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Greece: Hibernating on the Copper Island

Cyprus, rich in holiday beaches and myths, moults in autumn and winter, leaving a treasure trove for "bon vivants" and individualists.

Even donkeys help to harvest grapes in Cyprus
Picture by T. Micke

The Olympic Gods were anything but demure when in competition with each other. And whatever malignities Zeus and his wife Hera delivered in ancient times regardless of the loss of earthly and celestial beings, that may well be rudimentarily known from school. However, what Chronis, the villain who went at his father Uranus with a knife, did just to enable the unsurpassable Aphrodite to be "born from the spume" – as it is poetically called – on Cyprus’ coast, can hardly be told out loud. Just as the stories about the insatiable beauty queen aren’t very children-friendly, even if she still manages to flirt demurely and innocently from the fantastic mosaics in front of the visitors in the archaeological excavations around Paphos.

A small cloister in Cyprus’ Troodos Mountains
Picture by T. Micke

Cyprus offers a more and more peaceful picture today. Above all, there have been recent real efforts to reunite the island that is divided in two parts – the East has been owned by Turkey for centuries, in the West exists the independent Republic of Cyprus, because both Turkey and Cyprus want to become part of the EU, which will not tolerate the last "Iron Curtain" in Europe across the divided capital city Lefkosia.

In autumn, when the classic beach holiday-maker folds up his sun brolly and the summer heat slowly gives way to a mild sea breeze, Cyprus attracts another race. Cyclists, ramblers and winter fugitives, enticed by a new idea that makes it possible to see the beauty of the island in a more original way, away from hotel castles and holiday reservations.

Small villas in the mountain villages of Cyprus can be rented for holidays
Picture by T. Micke

In the small settlements and villages around the 1900 metre high Troodos Mountain in the southwest of the island those very cottages and barns, that over time were deserted due to a lack of local job opportunities in the direction of large towns and tourist centres are now being renovated. Several strokes of genius have had success at the same time: the former village structure in such picturesque locations as Kalavasos or Tochni remains. Small shops and the sole village innkeeper can look forward to more customers again. The "Ghetto-holiday" has no chance, where guests at the most have contact with the local T-Shirt sellers in front of the hotel. Because whoever books half-board has the pleasure of eating dinner and breakfast in the Kafenion, the real communication centre of each resort, and is thus promptly integrated into village life – A happiness factor that comes quite by itself, because even the local looking after the guests manages to make personal contact immediately.

The small and large lodgings, partly in the centre of the village, offer according to category everything the heart could wish for, from your own kitchen over a shady courtyard, to reading and relaxing, to a terrace swimming pool with a panoramic view.

Good bikes are for hire at Cyprus bikes in Paphos
Picture by T. Micke

You can discover the island yourself according to preferences by hiring a car (Careful – they drive on the left!), booking a riding holiday in the nearby riding stables or go on a (guided) tour on a mountain bike or a racing bike. In addition, the "Agro tourism"-concept as well as "Zypernbike" in Paphos offer equipment that is very well maintained and in mint condition, so that those who like sport as a hobby can confidently go on longer, more challenging tours than just the ten minutes down to the beach.

So if it gets stormy and snows with us in winter, you can count on an orange harvest in about 15-25 degrees in Cyprus, which incidentally gave its name to copper (Greek: Kypros) because of its vast mineral resources during the Bronze Age. And when in January the almond trees already begin to blossom and the island begins to smell of a sea of hyacinth and crocus, you just don’t want to leave.

Perikles is an innkeeper in the Cypriot village of Arsos
Picture by T. Micke

And even more so, when old Perikles, a village innkeeper from whom Goscinny and Uderzo must have taken measures for their Asterix cartoons, lays out a traditional "Fish-Mezèdes" in his tavern in the little village of Arsos, and you are already usually full from the starters – roasted squid filled with sheep’s cheese, olives with coriander, home pickled capers and even every sort of fresh fish you can imagine. The only thing that helps then is a strong Cypriot coffee – with warm Purekia filled with curds – and a good Italian Grappa is nothing next to the Zivania that follows!

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© A report by Tobias Micke (06-10-02) – Contact