but… it is there!). We have a bedroom with a big double bed and a living room with 2 sofa beds and a satellite TV; great for families really!

We are not ready to go to sleep yet and decide to go for an evening walk around the property, which is set up like a small Cypriot village. The garden is lovely and although it is a bit cool at night this time of year, we do not need a coat. Just outside the village is a square with a few restaurants and a bar in case you want to dine and drink outside Avanti Village. Sandy and I return after about half an hour, have a drink and call it a night! Tomorrow a day full of assignments awaits us!

Day 2: exploring Pafos!

We wake up to see the weather is amazing. It is only half April and summer season has just started; to me this is the perfect time of the year to visit Cyprus. All is in bloom; it is not too hot and not too busy yet. Breakfast is served in the restaurant and there is so much to choose from; I try to behave and have Greek yoghurt with fruit (because I know we will be enjoying plenty of good food during this trip).

After breakfast we get our program with the assignments for today. The first expedition day we will spend in Pafos, where we will carry out assignments on different locations. We have a list of places that we have to visit, but we find out we can reach most places by foot (that means burning calories, which we will compensatie during our meals). From Avanti Village we walk towards city centre, which only takes us about 10 minutes. I will spare you most of the details of the assignments. The assignments are not that exciting, but for us it is a playful way to discover Cyprus.

Pafos basically has it all and my countrymen prefer this part of the island, because they can combine their beach holiday with quite a bit of culture, history and nature (being close to the Troodos mountains). Pafos has a lot of antiquities, all worth a visit! They tell a lot about the history of both Pafos and Cyprus. Just like so many islands in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has had different rulers throughout the ages which shows everywhere we go!

Our first stop is the Chrysopolitissa Church. The Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa Church was built somewhere in the 14th? century as a Latin Church on the site of a small church, which was destroyed by an earthquake long before then. About 100 years after its construction and following the Turkish invasion of 1570, it became a Byzantine Cathedral (and the heart) of Kato Pafos.

We go inside the church to look for an icon and I take my time to admire the church (I am already a bad team mate, wanting to take my time to see it all as I wonder off). Within the compound of the church is St. Paul’s Pillar, where according to tradition, Saint Paul was flogged before the Roman governor Sergius Paulus was converted to Christianity. We act out this part of history in a small play and record it (part of the expedition), which makes people passing by wonder if we are sane?!

Nest assignment: we walk towards the Panagia Theoskepasti church, which is also a Byzantine Church. The church is built on a rock and its construction was completed in 1926. The inauguration took place in 1928 and 62 years later the church was extensively maintained under the direct supervision of the Metropolitan of Pafos, Chrysostom II. It is place of pilgrimage, known throughout Cyprus. Unfortunately the church is closed and we cannot go in, so we skip this assignment and move on.

Our last assignment for today we have to do at the Tombs of the Kings. From city centre we catch a local bus, which happens to drive by and it takes us there in 3 minutes (and saves us time and tickets are cheap). The well-known “Tombs of the Kings” form part of the Archaeological Park of Kato Pafos, which is one of the most important archaeological sites of Cyprus and has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list (just like the churches we visited earlier this morning). It is a must see/visit when you are on holiday in Pafos!

We pay a small entrance fee to get in. The Archaeological Park of Kato Pafos includes sites and monuments from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, while most date from the Roman period. So if there is 1 place where history comes together, it is here! When visiting the park, it is like getting a history lesson; to me this time (compared to the lessons at high school) anything but boring! The monumental tombs are all underground and carved out of solid rock; really impressive. They date back to both the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

This burial ground may be called Tombs of the Kings, but actually high ranking officials and aristocracy were buried here. It is the size and the splendour of the tombs that gave the locality its name. Some of the tombs are decorated with Doric pillars, some of them imitate the houses of the living, with the burial chambers opening onto a peristyle atrium. What an interesting site this is; I love it! We find the tomb we need to find for our assignment and take the needed photograph and continue to have a look around.

We take the coastal boardwalk towards the Roman villas for part 2 of the assignment. First, we pass by Kefalos Beach and Paradise Cove and I wonder if underneath the tourist villages archaeological finds are hidden… who knows?! The coastal boardwalk is a lovely walk; the location of the Archaeological Park to me is just perfect. From almost every angle I enjoy the view over the Mediterranean and in the park I see explosions of yellow flowers and red poppies; it is spring!

We reach the lighthouse of Pafos and I get excited. I am a lighthouse freak and take about 50 photographs; it is small, but really pretty! It is built in 1888, when Cyprus was under British administration. The island was an important military base protecting the route of ships travelling through the Suez Canal to the colonies. I try to see if there is a key hidden somewhere, but I cannot find one (and I better behave!).

Behind the lighthouse we find the Roman Odeon (amphitheatre), the Agora (market square) and the “Saranta Kolones” (Forty Columns) fortress. I wish I could go back in time for a while; I would love to have a time machines to experience history myself. A few steps further south we see the villas. First the House of Dionysus, then the House of Aion, Villa of Theseus and then House of Orpheus (I actually remembered all the names). In these 4 Roman villas we admire impressive mosaic floors (that unfortunaely are covered with a tiny layer of dust) and we have to look for a specific mosaic for our assignment. I love mosaics and I make my own (on a different scale though 😉 ).

In the meantime, we have gathered a bit of an appetite and we decide to go for lunch. We exit the park at the visitor’s centre, have a quick look at the remains of the basilica of Panagia Limeniotissa (Our Lady of the Harbour) before we stop at the harbour. It is 2 pm and we sit down on the terrace of Pelican restaurant, order cool drinks and enjoy a delicious lunch with all kinds of sea food mezedes. The sun is shining bright, it is 26 degrees Celsius, we enjoy the view over the harbour with its colourful boats, listen to Greek music and just chill! It is during moments like this I realize how much I miss my Mediterranean lifestyle (having lived almost 14 years in Greece).

After about 2 hours we leave the restaurant and walk towards the Medieval Fort. We stop to take a photograph of 2 special “residents” of this harbour, who come to see if there is something to eat. The owner of the restaurant where we just ate, must own these pink pelicans and they are a true attraction; everyone wants to take a photograph and so do I and they patiently pose in front of the cameras.

We treat ourselves to an ice cream and sit down at a small open air theatre. Once I finish my ice cream, I go to into the Medieval Fort with another team mate, while the rest stays out to enjoy the sun. Pafos Castle was originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour. What remains today is the 1592 Ottoman restoration of the western Frankish tower with its Venetian additions. On top of the fort there is a beautiful view over the harbour of Pafos. You should really sit down for a while and just enjoy the view. I do not have time to sit, but am glad I went inside.

At the end of the afternoon we walk back to Avanti Village alongside the waterfront, continuing the coastal boardwalk. Again it is a beautiful walk and along the way we pass by the Municipal Baths, quite a few hotels (some of them luxurious), shops, bars, restaurants, beaches with palm trees and while enjoying the view, we finish our final assignment for today.

Once we are back at Avanti Village, I go for a swim in that wonderful big swimming pool and I relax on a sunbed for about 15 minutes before getting changed. At night we all return to city centre for dinner. We go to a touristic restaurant with live music (am not going to mention its name). It is not really our cup of tea, but we are in good company and have a good laugh (and that is what it is all about: having a good time). Afterwards the bus is ready to take us back to Avanti, but instead we walk and Sandy and I end up in Alea Lounge Bar with Sandra (one of Sandy’s team mates), where we have a drink (or 2, 3… it’s a real cosy place!). The 3 of us come to the same conclusion, which is that we all like Pafos and we need to promote it more at work!

Day 3: from Pafos to Lemesos (Limassol)!

We sleep like a baby (I wonder why) and are well rested the next morning (although we do have to get up early). At breakfast we get a new briefing; today we will leave Pafos by rental car and go for a drive throughTroodos Mountains. In Cyprus you drive on the left; a part of the heritage the British left here on Cyprus. Not everybody wants to drive; we are a team of 5 and I take turns with one of my younger team mates. The first part of the drive is alongside the coast and we pass Aphrodite’s rock without realizing it (oops). According to a local myth, any person who swims around the Aphrodite Rock will be blessed with eternal beauty. Well… there goes my chance; bugger!

