Friday, 31 January 2014

More wintery walks... with your dog

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It would be irresponsible of me to recommend dog owners take their dogs to Finikoudes (Palm Beach) in Larnaca, as there as signposts clearly forbidding dogs on this beach (and almost every beach in Cyprus).
But, when I see the beach looking like this.....
Finikoudes Beach in January
... I feel I can let my girl have a run around without bothering anyone

Do be careful walking your dogs here, I have heard of outrageous fines for having dogs on the beach in Cyprus. Still, from November until about April, once all the sun loungers have been collected up, the umbrellas packed away, the kiosks have been locked down, then the beach is perfect for chasing after tennis balls and running around on the sand!

If there are too many people around - too many interesting new smells and sounds - I  can't relax and enjoy our walk, so I avoided this beach with Sage during the summer.  Although I did see quite a few dog walkers here even in June-July.  Just now, in January-February however, it's great for a lunchtime run around. The path has been extended beyond the fortress towards Mackenzie Beach now, meaning you could do a long walk along the coast, all the way from Larnaca marina to Mackenzie.



Path extended beyond the Fortress around to
Mackenzie Beach
If you're looking for somewhere to stop for a warming drink around the seafront here, we have been welcomed by several of the bar owners in this area (see previous post, drinking in Larnaca: http://bit.ly/1hVWPBg)

One of our favourites, however, at least for this time of year, is the Finis Beach Bar. Again, I avoid this place in summer with Sage, as it is located right on the sand. During winter though, it's great to walk down for a drink at the beach bar (open until about 5-6 in the evening) and watch the sea. Staff have always been super friendly to us and Sage, even bringing her water (unasked for) last time, and stopping to pet her.

It can get a bit cold at the Beach Bar, we have always sat outside when we are there with Sage, but you can buy a range of teas, coffees, or hot chocolate to warm you on the inside.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Aphrodite Trail (Cape Gkreko) in the winter ...with your dog

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These last few weeks I've been going back to places I've already discovered, partly just because I enjoyed them the first time, partly because I want to see how they are in different seasons. And my conclusion? Cyprus is even more beautiful in the winter! I love that I can go to the beach with my dog and there is nobody there to yell at us. I love the peace and quiet of the coast, even in places like Ayia Napa, without hordes of tourists. I love that I don't have to spend the middle part of the day hiding out from the sun in an air conditioned room. So far, winter in Cyprus means freedom to explore all the places that are out of bounds, or difficult during the summer, with great weather to enjoy them.

I recently went back to the coastal area between the two tourist resorts of Ayia Napa and Protaras - Cape Gkreko. This area was great in summer too - with few people on the paths, and some rocky areas to climb down to the sea to cool off.

However, every time I had been here in the summer season, the tranquility was shattered by day tripper boats which take out groups of tourists to party on board, and blast music and games over waters with megaphones (people having fun! Bah humbug!)  There is also absolutely no shade on this entire peninsular, which we learned the hard way one very hot day last June.

In the summer months, I would recommend this as a good place for an early evening walk, and perhaps a swim. In the winter, it's better to make the most of the warmer midday sun, and enjoy this area from about 11-15.00.

This time round, Sage and I started our walk from a point near the 'entrance' to the cape, where there are signs for the Aphrodite Trail. The trail was a bit confusing, I must admit. The information board says that this 2km trail is part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route (also found at Paphos), although  nothing remains of any religious site here, and no further information is available. After what seemed like much less than 2km I reached a point where signs directed me onto different paths altogether, either towards the sea caves or to the Agii Anargyri church, and I realised I had somehow finished/lost the Aphrodite Trail.

I continued down towards the promontory, trying to decide which route I should take, as the scenery in both directions was spectacular. In the end I followed the path around to the Agii Anargyri church, simply because it was a slightly longer walk (2.5km from the end of the Aphrodite Trail as opposed to 1km to the Sea Caves). Here is the link to the CTO page on walks around Cape Gkreko:  http://bit.ly/1jIDLaI            

Out on the promontory, I couldn't believe how green everything was. I am used to a white, arid, dusty Cyprus (which is also beautiful in its own way), but to see a field of grass, and new green plants growing around the coast was really special. 

The only other people I saw all day were some cyclists out with their dogs around this promontory, and some fishermen around by the church.

We walked around as far as the picnic area on the way to Konnos Bay, stopping to explore the sea cave behind the Agii Anargyri church. I got a bit nervous at the cave by the church. There is apparently Holy Water there, but I wasn't brave enough to go and investigate (I had a neurotic panic that Sage would get swept in and I would have to jump in after her, and there was nobody around to help us back to shore....anyway....)

A final couple of notes:
Be a bit careful of the ferrel cats that have made a home around the church - I counted at least 6 of them and they looked they could see off a threat to their territory if they wanted to.

The water tap at the church wasn't working when I last visited - carry water for your dog with you just in case.

This is the post I wrote about Cape Gkreko after our summer visit: http://bit.ly/1fhqzXu


Friday, 17 January 2014

Explore the coast around Governor's Beach...with your dog

Around the coast from Governor's Beach
I have been making the most of winter, exploring parts of Cyprus that would be too busy in summer to go to with my dog. As well as being fewer people around, the weather is also much better for hiking and being outdoors, as you don't have to plan your day to avoid the midday heat, or carry litres and litres of water wherever you go.

