Sunday, 14th November 1999 The morning was grey as we prepared to leave for our two weeks in Cyprus. We had given very little thought or preparation to the trip – the last few weeks have been taken up with the far more difficult planning for our proposed trip to Southern Africa in the new year. This Cyprus trip was supposedly to avoid the grey English autumn/winter, but in fact this autumn had seen many fine days with blue skies. Today was the sort of day we had wanted to be away from and although the clouds did break up a bit on our drive to Gatwick, it was only for a very short time that we glimpsed some sun. We left Hermitage soon after 9.00 am. Adrian had been down the garden to review the state which the mole had left it in. Our journey to Gatwick was trouble free. We had stopped at Reading services for petrol. This being Remembrance Sunday we joined the Nation in the two minutes silence at 11 o'clock. I tried to find the song "And the band played Waltzing Matilda" – the moving song on our Aussie tape, written about Gallipoli – and it was playing just as we arrived at our car park – "Tudor Rose" at 11:15 am. We were trying out a new car park this time, where they use your own car to drive you to and from the airport – we'll have two see how it works. By 11.30 we were at South terminal, booked in and enjoying a tea/coffee (mine from my flask) and bun. We were glad to have done this, as lunch on the plane wasn't served until 3.30! A quick look around the shops, particularly Past Times, and it was time to make our way through to departures. We boarded the plane and took up our window seats and left on time just before 1.30 – unfortunately straight into cloud which remained all the time – until it got dark – horribly early at about 3.30 English time (two hours on for Cyprus). The flight was trouble free. We didn't bother with headphones, as you had to pay for these and the film wasn't worth it anyway! We were well ready for our meal. The flight was just over four hours, so at 7.45 Cyprus time we stepped out of the plane into a pleasant temperature (19°C) at Larnaca. An airport bus transported us to the terminal, where we had to wait for hours in the queue (behind a jovial group of coloured Brits) to get through passport control. Then it was a comfortable bus journey for 45 minutes through the dark to Limassol. The courier only spoke briefly and anyway alighted before any of the "tourists". We were the second group to be dropped off at the "Old bridge hotel" – it's the bridge which is old not the hotel! It was now 9:30 pm – too late for our hotel evening meal, which annoyed us, until we read later that we could make up for it by having lunch on another day. After a brief look at our basic room, we left almost immediately to find food. On the corner of our road and the main beach road we found a little "corner cafe" with a very pleasant and genial waiter. For £4(Cy) – about £4.50 sterling, we enjoy a well presented meal of shrimp cocktail followed by a huge portion of cod and chips (R) and Stifado (beef) (A) with a beer (included). Afterwards we had a short walk along the main road and then back, stopping to view the old Roman looking bridge. We had had to exchange some money at reception as we couldn't make the "hole in the wall" machines work at the airport. We returned to our room ready for our beds, knowing that we have to rise early in the morning as our welcome meeting is at 9.00!
Monday, 15th November Everything looked better in the light of day! I woke up very early (6 am Cyprus time). It was already light. On looking out from our "patio" windows, I could see the sea, past the "sea" of white buildings, mostly five – six stories high. Rather like Madeira, the buildings were encroaching more and more on the former vegetation. I was pleased to be up early and got our things unpacked and sorted.
Breakfast here was certainly better than in Kefalonia, although I'm sure we will tire of the choice after a fortnight. There was proper fruit juice, cereal (a good muesli) and fresh milk, tea and coffee (instant or French); toast (cook yourself) preserves, butter, cheese, ham, bacon, olives, yoghurt. The restaurant was pretty crowded, including French and German speakers. We sat looking out to the pool/sunbathing area and after breakfast took a look around the area before coming back briefly to our room, where we were pleased to find that the sun was shining in and the temperature 73° F. We returned downstairs to our "welcome meeting" with Jackie, our representative. We warmed to her after our initial misgivings (she had a very London voice). She seemed sensible and genuine and didn't try to "push" things at all. She was married to a Cypriot, and lived here and loved the island. At the end of her time with us we had booked car hire through her, starting tomorrow – about £12 Sterling a day with two free days thrown in! We also booked ourselves on to a three day trip to Egypt and Israel for the latter part of next week – so more excitement! We came back to our room and Adrian made tea/coffee using our "hot water maker" which we brought with us and I sat in the warm sunshine on the balcony, writing the diary. We looked across to a school playground in the distance, to make us feel at home. We thought that we’d have lunch at the hotel today, to make up for last nights missed meal, but found that they needed 24 hours notice, so instead walked out intending to find a taverna.
View from our hotel looking inland
We had walked to a nearby bakery full of wonderful goodies, but decided to save that for another day and set off walking along beside the beach into Limassol itself. There was a recently made walkway along the beach, but a distinct lack of tavernas! The temperature was lovely, although there was quite a breeze. Eventually it got the better of me and I had to go in for a swim, despite having only brought our pocket handkerchief sized towel. The water was warm and it was wonderful.
The Old Bridge with our hotel behind the shops,
Adrian by the Old Bridge
Rosie on the beach, Limassol
The main road runs close to the sea right along to Limassol – we realised that there were no eating places and virtually no building, on the seaward side, so we crossed the road and enjoyed toasted cheese/ham sandwich and a beer in a bar. An English couple started talking to us, but she had a very quiet voice which the wind carried away, we just kept smiling. Almost next door to this little restaurant was a large and very upmarket Woolworths with a trendy clothes section. We looked, but didn't buy. We continued on our walk into Limassol– only on the bus on our return did we realise how far we had walked. We passed numerous little shops – I bought a denim sunhat at one. Prices seem to be pretty good. We spent a long time looking at travel bags with a view to our African trip. Later on Adrian bought a map (surprise surprise) and I bought some nice postcards.
We had stopped and enjoyed a "whippy" type ice cream by the beach and had made our way into the old town – rather tumble down in places, but full of character – and of characters. Most people appeared friendly but not pushy. Cyprus is supposed to be a safe place and its citizens honest – it certainly seems that way. As the sun began to go down, we thought it was time to return – we miraculously located a bus stop and for 60cents (about 70p) each, we were transported back to near our hotel. We walked back, crossing by the "old bridge", which we had photographed this morning. This should have been a Cypriot evening in the hotel, but that is now tomorrow night, as we discovered later, because of a private function being held tonight. We had a self service meal of great variety – cold "starters" – lots of feta cheese and salad type things. The tomatoes here have real flavour. Then hot food and then desert – a choice of icecreams, Greek yoghurt with honey, small cakes and fruit. Again the bananas taste real. We enjoyed a pleasant bottle of local white wine (£4) with our meal and were joined by a chap from the next room to us (from near Blackpool) who we had met briefly this morning. He has been to Cyprus several times and was tonight recovering from last night's revelries. After the meal we sat in the bar area, Adrian drinking beer and me water, and chatted to a girl from our plane of Greek Cypriot parentage but living in London. It was after 11.00 pm when we came up to our room. We had been surprised to have had some heavy rain while we were sitting in the bar.
