The ease of weekend travel from Amman is life giving. We can hop to any number of places on a long weekend or day trip to any of the sights within Jordan to hike or explore. Sometimes however, regardless of the ease of travel, we find ourselves having just wound down from school, life and work when the time comes to jump back on the airplane or into the car and head home.
For my birthday and to celebrate the start of summer we headed to Cyprus. The flight was only about an hour and a half and we had our toes in the Mediterranean in a matter of hours. Determined to reach Peak Relaxation on this trip and then slide right into another few days of it, we stayed on the island for six days. Enough time to properly create a whole new beach in the foot wells of our rental car. You are welcome Hertz! It’s the least we could do for the insanely fast turn around when our car died in the middle of the trip and as an extra special thank you for the $400 charge for a ding to our bumper that we picked up skirting construction vehicles on teensy mountain roads. I don’t know if that makes us even or ready for a new rental car company.
We spent most of the week beach hopping and only returned to our little rental villa to dust off the sand and head back out to dinner. Most days we beached in the morning and returned only to jump directly into the villa’s pool in the late afternoons. Where we’d sip wine from the neighboring vineyards and eat cheese and salami until the sun went down and then head back out to dinner.
In addition to this being the ultimate beach getaway, this trip will also always be marked as the trip that the kids fell in love with soccer. Our trip coincided with the 2018 World Cup and I have to admit it began to steer the direction of our drifting holiday ship, and we let it, because that’s our travel and life M.O. We ate at a village pizza spot so that we could watch a match on their tiny tv and even ordered out from them another nigh, staying in our pajamas to watch Brazil play.
Our only other diversions from the beach, were to the Paphos
Bird Park Zoo, which was once, and will remain so (until they receive another mammal or two) a bird park. Our kids are mostly easy to please and we all had a good laugh at the cardinal exhibit, the goats (all of them) and the parrot that asked “What Is Your Name” unexpectedly scaring the hell out of all of us. The other “off beach” day, we drove into the mountains for a hike and to the vineyards, for obvious reasons. By the time we left the island, we had successfully erased all of our collective stress for weeks to come.
Details, stories and tips below:
Stay // Perigiali Villa
We set up shop in Pissouri, about a 30 minute drive from the Paphos airport on the south-west of the island. At the recommendation of a friend we chose Pissouri, a sleepy little village that rests on a hilltop, overlooking the bay. The villa was located in the Pissouri Bay area, on the edge of a vineyard and just about a five minute drive to the beach. While some beaches and towns seemed overrun in a very “Have-Your-Fortune-Told-by-Zoltar-On-The-Boardwalk” sort of way, we personally try to avoid Zoltaresque boardwalks and almost always prefer the sleepy village. Even if it means driving further to bask on the beaches that seem to draw Zoltar followers for the day. From our well equipped villa, we slept in, ate cereal and eggs each morning, prepared picnic lunches, sipped wine by the pool, counted and named geckos as they scurried about the house. The house was simple and comfortable and most notably had a sofa in the kitchen, which if you have kids, is a genius idea, in spongeable leather of course.
Eat // Hill View Restaurant
For my birthday dinner, my three gents and my one small lady secured a reservation on the top of the hill. Our journey through the steep, cobbled streets of Pissouri yielded handfuls of apricots in thanks for our patient wait on a village road for an apricot sale to go down. We accidentally arrived much too early at the restaurant, but joyfully wasted the hour taking photos in the courtyard of the hotel, beneath tents of bougainvillea. When we were seated, we were seated on the edge of the world and with all the windows thrown open to the summer night, we had an wonderful meal. I don’t remember what I ate. I do remember that the food was excellent and the service was excellent as was the wine and the dessert. (Which was chocolate, because it always should be.) When it came time for dessert, my family whisper-sang me happy birthday, knowing I don’t like to be the center of attention, and that was also equally excellent. The kids were eventually invited into the wine cellar to choose candy at the end of our meal. It won’t come as a shock to you that I don’t remember them being particularly perfect at dinner, but I do remember being made to feel like we were 100% welcome just the way we were and that perhaps is what washed away my memory of my actual meal. The amnesia of kindness is one I’ll take any day.
Eat // Psilo Dendro Trout Farm & Restaurant
After a hike to Kaledonia falls in the foothills of Mt. Olympus, you can just go ahead and die happy. But before you do, you should probably have the trout. Paul’s love language is fresh trout. I tried gifts and nice words and spending time with him and those things were all very nice, until one day: Trout. So as we embarked on our cool morning hike to Kaledonia Falls, which began in the parking lot of Psilo Dendro, Paul giggled like a school boy at recess in anticipation of lunch. The trail was an easy forest walk over bridges carrying you over the river and ended at a beautiful waterfall, complete with a friendly Kaledonia Falls cat. When we returned, we found a table next to the river on a large wooden deck, lined with plastic tables and red Coca Cola umbrellas. We listened to the water rush through the farm below while we ordered cold KEO for ourselves and pretended to look at the menu, we knew exactly what we were having: Five trout, one greek salad, all of the french fries. Ok maybe Clem had trout fingers, but I digress. When the waitress arrived with the trout she asked, “Do you fear the trout?” And we all emphatically exclaimed, “No!” and proceeded to leave nothing but a pile of dainty trout bones behind.
Main Road, Platros, Cyprus
+357 25 813131
Chill // A Brief Beach Review
Aphrodites Birth Place
Town: Between Paphos & Pissouri
Best For: Sunset beverages on the beach, picnics, cliff jumping and swimming
Sand Style: Pebble
Zoltar Tourist Level: 2
Best For: Pebble hunting, rock skipping, water sports rental, nude sun-bathing, sunset beverages on the beach
Sand Style: Pebble, like the most perfect beach of perfectly shaped skipping rocks you’ve ever seen, as far as the eye can see. Reserve weight in your luggage for all the rocks you just can’t leave behind.
Zoltar Tourist Level: 1
Town: Aiya Napa
Best For: Sunbathing, swimming, people watching, sand castle building
Sand Style: White Sand Dreamscape
Zoltar Tourist Level: 8
Best For: Sunbathing, swimming, water sports, sand castle building
Sand Style: Cocoa Powder Sand (Kids said so)
Zoltar Tourist Level: 5
Explore // Omodos
On our way back from Mt. Olympus, bellies full of trout, we slowly worked our way down the mountain stopping to test a few local wines and once more when I became completely and magnetically drawn to the small town of Omodos. We wandered the village on foot, taking a self guided tour of the 17th century monastery located there, peering into shops and perusing the scents of things unfamiliar that wafted into the streets. Omodos is surrounded by vineyards and holds a wine festival every August. We seemed to have been early for that, too. Sadly, Paul wouldn’t let me joyfully pass two months there taking photos until the wine festival, like he did at my birthday dinner. I did engage in one of the most unforgettable conversations with a village matriarch when the kids happened upon some kittens outside of her shop. She spoke only Greek and I none, but in another language she described to me, in the wisdom that only a woman who has seen as much as she has, had-about mother hood and a mother’s love for children. Or maybe she was just upset I was early for the wine festival, too.
I struggled to find another something we had done to place here, but I couldn’t. We have entered an age of “Less is More” and we have, as a family, adopted that into our life and our travels.
Except of course for the triathlon I’ve signed up for in Aiya Napa in March. That is more and more and more. See you soon Cyprus!