Thursday, 4 May 2017

Drouseian's Day out Number 3

When you live here permanently it is easy to forget what a beautiful island Cyprus is.  When we used to come on holiday we used to relish taking a road we had never traveled before just to see where we would end up but now we are resident we tend to only explore when we have visitors - they remind us just how lucky we are to have so much beauty right on our doorstep and when they have gone we go back to our daily lives and even though we say that we must go out and about more often life often just gets in the way and then there is always next week - a privilege we did not have when confined to two weeks' holiday.

To address the balance we have committed to take time out with friends to enjoy the island as we did previously.  We have work life balance days with Lou and H (whose schedules are not so flexible as they are busy working most of the week) and we schedule one day a month to explore with Di and Rob taking it in turns to plan an activity which takes us away from our normal routine.  Today was our turn.  Previously, in February we had taken a trip to the Troodos mountains to see the snow, visit Omodos and then have lunch at the Extreme View Cafe.  In March, Di and Rob took us up the Cedar Valley to see the Moufflon in their enclosure and then to wind our way back down and have a meal in the pretty square in Simou.  John and I had planned to revisit the ancient site at Curium and take lunch at the beach taverna in Malanda but it would not have seemed the same without him so I organised an action packed day at our end of the island starting with a morning coffee at the newly reopened Village Cafe in Kato Akourdaleia which was delightful and learning that they plan to serve freshly cooked meals with locally sourced products have vowed to return when John is back.

Our route then took us along the coast heading towards Pachyamos stopping as and when we felt like it to take in the scenery.  Our first stop was at the Agia Marina where the coastline is strange, like the rocks have been molten at some point and are now frozen into sweeps like a poorly iced cake.  Although it was sunny the air still had a bit of a cool nip in it but there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was great to be out in the fresh air.

Next stop was at the sandwich bar perched on the side of the road before you get to Pomos.  The views from here are spectacular and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Cornwall or somewhere on the North Coast of France.  Apparently the sandwiches here are really good so one day we will stop and try them out.

We passed by Pomos as my intention was to return there after Pachyamos and to retrace my steps to see if the Heron was still down by the coastline.  There is now another little sandwich van which has set up shop just where you can drive down to a small cove where we went once with Hilary when she was out on holiday.

We then stopped at Pachyamos Church, my plan to have coffee in the newly refurbished coffee shop was thwarted when we found that it was closed but as we had had coffee earlier we weren't too disappointed and went in to look at the beautiful interior of Saint Rafael - somewhere that Rob and Diana had not been before.

The church is absolutely stunning with some pretty gruesome murals adoring the walls telling the story of how the Saints had come to meet their maker.

There was no-one else inside paying their respects so we didn't feel like we were intruding on their contemplations and with light streaming in through the windows were able ot take some shots of the interior without the need for flash.  I am not religious but appreciate that many who come to this place of worship are and I would never wish to upset anyone.

Next stop was to go off-roading for a bit in Kenny and to drive down to the beach at Pachyamos which did not have a sole on it.  It is a beautiful and quiet spot and we were fine where we were to take photographs - a bit further along there is some sort of military type installation where taking photographs is banned.  Here you are getting a bit close to the Turkish enclave of Kokkinos which has to be circumnavigated if you are trying to drive up to Pyrgos.

Next stop was down to the pretty little harbour of Pomos and to take a walk along the beach.  Only one other family were there - it is still early in the season but it was quite sad to see the beach area looking neglected - it used to be serviced by an enthusiastic guy who named it Relax Beach and had the sunbeds pristine, there was a little changing room and a beach bar.  Maybe these will come to life again when the season gets into full swing but it didn't look like it was going to happen any time soon.

The taverna which overlooks the harbour is now open and there seemed to be quite a few people taking advantage of this lovely spot and having lunch - this was not our intended watering hole so we just spent time in and around the boats and on the beach before moving on.

If you do not drive back to the main road but cut across just after the taverna you can find a road which takes you all along the coast and for a small bit of it you have to drive on the beach but it is well worth it and it was here that I saw the heron the other day.

No heron but an elusive small egret who blended in so well with the flora that we struggled to get a decent shot and just when Diana had got the camera and tripod all set up the egret took off and we lost sight of it as it flew away from us.  By this time our tummy's were beginning to want some food so we got back in the car and made our way via the odd brick built houses in Nea Dimmata to the Coast Taverna in Argaka.

This taverna was previously called Argakiko and was a dark traditional grill house, it has now been transformed into a light and airy modern restaurant which houses a rather nice little gift shop.  We were almost too taken by the gifts to concentrate on the job in hand which was a late lunch!!!

Our chosen meals were preceded by a complimentary plate of garlic bread and a home made bean dip and taramasalata.  Not normally a lover of tara this was absolutely delicious and the garlic bread so garlicky that we knew we would be in trouble the next day!

Di and I opted for chicken kebabs which I thought were really nice - served with salad, chips and pitta bread and Rob had what I think must have been a traditional Greek dish which was made up of beef, potatoes and peas in a sauce which was topped with cheese and baked in the oven.  Afterwards we were treated to complimentary apple pie and chocolate cake.  Washed down with a shandy for Di and I and a half carafe of red for Rob we managed to while away nearly two hours in glorious glorious sunshine.

Our day out was by no means over as we then went to explore the reservoir at Argaka.  One side of the reservoir had been decimated by a massive fire last year and is now subject to a reforestation scheme - the water must have stopped the fire because the opposite side was untouched so Rob and Di could get a feel for how it used to look and how it will hopefully look again.  As we approached the reservoir we were greeted by a heron in full flight but it went across the water and again we struggled to get a decent shot of it.  We drove along the waters edge for quite a way, in parts the road was rough and washed away but good old Kenny did his stuff and, had it not been quite so late, we would have liked to have kept on going to see how far we could drive but we saw sense and I turned round so that we could negotiate our way home in daylight stopping at the little church by the reservoir to have a nose before taking the scenic route back to Limni Pier.

As we got to the pier the sun was beginning to set, albeit in a strange fashion as it was not clear and by this time it was extremely windy.  I reckon the forthcoming sand-laden coptic is coming early as the conditions last night would indicate that the sky is filled with something that made the sun set in a very hazy manner.  We didn't stop long - it was a bit chilly!

We had one final stop before returning home (to four famished felines) and that was to swing by the Monastery of Saint George Nikoxilitis which signposted by the (now closed) Karithea Taverna.

This monastery was founded between the 9th and 10th century AD and up until the early 19th centry was one of the richest monasteries on the island.  it was disbanded in 1821 and sadly burned and looted.

Sometime after 1834 some faithful Christians of Droushia rebuilt the church of the monastery but it was destroyed by fire in the 1920s.  Once again the locals rebuilt the church and others planted Cypress trees around it.  In 1953 the church suffered severe damage from an Earthquake.  Any maintenance currently carried out is done so by the local Droushia community.

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