Monday, 29 July 2013

Caledonian falls, Troodos... with your dog


Sage and my sister at the Caledonian Falls
I thought I'd post a lovely cool, shady walk in the Troodos as a break from my previous factual posts. We had a day out in the Troodos mountains when my sister and her family came to visit us, in April. I haven't been back to this spot during the summer, so it may be that there are far more people around, less green, and less water... I still think this is a great walk for any time of year, with a small amount of water for dogs to cool off in, and plenty of trees along the way for shade.
There is a nature trail that begins along the road between Troodos resort and Platres (about 700m down from Troodos near the President's summer residence). This is a well known nature trail and you will see signposts along the road for 'Caledonia Trail'. This is a 3km walk, with a difficulty rating of 3 out of 3 (the most difficult).

Having young children with us, we decided not to do the whole trail, and instead parked the car in a parking area on the road just outside of Ano Platres (going towards Troodos). From here you can follow the river to the falls, and return again in about an hour (if you are not stopping to throw sticks for dogs, and rescue small boys from the top of rocks and trees...
http://www.moa.gov.cy/moa/fd/fd.nsf/332bcc13258c2619c2257059002420a8/46a246489c1cfc71c225705900245c19?OpenDocument - Walk no. 27.



There were a few parts that were a little difficult - a couple of areas of rock scrambling, and a broken wooden bridge - this would be a tough walk if you have mobility problems. The rest of the way is fairly flat, following the river (or through the river if you are a dog or a young nephew), with all sorts of interesting plants and trees to explore.

We met one other group along the way, the rest of the time we had the path and the falls to ourselves.

The waterfall is not very high (10m, I read somewhere), but it is quite dramatic. This is a very peaceful place that is a great place for dog walking in the spring (and summer, with a bit of consideration of other walkers).
On this trip, we also stopped in at a cafe in Pano Platres for a hot chocolate. We went to one of the few cafes that were open at this time of year - which is located on the 'square' on the left hand side as you drive up towards Troodos. I think it was just called Platres Cafe-Restaurant. They welcomed us inside the taverna with Sage, and were very friendly. During the busy summer season, it may not be so easy to sit at the cafes on this square as there is not much space, but it's good to know there is somewhere to shelter from the cold after winter hikes in the Troodos mountains.

See also the Cyprus Tourism Organisation page on hiking in the Troodos:  http://www.visitcyprus.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3hXN0fHYE8TIwMDo0BLAyNDAyOvMD9jI08PY_2CbEdFAMx9ZCc!/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/English__en/CTO+B2C/Tourist+Information/Experience/Sports+and+Leisure/Hiking/Hiking_at_troodos_mountains

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Rent a car in Cyprus... with your dog

I sent off enquiries to various car companies, asking whether they allowed animals in their rental cars. Unfortunately, I only received answers from 2 companies...

Dog-friendly   
Europcar (http://www.europcar-cyprus.com)
Reservations: reservations@europcar.com.cy

Tel: 00357 25 880222

Response:  Yes you may rent a car with us. Please be aware that should the vehicle be returned dirty or stained (as a result from your pet) a valeting charge will apply.

I apreciated the swift response, and the polite, clear instructions. I would definitely recommend you try this company

NOT dog-friendly


Response: I can confirm none of our supplier we work with allow animals in their rental vehicles.

Apologies for the inconvenience this may cause.

Again, I appreciated that they replied, and that they had set rules concerning dog travel, even though they do not allow dogs.


I will update this post as and when I get further information...........






Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Flying... with your dog


At Larnaca Airport
We just began out Cretan holiday!!

The flight was fine, but the whole experience is a bit traumatic for all of us. As we had flown before, we had already done some research about how to arrange it. Here is a list:

  • Check with the airlines whether they accept animals. The budget ones (EasyJet, Ryanair) tend not to carry animals at all. Hopefully this will change, it's probably worth checking. If you can't find the information on their websites, just ring up and ask

  • Check what requirements the particular airline has. Most request that you provide a cage for your dog. It is supposed to be large enough so the dog can stand up, and turn around. It should have a very secure door. These can be bought from most pet shops, or you could search online for discounts. For long journeys, it is essential to provide access to water

  • We have flown twice with Cyprus Airways. They require that you phone to check whether they can accept pets on the dates you want to fly. When we flew at Christmas, I was told that we couldn't fly on a particular day as some cats had already booked tickets for that day! Try to arrange as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment

  • Within Europe, there are not too many regulations:
  1. Your dog must have a microchip for identification
  2. You also need a European passport for your dog (available from your vet)
  3. Your dog must have up to date vaccination - for rabies 
  4. Up to date tapeworm treatment
  5. A stamp from your vet to certify that your dog is fit to travel
  • I would recommend that you organise the microchip and passport some days before you plan to travel. Give yourself time 

  • If you are an overly anxious parent, as I am, it may be worth going to the vet a week prior to travel anyway, to tell them your travel plans, and to arrange an appointment for the final check up - just to make sure they have time to see you, and there is nothing you have forgotten

  • Go to your vet 2 days before flying so they can stamp your dog's passport to show they have been examined and are fit to fly. Also to take the pills against tapeworm.
You are ready to fly...
COST

Airlines charge different amounts for transportation of animals. Again, check with the airline before you book. 

Sage's carrier cost 140 Euros from a pet shop. I am sure I could have shopped around for a bargain online, but I was pushed for time. Smaller carriers, for smaller dogs, inevitably cost less. The bottom half of her carrier serves as a bed when we are not traveling. This helps her to feel familiar and safe when it comes time to travel.

Sage had the microchip implanted as a deal from the animal welfare charity when she was neutered. A quick search online just now showed that prices vary from about 30-50 Euros - you could check with your local animal welfare group to see whether you can get it done more cheaply/for free. 

In Crete, I paid 20 Euros for the pet passport, and for the vet to examine Sage and validate the passport. The second time we flew, from Cyprus, I paid 30 Euros just for the check up and tapeworm treatment. These prices depend on the charges of your vet.

Finally, the big one, when we flew from Crete to Cyprus at Christmas, Cyprus Airways were charging by the kilo for the transportation of animals. The fees were 7.50 Euros per kilo. Sage weighed in at 30 kilos, plus the weight of the carrier - we paid 280 Euros (one way!!) They have since changed the pricing system, now you pay a set fee if your dog is up to 20 kilos, another fee up to 30 kilos etc. It cost 160 Euros, one way, for Sage and the carrier. 

Again, I expect every airport has a different procedure, and every airline a different system for booking, pricing, paying etc. Our journey was quite straight forward:

  • We turned up early to the airport, with Sage already in her carrier, and went straight to the check in desk. They re-directed us to a counter that was for people with special travel requirements. 
  • We tried to weigh her on the suitcase belt, but the carrier was too big. The staff of the airline just asked us her weight and charged us accordingly. Stricter airlines may make you weigh the animal in front of them.
  • I went to pay at the desk for excess luggage charges (luggage handler for several airlines). 
  • We went outside to wait, so as not to check our 'special luggage' earlier than necessary. We made sure she had a drink of water.
  • When it was time, we went to the area where you check oversized luggage. Here we had to take her out of the carrier, so they could scan the carrier. I walked through security with her on the lead. Then I got her back into the carrier (by means of a couple of treats - useful to have with you if your dog is as greedy as mine), and then had to leave her waiting on a conveyer belt to be carried out to the plane.
I then went through security as normal, and waited to find her on the other side....

The worst part of all of this was at Heraklion airport, when we arrived in Crete. I suppose this is a hazard of flying in the summer months. There were too many flights landing, chaos in the airport, people pushing and shoving for their luggage, and nobody to ask where to collect our dog. I admit I got in a bit of a panic. There was nobody at the luggage handling desk, and nobody seemed to know anything. Finally, as our luggage started to arrive on the belt, I heard a little bark somewhere close by through the crowd, and she was sitting there in her carrier, looking relieved to see me. You don't need to know that I cried just a little, out of relief!

A final note....

For Sage's first flight, we gave her sedatives. It was recommended by the vet, and I thought it would be a good idea. It wasn't. It was horrible. I have since read that this is not generally recommended as the dog is not able to balance during the flight as the plane moves around. It may also lead to respiratory and cardiovascular problems due to the increased pressure. I suppose if your dog is particularly anxious, and it is necessary to fly, consult your vet to see if there are alternatives to sedatives that your dog could take. For Sage, considering it was a short flight (1 hour 15 minutes), I decided not to sedate her for her second flight. It may  have been more traumatic, I don't know, but she certainly recovered from it MUCH more quickly, and was her old self within minutes, instead of the 2 days she took to recover the 
previous time. For more information on sedating animals for transport, see: http://www.healthypet.com/PetCare/PetCareArticle.aspx?title=Traveling_By_Air_With_Your_Pet 

And so here we are, ready to start exploring, and blogging about all our experiences from our holidays in Crete

On the beach at Ammoudara





Friday, 19 July 2013

Have lunch at The Old Cinema Tavern, Kalopanayiotis... with your dog

View  from the Old Cinema Tavern
A couple of weeks ago we took some visitors for a day trip in the Troodos mountains. I wanted to show them the village of Kalopanayiotis, because I spent some time there a few years ago on a university project to conserve the wall paintings in the Monastery of St John the Lampadistis.

I was curious to see how much had changed in the village in the 5-6 years since I was there last. The answer - well, a bit. There has been an effort to increase agrotourism in the area, to renovate old buildings using traditional materials and methods, and to open some of the villages up to a less invasive type of tourism than is found down on the coast. There were a few new rent rooms, or 'mountain suites' as they call themselves, and a couple of new places to eat. Apart from that, I must say the village (and the surrounding villages) still had the same sleepy charm and 'stuck in time' atmosphere that I had remembered.

We had lunch in The Old Cinema Taverna, situated on the 'main road' running through village. They have constructed a lovely wooden terrace that overlooks the valley that separates the village from the monastery. From the terrace you have great views out over the mountains.

The staff were fine about Sage sitting with us, outside. After spending all morning in the car, and stopping to explore sites along the way, I think Sage was content to sit quietly in the shade and wait for small offerings of halloumi from the table above.
We all ate halloumi in pitta, with a big salad and a beer, and I think we paid around 10E per person.

We did get down to explore the Monastery afterwards, although I should say that this is not a very dog-friendly activity. Being 4 people, we were able to go in shifts, the others waiting in the shade with Sage. We had her within the Monastery grounds for a while, but were politely asked to leave.

Find the Department of Antiquities page about the Monastery here:
http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/da/da.nsf/0/B842781146DBC6A9C225719900320552?OpenDocument

It is worth going to see, if you can organise to leave your dog outside. The Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with some of the best preserved Byzantine wall paintings of all the churches in the Troodos. Former living quarters of the monks consist of a beautiful stone and timber construction around a small, flower filled courtyard. The Monastery church (dedicated to Saint Herakleidios) was founded in the 11th century, and some fragmentary wall paintings are dated to this time. The majority are from the 13-14th centuries, with a final addition in the early 16th century  in the so-called Latin chapel.

The Monastery has no entrance fee, and is open Tuesday-Sunday 08.00-13.00, 14.00-16.00 (and later in the summer months).


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Monday, 15 July 2013

Dangers of Cyprus... with your dog

Driving through the village of Alambra yesterday, I saw a really massive, sinister looking snake. I don't know anything about snakes, probably this one was non-poisonous, but its size gave me a bit of a jolt. If I had been out walking and come across such a creature, I would have gone running in the other direction. If Sage had come across it, what would she have done? 

This is turn reminded me that I wanted to write a post about possible dangers your dog might encounter in Cyprus, and what to do to avoid them.

SNAKES

There are three poisonous snakes in Cyprus, although from everything I have read, it is mainly the Blunt-nosed Viper that causes serious damage 
(Descriptions from: http://www.lgcnews.com/cyprus-deadliest-snakes/)

Blunt-nosed Viper. Photo: 
 Blunt-nosed Viper – this is the most dangerous snake in North Cyprus, so it’s worth knowing how to recognise it. It’s a large, fat snake, around 1.5 metres long, and is silvery beige with rectangular markings along its body and black spots on its head.  It likes being near water, as this is good for hunting and staying cool, and consequently is occasionally found in swimming pools.If bitten it is essential to get medical attention quickly as a bite can be fatal if not treated (all medical centres stock anti-venom). The bite is particularly painful as the fangs stay embedded in the skin and continue to pump venom. However, fatalities are extremely rare, with around 20 bites reported a year but no fatalities in the last 15 years.

Cat Snake. Photo:
Cat Snake – this is nocturnal and typically hides in burrows during the day. It gets its name from the way its eyes become slits in bright sunlight. It is venomous and can be quite aggressive but finds it difficult to bite large prey due to its backward-pointing teeth.



Montpellier Snake
Photo: http://www.aev-uk.com/cyprus/snakes/


 Montpellier Snake – this is a rare, timid snake. It is light brown with no markings and grows up to 2 metres. It is quite poisonous, however it is most likely to retreat if disturbed and, like the Cat snake, finds it difficult to bite larger prey.
PREVENTION
  • Keep your dog in sight at all times, and prevent them from disappearing off into dense undergrowth.
  • Take care when hiking, especially through long grass/weeds. If you feel unsure, keep your dog on a leash through areas where you can't see the ground. 
  • The most dangerous snake, the Blunt-nosed Viper will often be found near water, so again, take extra care when exploring around water.
  • Snakes can be seen any time of the year, but the mating season (April-May) is when they will be out in force. Bear this in mind and be particularly vigilant.
CURE
Useful blog by a vet on snake bites (http://www.onlyvets.com/onlyvets-blog/76-snake-bites.html)
In a case of a snake bite you should seek veterinary attention.In the meantime, you should restrict movement of your pet, loosely immobilize the limb in a functional position if bitten on an extremity. Do not incise the bite wound to aspirate the venom and do not apply a tourniquet without a veterinary assistance. Do not apply ice in the area, either... take your pet to the nearest veterinary surgery, where your pet will be under veterinary care .Try to remember the snake’s appearance .This will assist the vet in determining which type of snake bit your pet. Note the color, shape and size of the snake.
A list of veterinary clinics in Cyprus can be found here: http://pvacyprus.com/address.php
In Larnaca, I can recommend: 
 ZOPIROS VET CLINIC 
Name of vet : Ioannis Karas, Athos Efstathiou.
Address : 8 Medouses. 6059, Larnaca.
Tel. 24668833
email address : zopyrosvet2@cytanet.com.cy

Look up the name, address and phone number of a vet in the area where you will be holidaying, and carry it with you to be on the safe side.

POISON
I find this almost too depressing to write about. It's unfathomable to me why somebody would purposefully try to kill animals. But let's just deal with it and move on. 
There are different kinds of 'poison' that are put down, usually to kill stray cats and dogs, but sometimes targeting pets too. 
  • The first has an immediate effect. It is a pesticide, usually hidden in a tasty piece of meat 
Lanate, a carbamate pesticide, is readily available in Cyprus though it is banned in nearly every European country. It is most commonly used by farmers to “kill animals such as rats, foxes, snakes, and feral dogs.” Additionally, it is laid around villages by individuals to keep stray dogs away and also ends up killing pets! Once a dog has ingested the poison, symptoms can set in very quickly. These symptoms include severe shaking which serves as a sign of the dog’s nervous system breaking down, vomiting, foaming at both ends, diarrhea, and the inability to stand.
  • The second type is a slower acting poison, rodenticides (for mice/rats) containing the chemical bromethalin.                                                                                                                                
Text from: http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/toxicity/c_multi_bromethalin_rodenticide_toxicity#.UeQ_1r8WYy4
Bromethalin rodenticide toxicity occurs with the ingestion of rodenticides containing the chemical bromethalin. Dogs may also be targets of secondary poisoning if they eat rats or mice that have ingested the poison themselves. Toxic doses of bromethalin are estimated to be 2.5 mg/kg for dogs.
  • The third type is not chemical. Rather, shards of glass are hidden inside food, typically something irresistible such as liver,  which destroy the animals' digestive system from mouth to stomach, during ingestion. 
PREVENTION
  • Never allow your dog to eat from unknown persons
  • Never allow your dog to scavenge from the ground or bins
  • Keep your dog on a lead in areas prone to poisoning (usually rural areas, but not always)
  • Follow a site such as: facebook.com/skippykit  (@SkippyKit on Twitter) to keep up to date with recent incidences of poisoning around Cyprus

CURE
  • In all situations, go straight to the nearest vet. If out of hours, call the nearest vet and find an emergency number.
  • For the first two types, the chemical poisoning, make the animal vomit. One way to do this with dogs is force them to drink very salty water. 
 http://voices.yahoo.com/symptoms-treatment-poisoning-dogs-387481.html 
Induce vomiting if it has been less than two hours since the animal ingested the substance, unless it is a corrosive or petroleum-based product which may do more damage to the lining of the mouth and throat when it comes back up. Always check with your veterinarian before inducing vomiting. Never induce vomiting in an animal who is already vomiting, is unable to swallow, unconscious, or is having seizures.