Our first assignment takes us to the Zambartas Wineries in Agios Ambrosios, where a Dutch woman called Marleen and her Cypriot husband Marcos welcome us. It is a relatively young winery. In 2006, Marcos’ father Akis decides to make his dream come true and established his own boutique winery. Marcos then learned how to become a winemaker in Australia and returned 2 years later with Marleen to join his father. Zambartas has really good quality wines and they stay true to their Cypriot identity! We get a tour around the winery and we can of course taste the wines (despite the early time of day); well… we have to, it is part of the assignment. I buy a bottle of Xynisteri and Rosé (the best souvenirs) before we move on.

From Zambartas Wineries we drive to the village of Omodos. Omodos is one of the most picturesque villages in the Troodos Mountains and well visited! The main place of interest in the village is the Timios Stravos Monastery, but many tourists come for the handmade lace and the wines. Omodos is the capital of the various wine villages scattered on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains; this part of Cyprus is also known as Krassochoria (meaning wine villages). The Troodos Mountains area is beautiful, quiet, relaxed and I immediately think that I definitely have to advise my clients go to for a fly/drive holiday in Cyprus instead of just having a beach holiday. Why not combine the 2; even better!

Omodos village was founded in the 11th century AD. In the 12th century, the Timiou-Stavros Monastery was built in the heart of the village. Nowadays it is no longer used as a monastery, but the church in the middle of the grounds is still used for mass. Our assignment is to blend in with the locals and capture it on camera and we give it a try ;). Once we have walked around the village the other girls sit down for a drink and I quickly go into the monastery, where the Greek flag welcomes me at the entrance (since it is a Greek Orthodox church). The monastry is impressive and I may not have time to relax with a cup of tea, I prefer to see as much of Cyprus as I can, when I can! When visiting a church or monastery, it is wise to wear appropriate clothes (shoulders and knees and everything in between! covered).

We have lunch in the village as well; together with the other teams we meet around 1 pm at To Katoi (you pronounce it as “kattee”) restaurant. We have to earn our lunch by completing an assignment: making our own Tzatziki (a yoghurt dip with cucumber, mint and garlic). The reward is a delicious lunch with mezedes, dips with pita bread and one of the best moussaka dishes I ever had! Yummy… Sandy and I want the moussaka recipe, but we will just have to come back they say!

After lunch we drive to Arsos, one of the largest wine producing villages of Cyprus. We are only 40 kilometres away from Lemesos and 45 from Pafos. Arsos is built on the slopes of Laona mountain, 1092 metres above sea level and from the village we look over the Valley of the Diarizos River. Thanks to Arsos’ geographical position, there is a wonderful cool and dry climate in summer, which makes it very attractive to holidaymakers. When we arrive it must be siesta time, because it is quiet in the village.

The teams meet at Arsorama Village Homes, where we are all warmly welcomed. First we get something to drink and to eat (OMG, more delicious food) and get to know the friendly owners. They show us around their property and all the accomations are beautiful and comfortable, offering all the facilities a guest could possibly need. It is a peaceful place and although I normally want to stay somewhere close to the sea, I could see myself relaxing here for a few days! Once we finished our drinks we go for a guided walking tour through the village with one of the local guides; it is good to stretch our legs for a while and what a relaxing walk!

At the end of the afternoon we drive to Lemesos (also known as Limassol or Limasol), the second largest city in Cyprus. We arrive at Elias Beach Hotel where we will stay for the night. The hotel is located right at the seafront, overlooking a ‘Blue Flag’ sandy beach in the ancient Amathus area. From here it is only a short drive towards the entertainment area and city centre. We get a warm welcome, have a look around in the hotel before checking into our rooms.

Before dinner (thankfully not too early tonight) we have a bit of time to ourselves and where the rest of the travel agents find themselves a sunbed by the pool, I have to go for a swim in the sea. If there is anything I really miss back home, it is going for a swim in the Mediterranean; believe me… it is therapeutic! The sea water is about is about 19 degrees Celsius, but there is hardly anybody swimming; I feel like I have the sea all to myself. After my swim I join the others before getting changed for dinner.

Sandy and I have a quick walk outside before we meet the others at the reception. At the beach there is a small pier with a romantic gazebo, where many couples are probably getting married (or where proposals are being done). It almost makes me get all romantic 😉 … NOT! Those who know me will be laughing right now, knowing I would probably run when I think a man is going to propose! The sun is setting and Sandy and I take some photographs, have a laugh and go to the reception area.

