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krisek Pafos - A travel report by Krys
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Pafos,  Cyprus - flag Cyprus
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krisek's travel reports

Cyprus's first capital. Sun, fun, history. Pafos.

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Cyprus's UNESCO site, whose ancient glory has been excavated by the Warsaw University of Poland is Pafos, in the south-western part of the country. It is also a major holiday destination with atmospheric harbour, lively nightlife and good seafood.


Ruins of a small fort in the archaeological site in Paphos.
Ruins of a small fort in the archaeological site in Paphos.
Cyprus, including Pafos, was on my list for a number of years. But the cost of flights from London has been prohibitive for a number of years. That was due to a lack of competition. A few years back, this situation changed, as a few budget and charter airlines started operating on this route. The prices became a little bit more palatable. But before I could book a trip out of London on a cheap-shit airline, I made a journey out of Warsaw on a proper full service LOT Polish Airlines. Yet, this meant that I landed in Larnaca rather than in Pafos. Most holiday airlines actually have schedules to Pafos, which is closer to the resorts and the historic sights.

I went during the Easter break. On the hindsight, this was not the best choice. Most sights were closed for Easter, which meant there was limited time to go and visit them. Luckily, some of the spots could be admired free or looked at from behind the fence.

Pafos was not a large place. However, it was spread along the coast, so it took almost an hour to walk from one end of the place to another. From the south end's the Aphrodisiac Beach, near the Pafos International Airport, starting from the Rikkos Beach, up until the Almyra hotel some 2km in the northerly direction, the coast was dotted with large resorts, which looked big, touristy and comfortable, overlooking the Mediterranean in the westerly direction, most definitely offering great sunset views. Some of them were Louis Phaethon Beach Club, The Pioneer Beach, Riu Cypria Maris, Ledra Beach, Louis Imperial Beach, Avanti. The Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark and the Luna Park were located near those hotels as well.

From the Annabelle Hotel, next to the tourist harbour, the Pafos peninsula began. From there, the restaurants and boutiques started to dot the waterfront. Continuing west, along the water's edge, one moves towards the archaeological park and the Castle of Pafos (the old harbour fort). From there it is slightly uphills along the coast towards sunset benches.

Favourite spots:
One of my favourite mosaics in one of the houses in the archaeological site in Paphos.
One of my favourite mosaics in one of the houses in the archaeological site in Paphos.
Pafos was small. Very small. It was difficult to imagine it was the island's capital before. Well long time ago. Yet, the archaeological park was probably the greatest spot in town. Perhaps my favourite place. From the outside, it did not look like anything. But in the inside, the collection of ancient mosaics was simply mind-boggling. Their quality and state of preservation was awesome! There were a few old columns standing. There were ruins of grand ancient Roman villas, a couple of temples and a fort. In addition, there was a lighthouse and swathes of wild flowers, acres and acres of them. That made a great composition with the ancient ruins and the blue sky - almost as if one was teleported back to the times of chariots and gladiators.

The seafront and the old port with the picturesque little fort was also a great place. It was good for dining and taking an afternoon drink. It was clean and perfectly crescent.

What's really great:
One of the benches along the dramatic seafront running along Paphos's peninsula.
One of the benches along the dramatic seafront running along Paphos's peninsula.
The fact that one could stay at one of the hotels in the new town on the hill, a few hundred yards from the nightlife action, the beaches and the restaurants, and still be so close to the ancient ruins is really the one of Pafos's best qualities. I was staying almost half way from the seafront and the clubs and the hotel was only yards from ruined ancient churches and basilicas. And just across the road, there would be very old churches still in operation, so frequented at the time of my visit during Easter.

The other quality of this little place were the seafront promenades, which were going for miles and miles. Excellent for jogging, hiking and watching sunsets. The authorities constructed a few benches and giant framed benches at the western part of the promenade, where sunset photos looked the best.

Sights:
Pafos's old castle in the old harbour at night.
Pafos's old castle in the old harbour at night.
Pafos, despite it minute size, has a rather large number of places to see. The main attraction are the Pafos Mosaics. They date back to the ancient Roman period but they were only discovered in 1962. By accident! The most intricate and elaborate are the mosaics featuring the god of wine, Dionysus.

The mosaics are now part of the larger Pafos Archaeological Site, also dubbed as Nea Pafos, meaning new (!) Pafos, which was founded in the 4th century. It has interesting collection of ruins, including a citadel.

Now, there is also Old Pafos (Kato Pafos), which boasts the second important sight - the Tombs of the Kings. They are actually not kings' tombs at all, but they are called like that due to their size and their Dorian pillars.

Then, there are two forts. One within the archaeological site, the Saranta Kolones Fortress - badly ruined; and the Fort of Pafos that is in good condition and stands at the entry to the little port of Pafos.

Plus, there are a few old churches, too.

