Saturday, 28 December 2013

A wild and wintery walk...with your dog

Sage on the Atalante Trail
Honestly, this hike is probably more enjoyable at almost any other time of year... but we walked it recently and loved it. The Atalante Trail circles Chionistra (Mount Olympus) on a similar route to the Artemis Trail (see previous post:, but at a lower altitude (1700-1750m). This circular trail starts just outside the large car park at Troodos Square and winds its way around the  mountain for 14km. The trail is flat and easy to walk, rated 2 out of 3 for difficulty.
Start of trail
After 3-4km, the Atalante passes a disused chromium mine, as well as dense woodland of black pine and juniper.

At certain points around the Artemis Trail there are fantastic views down towards the coast at Lemessos. I imagine views from the Atalante are also great, but when we did this hike a couple of weeks ago, there was so much fog that we couldn't see much past the edge of the path.

It was also bitterly cold and drizzling, so we didn't really stop to enjoy the scenery. In fact, we were almost running the trail, and finished in under 3 hours.

I'm probably not selling this, but it was a great place to let Sage have a long run around through the woods. The fog and drizzle added to the atmosphere, and gave us a taste of winter that we had all been missing all summer.

This walk would also be manageable during summer, due to the dense woodland. Carry water for yourselves and your dog. If you are planning a winter walk, wear good shoes for muddy paths, lots of layers, and a waterproof coat. Some dog biscuits for energy along the way, and an old towel to dry off wet dogs when you get back to Troodos Square are also advisable.

Have a look here for the description by the Department of Forests, Cyprus:

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Friday, 20 December 2013

A romantic winter break... with your dog

Enjoying the fireplace in our room at Linos Inn, Kakopetria
A week or so back we went for a weekend away at the dog-friendly Linos Inn at Kakopetria. Sage came too, of course.

Linos Inn allows dogs in 4 or 5 of their rooms, while the rest of the rooms are kept dog free. Dog-friendly rooms are slightly separate from the central part of the hotel (with reception, dining room etc), so that non-dog-loving guests are not disturbed. In addition, these rooms are decorated with furry friends in mind - there are no rugs/carpets on the floors, furnishings are kept to a minimum, rooms have access to small external courtyards or balconies.

Linos Inn
Rooms at the Linos Inn are a bit fancier than the typical agro-tourism style places I am used to, but there wasn't actually a big difference in price (around 100€ per night for double room). Anyway, it's nice to treat yourself, and your dog, to a bit of 'luxury accommodation' every now and then.

While I was looking for a hotel or apartment, I had the following criteria in mind:  winter break in a mountain village; cosy and romantic; dogs allowed too.
Linos Inn is located just above the village square in Kakopetria, up in the Troodos mountains. You can choose from a variety of rooms, with or without fire places, with single/double jacuzzi, with/without mountain views etc. It is dog-friendly.

So, ticked all the boxes really.

Dog-friendly bedroom at Linos Inn

Bathroom at Linos Inn

Small courtyard outside room 
Bedroom/sitting room at Linos Inn
A full breakfast of cereal, bacon and eggs, bread and cheese etc. is included in the price. On Friday and Saturday evenings there is live music in the hotel restaurant, and we were advised to book a table as it's a popular restaurant, not just with people staying at the hotel. The food was good, especially the lovely homemade ravioli!

I really enjoyed wandering around the village of Kakopetria too. Many of the houses along the smaller, back roads of the village preserve the traditional Cypriot architectural style, with mud-brick walls and wooden balconies almost touching across the narrow streets. In the evenings, the smell of wood fires really added to the wintery atmosphere.
The village of Kakopetria
Christmas lights at the square in Kakopetria
Just down the road from the Linos Inn, we found some steps down to the river by the Mill Hotel. Pets are not allowed at this hotel. I imagine it would be crowded there by the river during the summer, but when we were there, in mid December, there was nobody around. This was a great place to take Sage for a quick run around, away from traffic. There are also lots of great trails nearby for hiking with your dog, and you can even ski there (at Chionistra) for a few months in winter.
The river by the Mill Hotel
By the Mill Hotel

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Monday, 16 December 2013

Dog of the month - Lady

Lady, at home
This is Lady.
Lady is a very pretty 3 year old dog who lives in my neighbourhood. She is a Kokoni - a small domestic breed known in Greece since antiquity (images of this breed of dog can be found on ancient pottery, friezes etc).