Adrian buys a map in Limassol
Tuesday 16th November 90 km
Despite the sudden rain last night, we awoke today to a beautiful day with hot sunshine. We both had trouble in waking up, but after breakfasting (I had fruit salad today) Adrian waited in the foyer for the car to be delivered and I went in search of stamps for the postcards, but got them later from the post office. We gathered together the stuff to take with us today and left at 10.15 in our little Daihatsu Cuove number plate ZEAT. Our first stop was at the bakers for lunch time goodies. We traversed Limassol and found our way past the port to Lady's Mile Beach on the stubby peninsula south of Limassol. The beach was part pebbly. There was one Taverna and just a few people. I had bought my flask of coffee and we shared a delicious fruity "Danish pastry". The sea looked so inviting, so we both had a delightful swim. The road here was unsurfaced and quite mucky after last night's rain, so we didn't travel any further south, but took a road across towards Kolossi. The road was lined with tall trees. There is a large salt lake here. It all felt a bit like Australia. Even more so when we reached Kolossi Castle and we saw lots of largish dragon lizards.
We now started our bit of culture! The nice thing is that the "sites" only cost around £1 to get in. Useful when you're visiting several. We climbed to the top of the castle keep and looked out over the parched countryside, including the Akrotiri peninsula. It was funny to be among the names which we knew so well from "family favourites". We drove on now to the sites of Corium(Kourion) just past Episkcopi. We briefly visited the stadium first, having driven past the main sites as the road has now been changed from the map we were following. We then found a bit of shade under a tree to sit and eat our pies and cakes (strange tasting Backlava for me – like cologne tissues!) looking down onto the lovely Episkopi Bay.
Kolossi Castle, Akrotiri Peninsula
We had to drive back down the long hill to get to the Roman amphitheatre and Eustolios villa. These were set on the edge of the hills above the bay and were really pleasant to visit in this lovely temperature. Adrian took some video. There were lots of mosaic floors in the Villa and also a bit further on, past the vast ruins of the basilica, which we visited next. We now drove on a short distance to the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, which includes a restored bit of Apollo's Temple. Having thoroughly enjoyed our bit of culture, we continued west past huge British forces settlements at Happy Valley, set amongst the surprisingly hilly and barren countryside and turning off on a long narrow winding road to Avdimou Bay – a mostly sandy bay with just one Taverna. Again the roads and the (new) map didn't agree. At the beach Adrian rested in the car, and I rested on the beach! The afternoons are short at this time of year. We now drove back to our hotel, taking the fast road and arriving back at 4.30, stopping at the supermarket next door for more drink – water, fizz and beer. Tonight was "Cypriot Night" at the hotel. We went down at 7 o'clock, ready to eat, but discovered that tonight's meal didn't start until 8 pm, so back we went for an hour! The food was excellent and we had a bottle of "Old Bridge" wine. There were two musicians playing increasingly more Greek music, but the highlight of the evening was two brothers Nickola and Marini who performed Greek dances which got faster and more intricate and eventually involving the audience – including us. Great fun. At 10.00 we returned to sit on the balcony for a short while.
Adrian at Kourion
Cypriot Night at the hotel
Wednesday 17th November 122 km
Not a good night for me – Adrian had asked for his mattress to be changed but maybe they changed mine instead (these single beds!) as mine felt very hard and my back troubled me. Hence we were not early for breakfast, where Chris to Burgh music was playing again (better than the woman singer during supper). We were keen to get off and left at 9.45. The first stop was at the bakers for rolls (we had brought cheese and ham and boiled egg from breakfast); doughnuts for elevenses and an apple turnover. I posted cards to the "kiddies" at the post office, then we proceeded to the opticians. Yes that does say opticians! Our representative had recommended visiting this optician (20% off frames and free eye test) as prices in Cyprus were much cheaper than in England. I needed some new glasses for general viewing and these were ordered. Adrian also had an eye test and ordered some reading glasses. They should be ready for collection on Friday. It was now 11 o'clock so we quickly discussed what to do and decided to head for the hills. We crossed the motorway at "our" turnoff, quickly getting into the barren hills and heading for the Germasogeia reservoir. We followed the small road up the East side of the dam, where there was a viewpoint, but they were doing road works and what looked like the viewing spot was full of lots of piles of road workings. They were using an ancient looking tar machine and women were shovelling in the pebbles.
We backtracked a bit and found a seat above the reservoir to enjoy our elevenses before heading back up the left-hand side of the reservoir through what is called Limassol Forest, but rather devoid of trees. Around some of the villages citrus fruits were growing and prickly pears and olives. The flowers to mention are oleanders, hibiscus and bougainvillea. At Dierona I photographed a lady with her donkey packed high with grass. The village and others we have passed through, were surprisingly attractive and green, set amongst such barren country.
Adrian by the Germasogeia reservoir
Just after the village of Ora we stopped for lunch in the shade of a pine tree looking down to the village and the vastness of dry hills. We had a seat to sit on – one was minus the back and one minus a bar of the seat! We had been enjoying having a cassette player in the car and pleased that I have bought some tapes with us (even a Chris De Burgh). We continued now passed Agios Minos monastery to Lefkara, a village famous for three things – lace making, silver working and Turkish delight. We were looking for the start of a walking trail and on finding it we parked the car and set off up a steep track eventually coming to a little chapel high on a hill. All around us we could see the wilderness of the hills. It was so peaceful. We could hear voices from the villages below – Lefkara on one side and Kato Drys on the other, but we came across no people. We heard a couple of shots and found later that this is the short shooting season.
Lady with a donkey near Dierona
Looking to Ora from our lunch stop
Our rough path now descended and eventually we came down to Lefkara. We walked on into the village which was a delightful mixture of old and new – crumbling houses amongst the little tourist shops. We looked at the church, which is being renovated. Shops selling lace work were everywhere. We bought some tiny coasters and also some Turkish delight. The shop where this is made had the distinctive hexagonal boxes stacked on the table and the buckets of icing sugar beside it. No one around – I took a photo. I also bought some postcards (10 cents here, 15 in Limassol!) And the lady just asked me how many without counting.
Looking down to Lefkara
We passed a shop where a lady was working with silver. We were invited in to look, given fresh lemon squash to drink and of course ended up buying a silver ring (which I'd wanted) and necklace for me. Nicely crafty these Cypriots! But all politely friendly. It was now 4.45 as we rejoined the car and headed back swiftly towards Limassol as the sky darkened. The meal tonight was Italian and again it was good. We were joined by our friend from Blackpool. Later we drove down into Limassol and had a short walk by the sea before returning to our room.
Loukoumi (Turkish delight) shop & 'factory' and lady working with silver in Lefkara
Thursday 18th November 154 km We swapped beds but I still didn't sleep well. Noisy dust carts at 4.00 am didn't help! There was some high cloud in the blue sky, but in fact the day turned hotter than ever. After breakfast we had a discussion on where to go and settled on heading for Paphos. Our first stop was at the bakers, then at 10 am we set off on the motorway past Limassol (we were reminded of similar journeying in Madeira). The motorway stops near Pissouri, but we saw much evidence of it being extended towards Paphos. We stopped beside the road to view Aphrodite's Rock, then walked on to the beach, which was mostly of pebbles. I didn't swim, but sufficed with a paddle.