Accommodations:
A small church with a group of columns right by the Pyramos Hotel.
A small church with a group of columns right by the Pyramos Hotel.
I got room #205 at the Pyramos Hotel, which I booked via booking.com. Three nights cost EUR105. The room was small and it was a twin with very narrow beds. It had a balcony overlooking absolutely nothing and the bathroom was tiny, but clean. The shower cabin was also tiny, it was difficult to squeeze inside though the plastic sliding doors. I guess the hotel management expected guests to cover their bodies with soap before squeezing inside the cabin. There was also a telephone and a small flat screen TV, which I did not use. Uh, and an air-conditioner as well, but I had it off - there was no need. Temperature outside was a pleasant 25C.

The personnel, mainly Hungarian, was friendly although not very knowledgeable about the area, the logistics, the opening times of the museums, etc. Yet, the hotel's main quality was its location. It was literally 2 minutes walk down to the seafront, 5 minutes to the castle and the mosaics archaeological site, and about 15 seconds to the clubs and bars.

Nightlife:
The Waterhole Music Bar
The Waterhole Music Bar
The George & Dragon Pub, The Aces Bar, The Waterhole Music Bar, The Sky Bar, the Zorro's Pub - all in one spot around the fountain at Agios Anastasias St. were great. Mainly geared for the Anglophone folk, but it did not matter - their atmosphere was superb! Further along the road, there were Linekers, Blues Brotherz, Felix, Flairs, Boogies, California, and many, many more.

For a couple of Keo pints, I descended towards the seafront, to the Players Pub, which pretended to be an Irish venue. It did well pretending. They had a few Irish stouts available and a friendly, almost family-like ambiance. I have to say that their draft Keo (EUR2.50) didn't taste right. Perhaps the pipes hadn't been cleaned. I had to wash it down with something more sophisticated, so I managed to drag my feet closer to the seafront promenade and slouched on a pavement sofa belonging to the Risto La Piazza and ordered a glass of local wine - Metharme Maratheftico '04 (EUR8.75) and Fikardos Shiraz '03 (EUR6.25).

Hangouts:
Resto Piazza's pavement lounge at night.
Resto Piazza's pavement lounge at night.
The seafront in Kato Pafos was abundant with cafes, bars and lounges. The Mare Mare had a terrace with great seaview overlooking the harbour and the old fort. Below, Captain's Bistro served desserts and cocktails, at their pavement tables. Their happy hour, up until 7pm, was great value for money. The setting sun warmed up customers' foreheads. Including mine! Which was a good deal, as the evenings were still rather chilly on Cyprus at the end of April.

The waiter, David (a Hungarian national), working at one of the waterfront restaurants and bars with tables on the pavement, flirted with the ladies, but he was also friendly (and very professional) to me. And he was a chick magnet. An amateur boxer, tall and with electrifying smile, he had no difficulty to pull a company. This was his temporary job and he was hoping for some modelling career. He spoke no Greek, but this did not matter. Not even to the Cypriots, who seamlessly switched to English without blinking when making an order.

Restaurants:
Giant prawns grilled on the bed of rice (instead of potatoes) at the Resto Piazza.
Giant prawns grilled on the bed of rice (instead of potatoes) at the Resto Piazza.
Many restaurants and eateries along the seafront promenade claim to be the best and have the freshest and the yummiest seafood. The easiest way of spotting the frauds is by a simple calculation of how many customers are local. Yet, with Pafos that is not this simple. For the vast majority of the crowd are British, Russian and French. So, after a double stroll, I spotted that the Pelican Restaurant had the highest occupancy amongst some 15 restaurants in the vicinity. Before I sat at the table number 1, right in the afternoon sun, I had checked the seafood dishes at the menu and had had the obligatory chat with one of the seasoned waiters. I ordered a large draft Keo lager, grilled garlic king prawns for a starter (EUR7) and chilli king prawns with rice (EUR17) - although they normally come with French fries, which I exchanged. I refused to eat fries on Cyprus. They are too alien there! Lager came cold, and king prawns were fresh and large. The waiting staff was exclusively male (!!).

Other recommendations:
Midnight at Easter, crowds with candles at one of the churches in Paphos.
Midnight at Easter, crowds with candles at one of the churches in Paphos.
Pafos did not have a real beach. The coast around the town was rocky and did not facilitate lounging and swimming on the shore. One had to travel north, beyond Pafos proper to see the real sandy beaches. One of them was the Coral Bay. It was complete with the parasols and all the necessary facilities, including bars and eateries. Perhaps half a click from there, in the west-northerly direction was the Coral Beach, also boasting parasols. Both were accessible by public transport, i.e. buses. They were supposed to be regular, but during Easter they were not that regular at all. One of the bus stops heading in that direction was near the entrance to the archaeological site.

Published on Friday August 16th, 2013


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Tue, Aug 20 2013 - 08:28 PM rating by mistybleu

Great report; and some nice pictures.

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