Cyprus is not exactly the first place I would think of when going on holiday. In fact, I never knew much about the island at all, except that it was situated somewhere in the Mediterranean and that they have olives, so when my friend Dylan phoned me and asked if I wanted to go to Cyprus with him, I thought “why not?”
We were set to stay at Paphos for six days. Paphos is a seafront town with palm trees along the coast line, with an airy laid-back kind of charm to it. For our stay we booked into one of the local hotels, with sea views and were situated in the Pano Paphos, which is the city center itself. Paphos is basically divided into two parts, Papo Paphos, which is the town itself and Kato Paphos, the coastal area. Paphos is now hailed as the new “Ibiza” – it is party country in that city.
Cyprus is an island filled with rich history and Pano Paphos has a grand archaeological museum which holds an extensive collection of Cypriot antiquities. Dylan and I went for a tour through the Tombs of the Kings. Although there are no real royalty buried here anymore, it was the actual burial place of all aristocratic residents of Paphos and got its name because of its rather majestic appearance. The Tombs of the Kings is incredible and a rather complex mixture of mausoleums and chambers built into a rocky hillside. Some of the dates go back as far as Christ’s birth and as Dylan pointed out, very well preserved. I gather he would know better since he is an archaeologist and therefore it made perfect sense as to why he chose Cyprus with vigorous passion in which to enjoy a holiday. He informed me that the tombs had received Unesco World Heritage status and despite being a little under educated in archeology, I understood and also felt that there is something wondrous about this place.
Kato Paphos, which is the coastal region, is gorgeous. The striking Coral Bay has a stunning sun-kissed beach with golden sands and the deep blue ocean attracts a lot of ardent water sport enthusiasts of course. Dylan did some kite-surfing while I had lunch at one of the many local restaurants that forms part of the seaside promenade. It was at a restaurant where I had my first experience of Halloumi. Halloumi is a cheese indigenous to Cyprus and Lebanon. Made from goat’s or sheep’s milk, it’s deep fried to perfection. In Cyprus it is called Saganaki. It’s the bee’s knees to say the least and was served with a delicious helping of soft lamb sausage, neither of which I’ve eaten before. Before the week was over, I made sure that Dylan and I went back to the same restaurant in order for him to experience the exhilarating taste of halloumi. Who knew cheese could be so good? Dylan’s reaction was as I expected, the same as mine, so of course both of us invested in a pound or two to take back home. (Also try Sivinia, the Cypriot grappa)
A sort of romantic history
What I liked about Paphos specifically was the romantic history tied to this little town with its hectic night life and party vibe. The story follows that the goddess of love, sex and beauty, the goddess Aphrodite, was born here in Paphos as this was the place where she landed when she rose from the sea. With history that pre-dates Homer (700 BC), Aphrodite is still evident Paphos and the worship of this goddess inspired many poets their love for Paphos.
I came with Dylan to Cyprus, but with no wish of my own to visit Cyprus whatsoever, expecting little to see and do, but came back a history student of the Greek gods. Dylan just laughed at me, since it didn’t even take five days to make me study history. For the first time I understood Dylan’s fascination as to why he became an archaeologist and why he wanted to come to Cyprus. Even if history is not exactly your scene, I can promise you this, apart from experiencing one of the most beautiful Mediterranean island vacations you can imagine, you will come back from your holiday with an ardent love for history, which proves that Aphrodite is still hard at work.