It is still early in the evening when we go to the centre of Lemesos. The city is of course known as a popular tourist destination, the seaside is a bit cosmopolitan and quite modern compared to the rest of the city. But Lemesos is more than a tourist destination; it is known as the administrative and business centre, its big port/harbour is a very important part of the city and Lemesos is home to many archaeological sites.

We go for a walking tour through city centre, which is full of life (thanks to the university and its students) and we come across lots of cosy restaurants, bars, terraces, etc. The old market and ancient castle link us to Lemesos’ past; in this city the old blends with the new constantly. When you are on holiday in Lemesos, make sure you also visit the medieval castle, the bazar and mosque. And if you feel like it, visit one of the various museums!

After about an hour we settle down at Restaurant Karotello, which overlooks the majestic Medieval Castle, which is located in the heart of the old town, next to the Carob Mill Museum. Karatello is also a perfect blend of classic and modern. It has the atmosphere of an old-fashioned tavern and they serve the most delicious traditional, but innovative mezedes. We are seated inside and get served a huge variety of various dishes together with some good Cypriot wine (and there is plenty of wine here in this restaurant)! What a treat; Sandy and I cannot stop eating because all is incredibly tasty! Karotello’s well-known locoumades are the grand finale of this delicious meal! I think we need to wait for a while to try and get out of our seats. But eventually we manage and go back to the hotel to get some sleep!

Day 4: from Lemesos to Limnara Beach

The next morning, I go for a quick walk on the beach, before having breakfast and all is quiet. I am not a morning person, but it is worth it to get up early to enjoy the silence. We have our last assignment briefing after breakfast. So far these assignments have taken us to amazing places and this morning we realize how time flies by when you are having a good time. We check out from Elias Beach hotel and leave Lemesos behind us for another day in beautiful Cyprus!

Today we drive further east, first stop being Larnaka (also written as Larnaca), where we have our first assignment. It takes us about an hour to get there! Before we enter the city, we leave the A5 and go south on the A3. We quickly want to have a look at the salt lake, which can be found south west of Larnaka, just opposite its’airport. It is actually not 1 salt lake but there are 4 and 3 of them are interconnected. The largest 1 is lake Aliki, followed by lakes Orphani, Soros and Spiro. The total surface area is about 2.2 km2 and it is considered one of the most important wetlands of Cyprus.

We park our car on Tekke Road to take some photographs. It is quiet here by the lake, deserted actually. The lake is not in use anymore for extracting salt; nowadays it is an important bird area. But not this time of year I guess, since no birds are in sight! We do see the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, surrounded by a luscious green garden. It is one of the holiest of shrines within the Ottoman Islam and houses the tomb of Umm Haram. The mosque was built over a tomb which, according to tradition, belongs to Umm Haram, foster-mother of the Prophet Mohammed. We have no idea if it is open to the public, but we need to move on anyway in order not to be late for finishing our assignments.

We drive towards city centre! Larnaka is Cyprus’ oldest soul as the Larnaka Tourism Board claims. Its history goes back 10,000 years; it is the longest continually inhabited part of the island. Its location is very central (just have a look on the map), which made and makes the other regions on Cyprus easy to reach from here! Larnaka is truly rich in ancient culture of hundreds of years of contrasting civilizations and architecture. But Larnaka is also a modern city; the city combines the best of various worlds and it shows as soon as we enter the city.

It is always a challenge to drive through a foreign city, but we manage :). I never worry about driving in a city, ever since I lived in Athens where I aged 5 years in traffic on a single day 😉 . We park our rental car at a parking lot close to the Agios Lazaros / Saint Lazarus church, which is the location of our first assignment. We pay a small fee for parking, but we are in city centre, which means less walking distance and more time to enjoy Larnaka 🙂

The church of Agios Lazaros is one of the two three domed churches that exist to-day in Cyprus. It is the primary place of worship of Agios Lazaros in Cyprus. It dates back to early 10th century and it is one of the most significant Byzantine monuments on Cyprus, built by the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI on the tomb of the saint. The history of the church is such a long one, too long to write it down here. If you are interested, you can click here for more information! We take our time in visiting the church, finish our assignment and continue by foot to our next stop!

