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19 February 2018


i couldn't wait to get to cyprus; it was the first of my trips for this year, and the first real "winter sun" break i'd ever really had before that point - summer sun, yes. regular sun, also yes. but winter sun? i'd never been on anything other than a regular old winter city break during the long, cold season, so i was definitely super excited to unearth my summer clothes from the relegation to the bottom of the wardrobe, for a few days of the suggested highs of 21 degrees. sadly, when we arrived, it turned out that we had the unfortunate luck of grey skies and chilly winds instead of the winter sun we were promised, which forced us out of the traditional villa holidays rite of passage of lounging by the pool, and instead, out to discover all that cyprus had to offer. such as..

a late dinner in limassol

we arrived just after lunch time, but by the time we picked up our rental cars and found our way to the villa just in the aphrodite hills, it wasn't. after a short unwind in the giant villa, we decided to head south to the cypriot city of limassol, as we had heard a lot of good things about the town - and, according to locals, some really great restaurants. that had us sold!

we were persuaded into a waterfront restaurant called tavernaki by charley - who had eaten in there once before a few years ago, and took the table by the outdoor heater, as by the time we drove out to limassol from aphrodite hills, it was after 6pm and we were absolutely starving! the coastal route was nice and all, but you don't mess with eight hangry bloggers! we were the only customers, and the service was a bit sloppy, but the food? wholly incredible. i chose all the cheese i could muster: baked feta in honey, cheese arancini balls, grilled halloumi, and feta fries, and a tall glass of wine to wash it all down. the food came quickly enough - thankfully, and by 7pm we were all full of cheese and wine, and shattered from our super early start, so headed back to the villa for an early night. cheese dreams, come at me!

experimenting with resort activities

with a good night's sleep on our side, we were up and at 'em nice and early, with plans to take advantage of some of the "unconventional activities" on offer in the resort. i say "unconventional" as they're totally normal activities, just, well, not for us. 

usually, when i'm on holiday, the only activities i tend to partake in are walking, drinking, and eating my weight in local delicacies. on this day though, our plans were a little more eye opening than that.. they included a tennis lesson. and a driving range. and those are some fairly new activities for me! in saying that though, we had an actual belly-laugh of a time, and thanks to british ex-pat instructors wynn and robert at aphrodite hills resort, i think i'm fairly certain i'm now a pro at both.

a feast for the eyes and bellies

as a reward for all our excellent work "doing a sport", we were served up the most incredible feast in one of the resort's restaurants "anoi". more of a pub, really, but the food and drink were anything but your classic pub food. we sat down with the general manager of the resort and a bevy of other staffers, and tucked into massive plates of traditional salads, pastas, and cheesy nachos, followed up with a generous platter of fruit and local desserts - platters of food so filling that we took a lot of it back to the villa for dinner later that night!

street art hunting in paphos old town

the weather stayed pretty rubbish consistently, so instead of wrapping up in the villa, we jumped in the cars and went exploring instead. we headed into paphos old town as we'd heard there was a nice indoor market there worth having a look at, and it was only a short drive from the archaeological park that everyone (but me) wanted to go and see - as well as being pretty close to the villa to boot.

what we got in paphos, was something we were absolutely not expecting: street art. everywhere! from the car park we left the cars in, to the entrance to the undercover market (which was actually very shit as it turns out), and above the most random of shops were the most beautifully coloured and super vibrant murals and pieces of art that had us literally stumbling into traffic to get the perfect shot of them. for me, this was better than anything we could see in the archaeological park up the road!

a hidden gem of a spot for lunch

when it came to lunch time, good old culture trip came to the rescue with a list of hidden gems in the cypriot city. and, once we figured out which direction that google wanted us to go (imagine eight gals walking up and down the same street four or five times - they weren't kidding when they said it was a "hidden" gem), we found the city's number one: laona.

