View from my hotel room (Crowne Plaza Limassol, Cyprus)
Earlier this week I was in Cyprus for business meetings, and this time I also managed to do some sightseeing (unlike my last trip there). I rented a car so I could see a bit more of the island than just my hotel room and the beach, and that was a good decision.
On the plane to Larnaca I had a talk with the flight attendant (there was hardly anybody in biz class, so she was quite talkative) and when she heard that I like wines she let me taste some local Cyprus wines. They were not bad, but it’s always a bit hard to tell how good a wine really is at 35,000 feet. Because I still had to drive an hour from the airport to my hotel (in the dark with a slight jet lag) I could not drink too much, but the tasting piqued my interest for Cyprian wines.
Limassol Wine Festival
Because of this introduction to local wines on the plane I decided to visit the Limassol Wine Festival. After checking in to the hotel I saw on a map that the wine festival was just 2 km away, so I left my car at the hotel and walked over. I had read that the annual wine festival was supposed to showcase some of Cyprus better wines, but it turned out to be more of a food and drink event where (mainly young) people try to get drunk. Many people had plastic wine bottles with them that they could fill up with cheap wines, and they were sipping it directly from the bottle. Not really the kind of wines I am looking for when visiting a wine festival. I had some local food, tried a few wines (not too impressed) and then walked along the beach front boulevard back to my hotel to catch up on some sleep.
Beach at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Limassol
After my meetings the next day I went for a run before dinner on the beach and along the boulevard. It was very busy on the beach, despite the fact that it was dark already at 7:30 PM. Families were chatting and some people were still swimming in the dark. At several places people were fishing from the beach and others were watching them. A very lively atmosphere that I liked to be part of. However, it’s not ideal for jogging, as I had to watch out not to run into anybody. Also the temperature (about 28 degrees in the early evening) was still a bit high for a run, but despite that I enjoyed it very much. On the way back to the hotel I ran over the bike lane next to the boulevard. There I really sped up in order to try to overtake some slow bike riders. I managed, but I was pretty much spent after I finished.
Back at the hotel I went for a swim in the sea, then took a shower and went for dinner. I was quite thirsty so started with a beer, but then I asked for the wine list and saw that the hotel had several local wines on sale per glass. So during dinner I tried several different wines, all much better than I had tasted during the wine festival. The ones I liked best were produced by Tsiakkas, and the next day I bought a few bottles at a wine shop to take home. Retail they were all over EUR 10 per bottle, not cheap for a local Cyprus wine.
Old mosque with minaret in Limassol
The next morning I worked until 11 AM and then went for a walk through the center of Limassol. The old town is quite nice, with small alleys full of shops and restaurants. There was even an old mosque with a minaret. When I wanted to walk to the old port I realized that a project developer bought all land around it and was building luxury villas there. The design looked very nice (the artist impressions on the billboards show big yachts in front of modern villas), but this kind of buildings don’t fit to an old harbour. Well, I’ll judge when they are finished next year or so, but it’s hard to believe that this adds to the nice atmospher of old Limassol.
Self portrait in a totally deserted Lofou
After a quick lunch (a tasty Greek salad with feta cheese, olives etc.) I took the car and drove to Lofou, which is a traditional village in the hills above Limassol. I was there around 2 PM and the place was totally deserted, I walked around the whole village and did not see any other person! Even the local taverna was closed. It felt a bit spooky, especially when I realized that there were no animals either. Not sure where everybody was, so I continued my ride up into the hills.
Lofou from a hill opposite the village
Cyprus is extremely dry, not much grows on the mountains. But when I was in Lofou I could see dark clouds in the hills far above the village, and it looked like it was raining there. A business friend had written down some suggestions so I had no idea where I would end up (which was part of the fun). I just put the name of the next place into my GPS and followed the route. My next stop was the village of Platres and the computer led me straight into the dark clouds. Soon it was raining hard. Strange, the rest of the island was dry, sunny and very hot and here I was in the middle of a rain storm.
When I arrived in Platres it turned out to be in a forest area that looked like a place where it rains a lot. Very different from the rest of the island, and actually more beautiful than the barren hills that you see on most of Cyprus. I did not stay long in Platres, but decided to drive higher into the mountains, up to Mount Olympus. A nice drive and hardly any other cars.
Forests outside Platres
From there I took part of the wine route back to the coast, but I did not stop at any wineries (I still had to drive and that does not fit with tasting lots of wine). Most wineries seemed to be quite small anyway, and I was not sure which vineyards were worth a visit and which not. I’ll probably do a bit of research before my next trip there and then visit the best 2 or 3 wineries.
Beach between Limassol and Paphos
I partly took the small road from Limassol to Paphos along the coast (also spelled as Pafos). This road has some amazing views over the sea and its beaches, highly recommended.
Paphos (Pafos) main boulevard
Paphos has some beautiful ruins, but it seems there are only cheap package tourists here, mainly interested in getting extremely sun burned and in drinking copious amounts of beer. I was a bit disappointed by the place. It certainly looks nice, but the English and Russian tourists ruined (no pun intended) it for me.
Sunrise over the Mediterranean, taken from my hotel room balcony
After Paphos I drove back to Limassol for a run on the beach and dinner overlooking the sea. I was thirsty so just had a few Keo beers (local Cyprus beer) during a simple seafood dinner. Then I went to bed early because I had to get up very early (before sunrise!) to catch my plane. Sunrise was beautiful, so getting up so early was totally worth it. It was a short trip, but it was productive and I had a good time sightseeing as well.
All my Cyprus pictures can be found in this set on Flickr.