These photos are from a short trip we made to Governor's Beach, towards the end of December. I couldn't believe how many people were out and about, enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. I saw people swimming from the sandy part of the beach, people out dog-walking along the rocks to the west of the tourist resort, countless small fishing boats waiting around the fish farms out in the bay... It was really glorious.
Fishing boats around the fish farms
I had been avoiding this part of the coast, as Cyprus has such a busy coast, and such strict rules about dogs on beaches. But this suits us fine - we can enjoy the seaside, the sandy beaches and the beautiful clear water, during the wintertime, and hide out inland during the summer.

We could have continued around the coast along the rocks and small paths for about 4km, until Latchi Beach (Ayios Georgios Alamanou), but we mostly just wandered around admiring the view and sniffing rocks. I'll definitely go back and explore this coastal walking trail before the summer crowds arrive.



We went back to this part of the coast yesterday, and took even more photos! The sun glistening on the blue sea and the brilliant white of the chalky stone by the shore just demand photography. We walked a little further around in the direction of Latchi Beach, but just ambling rather than following the path. I discovered a couple of small sandy beaches, and plenty of areas of smooth rock where we might be able to risk a quick summer swim with our dog.

I don't have much more to say about the area, and think the pics speak for themselves...








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Friday, 10 January 2014

Enjoy the mountain village of Panagia... with your dog

Along the main road through the village of Panagia
I chose the village of Panagia for a weekend break due to its location up in the hills north of Paphos, a short drive from Cedar Valley and the Kykkos Monastery, which I wanted to visit. Searching the usual sites for eco-tourism apartments  (https://www.agrotourism.com.cy) I found at least 2 dog-friendly apartments, both of which looked beautiful.

Palati Apartments
We stayed in the Palati Apartments (see previous post http://bit.ly/HrVe9Y) which I fully recommend. Another eco-tourism option at Panagia, the Archontiko tou Meletiou, was fully booked for the period (see the CTO website for contact details and information http://bit.ly/1cJvC2X). I did contact the owners of Archontiko tou Meletiou, however, and they told me that dogs are permitted in their accommodation.
Archontiko tou Meletiou Apartments
Panagia is the birthplace of Archbishop Makarios III, and you can visit his childhood home (next door to the Archontiko Apartments). It was closed when we passed by.

There is not much to do in this village, except sit in one of the many small kafeneia and watch the world go by, or try some of the wine that this region is famous for. When we were there, in late October, there were few people around, and bars and tavernas closed early in the evenings. 
In the restaurant area of the Oniro Hotel
One evening, we tried the restaurant of the only place that was open past 8 in the evening - the Oniro (dream) Hotel. This hotel is located towards the edge of the village beyond the Museum of Cultural Foundation (which houses personal objects and photographs that belonged to Archbishop Makarios III).

I must admit that on a cold autumnal evening, this place seemed a bit dreary. We were the only customers. The huge tv, set on an endless Greek news channel, dominated the restaurant. Very little of the menu was available. And the whole place was lit with strong artificial lighting.

On the other hand, the owners and serving staff were extremely friendly to us and had no problem with us bringing Sage inside while we ate dinner. They explained that they didn't prepare much food in the evenings as there were so few customers, and made a big effort to bring us whatever they could, including some oranges they picked themselves from the gardens. I can't really recommend this place for style or atmosphere, at least for the autumn/winter period, but I can recommend them for their hospitality and for allowing our large dog inside on a cold evening.
Oniro Hotel
This village is a lovely base for exploring Western Cyprus. We spend one long day driving around Cedar Valley and the Western Troodos mountains (see earlier post:  http://bit.ly/1fofsfX), and another long day around Paphos and the coast.

There is so much to see in this area and it's great to have a quiet, mountain base to relax in at the end of a day's exploring.

Finally, there are a couple of mini-markets for provisions in Panagia, and plenty of short dog-walks in and around the village. 

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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Warm up with a hot chocolate at Antica Gelateria del Corso... with your dog

Sunset from Ayia Napa harbour
I haven't spent much time in Ayia Napa. I just thought it would be too busy in the summer to enjoy a day out there with my dog. But on a recent trip with some friends who live close by there, I realised I have been missing out on some nice walks and dog-friendly cafe-bars.

We were there in December and the scenery was lovely. We walked around the small harbour, then back along the wooden path by the sea in the direction of Sandy Bay. Sage had a run around and I collected wild sea fennel that was growing on the rocks (I'm not sure when is the best time of year to collect this, but this part of Cyprus is great for sea fennel!)

There were a few people out walking, but not too many to feel like we were in the way with our dog.
Harbour at Ayia Napa
As the sun set and it got colder, we went to warm up in the Antica Gelateria del Corso Cafe-Bar. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, and had no problem with us sitting with Sage in the area of the cafe that is protected by an awning. The other customers there were also very friendly, and enjoyed playing with her!

They serve all sorts of drinks and huge range of desserts and ice creams. Their hot chocolate is especially good after a cold winters walk with your dog!

In the Antica Gelateria del Corso
Antica Gelateria del Corso
Now I'd like to go back and try out other bars and a taverna or two in the area, to see if I can find dog-friendly places before the summer crowds arrive!

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