6th June – Paphos, Cyprus
Yesterday we visited Limassol in Cyprus. In the evening, we travelled literally just around the corner – roughly 50 miles away – and dropped anchor about 10:30pm, just off Paphos… also in Cyprus, of course. We could see the lights of Paphos and hear music from the shore. On a couple of occasions, I could also hear the sound of high power engines being revved, as if in ‘Fast and Furious’-style road racing. I’m sure that’s not what it was, but it is what it sounded like to me.
This morning, from about 9am onwards, a tender boat operation began, with the instruction for passengers wishing to go ashore to make their way to the Playhouse Theatre, from where they would be escorted downstairs to the temdering platform on Deck 3.
By the time we got there, however (at around 10:30am), an announcement was just being made to go straight to the tender boat, as the bulk of passengers had now beem ferried ashore.
Considering how calm everything seemed from higher decks, the sea was actually quite choppy, making the tender operation a challenging one. The trip to shore only took about 20 minutes, if that, and once there, we made a bee-line for the archaeological site right next to the harbour.
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site containing the major part of an important ancient Greek and Roman city known as Nea Pafos. Its sites and monuments, dating from prehistoric times through to the the Middle Ages include four large Roman villas: the House of Dionysos, the House of Aion, the House of Theseus and the House of Orpheus, all with superb preserved mosaic floors. In addition to these, excavations have uncovered an agora, asklipieion, basilica, odeion, and Hellenistic-Roman theatre.
We were quite blown away by it; it’s a large site that demands a good couple of hours to explore in any detail, but even then you could easily spend much longer in order to discover all its treasures. All for the princely sum of €4.50 euros entrance fee. The mosaics – the largest and most ornate of which were housed in buildings to protect them from the elements – were particularly impressive. We wandered happily through the ruins photographing and filming everything we saw, and trying to process the sheer scale and significance of the place.
I think it is worth saying that it was extremely hot, and that the site is quite exposed. The odd few buildings protecting the mosaics, and a smattering of wooden gazebos do offer some degree of respite from the sun, but an umbrella and plenty of water would be highly recommended.
Having reached the far end of the site, we were faced with a minor dilemma. We knew that there is a beach just beyond, where we wanted to go and cool off after our wanderings, and that there are turnstiles built into the perimeter fence here and there, but we were unsure as to which one would get us to where we wanted to go, without having to retrace our steps right back to the main entrance gate to walk around the outside. In the end, we made an executive decision and exited through the one-way turnstile nearest to us, and managed to navigate our way around to the beach. On our way back a little later, we did identify several similar turnstiles that would have been closer to the beach, which we noted for future reference.
After a morning of meandering under the hot sun, a dip in the sea was the perfect antidote to cool us down. Lighthouse Beach isn’t a lot to look at, but it did have a bar and cafe, where we were able to purchase cold drinks and two cartons of particularly tasty chips, and hiring two loungers and a sun canopy only came to €7.50, which er felt was very reasonable.
Getting into the sea was best done via a short wooden quay, since much of the shoreline was potted with rocks on its bed. That wouldn’t have been an issue for us if we’d remembered to pack our rubber swimming shoes (note to self… add them to the list as a matter of priority).
We spent a wonderfully relaxing couple of hours at the beach, and eventually headed back towards the harbour via a footpath that led us around the outside of the archaeological site. Once back at the harbour, it didn’t take us long to wait for a tender boat to whisk is back to the ship.
In the evening, we were in a going-out mood, so after dinner, we went to see Phillip Browne’s final show before he leaves tomorrow, followed by a session from Phil Mebourne, the comediam, in the Britannia Lounge, who will also be leaving tomorrow.