We collected our elevenses (a nice bun to share) from the car and sat on the beach – our "seat" being softened by the dried grass type seaweed, to eat, drink and soak up this very ambient atmosphere. Having satiated ourselves with this place (we had walked under the road initially to get to the beach) we set off for Aphrodite's Sanctuary at Kouklia. For 75 cents (about 80p) we had access to this archaeological site and museum. We found the wealth of exhibits of pottery dating back to 3500 BC quite mind blowing. It was a lovely setting looking down the coastline – towards Paphos. Walking around the hundreds of pieces of stone carvings etc. outside, we thought what a difficult jigsaw to put together!
Rosie on the beach at Aphrodites Rock near Pissouri
Adrian at Aphrodite's sanctuary
It was really hot and dry. We viewed a neighbouring Catholic church (from the outside) – very simple and dating from the 14th century, then continued to Geroskipou, where we managed to locate the road down through rich loamy soil towards the beach. We were disappointed initially to find a line of new hotels here and no beach access and what we saw was rocky. We did find a bit of public beach, between two hotels. Feeling very hot and sticky by now, we enjoyed a really refreshing swim across this little "bay" and back. Then we enjoyed our lunch sitting on the rocks beside the sea. What a lovely way to spend November! Once more we managed to tear ourselves away, and carried on into Paphos, parking down by the harbour. We walked around the harbour (taking photos and video) viewing the old and remains of even older fort and some nice fishing boats amongst the newer yachts.
Looking past the 'new' fort to the ruins of the Old Fort, Paphos
We found Paphos much busier and more touristy than Limassol. We knew that this was a huge archaeological site, and found our way to the vast area of mosaics. These were housed in the house of Dionysos, the house of Aiou and the house of Theseus. The whole area is being "worked on", with many parts still roped off. Nevertheless, we couldn't fail to be impressed by these ancient mosaics, some in geometric designs and some as pictures.
However it was now 4 o'clock so time to head back. We drove up to Ktimi, then took the road back to Limassol (joining all the home going traffic). We stopped this time at Geroskipou, having passed an amazing shop selling basket work and also lots of the huge Cypriot storage pots – very photogenic. Then we viewed the five domed church of the Ayia Paraskevi where a service was just taking place, with the priest’s chanting being relayed loud and clear to all and sundry (there was only a handful of people in the church). The attractive little church dates from the 11th century.
Mosaics of Paphos - House of Dioysos
Mosaics of Paphos - House of Theseus
This is the other village on the island which makes Turkish delight – (loukoumi) and the smell of it pervaded the air. We sampled many different flavours and bought some tangerine and some peppermint (for A). It was now 4.50, so it was a quick dash back along the motorway in the dark, arriving back at 6 pm. Supper tonight was "barbecue", and the least exciting choice so far. Excitement was caused by the fact of not having enough tables – some had been reserved for a group of about 30 dark haired young men who arrived at 8 o'clock – the local football team? They were very quiet and well behaved so perhaps not! The lack of tables caused problems for our "Lionel Jeffries" waiter, but he had to laugh when 10 minutes or so later the place was nearly empty! We came upstairs – me to the write diary and postcards and ended the day with a "nightcap" sitting on the balcony. It was still warm.
The 5 domed church of Ayai Paraskevi, Geroskipou
Friday 19th November 167 km We left at 9.00am on this slightly cooler, partly cloudy day. We stopped at the bakers, then the Post Office (the man was as miserable as ever) then for petrol and finally at the opticians to collect our glasses. I enquired about my reading glasses (new in England since our return from Australia). He reckoned they weren't strong enough, so I ended up ordering new lenses for them! Hence it was nearly 10 o'clock when we set off towards the Troodos mountains. After the initial barren foothills, we were pleasantly surprised by the forested mountainsides – both evergreen and deciduous – these latter giving a lovely sprinkling of autumn colour. We stopped near Platres and after our elevenses (yummy fruity bun) we had a delightful walk for 2 km to the Caledonian Falls. The path followed a little stream trickled on its stony path between the trees. Many times we had to cross the stream on "stepping stones" (any rock which happened to suit!). Sometimes the path was quite well made, other times a bit of a scramble, but with the sun filtering through and the temperature just right (T-shirt and shorts) it was just perfect. The Falls themselves were not spectacular but very pretty and the stream which trickled over several small waterfalls on the way. At the Falls we had to turn round and retrace our steps, so we had the delight of the walk in the other direction.
It was 12.30 when we rejoined the car. A few kilometres of continually winding roads brought us to Troodos. We stopped to look at some market stalls in the square, but didn't buy anything. In winter this is a ski resort! We drove part way up Mount Olympus, the highest point on the island (1952 m). It felt quite chilly as we walked around taking some video and photo and unable to capture the image of the mountain wilderness.
Our walk to the Caledonian Falls
We drove back down and just after Prodromos we found a sheltered spot for lunch and enjoyed our French loaf looking out over the mountains. On now pass Pedoulas, nestling in a little valley, with its prominent and framed Michail Angelos Church. As we stopped to look down on to the village from above, a peasant woman came across trying to sell us fruit and nuts from her meagre little roadside spot. On now on the 12 mile tortuous route, as the book says, to the renowned Kykkos monastery. It was one continuous bend all the way! The monastery contains a museum housing a wealth of antiquities, mostly of the religious kind. Quite a staggering collection – the leaflet and ticket give more information. I was really taken with two intricate wooden carvings encompassing minute figures and craftsmanship. Even if all the rest of it wasn't "our cup of tea", we couldn't help but marvel! We glimpsed inside the church which I had wanted to see. The over the top goldness of it all reminded us of temples in Bangkok. Amazing. All around the monastery were colourful mosaic pictures. Gold abounded amongst the other colours.
From Mount Olympus, Troodos mountains, highest point in Cyprus
It had felt pretty chilly up here. I had put on a sari/skirt over my shorts, but as we drove on a bit further to Throni, a little temple with 360° views over the mountainous country, I needed to put on trousers and a jumper (for the first time). Light was already fading. Here is the grave of Archbishop Makarios III (who had been a novice at the monastery). His grave was guarded by a soldier, standing so still that we wondered if he was real (he was). Now it was time for us to make our long and twisting homeward journey, getting as much of it over before it became quite dark. We decided against any diversions and enjoyed recognising landmarks of the outward journey. We stopped just before Limassol to look around a large pottery and arrived back at our hotel at 5.30 pm. The supposed carvery meal wasn't brilliant – I prefer the Greek food. Afterwards it was supposedly "karaoke"! We sat at the far end of the bar and chatted to our "Cypriot" girl and an English couple from Bognor. Bed at 11.30 pm.
Rosie at Kykkos Monastery and looking to Mount Olympus from near Kykkos
Saturday 20th November 161 km We left soon after 9.00 am for Nicosia (Lefkosia) on a slightly hazy but pleasant day. It was motorway all the way, so easy driving. Before we knew it we were in the inner city. We followed signs around the narrow streets and found an underground parking area with machines like English ones, but considerably cheaper (60p for 6 hours). On emerging at street level (we were two levels down) we tried to orientate ourselves and soon found that we were very close to the Turkish occupation line. It is difficult to find words to describe the feelings of seeing this disaster. Makeshift looking barriers of old oil drums and sacks marked the division, with signs forbidding photographs. The buildings around were derelict in the extreme. At one place there was a viewing point, guarded by a young soldier. There were several soldiers on guard on the streets too.