with a very specific daily menu to work from, i was worried there would be nothing i "could" eat. i'd said i'd eat a vegetarian diet while travelling, and sadly, the options for me were limited to a black bean meal that i couldn't bring myself to eat, so i went with a fish pie that a few of us seemed to drool over the thought of.

the food was served up alongside two big serving bowls of greek salad and crusty bread, and it all came out so quickly too. the portions were absolutely massive, so much so that a fair few of us never even managed to finish our meals! not me, though. i'll never leave a man behind like that. the fish and the potatoes in the pie (it wasn't a pie, really. it was fish in a white wine cheese sauce over a bed of spinach and thinly-sliced potatoes) were so well cooked that i could barely keep them on my fork as they just fell apart on the plate. in a totally good way, of course.

a lot of down time in the villa

in the few and far between moments of actual sun, we did actually stay in our lovely villa. the aphrodite hills resort has hundreds of the things, which range from like, one and two bedroom junior villas, to the mahoosive five bedroom superior villa we had, and right up to the methos-collection villas, which are like your "dusted in gold" type villas, with actual suites in them, and are obviously too good to be true for the general population of this earth.

katy and i shared a room on the top floor which had two balconies that overlooked the giant pool and private garden. beyond the garden was the golf course, so we could occasionally see buggies zipping past, which was cute too. the villa was pretty well stocked, as far as your toiletries and towels go, plus they left us a beaut hamper of supplies that included all the essentials like halloumi, wine, red wine, white wine, bread, wine and more wine, which helped us relax quiiite a bit. the pool was cold - as were the showers, if you didn't boost the boiler (off season, or something), so we mainly sat around it, with blankets, and books. we were living the drrreeeam!

visiting aphrodite's rock

the resort was not far at all from the birthplace of aphrodite - i suppose the hint is in the name of the resort, huh? we drove past it a few times - it's on the way to limassol from paphos, then finally went down to investigate when we had the whole squad together on our last day.

legend has it that the cluster of rocks here at petra tou romiou is the site of the birth of greek goddess aphrodite. apparently, gaia (mother earth) asked one of her sons - cronus - to mutilate his father - uranus (sky). cronus cut off uranus' testicals and threw them into the sea. a white foam appeared and a maiden arose, who was named aphrodite. a local myth is that any person who swims around the rock of aphrodite will be blessed with eternal beauty. sadly for us, it was bloody cold. though, another local myth is that the waters around aphrodite's rock are a stead 21 degrees. i can't confirm; i didn't try.

devouring ice cream by the harbour

while the gals headed into see some bones and stuff in the archaeological park (it's just not for me, ok?), i hung out on the esplanade and watched the boats come and go while it wasn't actually too cold. and of course i had ice cream. and of course, it was bloody lovely.

avoiding coffee at all costs

unlike the coffee, which was bloody attrocious! we were bombarded with costas and starbucks' everywhere we went, which would have been ok except they were way expensive - and who goes on holidays and wants a costa? i don't drink costa in london if i can help it, ha. so the one time i was desperate for coffee, it was a) hard to find anywhere that didn't have an alternative to milk, b) hard to find anywhere that took card for payment, c) hard to find anywhere that did an iced coffee - and the drink that katy and i walked away with was something akin to a sour milkshake. we're not sure if it was the coffee or the "almond milk" that had possibly been sat out for days, but it was stomach-turning. 

so, in the end i resorted to bulk buying cans of vanilla iced coffee from the supermarket, as they were pretty similar to those life-saving cans of drink i devoured in japan, and seemed to be made with that sweet, sweet condensed milk that everyone loves.

all in all, it was a nice and relaxed few days away spent discovering a small snippet of what cyprus has to offer. we didn't do a lot of planning, preferring to take it day by day, and choosing to go slow and relax a little more than normal. it was my first group trip of the year, and some "alone time" was definitely needed in between fun group activities, but ultimately, an incredible way to kick of a new year of slow travel. i'm now counting down to the next..!

*our stay was complimentary, thanks to james villas, but all words are mine.

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