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Cyprus 2018

On tour with archaeologists
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  • Day8

    Last Day in Cyprus

    May 9, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ ☀️ 73 °F

    No car today so a later start after packing. Everyone was doing their own thing this morning. Margaret and I walked down into Paphos Town and past the harbour to the archaeological Park to finish the bits we didn't see earlier in the week. It was scorching again on the walk, not far through; about 20 mins.

    We walked through park again and had a quick look at the Frankish castle and then on to the lighthouse. The lighthouse had a small display building by it, newly done and with excellent wall decorations taken presumably from pots. There were also a few pots in the shape of ships showing how the shape had changed in the period the site had been in use: 1700BCE very simple ships like canoes through to 350BCE with ships with railings and raised sterns. It was also very nice and cool!

    From there we walked under the blazing sun to the necropolis where we saw a huge lizard as well as a dromos entrance to a tomb. Again there were potsherds all over the place. From there we headed for the enormous agora. This covered a huge area and seemed larger than one in Athens.

    After that we headed out for an orange juice at the harbour bar where we cooled off for a mo. We struck out back to the hotel but somehow ended up in a gelateria! Fuel for the walk back.

    Back at the hotel we reconvened at the hotel and headed to the taverna for lunch. Shefdali again but this time with an excellent salad and chips rather than in a pitta.
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  • Day7

    Maa and closed sites...

    May 8, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    After last night's terrific storm I had hoped to wake to blue skies but sadly in the morning the sky was the colour of a bruise and the thunder was still rumbling. Soon it was pouring again and the hotel terraces were awash. Unsurprisingly this meant breakfast was indoors and there was a distinct shortage of tables. After breakfast we spent some time musing on next year's trip though the April wedding replay is throwing out the planning. Much tooing and froing but eventually it looks like being the peloponnese.....
    After this we decided we could visit the archaeology museum whilst we waited for the rain to stop. Sadly or is closed for restoration... We decided to head on to Maa Paleaokastro to look at the chalcolithic period remains there. Google maps was very useful in negotiating back streets of Paphos to get to the main road towards Coral Bay. This area, even more than Paphos is a riot of cheap souvenir shops, cafes offering English breakfasts and assorted heavily tattooed clientele. Maa was tucked away from this souvenir strip in a quiet area just back from the promontory. We walked down a short lane with various brightly coloured flowers forming the hedge (no idea of the varieties apart from some honeysuckle) to the ticket office. More shameless declarations of old age (Beth and I are younger but it complicates the kitty) and we were handed our tickets and the man behind the counter shot off to open the museum! I assume we were the first visitors today.

    The first evidence is a tooth like array of stones that provided an early barrier. Beyond this were the remains of old stone walls. Margaret and I found a lot of curved clay pieces which we suspect might have been crude amphorae but who knows that far back (1200BCE). An interesting site, only occupied for 50 years and one that with modern Lidar and thermo luminescence dating might yield more information. The museum was odd a large modern underground chamber with excellent acoustics and some good info boards but the cases containing artifacts had been removed.

    After Maa we decided to head to the reconstructed huts at Lemba which we had seen the brown sign for on the way up. On arrival it also proved to closed for reconstruction...oh well nothing for it but to find lunch. Back to the hotel and then we headed to a taverna nearby. Everyone was opting for the healthy option of a village salad but I decided to try sheftali.... Skinless pork and lamb sausages served with salad and pitta.... Suddenly the whole table had changed their minds. Fortunately it turned out to be a good choice.
    Afterwards we took the cars to top up the tanks,we hand them back this evening and then to the pool.
    A quick read, a brief swim and up to the terrace for cocktails.. Strawberry Daiquiris today. Hic
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  • Day6


    May 7, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    Up and doing for a prompt breakfast before driving out to Choirokoitia. Danny and Beth were giving this a miss so for a change I was driving rather than navigating. The motorway was new and, for the most part pretty deserted so driving was a pleasure. The central reservation was full of oleander in shades of pink and white. The site was about 1hr 10mins according to Google maps and that seemed about right. The site was easy to find from the motorway and seemed to be having a big cash injection, new block paved parking being laid, some new paths and detailed info boards in French and Greek with a bit of English (thanks to Total who were obviously doing a bit of CSR). Before heading onto the site proper we stopped for a coffee at a tiny bakery which had an assortment of pastries for sale. I spotted the tiny savouries topped with sesame seeds (one filled with tapenade and the other with feta) Margaret and Libby decided to share what they thought was a large raisin filled pastry but it turned out to be the local equivalent of a cheese filled cornish pasty!