Looking from Woolworths to the Turkish Zone, Nicosia
Life carries on near the dividing line, Nicosia
Away from the line was a busy and happy city with every type of shop lining the pedestrian streets. We ascended to the sixth floor of Woolworths for a mediocre tea/coffee and cake, but the money we paid was for the view, as from here you can see into the Turkish Quarter and the buildings falling into decay. Some areas of the Greek Quarter were also in a bad state of repair, particularly near Famagusta gate. Adrian spotted and photographed some old and dusty Morris cars (actually I spotted them).
Adrian by the Famagusta Gate
Old Morris cars near the Famagusta Gate
There were numerous eating places in the pedestrian streets. We had lunch in one – Greek salad for Adrian and haloumi cheese in pitta for me, with a beer each. An elderly Cypriot man at the next table started chatting to us after eating his plate of figs. I wrote the last couple of postcards – one to Hil & Doug on their sixth wedding anniversary. We bought a small leather "bumbag" for me – I don't really like them, but we thought it might be useful in Africa Towards the end of our "walkabout" we happened upon the outdoor fruit and vegetable market. It was a happy and colourful affair. One stall holder gave us a whole lot of tiny sweet mandarins, rather than take them back again, as it was soon packing up time. He said there are lots of Russian here.
The fruit & vegetable market, Nicosia
Interestingly we had managed to tune into BBC World Service today. One of the main news items was President Clinton's arrival in Athens to discuss the Greek – Turkish situation with regards to Cyprus. Also in the news was the plight of East Timorese refugees in West Timor and that Russian troops had encircled the main town in Chechnya. By 3.30 we had found our way back to the car. We did an extra tour of the underground parking area, as the boot of the car flew open at the top and we wondered if we'd lost anything! We found our way out remarkably easily and headed back to the motorway towards Limassol. The sun was already very low in the sky. We pulled off the motorway once as we were feeling sleepy and then couldn't get back on for quite some way. We turned off again at Governors Beach, where we drove past an enormous campsite to a pleasant beach area with a large fish restaurant and a penetrating loud noise from the power station. Soon after Nicosia we had passed the football stadium. A match was obviously in progress, as cars were parked along the edge of the motorway (on the hard shoulder). We arrived back at 5.15 pm, having driven on the non-motorway road for the last few kilometres. The "International Buffet" tonight was nothing special. There was a wedding reception for 300 guests later – we sat in the bar and watched some of them arrive. Our car rental man came to collect some more money – he had undercharged us!
Sunday 21st November 260 km We set off quite early on a slightly cooler morning and after buying a French loaf (hot) from the bakers we set off eastwards – initially on the ordinary road, but then joining the motorway to Larnaca. We had a bit of trouble circling Larnaca as the motorway is being built and we had to do some guesswork. We reached the flat south-east corner with its red soil – the potato growing area of Cyprus – we saw evidence of this. We turned off to Potamus and came to a delightful little inlet full of colourful fishing boats with their coloured "bags" of nets. Just on from here on an unsurfaced stretch we came to the pleasant rocky beach. There were little white flowers like narcissi and tiny purple flowers too.
And yet right close to this barrier people went about their work – a carpenter at work in his workshop looked up and said hello – the building must have extended right up to the dividing line. A little girl walking along with her grandmother looked over to us and said hello as well. Near Pafosgate we peeped inside the Catholic Church situated it would seem on a bit of U.N. ground.
Adrian near the dividing line in Nicosia
Down below was a small "museum" of artefacts and photos – no hiding what these people thought of the Turks. A video of the "troubles" was being shown. Then there was a ramshackled collection of birds and animals in a kind of zoo. All this for 50 cents! Having come as far east as possible, it was now time to return, but it was with dismay that Adrian realised that we were just about out of petrol (and it was Sunday). We seemed to be on the outskirts of Paralimni. With great luck we found a BP station open and Adrian was able, with the aid of the lad, as it was a "money insertion" system, to put in some petrol. Then following the signs, we travelled via Deryneia, Fenaros and Liopetri (with a church similar to the one at Geriskopou) towards Larnaca. We stopped just before to eat our chocolate croissant. Then on through Larnaca, the main bit of which was pleasant with hotels, and then outside cafes and then the beach – all recently finished. The road then continued right beside the sea, with older houses lining the street – very pleasant. We then passed the Salt Lake, looking pleasant in the low sun and with flamingos on it, then past the airport and then the motorway back to Limassol arriving at 5.15 pm. Tonight we chatted to the two Manchester ladies, then tried to ring Simon.
A short way up the eastern side we turned down to Konnos beach – a delightful cove with clear turquoise water. We had a lovely swim, followed by our lunch. A nice spot. The area north of here didn't interest us at all – just expanding hotels and apartments. Adrian had photographed some "windmills" and I photograph some large pots.
We enjoyed our elevenses here – the French bread and one of the little "oranges" from yesterday. We both had a paddle in the sandy/rocky water. The day was quite hot now. The road along the front from here was unsurfaced and corrugated – reminding us of Australia. We soon came though, to the end of the tourist's sprawl west of Agia Napa. The road was now surfaced. We viewed one or two beaches here – Macronissos beach, of pleasant sand. I realised that I had been bitten by a mosquito at Potamus beach – the first time this holiday – we've seen no sign of mosquitoes, although we were plagued a bit by flies today. We also looked at Nissi beach surrounded by hotels and with music playing loudly from a Taverna – we didn't stop, although the beach itself was quite pleasant and of nice sand. We drove through Agia Napa and knew not to come back here – one huge resort, although virtually empty of people now. There was much building and roadworks going on and it was difficult to find our way. We thought we saw the monastery in the centre. The place made us think of the Algarve or Benidorm. We left as quickly as possible and drove to Cape Gkreko, in the extreme south east of Cyprus. We walked up to a viewing point and could see back where we had driven. It was rather hazy now. Everywhere looked pretty bleak. There was a very loud group of people, cyclists I think.
Pretty flowers and our hire car near Potamus
Adrian at Cape Gkreko
Idyllic Konnos Beach
We kept going north and found ourselves at a "viewpoint over Famagusta Bay". We had reached the dividing line again. This "viewpoint" – right by the "border" was a little Taverna with a conglomeration of attractions, including a rooftop outlook up towards Famagusta (now in Turkish occupied Cyprus).
Pots & Windpumps
Looking towards Turkish Occupied Famagusta across the dividing line
Monday 22nd November 260 km Simon rang back while we were having supper – it meant that I got to taste the wine! It was good to hear from him. Our Cypriot girl, joined us during the meal and we spent the evening in the bar with her, the game Bognor couple and the woman and her mum from Manchester, who left for their flight home at 11.49 pm. We left soon after for bed. However, we were awake early today and left at 8.45, heading towards Paphos after buying a French loaf and fruity bun. We owe the lady 15 cents as she hadn't any change. At Geriskopou we stopped to view the basket shops, having great difficulty in crossing the busy road. We didn't manage to find the old town at Paphos – if there was one and proceeded to the Tombs of the Kings. The rather mixed morning (we have even seen two drops of rain) now became hot as we walked around this vast area of ancient tombs, nimbly climbing down and up many steps and once or twice crawling through small openings. They are working on this area and we feel have even more to uncover.