From the church we walk to the waterfront, where we first visit Larnaka Kastro (castle) for our second assignment. The castle was constructed to defend the southern coast of Cyprus (and Larnaka of course), later it was used as an artillery station and during the British rule as a prison, where they installed a gallows to execute prisoners (the last execution took place in 1948; which is not that long ago). Nowadays it is a museum. The view on top of the castle is beautiful: a 360 view over Larnaka.

From the castle we walk along the boulevard and Finikoudes beach towards Europe Square for our 3rd and last assignment in Larnaka. Opposite the square we see the marina full with (sailing) yachts. On the square itself is the building of Larnaka Municipality and around the corner is the Post Office. It is a square where people gather at night for a chat, sit down on 1 of the benches enjoying Larnaka’s city noises. Our first 2 assignments were simple, but here at the square we have to do some dancing and record it (which results in hilarious reactions from people passing by). We try to finish this assignment quickly, because it is too embarrassing to look at, especially when looking at ourselves ;). Before leaving I quickly take some photographs of the buildings at the square. Especially the building of the Municipality is beautiful with its blue window shutters.

We walk back to Finikoudes beach, where we meet the other teams at Finis Beach Bar. We hand over our assignments from this morning and have a cool drink. The beach is named after the palm trees that “decorate” Finikoudes beach and promenade (Finikoudes is the Greek word for palm trees). This part of Larnaka is a bit of a hot spot for both locals and visitors. The sandy beach is perfect for families, because of its shallow and warm waters. There are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants nearby and facilities on this beach include water sport activities, toilets, showers, changing rooms, sun beds and umbrellas. And if you are tired of swimming or sunbathing, you can go shopping; the main shopping centre runs parallel the boulevard. Before leaving the beach, Sandy and I quickly dip our feet in the sea; I would love to go for a swim…

The clock is ticking though, we still have some driving to do and 3 more assignments. All teams go their own way to have lunch somewhere and as we walk back to our car, we decide to find ourselves a place here on the boulevard. We go “commercial” this time and have lunch at Ocean Basket (chain of seafood restaurants), but the food is surprisingly good. We walk back to our car and leave Larnaka; we have to move on further east. Our visit was short but sweet; I really like what I have seen from Larnaka (even though it is just a small part) and what I like the most, is that there is no separate tourist area; tourists blend in with the locals (and sometimes maybe the other way around as well).

After lunch we drive further east. It should normally take us about 50 minutes to get to Nissi Beach, but somehow we end up on the E303 and arrive in nowhere land. We see a lot of Greek flags in this part of Cyprus (Cyprus is a republic and not part of Greece, but of course it has a deep and important connection to Greece). We keep on driving instead of going back, arrive at Achna where we drive alongside the “border” between Cyprus and the occupied northern part of the island. We see deserted villages on our left, a reservoir on our right and we come across a military post. I do not take photographs of this area; apart from the fact that I am driving, it feels weird and uncomfortable (I seriously hope that someday soon Cyprus will be one again). We have bad reception on our phones and in the village Avgorou I ask directions in Greek (a heritage of my many years in Greece). A sweet lady sends us of into the right direction and without getting lost any further, we arrive at Nissi Beach.

Nissi Beach is located close to Agia (Ayia) Napa. We park our car close to the beach and go for a walk. The bright blue / turquois beach looks like a piece of paradise and it stretches for about 500 metres. The beach got its name from the small islet of Nissi located close to the coast (Nisi is the Greek word for island). Nissi Beach is probably the most famous beach here on Cyprus and every year many young people come to this area during the summer holidays for fun, sun, sea and of course the beach. It is very busy here in the high season, but not so much in the beginning and end of the season.

Our assignment is an easy one: take a photograph of this beautiful beach. For the second time today, I feel like going for a swim; the water looks too inviting. It is warm today; the eastern part of Cyprus is a bit warmer than the west (as we find out the further east we go). The thermometer says 28 degrees Celsius and it is only April. We do not have time to sit down somewhere, but we treat ourselves to an ice cream and before we walk back to the car, I have a look at a little Greek Orthodox Church of Apostolou Andrea / St. Andrew (I think it is a part of the Adams Hotel).

