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Phespirit goes to Cyprus
Paphos     November 2006

AROUND CYPRUS

Map of Cyprus

1 Paphos

Top tip for would-be visitors to Paphos: do not buy Cypriot pounds in the U.K., or at the airport, or at the hotel reception, or even in a bank. For the best exchange rates, head down to the harbour and browse the noticeboards posted outside the little souvenir shops. These are by far the most generous prices, with zero commission and no nefarious tricks.

Don't always expect a receipt, though.

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2 Coral Bay

Coral Bay is the most northerly part of the west coast to have any kind of significant tourism infrastructure.

Phespirit took the number 15 bus from Paphos to Coral Bay - the end of the line - from where he walked 6km up the coast to Agios Georgios. There are no soft golden beaches along this stretch of coast but creamy-white limestone shelves and sea-sculpted cliffs make this an interesting and attractive area all the same.

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3 Agios Georgios

The final stop on Phespirit's walk from Coral Bay.

The Church of St George overlooks a modest fishing harbour while across the road a mediæval chapel stands next to the entrance of a 6th century Byzantine basilica complex - now reduced to ruined foundations with a few surviving mosaics.

Phespirit looked around all these things before taking the 10a bus back to Coral Bay, where he sat and observed a tasteful sunset in pink and gold.

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4 Cape Lara

Cape Lara is not only one of the finest sandy beaches on Cyprus, it is also a critically important hatching ground for turtles. Visitors are therefore politely requested not to sunbathe here. Needless to say, of course, there are always a few selfish idiots who ignore all the pleas.

When Phespirit surveyed the scene from a respectful distance he saw neither turtles nor idiots on the beach .....

..... both being out of season.

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5 Avgas Gorge

Not exactly the Grand Canyon, but a canyon nonetheless. Avgas Gorge is a narrow steep-sided river-cut gorge set in a picturesque landscape of pale rocky hills and lush vegetation.

Phespirit walked a short distance along its cool shady interior and took his photographs.

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6 Latsi

For pleasant harbourside café culture without the vulgar trappings of mass tourism, visit Latsi.

Phespirit rested on the beach at the west end of town and had the place to himself. He had spotted a few scattered souls around the harbour restaurants, but the pebble shore remained deserted and silent, save for the late-autumn rustling of the sea.

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7 Loutra tis Afrodhitis

Greek mythology cash-in, part 1:

"The Baths of Aphrodite"

This is a small spring-fed pool adorned with overhanging branches and drooping vines. It would probably look quite serene without all the concrete around it to facilitate access for noisy tourists.

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8 Petra tou Romiou

Greek mythology cash-in, part 2:

"The Birthplace of Aphrodite"

Two large off-shore boulders loom up where a cliff topples down to the sea, dividing two pebble bays. A Botticelli masterpiece, this is not, but Phespirit was contented with nature's work at dusk.

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9 Stavros tis Psokas

Stavros tis Psokas is located at the heart of Paphos Forest in the Troodos Mountains. It has a forestry station and a restaurant, and an enclosure full of Moufflon (mountain goaty-sheepy things).

Phespirit took some Moufflon photos and then studied the forestry station's map. It reveals that Paphos Forest covers a total area of 60,170Ha and an elevation of 0-1352m. Fascinating stuff.

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10 Kykkos Monastery

It may be the richest monastery in Cyprus, celebrated throughout the Orthodox world, but it sadly lacks both warmth and character. Strange, as Kykkos Monastery was founded way back in the 12th century, yet repeated carelessness with fires means that nothing of the current structure pre-dates the 1830s.

Phespirit looked around with the expectation of disappointment, if only because the monks refuse to reveal their most precious icon to the wretched masses - it is believed that the artist captured the Virgin Mary's likeness as she sat directly before him .....

Not every icon has those credentials.

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11 Prodromos

At 1400m, Prodromos is the highest village in Cyprus. An electric display board by the village's central roundabout showed the noon temperature to be 9°C - such is the chill at altitude.

Phespirit stopped here for a hearty lunch of croissant and crisps.

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12 Caledonian Falls

One would hope that this attractive waterfall is sufficiently off-road to remain unspoiled by the multitudes .....

Even so, as a Cypriot couple were packing away their mini-picnic to leave, Phespirit noticed their young son taking a fistful of empty croissant packets and wedging them under a rock by the pool.

Phespirit waited until they had gone before collecting the packets and putting them in a bin, a mere ten metres away.

Phespirit blames the parents.

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13 Nicosia

November 2006: Nicosia is the last divided city in political Europe. A United Nations Buffer Zone runs through the middle, with Greek and Turkish checkpoints on either side.

When Phespirit walked from south to north he passed through the Greek checkpoint without any formalities. He was required simply to fill out a visa form at the Turkish checkpoint. On the return trip, his visa was checked and stamped at the Turkish side but, again, he was able to pass through completely unhindered on the Greek side - not so much as a glance up from the border 'guards'.

Surprising - especially now this is an E.U. international border .....

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  1. Paphos
  2. Coral Bay
  3. Agios Georgios
  4. Cape Lara
  5. Avgas Gorge
  6. Latsi
  7. Loutra tis Afrodhitis
  8. Petra tou Romiou
  9. Stavros tis Psokas
  10. Kykkos Monastery
  11. Prodromos
  12. Caledonian Falls
  13. Nicosia
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Paphos Coral Bay Agios Georgios Cape Lara Avgas Gorge Latsi Loutra tis Afrodhitis Petra tou Romiou Stavros tis Psokas Kykkos Monastery Prodromos Caledonian Falls Nicosia