    Suitably fortified we headed on to the site which trailed up a hillside. The remains here date from around 7000 BCE. At the bottom archaeologists had reconstructed some of the houses so you could get an idea of how they were used. They were slightly reminiscent of Skara Brae with stone built shelves and some with burial areas in them. There were some smaller huts too which they think were workshops.
    The lower village was surrounded by walls but the theory is that they were for community cohesion rather than defensive against predators (animal or human).

    In the ruins the huts were very close together with only small open areas and narrow walkways. It is hard to get a sense of how many people might have made up this community. The site spread up the hill and we can't really tell how close chronologically the locations were but up there the wall appeared more defensive and the entrance to the village was well hidden.

    We walked back down looking across to terraces that might well have been started in the same era. It seems to be one of those sites that has more secrets to reveal yet. At the bottom we got talking to the expat Brummie who was working in the ticket office (he's been on Cyprus for 30 years).

    We took the opportunity to fill the cars up (full service petrol station) and then headed back to Episcopi to the Kourion museum which had been closed the other day. Anotber lovely little museum just two rooms, the most haunting/ interesting exhibit was from the earthquake house at Kourion; three skeletons wrapped around each other, a man of about 25 protecting a woman of about 19 who in turn was curled around an 18 month old baby.

    Apart from that there were some lovely examples of lettering including a votive offering after being cured. Also there were some more interesting figurines from the archaic period. We had a short chat with the on - site archaeologist and then back into the cars for the drive back to Paphos.

    Back in time for a quick dip followed by cocktails on the terrace (a Singapore sling). Dinner in the hotel followed by Danny's film quiz in which Moira, Beth, Margaret and I lost by 3 points.
    A tremendous storm blew in for about 20 mins preceeded by huge lightening flashes and winds that managed to make the bathroom ceiling lift and clack in a disturbing manner.
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  • Day5


    May 6, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    Another day another set of remains. An earlier breakfast and off along the motorway to Kourion which is near Akrotiri. We were going to go to another site, Choirokoitia, which is almost back at Larnaca. But there was some concern that it would take too long to get there, based on our previous experiences. However in the event the motorway was almost empty and enabled us to cover the distance quickly.

    Kourion is principally a Roman site with a few other remains. It is high up on the hilside overlooking the sea. This was a well tended site with the best remains protected by screening and again there were some beautiful mosaics. The weather was slightly less scorching but still walking around a pale limestone site was a hot glaring experience. Margaret and I were keeping an eye out for broken ceramic remains and as usual found some pot sherds left in the path rubble.

    Afterwards we headed back into Episkopi to find the Kourion Museum... We did but it was closed. We're then decided to to find lunch by the beach but after spending rather along time driving around the Akrotiri peninsula past the RAF base and the saltlake without ever getting near the coast we gave up and headed back to Paphos. On the drive back to the motorway we realised that the roads to the coast were all MOD property and prohibited... Thats why we couldn't get to the coast.

    Back in Paphos we headed to a cafe /bar by the hotel for lunch Cyprus dips for me; tatziki, tahini, hummus, taramasalta... 😀.
    After our late lunch we had some downtime before meeting for dinner. For dinner we went to the trip advisor recommended For... Margaret, Libby, Paddy and I decided to have the meze. It started well, more Cyprus dips but with the addition of spiced feta. Then the onslaught started, lemon chicken, pork skewers, the most gorgeous kofta, chicken skewers, marinated pork medallions, and then we were stuffed and the food stopped arriving.... For a moment, then beef sifado appeared and a huge plate of chips. We groaned but politely made an attempt... Then we had a delivery of pork souvlaki and moussaka. The moussaka was lovely but we were stuffed and slightly hysterical (we'd had a similar food avalanche in Kyrinia a couple of years ago). Fabulous food but so much of it.
    Back to the hotel for a quick quiz provided by Margaret... Which tested our current affairs knowledge and our knowledge of the sites we've visited this week. Moira, Libby and I just squeaked it at 19 (compared with 18 for Beth, Paddy and Danny)
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  • Day4

