Thursday, 30 March 2017

Drouseian's Day Out - Number 2

Today's blog will be mainly pictures because today we were having our second scheduled Drouseian Day Out.  Today was Rob and Diana's turn to decide where we went and what we did.

We have all realised that living here has meant we have stopped exploring the island that we fell in love with so we are setting aside one day a month to leave aside any DIY, shopping or other day to day tasks and go out and be tourists.  Last month we went to the Troodos to play in the snow and today we were going up to Stavros Tis Psokas to see the Moufflon and to take in the amazing scenery at a time when the island is looking its absolute best.

We started out by driving through Kritou Terra and as we left the village behind we were rewarded by some spectacular views and all along the roadside the verges were littered with spring flowers,  Orchids in all shapes and sizes left to do what they do best - bloom!!!  There was wild garlic in flower and wild sage in flower and the delicate wild gladioli and poppies.  Stunning - absolutely stunning.


Our mantra on days like these is 'ain't we lucky?' because we realise that we are very, very lucky indeed and after the horrific events in London yesterday when a terrorist randomly mowed people down in the street, people who were just going about their daily business, we are more conscious than ever of how lucky we are.

Out the back of Kritou Terra we wound our way slowly down to the main road stopping at the church of Agia Ekatarina which has been beautifully restored but is only used once a year.

Outside there are still the faint remains of some frescoes on the wall and inside if it had been brighter we may have been able to make out some more but we preferred to see the inside with the sunshine streaming in through the slit windows in the dome.


Our progress was slow as we stopped to look at all sorts of things en route but eventually we got to Peristerona where there is an EOKA monument at the top of a deep ravine from where you can sometimes see vultures flying - we only go to see an eagle but that was good enough for us.

After all the rain we have had the landscape is the greenest we have seen it in a long long time, if ever and the air is fresh and full of the aroma of wild flowers and pine trees.

We stayed quite a while here as the boys, armed with binoculars tried to make out our houses in Droushia which sits on top of the skyline and in so doing made us realise just how high above sea level our village sits - no wonder it is so damn cold in the winter - we were looking down on Steni and we always thought that we travelled quite a way up to Steni from Droushia but oh no Droushia must be twice as high above sea level.


Time for a selfie when we stopped and retraced our steps so we could go to the viewing point and look down the valley to the Evretou Dam and inspite of all the rain and wet weather over the past few months the water level is quite low.

Next stop was for coffee and we opted for the Hotel Paradisos in Lysos - partly because nowhere else seemed to be open and partly because we wanted to check out exactly how far they had got with the huge extension they had put on the side which for sometime looked like a big white elephant.

When we first went to that hotel it was a small boutique hotel and they took us around the rooms to have a look.  I remember going up there with Nicky and having coffee on the terrace and then they expanded and for months the extension was a concrete eyesore.  Now it seems that they have managed to incorporate it into the style of the original building.  We spent a very pleasant coffee break there enjoying some homemade biscuits and the glorious sunshine that accompanied our trip all day - it was lovely.


We then made our way up through the Cedar Valley and headed for Stavros Tis Psokas where there is a Moufflon Enclosure.  As we approached the enclosure we suddenly saw about 20 Moufflon running from one side to the other and we were sure that they were going to hide away and remain out of our view but as we walked up and around the periphery, which is currently undergoing some renovation in terms of the steps we suddenly spotted them again and within a few minutes they seemed to have got used to us being there and eventually came to rest near us lying down basking in dappled sun which was filtering through the trees.

There are some fine specimens with magnificent horns inside the enclosure and we stayed for quite a while looking at them and taking their photographs.  It was brilliant to see them and to see them looking well cared for - we just realise how well camouflaged they must be in the wild!


We left the moufflon to go and take a look at the campsite nearby - John and I had camped there about five years ago with Helen and Alistair and Jane and Mark.  Things seemed to have changed quite a bit as there were more buildings there than we remembered - certainly the toilets near the grill house looked new and were remarkably clean for being in the middle of nowhere.  We passed lots of old wooden houses which we think you used to be able to hire as summer accommodation but they looked very run down now - run down but full of logs so we reckon they are now just used by the Forestry people.

Had we realised how difficult it was going to be to find somewhere to eat we should have stopped at the grill house there but we didn't and we nearly came to rue that decision but thankfully Simou came to the rescue!!!


We stopped briefly at the Church of the Holy Cross as we were leaving Stavros Tis Psokas - a very pretty church in a beautiful location but sadly this one was locked so we couldn't get to look inside.  We then made our way down from Stavros Tis Psokas heading for Panagia or a village thereabouts to have something to eat.  This proved to be more difficult than we realised as we found next to nothing until we got to Simou - apart from a taverna with a madwoman beckoning us in and the winery at Panagia which was more or less closed!!


We were beginning to get a little desperate for something to eat by the time we decided to check out the square in Simou.  There were a number of hopeful looking coffee shops but at around 4.00pm to be honest we didn't really expect anywhere small to be able to accommodate us but we found this fabulous little cafe where the lady rustled up some toasted sandwiches, fresh hand cut chips and drinkies for only €20 - billy bargain.

Simou looked rather interesting and definitely worth a second visit - in the square is a tree that purports to be over 1000 years old and is a Mastic Tree with a massive girth of over six metres and a height of over 14 metres.  It is maintained by the forestry commission and the locals.  Those toasted sandwiches were the best meal ever at that particular point in time and we thoroughly enjoyed them.


Our final visit of the day was to the now, sadly derelict, Sa Bonari restaurant which overlooks the reservoir.  It has stunning view including an abandoned Turkish village.

What a shame that this venue failed to take off as it had, on the face of it, everything going for it.

We made our way home and fed the cats before decamping at the Veaseys for a glass of wine and some vinyl.

We had intended to wander down to the Hotel for a carafe but got too comfortable on the sofa so stayed for an hour or so listening to Rob's record collection before our stunningly beautiful star-lit walk home after the most fabulous day.  Thank you Diana and Rob - our turn next - no pressure!!!

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