Lady was given to my neighbour a year or so ago and they have become inseparable.

Despite her small size, she is a tough, fearless little dog. She shares her home with 2 large dogs, and still seems to call the shots! She also plays chasing my (much bigger) dog around the field in our neighbourhood.
Most days, Lady goes for walks around the neighbourhood in central Larnaca. There are several patches of grassy wasteland where she has a run around off leash. Other, longer walks in Larnaca include the promenade at Palm Beach (Finikoudes) and the picnic area by the Salt Lake (Aliki) near the mosque of Hala Sultan Teke.

They also go to another area around the Salt Lake - Patticheio - which is closer to the town centre (see map). Here you can follow pathways through the woods and park land, down to the lake. Quite a few dog walkers can be found in this area at evenings and weekends. In the winter months look out for migratory flamingos on the lake.

For days out further afield, Lady and my neighbours sometimes visit the villages surrounding Larnaca, such as Mazotos. They collect the wild greens (χόρτα) that grow in the fields there, while Lady gets to run around and explore new areas. So, everyone gets to spend their day out doing things they like!

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Friday, 13 December 2013

Taverna Corner of Paradise... with your dog

Taverna Corner of Paradise 
We heard two versions of the story behind the name 'Corner of Paradise'.

One owner told us that one hot summers day, a group of locals were sitting out on the terrace of the taverna, drinking cool beers in the shade of the vines that grow overhead. The climate is slightly cooler there, due to being in the mountains, while the natural spring behind the taverna provides water for the cherry trees in the surrounding fields. A friend passed by on his way from working in the fields below. He saw them all sitting there, enjoying the cool breeze and relaxing with their drinks, and he said 'this place is like a corner of paradise'.

His wife, on the other hand, told the story with a difference. A similar scene: a summer day, a group of locals sitting out at the taverna with their beers and coffees, escaping the heat of the valleys and fields. Except, these customers were all the older residents of the area. All retired, all elderly, all just passing their time in the taverna. And someone, I don't remember who, made the comment that this taverna was like a waiting room... for Paradise.

Whichever version was true, when we stumbled on this taverna after a long hike through the cedar valley, it seemed pretty close to paradise. I was on a mission to visit the village of Kampos (my Lonely Planet mentioned that very few tourists make it out that far, which sounded to me like a challenge!), and I wasn't sure we were going to find anywhere to eat. This taverna is on the road just before Tsakistra, coming from the Kykkos Monastery.

This area of Cyprus is extremely beautiful. It couldn't be more different from the busy coastal areas and towns - you see only mountains, one or two small villages, fruit trees, agriculture.

The food at this taverna was excellent. We ordered up a feast: halloumi, locally harvested mushrooms, salads, grilled meats... and the owners kept bringing out dishes, on the house, that they wanted us to try (as well as some dubious homemade wine). It was also one of the cheapest meals I've had in Cyprus.

And, Sage was a huge hit. The owner brought out an enormous bag of meat and bones for her. They showed us photos of various other dogs from the neighbourhood who also come by to enjoy the leftovers.

The Taverna Corner of Paradise is open all year round. It's pretty remote, and takes a long time to get to, but it's well worth it if you're anywhere in the area. 

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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Drinks and a walk around the harbour at Pafos...with your dog

Pafos Castle at the end of the harbour
While my parents went to see the incredible UNESCO World Heritage site of Nea Paphos, I was left roaming around the harbour with my dog, Sage. I didn't mind too much, I've been to the site before, and this was a lovely sunny day in late October. However, I can't recommend this site highly enough, for anyone who gets the chance. The mosaics from the Houses of Dionysos and Orpheus, in particular, are some of the finest I've seen. Also, the conservation and presentation of this complex site are really exemplary. Here's the page from the Department of Antiquities website: 

Nea Paphos archaeological park
Nea Paphos archaeological park
Anyway, back to us, waiting around outside the archaeological site...