    Cape and Paphos ArchaeologicalPark

    May 5, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    So today we headed back out towards Polis but at Pegia we turned off for the Agios Georgios Basilica. This was right out on the coast and was a late Roman /early Byzantine site. Still had some nice mosaics left and what looks like a baptismal pool...that drained the water into a Roman tomb! There were ancient rock cut tombs too according to the map but they were far down towards the road. Some interesting pot sherds left in the path rubble too.

    After wandering around this we headed back to Paphos for lunch, followed by a look at the archaeological Park. Lunch was good: a big avocado salad in a cafe by the sea. Danny did get twitchy though when the slightly harried waitstaff were a bit slow in coming to take our orders.

    After lunch we thought we would have a quick look at the archaeological Park before heading back to the hotel and pool. It rapidly became apparent that the site was enormous and an hour was going to do it no justice. This site was the chief city up until 3rd C CE when it was damaged by earthquakes and replaced by Salamis in the North. Still we walked around and looked at various beautifully preserved mosaics. First of these were at the house of Aion which had a 4th C roman mosaic made of five panels. The house of Dionysius had even more beautiful mosaics including an ancient hellenistic one made of pebbles showing Scylla. We failed to do the site justice in the limited time we allowed and so we plan to return on Wednesday as we can get here without a car.

    Back to the hotel for some reading and swimming time. Also a mohito by the pool...

    Then dinner, I had done some research on the best places to eat nearby and we ended up in Suite48. Unfortunately the music here was a bit loud byt the staff turned it down on request... But sadly one of the staff members kept going back and putting the volume back up which irritated a couple of people. Fortunately the food was good so that was some compensation.
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  • Day3

    Arsinoe Museum and Aphrodites Baths

    May 4, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ ☀️ 84 °F

    After the pleasure of an alfresco breakfast we headed off out of paphos towards Polis and Aphrodites baths. Although it wasn't far the drive was pretty slow so it took quite a while to get there. Paddy had been 20 years ago and recalled a deserted spot with a Grotto and castle ruins. In the intervening years however it had obviously hit the tourist list, there were cars and coaches everywhere. The Grotto was now accessed through botanical gardens, that were scorched by the heat. The tiny Grotto was full of people and the unusually hot weather +30C meant that no one fancied the 2.5km walk to the castle. At the car park we bought fruit from a man with a van (a sack of local tangerines for 1e) and headed back along the coast to Polis.
    We parked up near a craft shop and Paddy, Libby, Margaret, Moira and Beth were all straight in there. Libby and Moira were really pleased to discover that the owner was from Helensburgh (where they live). It wasn't a great surprise Southern Cyprus feels more British than Greek government generally.
    We then walked down to the little Arsinoe Museum which was small but beautifully done. Lots of interesting figurines, pots, funerary items and a life size phallic "icon" at least that was what the label said. Margaret and I were less convinced that it was just an icon......

    Back to the car to a restaurant that Isabel had a recommendation for, apparently it has a great terrace overlooking the sea and did fabulous fish meze. After a little wandering down tiny roads we found the place..just as a fierce wind rose. It was far to windy to sit on the terrace we'd have been blown away. Slightly sadly we went inside, fortunately although the weather was against us the food was great, fabulous moussaka for me and Paddy various fishy delights for everyone else. This was a late lunch though; about 3.30 by the time we ate.

    After we had finished of course the wind died away again and the terrace was occupied by happy diners. We hopped back in the car to go back to the hotel. A swim and a sunny read before we met up again.
    We were all too full to manage any proper food so we had sandwiches from the bar and did Paddy's American themed quiz which was good fun.
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  • Day2

    Cyprus 1

    May 3, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

    A a slightly late start whilst we recovered from the journey. Cars handed over and we went off to the tomb of the Kings. This was ptolemaic era burial area largely for the administrative level people. Much of the area has been lost to quarrying but there are some good tombs left. It is a large site not far from the coast and there were some nice views. Some of the tombs were quite extensive and could have contained a lot of bodies. Even in the most accessible ones though the general public were only allowed into the first or occasionally second chamber. In the end the 32 degree heat and bright sun was too hot for us and we retreated back to Paphos for lunch. We flopped into the first cafe we found and munched salad.

