It was exciting to visit the old world charm of Cyprus for the first time ever in December. Cyprus is known as the gateway to the Middle East where Ottomans, Richard the Lionheart and Alexander the Great all set foot. Upon landing in Larnaca, you notice the beauty of the rugged landscapes, the pristine sandy beaches, the vineyards with rocky hills and mountains in the distance. This Mediterranean island is full of history and begs to be explored.
It takes 45 minutes from Larnaca airport to Limassol. This distinct laid-back city is one of the premier seaside resorts in Cyprus and has an easy-going vibe which offers visitors both a beach holiday and rich cultural beauty. The ocean air and the sound of the waves are captivating when sipping on a local coffee sitting along the palm-lined promenade while planning my adventures to discover the historical secrets of this island.
The Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Limassol is an upscale resort set in a very friendly family environment, the guests consist of Cyprians, eastern European tourists or businessmen. The luxury hotel offers a large buffet style breakfast, brunches, coffee shop and a Chinese restaurant. Limassol is paradise for food with great seafood, Greek Mezze appetizers and wonderful local salads and vegetables.
I venture inland towards the Troodos mountains, the largest mountain range in Cyprus, to the Holy Monastery of the Virgin of Kykkos. Founded in the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, the monastery lies at 1380 meters in altitude. The two-hour scenic ride is worth it as you pass many ceramic shops, local artisans and a few simple tavernas. You also catch a glimpse of Kouris Dam, deep gorges, vineyards and picturesque small villages tucked away in these pine forests.
This island is filled with churches, medieval castles, beaches to swim and mountains to ski, offering the biggest diversity of the climate I’ve seen. As I drove down towards the village of Pedoulas we surprisingly encountered a small snowstorm. A miracle of nature when you consider that we swimming and sunbathing hours earlier.
I hear there is a ski lift. I prefer the warmer climate to discover olive trees dating back up to 1000 years old. If you believe in the legend, swim around Aphrodite’s rock to gain fertility or discover the historic ruins.
Head back over to Limassol and visit the Marina anytime of day and eat at the splendid seafood restaurant of Pixida, then go for a drink at the Epsilon bar or venture to the piers connected by the pedestrian-only causeway. You can even try the famous Gin Fish steakhouse and the rooftop bar. Try the local Souvla made of lamb, chicken or Pork or seafood specialities of Cyprus. The Fat Fish restaurant is a happening place, situated on the beach, and has amazing lamb, grilled calamari along with several local dishes.
If you like dancing go to the old town Limassol of ‘Notes’ and enjoy Bouzoukia (Greek music). Instead of throwing plates, they will hand you baskets of carnations to toss at dancers or singers. Dance the night away to the local live music.
During the day, Columbia beach, a “Niki beach” chain has a “See and be seen” style hangout, with a lounge, lunch and sunbathing.
These distinct use of olive trees is widely used by artisans to make ashtrays, bowls, spoons or other useful kitchen utensils.
At a local store, I explored the different types of homemade Nougat, dried fruits, nuts with a variety of roasts, or sweetly caramelized versions, olive oils, olives with mixed spiced oils, honey infused with eucalyptus, lavender, or pine. Try Halva, a desert with fig & almond or pistachio. Or handmade Kataifi, made with almond & honey or a nuts cocktail but if you prefer fruit then their jarred sweet concoctions are tasty.
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