Rosie at the Tomb of the Kings, Paphos
Adrian at the Tomb of the Kings, Paphos
We continued north now and stopped by Coral Bay for coffee, sitting above the wide bay with as yet, not a lot of tourist development. It was pleasantly warm. We now wound up into the hills, taking the "alternative route" towards the north coast through Pegeia and then Kathikas. They were burning off the vines (we think) reminding of us of Australia, looking a bit scary. After Dronsera we began the long descent from the hills to Prodromi. This afforded us excellent views of the northern hills and the coastline, but it was unfortunately rather hazy. We drove along westwards to the Baths of Aphrodite, arriving at 12.30. We walked down to the little rocky beach to have our lunch, looking across Chrysochous Bay to the coast of Northern Cyprus. I had heard it was good for swimming here, but although the water was clear, the rocks made it a no go. We ascended by some steps to the parking area and after dropping off our lunch things, proceeded to the Baths of Aphrodite, making it a little circular tour by coming back a different way. There are walking trails from here, but too long for us today with our long journey to and from here. Although still warm, it had now become rather grey.
Rosie on the beach near the Baths of Aphrodite
Rosie at the Baths of Aphrodite
We drove back along the coast, past Polis (once an ancient kingdom called Marion) taking a minor road which fortunately came out of its unsurfaced state to join the main North Coast Road further east. This road leads to the Turkish zone, so one has to return the same way – the only other roads lead a short distance into the hills. We came to a so-called picnic spot – about 30 or more picnic tables in a shady area beside the sea – looking rather Eastern Bloc-ish. The place was deserted and the beach very strange – part pebbly but part with a bright yellow, orange and brown sand (from sulphur and copper which is mined here, we discovered. The word Cyprus means copper). The best things are the unexpected – we had a really delightful swim here in the warm water reflecting pale pinks and yellows from the hazy sun and the misty outline of the North Western Akamas peninsular in the distance – lovely. We left at 3 o'clock and drove back to Polis.
nice Cyprus Bedford bus at Polis
We now took the main road down to Paphos, lower than our upward route but we did descend near Tsarda and had had wonderful panoramic views near Stroumpi. We passed the scene of an accident, but no one appeared hurt. At Empa we were able to "cut the corner" and join the main road near Geroskipou.
More storage pots at Geroskipou
We diverted to Pissouri Bay, finding it with a bit of trouble, as they had changed the roads. It was a pleasant, remote, pebbly beach – far from anywhere, if you were staying in an apartment here. We turned off to drive through Limassol, so that I could collect my new reading glasses. In the dark and with the evening traffic and no road names visible, it was difficult to find our way, but eventually we saw "Knickers" (the name of a shop) and knew that the opticians was just past it. I collected my glasses and we arrived back at 5.30 pm. We asked at reception if we could have lunch not dinner on Wednesday (as we will be on our trip). This seemed to be a problem – we should have asked tomorrow! How difficult can they make it? It was Cyprus evening again tonight. The two dancers were different tonight – more flamboyant but very short lived. We moved on to the bar where we chatted to Bunny (the Cypriot girl) the Bognor couple (Ken and Margaret) and then a young couple from Newcastle with two little girls. Came up at 11.45 to bed.
Tuesday 23rd November 151km Our last day with the car. We were up early – one of the first to breakfast and left at a record time of 8.30 am. The morning had started cloudy but was clearing by the time we left and turned into a beautiful sunny day with clear skies. We had decided to head for the hills again and wound our way up to the large village of Agros from where there was a circular walk. The noticeable thing about Agros was a high wall just full of brightly coloured flowers of all sorts – unusual indeed in these parched areas. We located the huge hotel where the walk started from, but we had trouble in finding the start. It was marked by occasional arrows, but these were very often lacking and as the only other means of knowing the route was a small circle made of dashes on the map, we often had to use our own ingenuity! Having finally located the starting point about 8 huge coaches of teenagers pulled up outside the hotel. Luckily we next saw the children when we ended the walk! So at 10.00 am we set off on our delightful 2½ hour walk. Initially we were walking amongst the old vine terraces, although fruit trees and rose bushes are also grown in this area. The little stony paths were often steep – I was glad of my stick. We talked to a lady picking olives. Later we saw an older lady picking olives, who didn't speak and then a man picking olives who was happy to talk although he didn't speak English.
Lady picking olives near Agros
Plant with 'pitchers' near Agros
Looking to Agros
He was near a little chapel and we think he said there had been a chapel here since 1190, although this one was quite new. The weather was hot and we had superb views over the terraced hills, with a scattering of deciduous trees adding pleasing bits of autumn colour. One bush had pitcher looking pods and little red berries. Another small tree had acorns, but very small sharp leaves. At one point there were watering systems along the terraces reminding us of Madeira's levadas. The last part of the walk was on a wide, dusty uphill track, so rather a drag and then uphill along the steep road back to the hotel. It was now 12.30. We now needed to get some petrol – we were told to leave the tank empty – a difficult thing to do. The only place selling petrol in Agros had it in cans. We only wanted £2 worth – they happily measured some out for us. We had trouble in finding somewhere for lunch and eventually came out to the main road, past the large village of Kyperounta. There were lots of picnic table signs on the map, but we didn't find anywhere until we turned off, past the vast mining area (both asbestos and chromium mines are marked on the map) to a forest area with its collection of picnic tables, this time on steep slopes. Our lunch was spoilt rather by the strong wind. Shortly after here we stopped again at Troodos and this time I bought a Greek mug and bowl from one of the stalls. It was at this point that Adrian thought we had lost some money, luckily we found it back in our room on our return. We turned off to see Foini, a village of very narrow streets and then a bit further on, we stopped at Omodos – a real treat.
Villagers selling lace in Omodos
A donkey in Omodos
This village has a large main street or square dripping and oozing with gifts shops. At the end of here is a monastery, we peeped inside the church. All around the village little old ladies in black sat working their lace. Just around from the main square the peasants stood in groups chatting and buying vegetables and fruit from the greengrocery van and the occasional monk – in black and with typical Greek orthodox beard – walked and chatted. All along the narrow streets, outside each house, were pots and pots of plants and flowers. With a large free car park for tourists, this village is a real winner – an absolute treasure. We had an easy ride down towards Limassol. The sun was getting low in the sky. We decided to drive through the large village of Episkopi with its very narrow streets and head for the beach at Kourion to see the sunset. We arrived as if by magic as the sun descended into a bit of cloud above the horizon. It was a beautiful tranquil sight and a fitting end to our happy time with the car.
Sunset at Kourion Beach
We returned to Limassol, finding a photo shop open to develop my photos and for Adrian to buy a new video film. It was now 5.30, we returned to the hotel and unloaded the car. An hour or so later we drove back to collect the photos – only half good, as the photos themselves were good but they had been rushed through and most will need trimming. Also they are completely mixed up (62 photos all over the place). We had a quick look through, but will have to leave the sorting until tomorrow. As we returned to the hotel the CATS were performing outside – about a dozen of them plus kittens! After supper we joined Ken and Margaret in the lounge where they chatted non-stop for well over an hour before we managed to get away for an earlyish night. I should mention the Christmas decorations at the hotel, which have been added to each day, culminating today in a large (artificial) Christmas tree and at the entrance two smaller Christmas trees with fibre optic ends to the branches which change colour – quite pretty. (Tomorrow they started erecting Christmas things on the roof – 8 storeys up!).
