I planned this trip as a reaction to the ongoing military skirmishes happening in Iraq and Kurdistan. As I checked Qtar Airways available flights, I saw that Cyprus had a decent flight time and price. Growing up, I had heard about Cyprus in the context of Grecian and Biblical history.
The most well know piece of Grecian information is that Aphrodite sprang to life from the sea foam at Petra tou Rominou near Paphos. Another legend from Cypriot past is Adonis.
Cyprus is mentioned prominently in the book of Acts. Paul and Barnabas conducted the first Christian mission trip by heading to Salamis, and they walked the length of the island to Paphos.
In addition to these bits of information, many wars have been waged around this island. It has served as strongholds for groups of people as well as staging points for Mediterranean coastal conflicts.
All of this interested me. As I researched, I found several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Also I saw there are many monasteries, tombs, and sights worth seeing. I started to plot out a map of my stops. That is when I learned that Salamis, was actually in the occupied part to the north. I am just now digging into the events that have transpired in the past 50 years on this tiny island. But from what I can tell, it all seems a bit atrocious. Luckily the border did not seem difficult to pass through to visit the other side.
In addition to this, there is also a strong Russian element on the island. This also adds to both some of the tension, but also the diversity of the people.
I made plans to fly into and stay in Larnaka since it was centrally located to the island. I decided that renting a car would give me the most flexibility in my adventures. I chose Les Palmiers since it was beachfront with a balcony. I plotted out a couple routes I could take for each day, and since I was not due to fly out until 20:00 on Saturday, I knew I had the whole day to explore.
I then began to check through Beer Advocate to see if the island had a beer scene. Turns out that it is small, but it is present. I added several places to my map, and I was ready to go… or was I?
Turns out, I completely missed on the huge party scene on the island. In my head, I thought, “Oh Larnaka is a beach town. It must be family-oriented, like the island.” So I was somewhat right about Larnaka. But, just up the beach a little is Ayia Napa: a beach town that falls in line behind Ibiza and Hvar as party towns for Europe. Who knew… well I guess a ton of people actually knew. I just didn’t. By this time, it was too late to adjust my plans. But I will make a note of this for the future.
As with the majority of European countries, getting in with an American passport was quite easy. My T-Mobile phone picked up a tower, and I was ready to go. My rental car company, Sure Drive, was a little different that usual. The main guy was waiting for me with a sign. I signed some papers and grabbed my car. The drive to the hotel was merely 15 minutes. Granted, Cyprus is a “drive-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-street” country… so beware of that.
Les Palmiers is a premium location, right in front of Finikoudes Beach. The parking lot is a bit of a joke, but at least the offer a couple spots. The hotel tried to move me to the adjacent building for an apartment, but I checked it out, and it was pretty run-down. I decided to stick with my sea view balcony room. It was the smart choice.
I immediately went for a walk in the town. First thing I noticed… Cypriot women are the melting pot of beautiful: Greek, a little Turkish, some Italian, maybe a British accent… Wow. Impressed. It doesn’t hurt that the proximity to the beach and the hot weather meant short shorts and tank tops for most everyone.
After a quick walk around, I got in my car and headed to the West Coast. The entire island is basically the size of the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, so driving wasn’t too bad. I arrived at Aphrodite’s Rock and was greeted with hundreds of tourists pouring out of their 55-passenger tour buses. It was quite terrible. The rock and scenery itself were great. The history is fun. I just hate grappling with others for a good shot.
From there, I headed over to Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery. It is tucked in the mountains north of the city. I was able to enjoy a sampling paddle of their beers, and it was clear that they had a strong British influence. Turns out, the owner is from UK. I had a nice conversation about his brewery and his family, who run the brewery. It was quite pleasant.
From there, I still had a little time, so I hopped over to the Tomb of the Kings for some archaeological pictures. The whole hike was nice, but my feet were killing me. I don’t know how Paul and Barnabas walked the whole island in sandals.
Sadly, the place I wanted to hit for dinner, Old Fishing Shack, was closed, so I had to scramble to find some grub before heading back to Larnaka. The first night was very chill. I walked the beach and had some street snacks. It was very family-oriented with a beach carnival and street performers littered down the beach.
After a couple beers, I was ready to hit the hay. Thank the lord, the little air conditioning unit had done its job, and the room was finally bearable. Earlier, while changing for the road, I was just sweating like I was in a sauna. The noise from the boardwalk actually made me happy to hear people out and about having fun. I knew I needed to sleep well, since the next day was packed.