The Moorings Cafe-Bar
We stopped at one of the cafes along the sea front, just before the harbour, because I was desperate for Internet access (I know, it's tragic really). This was The Moorings. They were perfectly polite and friendly about Sage sitting there, pretty much in the middle of the cafe, getting in the way of the waiters. Prices were as you would expect for a touristy area - around 3-4€ for a coffee.                                                                                                                                     Then we had a walk along the harbour. As I said, this was late October, and just the right amount of busy. I would have struggled if it was any earlier in the tourist season as there are tavernas and cafes on either of side of the walkway, with touts trying to lure people in to their restaurants, and children dangling ice creams at the level of Sage's nose.
Pafos harbour
I held her on a pretty tight leash, and we manoeuvred our way to Pafos Castle, right at the end of the harbour. Of course, we couldn't go inside, but I enjoyed looking at the boats, the colourful cafes and the sea beyond. This end of the harbour was a bit quieter, and we found places to rest in the shade out of the way.

There was a promising looking promenade that ran by the sea from the end of the harbour, but sadly this had a prominent 'no dogs' sign at the entrance, I'm not sure why.
No Dogs on the promenade

Pafos Castle

Finally it was time to regroup, so Sage and I headed back towards the entrance to the harbour, and met up with the others in Kings Taverna. The staff here were extremely helpful, and even offered to get some water for Sage. The food was average, and again tourist area prices (around 10€ for a large salad or souvlaki), but I did appreciate how welcoming they were to us and our dog.
Kings Taverna
I didn't really find anywhere suitable to let Sage off the lead for a play, and no obvious walks away from the crowds, although it's often like this on your first one or two visits to a busy town. I wouldn't recommend this area of Pafos in high summer if you are accompanied by a big dog. But in the spring and autumn months it's manageable, especially if you can find a way to safely leave your dog for long enough for a trip to the archaeological park.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Lunch or dinner (or both) at the Spring of Life Taverna...with your dog

Lunch at the Spring of Life Taverna, Amargeti
We found this taverna by chance while driving a rather circuitous route up through the mountains west of Paphos, on our way to the village of Panagia.  I had hoped we'd arrive at Panagia and try out one of the tavernas there, but we were all getting tired and hungry, so we decided to make a stop. I was so glad we did.

The Spring of Life (Zoodoxos Pigi) is balanced on the edge of a beautiful valley, full of olive trees and fruit trees, just outside the village of Amargeti. It's less than 15km from Paphos, unless you come via the crazy route that we took, yet it feels like a different world out there.
View from the balcony of the Spring of Life Taverna
The owner seemed a little surly at first, but grunted that he didn't mind Sage sitting quietly with us at our table. After a while, I realised that despite his gruff manner, he was actually very sociable; he brought us drinks on the house, and sat and talked to me about the taverna and the unusual decorations he had imported from Egypt.

This taverna serves quite a variety of dishes, mostly traditional Cypriot cuisine. We ordered main plates of: a lemon and local cheese soup (nicer than it sounds); lamb stifado; kalamari; and an enormous salad with halloumi and fresh vegetables. Sage enjoyed loudly crunching up lamb bones.

This place was a great find. There were a few other customers, but everybody was speaking in hushed voices (I'm not sure why), and there was a lovely, peaceful atmosphere. The food was great, and reasonably priced. The views were wonderful. And the large terrace area that wraps around two full sides of the taverna, was full of Mediterranean pot plants (geraniums and succulents) and covered by overhanging vines for shade

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Thursday, 21 November 2013

A typical day in Larnaca... with your dog

At the beautiful Carrefour field, Larnaca
This will almost certainly be my least popular post ever. I realise it's quite 'niche'. But, as we have recently moved to a new home in a new neighbourhood of Larnaca, I thought I'd indulge in a little bit of nostalgia. It's also an honest post, because while we try to go and explore the island as often as possible, there are inevitably many days where we pound the streets of our neighbourhood, looking for places for Sage to play and, well, to poo.