Wednesday 24th November Today is the day we leave for our three day trip to Israel and Egypt – but not until late this afternoon. A chance we thought, to spend a bit of time enjoying our room and balcony during the day. Sod's law – they started early in the morning with a "mechanical vibrator" making a tennis court down to our right. Across in front of us, where more building is going on, a noisy fork lift truck was unloading bricks. Not very peaceful! We had decided to make use of the hotel launderette – apparently it is very unusual to have one in a hotel here. Hence after breakfast we headed that way and by 10.15 we had a clean and almost dry load of washing. We got ourselves organised on a task we both dislike – packing for the next trip – or at least deciding what to take with us. We had our morning tea/coffee sitting on our (noisy) balcony surrounded by airing undies! The immediate noise stopped soon afterwards. I spent some time in sorting my photos from their jumbled up mess, then around midday we went down to try out the pool, but although the sun was hot today, there was a strong wind. The swim was a short one! The pool had quite a lot of leaves in it. Afterwards we had a warming bath, then went down to have lunch. It was fish and chips, well presented, but the fish wasn't the best. There was only one other person there – explaining maybe why there is such a fuss about ordering the day before. We went on a fruitless search for travel pills – chemists shut for half day on Wednesdays! And the weather is windy and we only have a couple of pills. We had a cup of tea in our room and prepared for our 4 o'clock pickup. This was right on time. We got on the coach and became "tourists". We picked up several people on the way, so had an extra tour of Limassol before we got to the port! We all piled off the coach and collected our luggage. There was a truck to take the heavy luggage. Adrian put my case on, then took it back as he wasn't sure if it was going to the right ship! It was all a bit of pandemonium – people queueing for boarding cards and then for customs and not sure if they were in the right place. Then out by the ship we waited at the bottom of the steps and all had our photo taken (in groups) until a crew member grabbed us and escorted us onto the ship and past all formalities (including handing over our passports until tomorrow morning). Our Steward then took us down to our cabin – a fairly spacious cabin with two single beds. Not an inside one as booked but no porthole. We unpacked and then made our way onto the deck. At 6.15 there was a "briefing". We learned that we have to be up for breakfast at 5.30 tomorrow! We are on the first sitting which is good for dinner tonight (7.00 pm instead of 9.00 pm) but not so good for breakfast! For our meal we sat with Bob and Mary from Yorkshire. Table numbers were allocated to us – most people are on larger circular tables. The food was interesting – a cold salad "tuna/shrimp" Bortsch (A) and tomato soup with ouzo (R). Russian vegetable pie – a bit like lasagne and not too brill. Rumbaba (not a Rumbaba as we know it).
Rosie & Adrian on board the 'Princess Victoria'
Rosie and her 'mate' on board the 'Princess Victoria'
We each had a glass of wine – mine large, Adrian's small – then returned to our room, the sway of the ship being more than we liked. I walked out around the ship once before retiring for the night – not to sleep very well
Thursday 25th November
I was up with our 5.00am call. We joined the solemn looking throng of happy travellers to queue for breakfast – a self-service affair of a variety of foods which would have been more appealing later in the day! We each took a roll for real breakfast time. We were surprised on going upstairs afterwards to realise that we were already docked in the port of Haifa. If this is Thursday it must be Israel! Adrian was amazed at the tug boat pulling us in. We looked out onto a large sprawl of white buildings backed by low hills. So this is Israel!
Rosie on deck as we arrive in Haifa, Israel
The hills around Bethlehem, Palestine
We had to all see immigration officers and wait until our "numbers were called". We were 458 and 459 so had a long wait. We were then directed downstairs and found ourselves leaving the ship and being directed onto coaches. We were the last English to go on to number 3, the other half of the party being German. We seemed to hang around for a long time until the coach left. Our guide, Raina, spoke English and then German all the time, shuffling from one to the other and back. This made it hard to follow and I ended up with quite a headache, understanding both, and wondering why she kept repeating herself. We looked out at the Carmel Mountains as we headed down the coast to Tel Aviv and then inland to Jerusalem – a journey taking about two hours. We were told many interesting facts about Israel, none of which my saturated brain can remember now. We dozed a bit, after our early start and were also glad of our breakfast time roll. We drove through Jerusalem to Bethlehem, which is quite close by. I was surprised at how hilly the country was.
I was glad to have already heard that Bethlehem is now a large town, so that it wasn't a disappointment. It was a disappointment though to find it so busy, noisy and dirty. There is an enormous amount of building going on (for Christmas and the millennium we were told!) and roadworks and all sorts. We were to stop at two places in Bethlehem – the Church of the Nativity, and a tourist shop. There was no room to park at the shop (where there were also toilets) so we continued to the coach park for the church (some way away). We were told that there was a toilet here and all lined up waiting. It was a while before we realised that there was only one loo! This was not how we had hoped to begin our trip to the holy land! While waiting for the last "loo goers" we enjoyed watching and filming some of the passers-by. I was also pleased to see that some of the houses looked like the collages of Bethlehem that I had made at school with the children. It was a longish walk up to the church. We were bombarded by sellers of various sorts – postcards and trinkets. We are pretty wise to them now.
Busy Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity
At the church we went first down to the crypt, the place where Jesus is supposed to have been born and just by it the place where he is supposed to have been wrapped in swaddling clothes (diapers our courier said – not quite the same!). We bought a candle – actually 33 candles stuck together to make one (one candle for each year of Jesus's life). Later I went back to try to get some more but the group there were of a different nationality and I didn't get much joy. There were paintings and icons in profusion and the Star of David.
We then made our way back to the coach. The arrangements were rather haphazard – someone thought that two people were missing. We stopped in the coach just up the road, while the courier went back, but she returned minus the people, so we don't know. We stopped next at the "tourist shop" where we bought one or two small bits and pieces. We then collected our lunch boxes and proceeded to eat lunch as we drove the short distance to Jerusalem. Our first stop here was a panorama – we tried to tidy up the lunchboxes quickly as we got out to view the white city of Jerusalem, seeing the old walls of the town and the Mount of Olives. We drove on to park, then walked through the Jaffa Gate and spent some time wandering around the Christian, the Jewish and the Muslim quarters, the Muslim quarter being reminiscent of the market (bazaar) in Istanbul and Tangier with stalls of every type – I liked all the spice stalls.
Rosie with a candle in the ornate Church of the Nativity
The spot where Jesus is supposed to have been born
And where He was wrapped in swaddling clothes
Jerusalem City Walls
Wandering the little streets
Two Jews conversing
We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is supposed to have been embalmed after being taken down from the cross. There was also a tomb, which some faiths believe to be his, but most Christians believe that he would have been buried outside the city walls.
