E: Nikoklia Village Retreat – Cyprus

IMG_1149It’s good to go back to your roots every now and then. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 19 years of my life. Every summer I’ve been spoilt rotten by being granted the privilege to escape the murky English summer and return to a place where I feel very much at home. I have a huge adoration for my little island homeland in the Mediterranean sea and that’s why often when discussing Cyprus I can be very critical about the mentality of some of the locals, the government and the ignorant tourists who blissfully ignore the 1974 invasion in exchange for a cheap illegal holiday home in the north of the island. It’s safe to say my little island has had more than its fair share of problems and issues even prior to gaining it’s independence.

Yet if you get the chance to take some time out and are willing enough to do a little exploration, you’ll understand why so many people, past and present hold a fond place in their hearts for my little island. Somewhere beyond the financial crisis, swarms of Brits flocking to Ayia Napa and the often tasteless new architecture, there lies an untainted charming sun bronzed landscape painted with golden hills covered by olive trees and ancient relics waiting to be discovered.

IMG_1234On this particular occasion I was not alone with my extended family. I was accompanied by my girlfriend who had no prior experience of a proper beach holiday. This I obviously had to correct. For two nights however I thought it would be nice to get away from the hustle of my beloved Limassol and give Emma a small peek at the more old fashioned Cypriot way of life. When browsing for accommodation I stumbled across various alluring hillside apartments and classical hotels. The typical beach-front hotels in Cyprus were too expensive for us to afford and knowing most of them I didn’t particularly feel the majority offered good value for money.

My father then forwarded me a link of an attractive old building conversion into an inn. The  price was very reasonable (roughly 50€ a night including breakfast) and they still had availability so we went ahead and booked it. Nikoklia Village is a tiny village and I had not previous knowledge about the area it was located. My grandpa proudly recollected some old memories telling us he used to know of two policemen he worked with from Nikoklia and how there was an abandoned Turkish village nearby. Without much idea of what to expect we set off just as the sun started to dim and in about 40 minutes we arrived at our location, the Vasilias Nikoklis Inn.

IMG_0949First impressions were good, the staff were friendly and the Inn was furnished in Cypriot antique furniture. The conversion of the building has been done very tastefully and we were lucky to have a beautiful balcony overlooking the countryside. A few minutes after arrival we embarked on a small wander around the village itself. The village is definitely on the smaller side, people were very friendly and greeted you as you made your way down the street. A beautiful little church which broadcasts the service to the village via speaker phone can be found near the bottom of the village. Various abandoned buildings are also dotted in the nearby countryside. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to make it to the abandoned Turkish village just north of Nikoklia, we did however manage to catch a glimpse of it from afar and it looked very eerie. I’m sure it would make a brilliant subject to photograph, hopefully I’ll return another year to have a go at capturing the scene.

In terms of food the village doesn’t offer many options and we had all our meals at the Inn. Food is available from the tavern which opens in the evenings, the menu is full of traditional dishes and the prices are quite reasonable too. I would really recommend the ‘Mixed Grill’ option which consisted of some lamb, sheftalia (a type of sausage), chicken and pork souvlaki served alongside local fried potatoes, all the meat was cooked to perfection and currently writing about it is waking up my appetite.

IMG_1085Aside from the village you can also get some relaxation done by the pool and there’s also a rather tiring walk to the nearby dam. The walk is ok at best, I recommend heading there much later in the day as even departing at six, the weather was too hot to make the walk very enjoyable. Em spent a lot of time reading and I enjoyed a lot of sleeping under the shade of the Inn’s greenery. We had a really restful time and the inn sets a prime example of how alternative types of tourism can be very successful. I’m not saying spend all your time within a small village but as you can see from the photographs it can be really rewarding to do a bit of research and incorporate a village stay into your time in Cyprus. Unfortunately due to work I had to cut my ‘home time’ short this year but I’m sure I’ll be back again before I know it. (After all that abandoned village needs photographing!)

Favourite things to do/see :

  • Explore the nearby countryside
  • Walk through the village
  • Hike to the dam (Probably better during the winter months)

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The Captivating Avakas Gorge

This place is really enchanting, yes originally I went to see the gorge formation but the whole walk up to it is just as brilliant. The fauna and stone shapes seem like they’re from the past and have aged beautifully over time. The trees roots were again so brilliant to look at entangled. The pathway was rugged but not unbearable.

The great thing is though, every time you look from a different angle the surroundings look completely different. Water was dripping from the roots of trees attached onto the stone like something out of Jurassic Park. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a Dinosaur peered amongst the shrubs and came after me. 

Limassol Municipal Park – What the whole town could be like

I adore the Municipal Gardens and would simply be heart broken if anyone was ever to change anything. (Apart from the Lamps) The park does look aged, but in a good way, not at all tired. Almost everything planted here was planted when my parents were children. So many old trees. The Palm trees for example are the tallest palm trees I’ve ever seen, towering above you it’s quite spectacular to stand under them.

There is a huge cactus as well which seems almost historic, jotted throughout the place are great pine trees which are reminiscent of the nearby majestic troodos mountains. This is one of the only places which grass seems to grow pretty well due to all the shade the trees create.

As you can see below the roots of some of the trees are brilliant. Concerts also happen in the yellow chaired ampitheatre style outdoor venue, although the yellow seats have their charm it could perhaps be done up. However it’s the blue chairs that play on my memory strings, with the little kiosks selling pre bottled lemonade and crisps. Makes me think about when I was young and never really realized what was around me, but now I look back I notice it’s in the spaces I like the most which I had the best times in when I was young.

If you are in town, you should definitely take a look at the municipal gardens, such a peaceful place almost locked in time compared to the rest of the city, go see a show too. Entrance to the park is free however unfortunately dogs are not allowed.

If you have a place which reminds you so much of previous times and have photographs I would love to feature the location as a ‘guest feature’ post so please send me an email cagath@live.co.uk

Paphos Municipal Beach

Paphos Municipal Beach, is a fun, clean and energetic beach. Much more room than the crowded beaches of Ayia Napa and surprisingly the sand is whiter than a lot of the paphos beaches. It’s also fun to walk along the coast. The small bar has some really good chips. There are a few waves, nothing uncontrollable but you can have some fun bobbing up and down, the water was really warm back when I visited.

Tomb Raiding in the Tombs of the Kings

Amazing experience, literally walking through the past. You can touch the columns carved of stone. The heat seems to vanish in the tombs, some ancient engineering perhaps? Incredibly well preserved, go visit!

Lara Beach – The Famous Turtle Bay

Lara Bay, if you’re looking for turtles in Cyprus and you type that in to a search engine, Lara Bay will be the first thing that comes up. The beach itself is very impressive, like a cove. The sand is an unusual earthy red colour and there are amazingly foamy waves. Word of warning, do not eat at the little restaurant on the hill just above here as although the people who served us seemed lovely, the food was the exact opposite of lovely. Some of you will recognize the image to the right as the cover of Happenings Magazine. The journey to the beach is just as stunning as the beach itself, I even saw a wild boar on my way up here! Although I didn’t go for a swim, I could see other people swimming. No where near as many turtle nests as I expected, you be better off going to the Akrotiri Sand Dune Beach, for a good chance of seeing a turtle. But still I enjoyed the visit it’s a very rough and rugged beauty you don’t see very much of elsewhere.

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