Our next stop is Agia Napa, less than 3 kilometres away. Where Paphos is popular amongst the Dutch, the English prefer Agia Napa. Agia Napa’s source of income used to be the fishing industry. Now it is the most popular resort in Cyprus, since the Turks occupied the northern part of Cyprus (if I am correct it was Long Beach that used to be really popular). We all feel that Agia Napa has a different atmosphere compared to the other cities we have visited so far. I see beautiful hotels, but also strip clubs, bars and shops that have not changed since the 70’s (I even see Fred Flintstone somewhere). Anyway, I always try to see the positive and if you want a beautiful beach holiday, you are in the right place!

We first go to the harbour to finish our assignment, I take some photographs of the colourful boats and we decide not to stick around for too long. We drive through the centre of Agia Napa and stop at the monastery, but it is closed. We can only take a photograph from the outside, which we do and then we decide to leave Agia Napa.

It is only a 15 minute’s drive to Cavo Greko (Cape Greco) on the road with the same name. Here we have to do our last assignment. Cavo Greko is a headland in the south-eastern part of the island of Cyprus. It is at the southern end of Famagusta Bay and part of the Ayia Napa Municipality. It is the most easternmost point of both the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union (Rizokarpaso is further east, but this is part of Northern Cyprus). According to a local legend, it is the home of the ‘Ayia Napa sea monster’ (need to read about the monster when I get back home). Cape Greco is a National Forest Park and well visited amongst nature lovers; it is beautiful here.

We park the car and walk around for a while. It is turly a beautiful and peaceful area; this location offers breath-taking views and we sit down to enjoy the sea view. Once more we need to take a photograph for our assignment and I take too many. I wish I could walk towards the lighthouse (being a lighthouse freak), although I am not sure if it is open and also… I am not alone, so will have to go there hopefully a next time. For the third time today, I wish I could go for a swim, but this time I also want to put on my flippers and snorkel set to explore these crystal-clear waters.

We finished our last assignment and the rest of the group wants to go to the accommodation where we will stay tonight, so they can relax. We quickly drive to Protaras; the travel agents in us want to have a quick look since Protaras is a popular beach resort at the east coast. Then we go back west towards our accommodation. We will spend our last night at Kermia Beach Bungalows, located about 5 kilometres from Agia Napa and close to Cavo Greko. Upon arrival we first take care of business: we return our rental car (which we manage to return in one piece). We hand over our last assignments to Inge and Karin and I see Sandy, whose team also finished and we check into our bungalow.

We stay in one of the comfortable and spacious bungalows, located right at Limnara Beach. It is peaceful here as well, the gardens surrounding the bungalows are beautifully landscaped and both swimming pool and beach invite the guests to lie down on a sun bed and go for a swim in the sea. And this is exactly what we do for the next hour or so, before we get changed for dinner. When we walk back to the main building, we quickly catch the sunset.

We do not go out that evening, we have dinner at the hotel where we can choose from an extensive dinner buffet with all kinds of delicious dishes, while enjoying live music. All of us are relaxed in the meantime. The expedition has ended, the assignments have been assessed by jury members Inge and Karin, who probably laughed till crying while doing so. We are not the winner, but we all get a present to remember this expedition. To me the prize was being here and getting a taste of Cyprus and I would love to come back some day and see more. We keep sitting at the dinner table and enjoy a few glasses of wine before calling it a night.

Day 5: departure day 😦 back to the land of cloggs!

I wake up very early again the next morning; the day of departure unfortunately has arrived. Sandy is still sleeping and quietly I get up from the other side of the room, get dressed and walk to the beach, where all is quiet. Like I wrote earlier, I am really not a morning person, but am happy I decided to get out of bed this time of day. I sit down on the rocks at the beach and wait for the sun to rise from behind the mountains. No other human beings are in sight; it is just me enjoying the moment, while listening to a huge choir of birds, singing their morning song. It is those moments that I cherish maybe the most. I would love to stay for a few more days, to relax… but unfortunately this trip is almost over.

I go back to the bungalow, get dressed properly, pack my suitcase and go for breakfast. Do we really have to leave? Yes, we do! A transfer bus takes us to the airport of Larnaka. It is great that Cyprus has an airport both in the west and east; if you want to go for a fly drive then this will save you time (if your airline flies to both airports of course). We board the plane and when leaving Larnaka, I see Orfani salt lake beneath me. Bye bye Cyprus… I am happy I know now what versatile holiday destination you are!

Travel Blog by Elisabeth, One Lucky Traveller

April 19, 2016

For more information about Cyprus, go to Visit Cyprus!

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