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Published: March 21st 2020
A nice sunset.
I didn't mess much with the colour as I recollect, it was pretty sumptuous anyway.
Although the flight time to Paphos in Cyprus is just over four hours the journey from Preston to reception at the hotel took thirteen hours. Consequently, we were pretty knackered when we strolled into the bar about eleven o’clock for the first night of our six-night stay. A couple of sandwiches and drinks awaited us. They were basic, but fine, and appreciated. As we enjoyed this fine dining, we listened to the singing and soaked up the vibe.
Sat variously around the bar were twenty odd English senior citizens having a right old ‘knees up’ (Mavva Brarn). As we sat down, we were treated to ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ quickly followed by ‘Daisy, Daisy (give me your answer do…)’, next up was ‘White Cliffs of Dover’. Of course, these songs were actually popular before these people were even born, but such is the English addiction to nostalgia. The show ended with a slurred, moist eyed, ‘God Save the Queen’. One man saluted his Union Jack mobile phone cover as if Her Majesty herself was royally present. They could have named themselves ‘Boris’ Big Ben Bong Brexit Boomers’ and gone on tour.
Cyprus is popular with
the Brits and Cynthiana Beach Hotel is no exception to that. There are historical reasons for this, which I won’t go into, but they drive on the left on this Greek Island. Importantly, Cyprus is a great option for autumnal sunshine, and we hadn’t known that, it would be pretty decent up till the end of October (even into November at a push). At Cynthiana Beach we paid just short of £800 for six nights, two people, all inclusive. This didn’t include flights, for which prices vary enormously, but we paid £200 each with Easy Jet, including baggage. We booked the flights last minute though and they’d be cheaper if we’d done so earlier.
It’s a pretty good hotel with some caveats. The man made ‘beach’ area is okay, with a little rectangular lagoon to swim in. Access to the sea proper isn’t easy for the non-swimmer. I had problems with my snorkels which were steaming up. I’ve since learned that if you spit in them and wash it off, they work fine. Comically, there is a superb sunset on this part of the coast but the hotel has no convenient place on the beach to watch
it. There is a bar where it would
be visible from, but it shuts at 5.30; just before sunset! It’s a crazy missed opportunity for the hotel. The next hotel around the bay has set up their bar to give the perfect sunset view.
The beer and gratis wine are fine and the local shorts/cocktails likewise. You pay extra for ‘named’ drinks. There’s a genial, friendly atmosphere in the bar. I got chatting to the ‘Septuagenarian Saga Singers’ and the gang has been coming to the same hotel, for the same fortnight(ish) for over twenty years. Quite a tradition for them and a rather nice idea. They certainly have a damn good time!
The buffet food varies between good and excellent, although it clearly wasn’t good enough for some people. I couldn’t figure out why, at one particular, lunch a little group of the elderly ex-pats were sat staring at empty plates. Until the waiter turned up with portions of specially made chips. The lobster thermidor with quail’s eggs salad wasn’t good enough for them. Their groans of ecstasy suggested chips was certainly their cuisine of choice. I bet they had tins of Spam
in their luggage.
I do have to relate one weird incident that took place on the beach. This guy got his shapely girlfriend to pose on the edge of the jetty in her bikini. Fair enough, a nice view in many senses of the word. But then he proceeded to only take pictures of her arse; close up, a few feet away, portrait, landscape, adjusting her bikini bottoms, pulling them up her crack so she had a wedgie… with the whole beach watching. Maybe I’m old fashioned? She loved it and stood on tiptoe, pouting and clenching her buttocks for the watching crowd; many of whom were giggling at their vacuous narcissism. I longed to go over, stand alongside her, and do the same with my muscular, gluteus maximus. Alas I bottled it and it’s a missed opportunity.
There was entertainment in the bar every night. Actually ‘entertainment’ isn’t quite the word I’m looking for. On one evening there was a display of Greek traditional dancing. I was more than happy to offer my services when they asked for audience volunteers. It’s important to make a fool of yourself occasionally. Another night the ‘entertainment
In the Archaeological Park
team’ ran a bingo session. The naffness of the occasion was highlighted by the monotone Russian caller whose idea of ‘housey housey’ sounded like a depressed railway platform announcement. There are clips of all this bilge in the appended video.
Of course, it’s easy to take the mickey and I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that Cynthiana Beach Hotel is pretty damn good and very reasonably priced. The staff were friendly, helpful and professional. In fact, the hotel is so good that although Cyprus has many historical sights that I would have (and should have) visited, but I didn’t because I was chilling out on a sun bed. We did catch a bus into the old Paphos and visit the Archaeological Park. It’s an excellent afternoon or morning out and cheap at 4 ½ Euros per person. A good bus service runs along the coast road so there’s no need to fork out for taxis. There’s not much cover in the park, so take care in the sun. For me the best feature were the superbly preserved mosaics. One nice touch, I thought, was that they don’t rip you off for bottles of water, the prices from vending machines were very reasonable.
I wasn’t crazy about Paphos town, though I didn’t spend much time exploring it fully. I guess I should suspend judgement on it, I’d certainly go again. To the left of the harbour there is a lengthy beach that goes alongside the Archaeological Park. The walk around the harbour is quite pretty. The bars and cafés were very Anglicised, I didn’t really spot any proper Greek places. It’s too touristy, though not Benidorm by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t find the gyros I was looking for. Which is pretty odd in a Greek town, maybe I was unlucky. When I’m abroad, I like to feel
like I’m abroad, parts of Paphos are in danger of losing that feel.
That said, there is a superb church, ‘Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa’. Dating from the 13th
century it’s worth a look round and just to sit inside and soak up the mellow atmosphere. I was quite taken by it, it’s cool in both senses of the word and has a tangible ‘spiritual’ atmosphere which many churches lack. There’s a little clip in the attached video. The site reflects development over many centuries from different influences.
Outside the Church is a pillar to which, according to tradition, St Paul was chained and whipped. I am normally sceptical of claims such as this but I think it is true in this case. Evidence to support the tradition can be found across the road where St Paul’s Pillar restaurant can still be seen. Devout male pilgrims have been known to tear off their own genitals and suspend them from the ceiling of the bistro. These have mummified over the years, I have put a picture of this in the video clip, so you don't have to take my word for it.
On our first day I discovered that my cousin Michael and his wife Joanne were staying in the Queen’s Bay Hotel so we popped round one evening to call on them. A nicer hotel than ours to be sure, and a bit more expensive I think, we did consider it. The bar was directly facing the sunset giving glorious views, underlining what Cynthiana Beach need to develop. We had a few beers before my wife and I headed off to a traditional Greek restaurant near our hotel called Tsiakkas Tavern. Not that there was anything wrong with the hotel food but we fancied a change.
We weren’t disappointed, it was so good we went on our last night as well. I can recommend the meat mezze, and a superb local sherry which tasted like a mild, sweet, port. The setting, the food, the staff, the ambiance. It ticked all my boxes and some others that I didn’t know I had. I ate like a pig and drank like a fish. I was somewhat hungover the next morning and rather impressed that my cousin’s wife, Joanne, had been out for a run before I’d crawled out of my pit.
Should you go?
I think it would be too hot in the height of summer, but I’d go back to Paphos at the drop of a hat. Next time I’ll spend more time exploring the area. As enticing as it is to lounge around in the sun Paphos, and Cyprus as a whole, has a lot more to offer. Our hotel was very good and very reasonably priced, but I’d try somewhere else next time; preferably somewhere with a beach. Paphos airport is dismal, but it’s an excellent springboard to visit Jordan which we did via a £40 return flight with Ryanair.
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