A Post Lockdown Adventure

Escape to the countryside

Well at long last we can venture further from home since we have come out of our third lockdown here in Cyprus. We no longer have to request permission to go out and there is no time limit set on the outing. We are now free to travel around the island and stay out as long as we want in line with the agreed government guidelines.

We really enjoy exploring Cyprus when we get the chance especially inland and try our best to find new roads where we haven’t driven before to find hidden gems. From abandoned villages to beautiful scenic views who knows what is round the corner.

This week we have taken a couple of trips out and found a few new roads…….

So on our first day we headed towards Stroumpi to start our adventure and then further inland towards Polemi choosing roads to go as we came across turnings.

As we drove we came to Pano Panagia where we saw signs for Cedar Valley. We had never been there and had been recommended by a friend that it was well worth a visit. It was a lovely drive and amazingly peaceful. We were told that you could hear your voice reverberating around the mountains surrounding the deep valley.

When you think of the Troodos mountains and the winding roads leading to it one of the things that will spring spring to mind are the stunning sweet scented pine trees that blanket the rugged peaks. With our windows open and the roof down the scent of pine was everywhere. As you travel deeper into the Paphos Forest you’ll soon spot these pine trees changing to thousands of magnificent bright green Cyprus Cedar trees claiming their pride of place on the stony mountain sides.

Next we managed to find a bailey bridge – first one I have ever seen. I didn’t realise these bridges were built by the military. The idea was developed in the 1940s for use during the Second World War. A Bailey bridge (has the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to assemble.

Built of wood and steel the bridge elements are small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks. Bailey bridges continue to be used extensively in civil engineering construction projects and to provide temporary crossings for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Trozena Bailey Bridge

The Trozena Bridge spanning the Diarizos River was built during the British occupation in Cyprus to link the then populated villages of Trozena and Gerovasa

Trozena and Gerovosa were part of a complex of settlements inhabited by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Gerovosa was mainly a Turkish Cypriot village and the name in Greek means holy valley whereas Trozena was predominantly Greek Cypriot. The residents lived together in harmony however with the outbreak of bi-communal unrest between the years 1963-1964, the settlement of Gerovasa was abandoned by its Turkish Cypriot residents. Trozena was still populated until the 1980s, but by the 1990s, the trend of moving to urbanisations intensified, and by 2001, there were no longer any permanent residents left.

Route to the Bailey Bridge

If you fancy escaping the sun, sand and sea one day when you visit Cyprus why not take a trip out to see some history and some beautiful scenery too.

Three Years Gone in a Blink of an EYE!!

Well it is 31st August 2019 and we have been here 3 full years today.  We boarded the plane at Stansted exactly 3 years ago on our new journey.  Can’t believe where the time has gone.

So what has this year been like???


Once again it has been a fabulous year …..

We are still continuing to learn about the island we live on….snakes, chameleons, growing vegetables and learning about all the bugs that we are pestered with during some of the humid months.

Snakes

So last week Phill stumbled across a snake skin in the garden…we are still trying to find out what type of snake it is.  The general consensus is that there are ten species of snake that are established on the island and they are as follows:

The Large Whip Snake (Coluber Jugularis) The Cyprus Whip Snake (Coluber Cypriensis) The Coin Snake or Ravergier’s Whip Snake (Coluber Numifer)
The Blunt Nosed Viper (Vipera Lebetina) The Montpellier Snake (Malpolon Monspessulanus) The Cat Snake (Telescopus Fallax)
The Cyprus Grass Snake (Natrix Natrix Cypriaca)
Pink Worm Snake  (Typhlops Vermicularis)
Dahl’s Whip Snake or Arrow Snake (Coluber Najadum)
The Dwarf Snake (Eirenus Modestus  

The Blunt Nosed Viper is the bad boy of the island’s snakes; the only potentially lethal snake in Cyprus. That said, despite an average of twenty attacks on humans each year, no one has died from its bite for nearly fifteen years. It’s easily recognised being a large fat snake, around 1.3 to 1.7m long with offset semi-rectangular markings along its silvery beige back. It is also discernible from the black spots on its head. Many bites occur through lack of care as the snake is used to remaining motionless to await the approach of the birds it preys on and its well camouflaged markings mean that walkers often get too close.  The snake is on the endangered list mainly because ignorant people see it as a dangerous pest and kill it forgetting that it is an important part of the Cypriot ecosystem. Additionally it often falls prey itself to Whip Snakes and birds of prey.

Chameleon

Another chameleon ventured into the garden last week too.  It was walking slowly along the bottom of the gate.  We managed to intercept it and look at it…..

fullsizeoutput_20a2

What a little cutie – Phill held it for a minute to take the photographs and then let it go into hiding in the hedge.

Gardening

We tried our hand at gardening this year again with the introduction of a few new vegetables including corn on the cob (well when I say we tried our hand I actually mean Phill).  We had a lovely mint plant which grew like mad over the early part of the year but due to the heat and the humidity in Coral Bay it has stopped growing and is looking a bit ill.  However, the good news is that it will recover soon.  I love having mint in the garden and is great for lots of dishes that I make including tzatziki. We had a few tomato plants too and had a few tomatoes for our salads and some chillis and peppers which also have been great for salads and barbecues.  

There are many things that we cannot grow as we slowly discover as the heat and humidity is too much for many of these plants especially in the summer months.  I wanted to grow blueberries for my porridge but alas no we were advised against it due to our location and of course we are slowly discovering what we can and cannot do.  

Phill is currently trying to grow an Avocado Tree from the seed of the avocado – it is really doing well but of course could be around 4 years before we do get fruit from it but definitely worth doing.

We are also trying to grow ginger as I use quite a bit of root ginger when cooking especially in my Indian and Chinese recipes.  So we shall see what happens – the plant is currently about 1 foot tall at the moment and looking good.  

We have had copious amounts of strawberries from our plant this year – too many to eat but we did do our best to get through them.  Next year I think I will be making strawberry jam to have with my scones and clotted cream – can’t wait!!

As always we have a problems with some of the insects that live in the warmer climate especially the Mealybug.   Every summer Phill spends considerable time treating our hedges as they seem to love the Hibiscus – unfortunately some people do not bother to treat their hedge and the bug takes over and kills it and they then move on to the next healthy plant.

Mealybugs are white, tiny little guys that form cottony nests where they are feeding.  These bugs suck the sap out of the leaves and stems of plants, resulting in stunted or deformed leaf growth, yellowing of the leaves, and leaf drop.

Archaeological Sites

We have also been visiting some of the archaeological sites, The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates  and the ancient city of Kourion.   A visit to Omodos has to be done at least once.  It is a beautiful traditional Cypriot Village which has been carefully restored and is car free (at least to tourists).  Great day out visiting it and the little art shops and cafes which are dotted around the square and the streets.

We’ve also been to the beach a few times visiting Corallia Beach, Latchi Beach and our fullsizeoutput_13b8favourite beach Kourion which sits below the archaelogical site.

Winter Months

The cooler months this year were very wet which was great as most of the dams filled and overflowed.  Definitely something that Cyprus needed.  Last year the large dams were only filled to 13% of their capacity and this year what a difference as the large one near Paphos Airport actually overflowed.  Look at the difference:-

 

Outdoor Life

Well so far it is all good here and we are really enjoying being here and lapping up the culture and the outdoor life that we so much enjoy – we can have a barbecue any time we want without thinking about whether it will be raining.  We can also go out for dinner in the evening and not think about taking a jacket, coat or even an umbrella.  

Lots of beautiful restaurants to enjoy and lazing by our beautiful pool.  What’s not to like!!!

What will our fourth year bring for us?  Who knows but definitely lots of sunshine and fun to be sure !!

“Abandoned” Vretsia Village

Phill has always been keen to learn about the history of Cyprus and is constantly trying to find out more about the country we now call home.  From the Turkish invasion to current day affairs.

This Sunday morning trip for us was to find one of the many deserted villages which can be found around Cyprus.  We were off to find Vretsia up in the hills around 30 miles from Paphos.  Couldn’t wait as it was a beautiful sunny day and after the rain we have had everything is turning a lush green in the fields and hills beyond.  

Route to Vretsia from Coral Bay

Vretsia or Vrecha (called by the villagers) is a village located on the southwestern foothills of the Troodos mountain range, five kilometres southeast of Panayia Khrysorryiatissa monastery and three kilometres northeast of Kilinia. Vrecha means “getting wet” in Cypriot Greek.  In 1958 Turkish Cypriots adopted the alternative name Dağaşan, meaning “persons who overcome the mountain.” 

Vretsia was predominantly inhabited by Turkish Cypriots from the 19th century.  Throughout the 20th century, the population of the village grew and in 1946 it was recorded that there were 396 residents.  Subsequent to this the village then began its decline and by 1960 based on the census figures had dropped to 386 and by 1982 to only 5.  The decline was mainly caused following the Turkish invasion in 1974.  The final census of the village was taken in 2001 where there was no one left living in the village.

During the war of 1974, the Turkish Cypriot Fighters of Vrecha refused to surrender their guns to Greek Cypriot forces who were trying to disarm the Turkish villages.  After a ceasefire was declared in late August of that year, many villagers took their weapons and fled over the mountains to the north, then under Turkish control. During this period, the village also became a transit area for Turkish Cypriots who were trying to get to the Turkish-controlled north through the mountains. The 160 persons who remained in Vrecha were eventually evacuated to the north under UNFICYP escort on 1 September 1975. They were resettled in many different villages in the north.  

Of course diminishing residents in the abandoned villages of Cyprus wasn’t always caused by the Turkish invasion of 1974, there were a number of other contributory factors, no work in the villages, in some locations there was mining but it too dried up.  As Cyprus is also prone to earthquakes this has also been a contributing factor as they have caused landslides causing the homes to slide and become unsafe.

We viewed the village from the winding narrow road which takes you down to the deserted village of Vretsia.

And who was there to meet us but a donkey grazing in the hillside above the village.  What a welcome

So strange looking as we drove into the village as we half expected to see people and houses lived in but alas that wasn’t to be.  All the houses were abandoned and empty.  Many had no windows, doors and in some cases missing walls and roofs.  Some contained old furniture which could have been left when the people left their homes to go over the mountains and of course couldn’t carry it.

As we drove through we came to what may have been the village centre with the mosque and the village square.  If you look really close at the top of the mosque on the minaret you can see bullet holes.

Initially I thought this was one of the small Greek Orthodox churches which can be see throughout Cyprus however, it turns out to be a memorial for a former inhabitant.  I couldn’t see any names on this visit and of course didn’t try to venture inside – maybe next trip.

There were also a number of water troughs lining the little narrow road through the village one dating back to 1950 and the others 1961

Driving around the roads through the village we were able to see the back of some of the properties.  Some of the grass looks like it is used by some of the other local villages for grazing their livestock (we did see a couple of horses and donkeys so you never know)  

Former house and swing but more recently has been used as a tavern for local hunters and visitors to the village

But of course it wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t stop for a coffee or even on this occasion Sunday lunch so after our adventure we went in search of a taverna to stop, somewhere we hadn’t been before and of course this was easy as we hadn’t been this way so we found “The Spring of Life Forever” Restaurant

Friendly staff, beautiful views, pork kebab with homemade chips and complimentary hot sponge pudding drizzled with carob sauce….what’s not to like…..

This trip certainly opened our eyes to Cyprus and realised there was much more to discover here on this beautiful island.  

For our next trip we are off to the abandoned village of Foinikas, which is located just northeast of Anarita.  This village was invaded by the massive military force of the King of England, Richard the Lionheart…….but that’s another story for another day!!