It was while we were walking through this church that we saw our Blackpool friend from our Cyprus hotel – he had come on another boat, but we had no idea that he was visiting Jerusalem. While walking through the narrow alleyways, being accosted by the postcard venders, I realised that one came really close to me and tried to open the zip of my "bumbag" – I had no money in it anyway. However, he, it would appear did grab the wallet of another one of our group leaving them without a boarding card when we returned to the ship and no money. Another member of the group had their credit cards taken. We now made our way to the "Wailing Wall", where Jews come to make their special wishes and prayers. On the way here a street musician was playing "Hava Nagila". Our courier and many passers-by joined in singing – a really happy moment (we loved seeing the orthodox Jews all in black with hats and beards).
The stone where Jesus fell, Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Adrian by the annointing stone in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
Jerusalem's wailing wall
It was now time to leave. As we walked back to the coach, lots of little boys, some as young as four or five, ran around trying to sell postcards and posters. They start young! It was now 3.50. We stopped once more to look across to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Garden of Gethsemane
We then left at 3.30 pm. We began the long journey back and it was long. Our courier wanted to be dropped at Tel Aviv. In doing this we went into the large town and of course got caught in the traffic. It was stop-go stop-go all the way. We had become sleepy and dozed quite a bit and whenever we woke up we were still in the traffic. It seemed interminable. It was after 6.30 when we approached the port at Haifa. We all cheered the driver and went to get off, but had to have the official bit when someone came onto the coach to check that we were all present etc. We reached our cabin at 7.00 pm after rather a wearying day, to find it beautifully tidied, time to do a quick change around and go down to supper. We compared notes with Bob and Mary, whose trip (on a half French coach) seemed equally fraught with problems. We returned to our cabins with thoughts of going to the much acclaimed cabaret but the huge sway of the ship decided us against it! Israel; largest town - Jerusalem; 2nd largest - Tel Aviv; 3rd largest - Haifa n.b. It should have been a wonderful thing to visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem just one month before Christmas. Apart from the religious aspect, just the amount of history is overwhelming (there is much excavating taking place). We found it though, more overpowering with just so many people everywhere; no time to linger or reflect and generally so noisy and dirty that it was hard to appreciate the real reason for being there.
Friday 26th November The boat rocked all night! I slept pretty well, having taken half a travel pill and was awake just before the 6.00 am call. Adrian didn't want to know, so I went down to breakfast alone, seeing one or two sorry souls on the way. There were not that many at breakfast, and some confusion as some of the Germans from the second sitting had come down – understandable as yesterday the second sitting was at 6.30 am. I ate a puny breakfast and after a quick look on deck, brought Adrian's breakfast rolls down to him for later. I then washed my hair – in the sink – the shower water had not gone away from yesterday. The air blower in the ceiling acted as a good hairdryer! However it turned out that there was no rush – we didn't arrive at Port Said for several hours. We had sailed late last night after our late arrival back and missing out our slot for sailing (we think). Nothing was said. I had gone on deck several times and eventually spotted land. Adrian joined me on the deck as we sailed into Port Said.
Adrian on board the 'Princess Victoria' arriving at Port Said
They had emptied the two pools on deck – after they had obviously swished out much of their water. It was 10.30 when we got off the boat, after the mad passport collection. We were accosted by many sellers – we did buy some papyrus pictures – then today got on coach number 10 – with an English/Greek speaking guide – a small woman with a quite monotonous voice and not much charm. We set off in the sunshine trying to take in what we could of Port Said. It looked busy, noisy and colourful with lots of people lining the streets, sitting around. Very many waved and smiled to us. Most were in Arab dress. There were a few smart buildings, but many were decrepit looking. Further out we passed a lot of ghetto shantytowns. The land was very flat. We were travelling parallel to the Suez Canal, but the only evidence we saw of it was the occasional ship appearing out of the desert. Some of the land was irrigated. We saw crops growing, palm trees and paddy fields, the rest was just desert. There was much evidence of armed police and guards both in Port Said and in the countryside. We had to go through several roadblocks. We saw many people (men) riding horses and donkeys, but very different from those you see in European countries – they all looked as if they would race them. We couldn't believe the number of locals in the vehicles we passed. Cars and buses were crowded with so many heads and bodies. We eventually came to Cairo, crossing the wide River Nile, so essential for Egypt's irrigation (the Suez Canal, being salt, cannot be used for this). Cairo is huge – sprawling, dusty and unbelievably decrepit. Worse we think than any city we have seen. The blocks of flats were interminable and packed so close together that there didn't seem to be any breathing space. Most remarkable were the half built blocks – just raw bricks and cement – with people living in them, just as they were. Not one or two blocks, or 15 or 20, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. We had no chance to photograph any of these images of Egypt. The words that come to mind are dire and poverty stricken and crumbling.
Street scene in Cairo
We arrived at the museum at 1.30. No mention was made of lunch – we were glad to have brought some goodies to munch as our lunch boxes were handed out afterwards at 2.30, so we had to eat quickly before arriving at the pyramids! There was no videoing to be taken inside the museum (interestingly they had inspected and noted everyone's video camera at Port Said). To take photos (no flash) you had to pay £2 cyp. I didn't bother. Outside the museum we joined the throngs and queued up to go through the x-ray check. We had on our coach an elderly Dutch man who appeared a little bewildered by everything. Somehow his luggage had been left behind in Cyprus. He spoke a little English and told me had no interest in these old things, or those in Israel yesterday. We wondered why he had come! Nevertheless I tried to keep my eye on him to see that he didn’t get lost and on Adrian who kept wandering away from our guide to look at things that interested him! And there was plenty. The museum was vast. It appeared rather dusty and unkempt but that is Cairo. Downstairs were many Egyptian statues of great age. I was fascinated by the detail of these carvings from thousands of years ago, especially in inlaid eyes, painted around, it seems to keep out disease and sand. There were blocks with hieroglyphics engraved which equally thrilled us both. Then we went upstairs to Tutankhamen's treasures. I felt quite overwhelmed by the beauty of this. I have loved any pictures I have seen and have treasured a postcard from Mum Cape when they visited the museum when it was on display in London many years ago. I saw the bird depicted on that postcard. We were able to wander on our own in this section which was blissful, but we were always aware of not losing the rest of the group. I felt more moved by seeing these treasures than by our visit to the Holy Land yesterday. I felt Mum and Dad Cape would have been pleased that we've seen them. Something very special. Having visited Lord Carnavon’s home at Highclere made it all so real. How must they have felt on discovering it?
It was now just after 4.30 pm. Our courier stayed in Cairo (she lived in Alexandria) and we set off on the long trail back, dosing a bit as it got dark. At 6.00 pm we had to wait for all the other coaches (total 11) so that we could travel in convoy with a police escort (in a crashed old car with only one rear light) for the next section (we not sure why. We also had a guard on our coach). It was 8 o'clock when we got back to the boat. First sitting for dinner should have been 7 o'clock – we managed a quick shower (the men had cleared the blockage this morning) then hurried down and enjoyed a pleasant meal before the ship reached the open sea. We found the "picture gallery" – showing the photos taken during the trip and purchased two at a rather pricey £3 Cyp each before going back down to our cabin with our purchases.
