As a book-lover, I rarely give away books and consequently have over-flowing bookshelves; including one devoted to guidebooks: interesting and beautiful places that I have visited and hope to return to some day. So my atypical decision, in 2004, to throw my guidebook to Cyprus in the dustbin, adamantly proclaiming I would never want to visit the island again, is still a vivid memory. Fast-forward three years and I found myself packing up my worldly-possessions, waving them away onto a container ship and boarding a flight to what would be our new home; in Cyprus! The irony of my former book-throwing decision did not pass me by and certainly filled me with a little apprehension!
So what led to my guidebook fermenting with apple cores and pencil shavings at the bottom of a bin? Was it caused by my heat-intolerance as I doggedly persevered with sightseeing plans: battling against high temperatures and humidity at Paphos Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, wearily placing one foot in front of the other to view Roman Mosaic floors and ruins from Prehistoric times to the Middle Ages? Was it the seering sunburn emanating from my legs and burning through my linen trousers, as a constant and nagging reminder of the perils of not re-applying suncream often enough? Was it the discovery of a box full of bullets in our hired 4×4, having assured my friend’s mother it was just water bottles noisily-pinging around behind her in the boot? Was it the fear-inducing journey as our 4×4 slowly climbed precarious roads and dirt tracks to reach the spectacular scenery of the Troodos mountains? No, it was none of these! It was simple really; with the exception of daytrips to the Troodos mountains and the busy, tourist attractions of Paphos, we barely got to know the island. We were in Cyprus for a friend’s wedding and along with the other guests, we stayed in a huge hotel in Paphos, which was pretty much the same as every other hotel packed tightly together along that strip of beach. And that was our defining image of Cyprus: hotel after hotel after hotel: all catering for us Brits; including menus advertising that well-known Cypriot delicacy; fish and chips!
How little we knew and how wrong we were about Aphrodite’s island! In the three years we subsequently lived in Cyprus, we scratched beyond the surface and explored the island from tip-to-toe: from the charming, pretty old town of Limassol;
the rugged and wild scenery of the Akamas Peninsula
and the heights and temperature difference of the Troodos mountains;
to the less well-travelled and perhaps greener North of the island. The breathtaking beauty of Bellapais, picturesque Kyrenia and a spectacularly long car journey through the Karpas Peninsula to reach Golden Beach at the tip of the island, which geographically points to Syria, captivated us with their natural splendour. Relaxing at Nankomi (Golden Beach), a deserted sweep of sand, backed by rolling dunes, our experience of Cyprus three years earlier became a distant memory!
Here is more of our journey – in images – for you.
The Akamas Peninsula:
The Troodos mountains:
The Karpas Peninsula, Northern Cyprus:
Bellapais, Northern Cyprus:
Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus: