Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Have a weekend break at Palati Apartments in Panayia... with your dog

In the garden at Palati, Panayia
As I have been dying to explore Cedar Valley and Paphos Forest for some time now, my parents' recent visit to Cyprus seemed like a good excuse for a trip to western Troodos. The apartment we booked - Palati (the Palace) - in the lovely mountain village of Panayia, was an excellent base for day trips in this area. You can find prices, descriptions and photos here: http://www.cyprusagrotourism.net

There are 4 apartments available in this two-storey villa, arranged around a flower filled courtyard with views out over the surrounding mountains. The rooms have been beautifully decorated in traditional Cypriot style, with log beam ceilings, exposed stone walls and fireplaces.

Palati was a perfect choice for our group. My parents stayed in an apartment that was filled with old family photographs, traditional fabrics and tools from daily village life - almost like a folk art museum. While it maintained a very traditional feel, however, the apartment had modern amenities, with a well equipped kitchen, efficient heating, modern bathroom etc.
The living room of the 1-bedroom apartment







As it was late October, it was still warm enough to enjoy breakfast outside in the courtyard, and during the evenings there was plenty of space in the sitting area of this apartment for all of us.


Family photos in the living room of the 1-bedroom apartment

The studio apartment we stayed in shared the courtyard with my parents' apartment, but gave us a bit of space to ourselves. Having less breakable objects it was also more suitable for staying with our dog.

Bedroom of the studio
Our studio had a small kitchen area, a sitting area, twin beds, and modern bathroom. It was decorated simply, but attractively, and still had features such as timber beams on the ceiling, traditional rugs on the floor, a few interesting family photos on the walls.

Kitchen area of studio







When I contacted the owner of Palati to ask whether dogs were allowed in the apartments, she was extremely friendly and helpful. The only restriction was, very reasonably, not to allow Sage on the furniture, and not to disturb the other guests.

Sitting area of studio




Arriving at Panayia, a housekeeper met us with the keys for the apartment, and showed us the basics - where to leave the car, how the heating worked etc.

There was one other family staying at Palati while we were there, in the upper storey apartment. As they had a large balcony area (with fantastic views of the village and mountains), we had the courtyard to ourselves. Sage loved it. As the courtyard was enclosed, she was free to explore the nooks and crannies of the space, to sniff around the plants, and to play chasing games with us around the table and chairs.


Palati Apartments would be great for a romantic getaway, or for a larger group to holiday together. Panayia is a great base for trips to Paphos and the coast, as well as for hiking in the Troodos. It's also pretty good for just relaxing and enjoying time with a book... or with your dog.



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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Eating and drinking in Nicosia... with your dog


Last Sunday we took a midday break from the Pet Festival and went to find a dog-friendly cafe/bar for a rest. I realise it might not be to everyone's taste, but I really like the little street cafe 'Kafeneio To Kati Tis' ('a little something'). This cafe is tucked away in a stoa (arcade) just off the main pedestrian shopping street, Ledras, towards the border crossing. It reminds me of some of the bars and cafes of Exarchia in Athens, with graffiti on the walls, kafeneio style tables and chairs, and interesting music playing. Kafeneio To Kati Tis seems to attract a good mix of people; this time I saw a group of students, a  few couples of all ages, and an elderly gentleman drinking coffee and reading the Sunday papers.
Kafeneio To Kati Tis

I asked the woman serving if it was ok for us to have our dog Sage with us, and she gave a very warm response, and made us feel very welcome.

This cafe mainly serves snacks such as pitta with halloumi and lountza, and the plate of mixed appetisers to nibble with drinks (poikilia). Monday-Friday lunchtimes they serve a small number of traditional homemade dishes.
Kafeneio To Kati Tis

During the winter they use outdoor heaters, and I have sat here even in February, although I did have to keep my coat on. Still, it's a useful refuge from the busier Nicosia streets, summer and winter, for you and your dog.

On a previous trip to Nicosia with Sage, I have also been to one of the small cafe-bars in Faneromeni Square. There are several bars here, facing the beautiful 19th century Faneromeni church. I sat with Sage at the outdoor tables at Chalara (translates as something like: take it easy). Again, this cafe-bar has something of a 'studenty' feel, although people of a wide range of ages and styles frequent this place.
Chalara Cafe-Bar, Faneromeni Square


I may be wrong, but I haven't found as many small squares (plateias) in Cyprus as there seem to be around Greece, and I quite miss this feature. I love to discover small, hidden away squares to escape the main roads of a city, to sit in a street cafe, hearing the bustle and noise of neighbouring cafes, and watch people going about their lives. Faneromeni is great for this.

This photo was taken on the day of the Pet Festival; you can just about make out a small white dog, by the tree, enjoying a cafe life in Nicosia.
General view of Faneromeni Square
Continuing on our way, back to the Pet Festival, we passed a number of cafes, bars and restaurants, and it seemed like dogs had taken over the city for the day (in a good way). In each place I saw individuals, groups of friends, families, couples, out drinking and eating with their dogs. 
A Husky enjoying a day out at Coffee Beanery

It was a lovely sunny day, so everyone was sitting outside. I am not sure how many places would welcome dogs inside on colder days, but I'll update this post when I find wintery dog-friendly cafes and restaurants. 

We walked up Onasagorou Street (parallel to Ledras), dog spotting.
At Kitron Restobar, Onasagorou Street
Gelatiamo, frozen yogurt and icecream cafe, Onasagorou Street
Tavalino Italian Restaurant, with 3 dogs
According to some Nicosia dog owners who I met, Neverland Rock Bar also welcomes animals, inside too if they are quiet and on the lead, although it can get a bit loud for sensitive dog ears late at night at the weekends (https://www.facebook.com/groups/neverland.rockbar/)

I'm going to have to visit all these places to find out if they have official policies on pets, if they have any restrictions, if pets are allowed in any of the inside areas etc (in the name of research, of course, not because I want to try the ice-cream...). But Nicosia certainly seemed to be a dog-friendly city last Sunday. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Pet Festivals and Dog Shows... with your dog

Pet Fest Cyprus 2013
On Sunday (13th Oct) we went to our first organised 'pet day' in Cyprus. It was Pet Fest 2013, organised by the Cyprus Voice for Animals (CVA), Whiskas and Pedigree. I didn't expect to see  such a huge range of dogs, and so many people. It was really lovely to see dogs of all sizes and breeds, from mixed breeds, to poodles, to jack russels, labradors, german shepherds...the list goes on and on. It was also great to see the people who had come out with their dogs, lots of older couples, families, loads of children. The festival was simply full of people enjoying a day out with their dogs, exactly as it should be.

video
The organisers had arranged competitions - best tricks, best groomed dog etc., as well as displays of dog training, and a stall where you could get your dog groomed. Importantly, there were stalls promoting the work of the pet shelters, and encouraging people to adopt cats and dogs. Then there was a dj, dancing performances, a puppet show, a kids' corner, face-painting and clowns, food stalls, bouncy castles etc etc. They had pretty much thought of everything to keep all the family entertained for the day.


I am used to walking through crowds with Sage on a very tight leash. I have got used to seeing the terrified look on parents' faces as they pull their children out of the way of Sage when we are out and about. I have got used to feeling like we are in the way, and that we are doing something wrong having our dog with us when we stop for a drink, or some food, or try to get near the sea. So it was a really lovely experience to walk through this crowded festival, and feel like Sage, as well as all the other (hundreds) of dogs, were welcome. I loved seeing families sitting together, playing with their dogs, and children leading their animals around to the shows and the stalls.

Useful sites to check for forthcoming events are: 

And finally, here are some of the dogs enjoying Pet Fest 2013.....


























Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Wander through the traditional village of Pera Orinis... with your dog


In the village of Pera Orinis
I admit it, I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to traditional architecture. The older and more decrepit the better. So when I came across this amazing little village, Pera Orinis, on my way to a nearby excavation, I made up my mind I would come back to explore properly. It didn't occur to me that buildings constructed of mud brick, exposed timbers and collapsing frames, and silent, narrow, cobbled streets would not be everybody's cup of tea.

So I feel obliged to emphasise the facts that a) there isn't much to do in the village, just bimble about looking at the houses and views, and b) the houses are made of mud brick and the streets are extremely quiet, so if this is not your thing, then I suggest you give Pera Orinis a miss!

I loved it. I just wish I had had the time to explore properly. The buildings are fantastic. They consist of a high stone socle, which takes the form of a neatly arranged 'rubble wall' (small chips of stone wedging larger stones in place), above which row upon row of thin mud-bricks are lain around a timber frame (timber used for the second story floor, to strengthen windows and doors etc). Some of the buildings are then coated with a protective layer of mud plaster. I saw that modern repairs to some of the buildings had been carefully undertaken with the same traditional materials.

In the centre of the village is a small square (plateia), with a church, a municipal building that used to be a school, and a kafeneio. Unfortunately the cafe was closed when we were there.







I found this website (in Greek) with information about the village: http://www.peraorinis.org/gr/a-arxikh-selida-224;

I'm not sure how much Sage enjoyed the village. She often does like sniffing her way through new streets, enjoying new smells and sounds. I had wanted to take her to the 'nature trail' that I had seen sign-posted, but this idea was not very popular. I didn't manage to find this trail on-line, so maybe I will go back and explore further.


The square in Pera Orinis
As the kafeneio was closed and we needed a rest, we found our way to the next village, Politiko, and sat at one of the only places we found open (midday, midweek, out of season). According to a sign on the floor, the taverna was called Gefyra - Bridge. It was fine. They were not really expecting customers until the evening, so had a very limited menu (omelette, salad, halloumi etc). During the evenings they  bbq meat and various dishes. I found the decor a little bit strange, kind of like a hotel reception, dark and uninviting.

Gefyra Taverna, Politiko
We sat outside, and the staff were fine about Sage sitting there with us. I did wish, however, that the guy serving us would stop telling our not so dog-loving visitor about the time his formerly gentle and loving labrador went crazy, ravaged his arm and had to be put down...

I would not have chosen this place if we were not quite desperate to sit down and escape the sun for a while. But having said that, the food was fine and inexpensive.

After resting for a while we drove up to visit the Monastery of Saint Herakleidios, which is a functioning convent. Some foundations remain that date back to the 3-4th century, making this an extraordinarily early Christian site. Most of the church has been re-built and re-decorated in fairly recent history, although some small areas of mosaic floor are exposed below the modern church floor (dating to about the 6-7th century, I think), while some wall paintings survive from the 12th century.

Of course, Sage stayed outside while some of us went into the Monastery.

Also of interest in this area are recent (ongoing) excavations at the Bronze Age site of Politiko-Troullia  (see link: http://www.archaeological.org/fieldwork/afob/2064). This team, from the Arizona State University, works during early Summer. Check the website to find out when the site will be active.



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