    Afterwards we purchased hats(me and beth, sandals (libby ) and wine (Danny) as required before heading back to the hotel. We deposited our purchases and went to test the pool. A perfect temperature and not too busy as the season is still fairly low. A little light swimming and much reading before going off to get ready for dinner.

    Came down to find everyone assembled and a card waiting for me, as soon as I arrived the waiter was summoned for champagne and my upcoming wedding was celebrated. The combo of spritzers, champagne and a short night previously, left us happy to test the hotel buffet for supper. Extensive and inexpensive it was perfect for our first night. We followed this with a quiz provided by Paddy, Margaret.,Libby and I against Beth, Danny and Isabel.. We won!
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  • Day1

    From Glasgow to Cyprus

    May 2, 2018 in Cyprus ⋅ 🌬 81 °F

    From Glasgow to Cyprus. A leisurely start as we weren't due at the airport till 11:30 just in time to have lunch before our early afternoon flight. Of course it didn't quite work like that, there was a huge holdup at the Clyde tunnel....but we were only a few minutes behind schedule, Paddy leans more to the TFE school of travel. Everyone else was at the airport when we arrived and we only needed to do bagdrop as we were already checked in. However, Thos Cook Airlines couldn't organise the proverbial booze up and so they didn't separate the bag droppers from the checking in crowd and that meant it took almost an hour to put our bags in!

    I was worried that the security would take just as long but actually that was a breeze. So we were soon settled in for lunch and a catch up. It didn't seem like long before our flight was called and we loaded onto our shiny new plane. This included the most space saving seats I have ever seen and no leg room. This was my first "holiday" flight for some years.... So the people loading up included an admiral and someone modelling "Top" Gun" style whites. There was one hen party, one stag party and a couple getting married on Cyprus, who were still resolutely doing hand luggage only so they had two suitcases and a huge box with a wedding dress in it all to be stashed in the overhead lockers.
    Up up and away and the drinks service came round... It was soon after that the volume from the back of the plane, where the stag party was, increased somewhat. I did wonder at one point if we were going to be in one of those newspaper stories about drunken escapades but fortunately it never quite got to that level. We were fortunate (?) enough to have a meal provided on the 5 hr flight... The tiniest portion of sausage and mash you have ever seen James Martin should be ashamed, it was like a poor school dinner.

    Eventually we arrived in Cyprus after a slightly bumpy flight and efficiently whizzed through the airport and onto our coach, despite a doing a couple of drop offs on the way we were at our hotel by about midnight local time. A quick stare at my big clean room and to bed.
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  • Day0


    May 1, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 52 °F

    A slightly frantic and stressy end of the working day before Mandy dropped me on Pershore St to avoid the horrors of Horsefair and the Pagoda roundabout. Fortunately the lift up to the Queensway was working and although there was an ominous puddle my nose didn't detect any thing too unsavoury.
    My ticket said Coach A seat 1, quiet zone with a power socket it didn't say that by the time we were at Crewe they would be practically the only occupied seats in the carriage, four strangers playing sardines in an empty coach. I had a window seat and assumed that my companions would vacate as soon as pairs of seats freed up.. Nope. By Wigan I had had enough and I hauled my case down and headed to the wide open spaces of coach B. The rest of the journey was uneventful; peering out at dark, rainswept stations and munching my snack stash.
    Four hours later we pulled in to Glasgow's lovely Victorian Central Station. It was a wet night but there were plenty of cabs. My minimal experience of Glasgow has always been of an interesting city, an architectural mix and tonight rain soaked and illuminated by city lights I thought it looked even more appealing, almost cinematographic.
    The cab driver was a little vague about the location but we made it and tea, wine and good conversation had a restorative effect.
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