  •  In Crete I used to carry a set of vials and small syringe I bought from the pharmacy, one was to induce vomiting, the others were an antidote, in the case of the first type of poisoning. I would recommend that you only use such antidotes in dire emergencies, and only on the advice of a vet. This is not effective for rat poison - for that you must get a course of medicine from the vet.
  • Perhaps the most hideous is the hidden sharps - I don't know that there is much of a cure. Take your animal to the vet immediately. 

HEAT

I have seen countless warnings on Twitter recently about not leaving your dog unattended in the car, making sure they have adequate water and shade etc etc. A lot of this is common sense, but if you and/or your dog is not used to such a hot climate as is found in Cyprus, keep it in mind, and follow the sensible precautions to make sure they enjoy their holidays too.

  • Don't leave your dog alone in the car. Not ever. Not with the windows down, not in the shade. It's a pain, it means you have to make more journeys, but that's life in hot Cyprus
  • Make sure your dog has sufficient air, shade and water at all times. They pretty much know what they need to do to cool down - give them a chance to do so
  • Some dogs enjoy cooling off in a big bucket or paddling pool of water. Mine doesn't. Pity 
  • Go for walks early in the morning and in the late afternoon/evening
  • Don't make your dog walk on hot tarmac or sand
  • Watch for signs - if your dog is panting excessively, don't encourage energetic play or running
You know your dog. If you notice unusual behaviour, take them to the vet.
That said, I spent my first summer with Sage feeling desperately anxious that she wasn't herself, she was just lying around on the tiled floor, panting. This is what she needs to do to keep cool. Sometimes nowadays, in the middle of summer, I figure she has the right idea and I join her. 



Saturday, 13 July 2013

Hike along the Artemis Trail, Troodos Mountains... with your dog





Sage on the Artemis Trail
There are so many great nature trails in the Troodos mountains, I would happily go back every week to explore a new one. The Artemis trail is one of the better known ones (it is one of the 3 described in the Lonely Planet guide), but there are really a lot of options. I recommend the detailed guide: Cyprus. European Long Distance Path E4 and other Cyprus Nature Trails by the CTO (Cyprus Tourism Organisation) and the Forestry Department (available from the CTO offices around Cyprus). Or check the Dept. of Forests website: http://www.moa.gov.cy/moa/fd/fd.nsf/DMLindex_en/DMLindex_en?OpenDocument (and select "Forest Recreation")

The Artemis Trail starts and finishes at a small parking area at the peak of Mount Olympus. Coming from Platres, continue up past the Troodos resort, following signs for "Mount Olympus". You'll see the small car park, signs for Artemis Trail, and the start of the path on your left after a couple of minutes.
We did this hike in mid June. It was already too hot to do anything much done at the coast, but up at the summit of Mount Olympus, it was glorious. Being at a higher altitude naturally keeps the temperatures low (1952m at the peak), but we also really appreciated the dappled shade of the black pines. I hadn't realised how much I'd been missing woodland.

At the start of the hike we met a woman who had just finished her morning walk. She travels up there frequently from Lemesos, to walk her two labradors. They were beautiful dogs, huge and energetic. It may seem like a great effort to drive into the mountains to exercise your dogs, but I could see that it was worth it after just a few metres of the trail.

video


After that we didn't meet a single person. We had the whole pine forest and the magnificent views out over the mountains all to ourselves. The trail passes through areas of dense woodland, where you can spot different types of endemic plant life and enjoy fuller shade. Other areas are more open, and you get some great views, even as far as the sea (either Chrysochou or Morfou Bay, I couldn't tell). You also pass the ski lift, seemingly incongruous if you walk the trail during the summer months.


The trail is about 7km. It took us about 3 hours, but we were taking our time and stopped often to enjoy the views. Towards the end of the trail it gets a bit hard going, with a little bit of clambering necessary, however, most of the trail is very flat and easy to walk. For those who are not up for scrambling, it may be best to turn back half way and walk a linear trail. You should definitely carry enough water for you and your dog, there is no water along the way.

Sage really enjoyed this walk. It wasn't too hot. There were no wild animals or anxious tourists so we allowed her off her lead. And best of all, she loves chasing pine cones - like a tennis ball but crunchier - and the mountain was strewn with literally thousands of pine cones. What more do you want?


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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An afternoon and evening out in Lemesos...with your dog


Yesterday we took Sage for an evening out in Lemesos.

I'll say now, I don't know the city very well.  Lately I've been thinking about how much harder it is to move around a city that you don't know with your dog. It's one of the main reasons for writing this blog in the first place. This is an obvious thing to say, it's just that after a few months living in Larnaca, I've come to understand where we can go for Sage to have a run around, where we can go for a drink so that she will still be comfortable, where/when it's better to leave her behind etc. And in Lemesos yesterday, I didn't have a clue.

The first place we went to was Kanella Grill and Bar (Cinnamon):
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kanella-Grill-Bar/133955253447870   Here they were fine about Sage sitting outside at the table with us. It was ok there in the early evening, about 9ish, but when we walked through around midnight (on an ordinary Tuesday) it was extremely noisy and crowded - everyone would have been stepping on her and she would have been quite overwhelmed. The chairs and tables are very high, so it's not very sociable for the dog to be sat down below your feet. I don't really recommend this place with your dog, although they were accepting enough.
Kanella Grill & Bar

We ended our evening at the first really dog-friendly place I have been to so far in Lemesos - Sousami Bar: http://www.sousami.info/index.php/location/4-sousami
Our guide (a friend from Lemesos) told us this place gets pretty crowded at the weekend, and becomes more of a club than a bar. Mid-week, however, it was lovely. We sat outside in their garden, which was full of plants and trees (a big pomegranate tree in the middle, lilies around the outside), nice lighting, interesting mix of music. It was quite a young crowd, I would say mostly the 20-35 age range, but not exclusively. The staff were really sweet and friendly to Sage, then on the way out we had to stop at every table so the other customers could pet her. I really liked this place as a calm escape from the crowds of Lemesos, and even more so for being very dog-friendly.
In the garden at Sousami

Update: On a recent trip to meet a friend who lives in Lemesos, we went searching for somewhere we could sit and have a bite to eat, together with Sage. This was a busy Sunday lunchtime before Christmas.

It was difficult weaving through the crowds of shoppers with their bags and children. We were politely refused entrance at several cafes and tavernas, even to sit outside at the pavement tables. I was starting to feel like I was walking through town with a fire-breathing dragon or something, not a dog!

Finally, we found our way to the cafe-bar called Ousia (essence) (www.ousia-lounge.com). This bar is on Palaio Kastro Square, and has tables set out along the narrow street outside. The staff at Ousia were great, very welcoming and friendly to us and to Sage.
At Ousia lounge cafe-bar
I was a bit underwhelmed by the food (I chose falafel in pitta which were nothing special) but they are going more for a bar with snack food, rather than a restaurant. Prices were reasonable for the centre of town.

One negative about Ousia was the feral cats that were lurking below the high tables of the bar. One in particular was totally fearless and kept dancing by Sage looking for handouts. They had a noisy scrap, Sage came off worse, and we left in a bit of a hurry.

I'm going to continue my search for dog-friendly bars, restaurants, parks etc. in Lemesos, but please write any experiences or suggestions you might have in the comments box below - and I'll go and explore as soon as I can.


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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Picnic your way down to the Green Valley Waterfall, Trimiklini...with your dog


On a trip up to the Troodos mountains yesterday we discovered a real hidden gem. We'd been driving for well over an hour, we were four adults and a large dog in a small car, and it was getting hot. So when we saw large signs advertising 'loukoumades' (like a honey soaked mini doughnut) in one of the roadside cafes, we were lured in. This was on the B8 between Laneia and Platres.
Coffee at Green Valley Cafe-Restaurant, Trimiklini
We caused a ruckus as soon as we approached, due to the two small, female terriers that were roaming the cafe. They didn't take too kindly to Sage intruding on their territory. I must admit, the owners didn't do much about the commotion, calling their dogs off quite ineffectually.

Anyway, we did a bit of foot stomping, and a lot of calming words to Sage, and finally got to a table without anyone getting into any fights.

The cafe was a bit of a let-down. They didn't have loukoumades; apparently there were not enough customers to warrant making any. So we just had coffee instead. What they do sell, however, are dozens of jars of the marmalade type sweet - koutaliou, which is delicious with Greek yogurt - in any flavour you could imagine, from apple, rose, sour cherry, to carrot, walnut, pumpkin, bergamot...

But the real point of this post, was to tell you about the fantastic little waterfall that is hidden away below the cafe! 

At first we hesitated a bit, the cafe charges 5E per person (3E concession) to enter the trail down to the falls, but it looked so intriguing from the top of the path that we decided to give it a shot. And I was so glad that we did. In the words of our Swedish guest, it was wonderfully 'quirky'.
At the top of the trail, which is only about 400m in total, there are cages with chickens and a peacock. The chickens seem to be able to get out from the cage, and were wandering about the paths. There were ducks with ducklings a little further down.

The owner cautioned us to keep Sage on her lead as we passed these birds - and it's true she was a little bit too interested and had to be physically restrained at the start.

The owners of the cafe have done a really lovely job on the paths, handrails and signage. They created the whole thing themselves, constructing posts and signs out of re-used wood (I saw an old doorframe at some point), and recycling to make benches and tables. Plants and trees were growing around and over the path, and many had been identified with hand-written signs - olive, caper, fig etc. Some of them we were slightly unsure of, but what do we know?

Every available space had been made into an inviting place to sit and picnic, or play. There were signs at the cafe that you could take your order down with you, which I would definitely do next time.

We got to the waterfall in no time, and the only other visitors there soon left. So we let Sage off her lead to have a game of chase around the empty picnic benches, and run through the stream. 

A warning to those less mobile: the path is fairly uneven and broken up in some places, and there are quite a few steps.

I really recommend this as a place to stop off for an hour or so on a long drive to or from the Troodos mountains. It would be lovely in the height of summer, to go and cool off in the falls, and eat a picnic at one of the shady tables they have provided. Sage loved it, and so did I.


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Friday, 5 July 2013

Explore the traditional village of Vouni...with your dog

A walk around Vouni in the evening 
A couple of weeks ago we arranged a quick getaway to the relative cool of the mountain villages north of Lemesos. We stayed at the gorgeous Vouni Lodge (see my previous post 24/6/2013), and spent a couple of days exploring the neighbouring villages, and nearby Troodos mountains.

I loved the village of Vouni. It's just really pretty. We arrived quite late in the afternoon, took a stroll through the village until we came to a kind of unintentional view point, and took this photo, which doesn't do it justice. There was a really warm glow coming from almost every window, the houses ranged up and around the hill seemed 'protected', unlike the big square blocks that seem to me to be randomly placed onto the land elsewhere in Cyprus, with no reference to the environment around them. I loved the narrow streets disappearing off right and left from the 'main' street that runs down to the tiny village plateia, or square. Not to mention the fairly spectacular views of the mountainous landscape that separates these villages from Lemesos and the coast.

The first evening we stayed home and enjoyed the perfect quiet of the village from our terrace. Sage was going crazy with all the new interesting sounds (owls, crickets, unidentified), and smells. It was cooler than down on the coast at Larnaca too.

A small side street in Vouni
We explored the village more thoroughly the next morning. Together with Sage, we wandered through some of the narrow streets, peering into abandoned houses, enjoying the plants that were spilling over walls and balconies out into the streets - vines, fig trees, jasmine.

After a short walk we found the Vouni Womens Association cafe, and stopped for a coffee and homemade baklava. I hadn't realised it was a cooperative when I sat down, I was just attracted to the brightly coloured chairs and tables, the overhanging vines and coloured flower pots. I have tried to find out online what the group does, but didn't have much success.

Anyway, they were fine about Sage coming in and spilling her water all over the floor, although they did say something about 'fine, since it was outside' - so I'm not sure this would be such a good winter place. We paid 7E for a Cypriot coffee, a lemonade, and a slice of baklava.






That evening, we wanted to sample the Vouni nightlife...

Well, not really. We had in mind to try the well-known Takis Taverna, which has excellent reviews, and had looked nice and welcoming the previous night (Friday), but it was closed when we went by at 9 on a Saturday evening. Takis Taverna seemed a bit enclosed, there was an attractive courtyard space but it was quite narrow, so I don't know how they would have responded to Sage coming in with us.

So instead we went to the lively Alexandros Taverna, which seemed to have attracted all the residents of the village out for a Saturday night eating, drinking and socialising. It was noisy and bustley, in a good way, with lots of groups laughing and talking.

There was a 'NO DOGS' sign on the door to the Taverna, so again, this might be a problem if you wanted to sit inside during the winter. We sat outside, however, with Sage, and nobody minded. One or two of the locals even complimented us on our 'beautiful dog'.

Alexandros Taverna, Vouni
Here we tried some of the locally made wine (Vouni is one of the group of Krasochoria - wine-making villages - of this district). We also ate a small, basic meze of olives, cheese and cold meats. All this came to just 8E between us.

The village has a webpage, which describes some of the highlights: http://www.thevillagexpress.com/cyprusvillage/profile/258 Although in my opinion, it's not really about going to see something in particular, but rather just wandering through and enjoying that there is not very much to do.



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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Relax at the Dog Beach... with your dog


HOORAYYYYYY!!!!!
I have already written about the only official Dog Beach in Cyprus - in the Louma area, near Agia Napa - in my post Go to the beach... with your dog. I thought I'd just update that, now that we've been to check it out for ourselves.

 It's nothing special. Just a rocky strip of coast line, with a sea-weed strewn, pebbly beach. There are no palm trees, nor golden sands. But there is one large and forgiving sign - Dogs Are Allowed To Enter The Water - that changes everything! It's so nice to let Sage roam off the lead, without waiting for the next person who's going to tell us it's not allowed. It's great to let her cool off in the sea when she wants to. To let her mix with other dogs, to do their thing.

There was just one other dog there when we went. He was with a group who were very organised - they'd set up tables, chairs, picnics, umbrellas, made a whole day of it. They'd even braved swimming in over the rocks.

I really hope that dog owners respect this space, collect the dog mess, take their rubbish home etc etc. And I hope that the other municipalities of Cyprus finally get it together to designate a few more areas where we can all go and relax on the beach... with our dogs.


To get there (coming from Larnaka), turn off the motorway when you see signs for WaterWorld and Agia Thekla. It is just after Agia Thekla (a small church right next to the sea). You only see the sign once you get close, so after the church go slowly along the coast road and keep a look out. There is a small area for parking just next to the beach.



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Monday, 1 July 2013

Cooling off in Avakas Gorge, Akamas Peninsular... with your dog



Spectacular Avakas Gorge, Akamas Peninsular

As the days are getting hotter and hotter, I thought I'd try to post as many cool and shady walks as possible...

We went to the Avakas Gorge just when it started to get hot, in May. This was a perfect walk. It started with a short section that was a bit more exposed, as you start to climb downwards to the gorge (about 10 minutes from where we left the car). Then fairly quickly, as you join the river, you enter into a greener woodland.
Sage on the Avakas Gorge walk
Then, follow the banks of the river for another 5-10 minutes (or plough on through the middle of the river if you are Sage), and then you enter the gorge.

We weren't expecting it to be quite so spectacular! The rocks were really beautiful, all different colours, red from the iron in the rock, and green from moss and plant-life. The sides of the gorge are extremely steep at its narrowest point, meeting in the middle.

I'm not sure how much water there would be in the gorge in high summer, but in May it was quite a steady stream of lovely fresh, cool water.

It is a bit of a difficult walk for anyone with mobility issues, as you have to do a bit of clambering over boulders, and jumping from rock to rock to cross the river (or you could take your shoes off and follow Sage's example). Having levered Sage up over one pile of rocks, we decided it was too hard to continue, but you can walk right through the gorge to the village of Ano Arodes (according to my Lonely Planet guide).

We stayed in the gorge, enjoying the cool,
for some time. I suppose the whole trip took
us an hour and a half, but a lot of that was
spent taking photos.

While in the gorge, look out for the Centaurea akamantis - an endangered plant found only in the Akamas area of Cyprus. Plants and some geological features and labelled for identification.

We loved this walk because of the beautiful scenery, and the fresh water for Sage to cool down in. I suspect there will not be much water left in the gorge at this time of year, although there should still be plenty of shade from the trees and from the gorge itself.

There may also be more people around than when we were there, so you might have to keep your dog close or on a lead (as we found last week at one of the Troodos waterfalls, more later).

It's a good idea to carry drinking water with you.

On the walk down to the gorge, look out for wild goats, and have the lead ready if your dog has a tendency to pursue them.........
For information on the flora and fauna of the Akamas Peninsular: http://www.visitcyprus.com

After the hike we had a quick swim at Lara Beach. Dogs are not allowed on this beach. Lara Beach is a nesting place for both green and loggerhead turtles, so this really is a beach where you should stick to the no dog rules. Sun chairs and umbrellas are not permitted here either.

We found a shady place in sight of the sea where we tied Sage, and had our proto banio 2013 - first swim of the year.  

A friend we made on the way to the gorge

Centaurea akamantis
Photo: http://www.ncu.org.cy/plantnet/centaurea_akamantis.html

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