Saturday 27th November A late breakfast time of 7.30 today and we got up for it having had a pretty good sleep, although the boat was still rocking. We chatted to Bob and Mary for the last meal time. We discovered that he was almost 75 and they were only fairly recently together, having both been widowed. He was and had been quite a caravaner so there was plenty to chat about (when he had his hearing aid in!). Afterwards we went to view more of the photos - there were so many of them, in no particular order, that it was hard to see the wood from the trees! We bought a couple more, then returned to our cabin to pack. Back on deck it was pretty blowy. We were pleased to see Cyprus in the distance, but our scheduled arrival time of 11.00 am was rather premature!
Rosie on board the 'Princess Victoria' as we near Limassol
We spent some time sitting with Bob and Mary in the lounge – I had a coffee. Time dragged on as we waited below deck with our luggage. The same awful music as yesterday morning was playing. Sometime after midday we disembarked and all made our way to the waiting coaches where we left at around 12.30. We did a replay of the outward journey, dropping people off at their hotels and reached ours at about 1.30 pm. It felt like coming home! We sat on our balcony (there was a clear blue sky but a fresh wind) and ate a welcome and ample lunch with various bits and pieces purloined from our travels! Later we walked down to the front and watched the sun setting over the sea. It was much cooler than when we arrived two weeks ago.
Sunset on the beach
Supper time appeared very quiet. We greeted our young waiter (Richard) who we found out is half Greek and half Armenian and is spending three months here. We talked briefly to Bunny, and then to Ken and Margaret and came up to our room at 10.30 pm.
The night was very cold. In the morning the heating made terrible noises and woke us up.
Bunny, Margaret & Ken at our hotel
Sunday 28th November Our day to leave Cyprus and a beautiful day with clear blue skies. We ate our last breakfast here and then did the horrible packing up job – always more to fit in than there is room for! We walked down to the beach. The sun was warm but the wind quite strong again. Nice enough for me to have a really pleasant swim and a short laze in the sun before wandering back to vacate our room by 12.00 (we were only a bit after and no one seemed to bother).
Rosie about to go for her last swim on the beach
We had a short sit in the "garden" in the sun before going in for lunch – soup, chicken salad and chips, then bananas. Having spent the last of our Cypriot money and settled the drinks bill, we took in our last beer to share, rather than buy a drink. The only other people having lunch were Bunny and two other young English girls. We went back into the garden area to enjoy the last of the sun there (it goes down behind the hotel at about 2 o'clock), then went off for a walk behind the hotel and then down to the front. Around 3.00 pm we passed a photo shop which was open. The man was asleep in front of the television. He woke up and agreed to develop our pictures, matt, in half an hour. The problem was payment – he wouldn't take a card for that amount and we only had English money. He said he would accept that, but didn't know the exchange rate. He took our word for it and thus we ended up with £3.50 cyp change. We had wandered on a bit further towards Limassol while waiting for the photos and after a brief look at the pictures – mostly of the Holy Land and a much better job than the last lot – we wandered back to the hotel. We had intended spending our new found wealth, but being Sunday, all the little tourist shops were closed. We walked on to the beach to say goodbye to the sea after this really lovely two weeks, then back at the hotel shared a gooey "shredded wheat" cake we had bought earlier (with our previous last bit of Cypriot money), then enjoyed a cup of tea in the hotel lounge while waiting for our 5.20 pickup to Larnaca airport. We said our goodbyes to Ken and Margaret who were leaving just after us for their flight to Gatwick from Paphos (Limassol is about halfway between Paphos and Larnaca). Our coach journey to the airport was swift and on the way we saw the ancient site of Amathus. We arrived soon after 6.30 pm for our 8.55 flight to Gatwick. We booked in, then having queued for passport control behind the Indian couple who were on our "cruise" trip, we sat and enjoyed tea – a roll bought earlier from the bakers and some fruit. Our flight was a little late taking off – it appeared the plane had been a bit late getting out of Gatwick. We had joked with Bunny while waiting to board, but sat the opposite end from her on the plane. The flight was occasionally bumpy, but with clear skies almost all the way, we could see land below and the twinkling of lights of towns, villages and roads below – oh how we would have liked the map in front of us to show us where we were. There was a spare seat next to us. As there was no in-flight video (which we wouldn't have watched anyway) we were all given complimentary drinks before the meal. We came down into Gatwick just after midnight British time 2.00 am to us). After collecting our luggage we phoned for our car to be brought – this system worked well, as soon afterwards we were driving home, on empty roads. The sky stayed clear until the last half an hour and we arrived home in Hermitage at 2.00 am to pouring rain.
We were last on the coach here (we do hate this rushing), then it was off to the papyrus museum (wrong way down a one-way street) where the young man explained how they make papyrus and then we looked around the gallery with a view to buy. We quite like some of the pictures but were hassled a bit and then realised that everyone was back on the coach. We managed to make a purchase and leave.
We moved onto the Sphinx, which is in the same area. More photos and by now the sky was blue again. I will have to sort out Dad Cape’s notes of seventy odd years ago.
The Cheops pyramids at Giza
Now it was time to head for the Pyramids, which to our surprise are only just outside Cairo (unlike Alice Springs and Ayres Rock!). We were bombarded by peddlers of every sort with every conceivable trick to obtain money from you. The razzmatazz and bedlam surrounding the pyramids is hard to portray. Dozens of men with camels – trying to get you to photograph them and so part with your money. Other animals too – horses, people by the thousand, lots of children – some peddling, many visiting, asking our names, smiling and waving. Generally a happy, noisy atmosphere. Police were around too – chasing the band of camels at one point. Instead of being hot, it was hazy and very windy. It made the results of the lack of rain very apparent. We took lots of photos and video and were photographed by our "Louis" photographer from the ship – it was quite a relief to see that it was him and we could say "yes" and not "no thank you".
An extract from Dad Cape’s Autobiography of his visit to Cairo in January 1926
One of my early visits was to Cairo Museum, where relics from the tomb of Tutankhamen were on view. The Museum is housed in a very fine building, and one could spend many hours there, viewing relics of the several dynasties covering thousands of years, from nearly 4,000 B.C. Those of Tutankhamen had only been excavated about a year before I was there, when the tragic death of Lord Carnarvon called forth many superstitions about the wisdom of interfering with these old tombs. The craftsmanship of the ancient Egyptians was really superb. The king's throne of carved wood, coated with gold, and decorated with precious stones and silver; his bed of ebony and string mesh, with panels of ivory and gold; wonderful alabaster vases and cups; various stools and boxes. It was a feast of antiquity and beauty.
Another extract from Dad Cape’s Autobiography of his visit to Cairo in January 1926 The trip to the pyramids was most interesting. We climbed to the top of the Cheops Pyramid; also went inside the burial chambers, a guide lighting a piece of magnesium tape from time to time to enable us to see. The chambers are quite empty, however, all the coffins and relics having been removed; some reposing in Cairo museum.
The Sphynx nearby, which had been buried up to the shoulders by sand, was being excavated, hundreds of fellaheen carrying away the sand in little baskets on their heads, and being urged by a leader who would chant something to which they would all chant a response - something like the versicles and responses in a Church service. The sand was then dumped into little trucks on a miniature railway which took it further away. The diggers had got right down to the temple of the Sphynx, in front of the Sphynx itself.