This spot, opposite the big Carrefour (by the roundabout that leads to the harbour at Larnaca), has proved to be very useful! It's not beautiful, I admit it. Right now it is also completely choked with rubbish and dogs' mess that so many people don't collect. On the positive side, very few people walk through this field, so I've had relatively few complaints when I let Sage run around after a ball or two. It's a big empty space, without cars, which is all Sage asks for really.

And finally, I don't want to oversell it, but having been walking there almost every day for nearly a year, it's actually been quite nice to see the changes in wildlife that the seasons bring, even to this scrap of wasteland. In early spring, for example, the whole field filled up with bright yellow marguerite daisies. When these vanished, small oases of wild grasses appeared, and grew to amazing heights in just a few weeks. This was all cut back and the field became a dustbowl during the summer, but I see that weeds and wildflowers are beginning to make a reappearance with the autumn. Was that too poetic? Perhaps.

I usually spend my time there daydreaming about being able to buy a similar plot of land, and turning it into a dog park, with shade and trees and water and bins and fences and and and.........

Another good walk is the 15 minutes or so down to Finikoudes beach, and along the promenade. I avoided this area during the summer, but now there are fewer people we've started to go back there. It's a more interesting walk for me, to see some life and lights, and a longer walk (on the lead) for Sage.

Poo bags of Larnaca
Walking with Sage in the centre of Larnaca is not very pleasant - just too many cars, people with young children who are often afraid of big dogs, too much tempting rubbish on the pavements. I haven't found a green space in town where dogs are permitted.

I find this strange, as the municipality has made the effort to provide bins, complete with purpose-made bags, for collecting dogs' mess, positioned outside the parks.
Park just behind the bags/bin with 'no dogs' sign
A small area of parkland designated for dogs would prevent people taking their dogs into the other areas, keeping them cleaner for the dog-less.

Apart from this, we've tried out a few small cafe-bars, the ones which have plenty of room outdoors to sit with your dog, and I'll keep adding to this list, especially with any wintery dog-friendly cafes and/or tavernas:

Hopefully, we'll find some nice new places to do our daily walks, closer to our new home...

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Dog of the month - Murphy

Murphy, grocery shopping in Larnaca
My aim with the new 'Dog of the Month' posts is to speak to as many people as possible, from as many areas of Cyprus as possible, and find out where they go with their dogs.

I'm interested in the small (often unofficial) dog parks that can be found in many neighbourhoods, as well as interesting urban routes that people walk with their dogs. Hopefully, this will build up a good map of urban areas that you can escape to with your dog. This will start to show the areas that are: most convenient; most lively; most sheltered; most suitable for young pups; most suitable for big exercise hungry beasts etc.

I'm also finding out about longer trips that dogs have been on - whether that is a day trip out to the mountains, or a weeks holiday somewhere by the sea - and any tips or suggestions for travelling Cyprus with your dog.

Meet Murphy. This sweet dog was adopted from the Argos Sancturay in Ormidhia, about one year ago ( He is about 6 years old. It certainly sounds like he found himself a good home! I loved that Murphy's friends had even brought him to Larnaca for shopping, and were doing the familiar shifts - one person dashes into the shop while the other waits in the shade with the dog...

Murphy usually goes for walks around the village Oroklini in the Larnaca district, where he lives. As it is a fairly quiet village, there are lots of nice, easy walks around the neighbourhood. Other times, he goes for a play at Oroklini hills, behind the village. This is a great dog-walking spot - with a picnic area, a small church (Prophet Elijah), car park, view point etc. There are various footpaths through the fields and woods, with great views over the village and down to the sea. Lots of dogs of all sizes and breeds can be seen running about there (especially during the morning and early evening walk times). Oroklini Hills is included on the European hiking route - the E4.

He is also a well-travelled dog. As well as trips out to walk around the harbour area of Ayia Napa, and to the coastal area of Protaras, Murphy has also been up to the mountains to Vouni, to stay in the wonderful pet-friendly Vouni Lodge!

Happy travels Murphy - hope you get to explore some more great places this winter...

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Have a drink at the Aquarium Bar... with your dog

Sage and my parents enjoying a drink at Aquarium Bar, Larnaca Marina
This quirky boat bar was a great find! After a day of wandering around Larnaca with Sage and my parents, we were desperate for somewhere to sit down and rest. The cafes along Finikoudes Beach were full of families, and we were looking for something that wasn't another characterless chain bar or restaurant. Since my Dad has something of a boat obsession, we found ourselves drawn to the marina, at the end of Finikoudes. We asked at the Aquarium Bar whether dogs were allowed, and the owner made a big effort to arrange a table for us, out of the way of the many cats that he feeds and looks after.
View of the marina from Aquarium Bar

I'm not sure how the cats felt about it, but we were pleased to be able to sit and enjoy a drink, with a view of the boats for my Dad.
Cats fed by owners of the Aquarium Bar
John, the owner, was extremely friendly and welcoming. We chose to sit outside the bar, on the marina, but were told we could take Sage inside to sit on the upper deck if we wanted.
Inside the Aquarium Bar

As well as being a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by on a sunny afternoon, the bar inside has been decorated beautifully, and music events attract customers during the evenings too (all year round).

The bar is full of bright cheerful colours, and would be a great place to hide out from the cold on a wintery day. There is also an enormous aquarium along one edge of the room. The upper deck has comfortable seating and fantastic views of the marina. Being more open, this space kind of says to me "glass of wine on a summer evening" or long sunday morning coffee...
Upper deck of Aquarium Bar
I'm always on the lookout for interesting bars and tavernas, something other than the fast food places and chains that are so ubiquitous in Cyprus. This bar definitely rates as somewhere that has been designed with imagination and taste. A place where you are encouraged to take your time and to enjoy the view. And, it's dog-friendly. What more could I ask for?
Have a look at their facebook page for news and drinks offers:

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Friday, 8 November 2013

Go hiking in Cedar Valley... with your dog

View out over cedar branches at top of Tripylos Mountain 
I think Cedar Valley may be the most beautiful area of Cyprus that I have seen. We went for a short hike there a week or so ago, while staying in the nearby village of Panayia for a weekend break. Driving through the mountains to reach Cedar Valley, you really get the feeling of having escaped from the crowded coast and towns of Cyprus, and being immersed in Cypriot wildlife at its finest. Along the road from Paphos up through the western Troodos mountains, there are countless spots to stop and admire the unbroken panorama of mountains and trees.

Approaching the valley, the first cedar trees come into view. These are conspicuous among the more common pine trees that cover these slopes, by their large flat branches, and the bright, vivid green colour of the needles. The combination of the darker pines with the bright green cedars is magnificent.
Cedar Valley
We found our way to the starting point of a short hike up through the valley, to the peak of the Tripylos Mountain. This is a section of the E4 hiking trail.
Start of E4 trail up through Cedar Valley to the peak of
Tripylos Mountain

Here you can find parking space, drinking water and toilets. 

The hike is quite short, just 2.5km from the parking area to the peak, but it is a fairly incessant uphill climb to reach the top. 2.5km downhill can be quite tough too. However, the views along the way more than make up for any hardship of the climb. 

Towards the start of the walk you are surrounded by high trees, as though walking through woodland. Pines and cedars tower overhead creating a shady trail and obscuring views of the mountains beyond.
As you ascend, you catch glimpses of the view out beyond the cedars...

Nearing the top of the mountain, you can even make out the coastline of Morphou Bay, and the low laying plains that separate the Troodos from the sea.

Once you reach the peak, there is a fire look-out station, a couple of picnic benches, and spectacular 360 degree views of the mountains.
My Dad, nearing the top of Tripylos Mountain

This is a lovely place to go walking with your dog. We were there in late October, so it wasn't too hot, but I imagine that even in the summer the trees provide enough shade to make this walk manageable. There were very few people there, so we could let Sage have a run around. There was no rubbish anywhere for her to devour (a problem we sometimes face in busier areas!), and no chance of a run-in with an angry farmer or goatherd. 

I should probably just stop writing and let the photos speak for themselves. 
For further information, have a look at the CTO website on this area: 

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