Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Taxi travel... with your dog (in a carrier)

I have been in a couple of taxis in Cyprus with my dog. When we first arrived in Cyprus, at Larnaca Airport, we were overloaded with suitcases, bags, a heavy, unhappy dog in her carrier case, and we were lucky to find a taxi large enough to fit us all in. We hadn't booked in advance. The taxi driver was very friendly, and helped us lift our 30kg dog, in her cage, into the back of his mini-van taxi. We paid 15 Euros from the airport to our home, which is a little outside the centre of Larnaca. This seems to be the standard fee for that distance, with or without a dog.

This is the link for Larnaca airport with information about taxis:

The phone number of the taxi company at the airport: 00357 24656195

And the list of tariffs: http://www.hermesairports.com/docs/guide%20taxi%20service.pdf

When we tried to book a taxi to take us back to the airport, again with suitcases and a dog in a cage, we used a different company, as we couldn't contact the other. Website:   http://www.larnaca-airport-taxis.com/ 
When we said that we had luggage and a dog, and so needed a big car, they sent a van and charged us 30 Euros for the same journey.

I contacted Taxi Express, the taxi company that has minivans that you share with others for a cheaper journey, but they told me their license does not permit them to carry animals.

The taxi office in the centre of Larnaca told me they always accept animals, but they must be in a cage. This is fine if you are going to or from the airport, but it's not very helpful if you are out and about with your big dog, and don't happen to have the cage with you.

If you are traveling with a medium-large sized dog, it may be easier to rent a car: http://travelcypruswithyourdog.blogspot.gr/2013/07/rent-car-in-cyprus-with-your-dog.html

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Hike to Stavrovouni Monastery... with you dog

Start of the E4 trail up to Stavrovouni Monastery
On a recent trip heading for the village of Pyrga, I got distracted, and we changed course for Stavrovouni Monastery. I hadn't realised, but this spectacular monastery, perched on one of the highest hills in the area, is even visible from our home in central Larnaca. It is a very distinctive hill, high and pyramidal, but the monastery only comes into view as you get much closer.
View of Stavrovouni Monastery 
We turned off the B1 (between the villages of Kofinou and Kornos), following signposts for the monastery. There is a small, winding road that leads up to monastery, and does not continue any further. At various points along this road you can find signs for the E4 trail that ascends the hill, through a rocky terrain of wild flowers and spiny shrubs.

We left the car at the first of these E4 signs, parked just off the road, and started out on foot. It is a difficult, uphill walk, with almost no shade. However the smell of thyme and sage, the silence, and the huge variety of wildlife make this a really lovely walk.

Wild flowers on hike to monastery
As usual, Sage was scrambling ahead, chasing lizards and generally having a good time. We walked for about half an hour, until a voice of reason (not mine) strongly recommended that we didn't continue by foot, as we had absolutely no water with us, and it was a hot midday in June.

The voice of reason was right. We walked back down, and drove up to the monastery. Along the road I saw numerous E4 signs, each one, no matter how high up we had driven, giving the same approximate distance and time of hike - 2 km, 0.5 hours. We'll try the walk again, later in the year, carrying water. I don't think it's very far, but it is a relentless uphill hike, and needs just a little bit of preparation (water, shoes not sandals etc).

View from the monastery
Once you reach the monastery there is potable water for you and your dog to refresh yourselves, while looking at the magnificent view.

My photo does not to it justice. From the top of the hill, outside the monastery, you have a fantastic panoramic view of the Mesaoria plain, and agricultural land down to the coast at Larnaca and beyond.

Stavrovouni monastery (Mountain of the Cross) is the oldest documented monastery on Cyprus. It was founded in the 4th century, according to tradition, by the mother of Constantine the Great Agia Eleni (Saint Helena). Documents by the 15th century chronicler Leontios Makhairas, report that during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Eleni discovered the 3 crosses on which Christ and the 2 thieves were crucified. The tradition continues that she left one of the crosses behind after being shipwrecked in Cyprus. In response to the miraculous appearance of the Holy Cross on the peak of the hill on which the monastery now stands, Eleni left a piece of the cross on the hill, and founded a small chapel there.

See Cyprus Tourism Organisation website: http://www.visitcyprus.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3hXN0fHYE8TIwMLtzBXA6NQ48DAoBAjQwMvE_3g1Dz9gmxHRQBtfxRy/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/English__en/CTO+B2C/Tourist+Information/Culture/Sites_and_Monuments/Stavrovouni_Monastery

The monks living at the monastery are very devout. Women are not permitted inside, and men must wear appropriate clothing.

The monastery houses various relics, including the fragment of the Holy Cross, and the Brotherhood have a long tradition of icon painting.
After the visit to the monastery, we drove around the area looking for somewhere nice and shady to cool down with a drink. We drove by a small picnic area just off the road before Kornos, which looked like it might be a good dog-friendly place. In the end we stopped just outside the village of Pyrga, at the  dog-friendly Periptero H Mesaoria (http://travelcypruswithyourdog.blogspot.gr/2013/06/periptero-h-mesaoria-pyrga-with-your-dog.html), which also had a park and picnic area just behind.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stay in Pafos (or West Cyprus)... with your dog

Taking advantage of Mum's visit to break the rules
I haven't spent much time in Pafos itself, but I really like the surrounding countryside there. I've been to a few of the small villages up in the mountains above Pafos, and stayed in the lovely village of Pano Arkourdaleia with my dog (see my earlier post - http://travelcypruswithyourdog.blogspot.gr/2013/06/chloes-house-pano-akourdalia-pafos.html). I really recommend this area for some of the most picturesque parts of the Cypriot coast, and for the interesting mountain hikes.

Until I get the chance to try out a few of these hotels and apartments for myself, I'll have to rely on reviews and information given on holiday accommodation sites, such as Booking.com. Wherever possible, I have contacted the owners to check their pet-friendly policies. I will update this information as soon as I find the excuse to go and stay at some of these places, with my dog!

I checked prices for the start of September. Prices may vary. This list is not comprehensive, and I would love to hear from any hotel/apartment owner who has a pet-friendly policy (just leave your details in the comment box below).

In Pafos

Unfortunately, I can only verify one hotel in Pafos town itself, from the list of pet-friendly hotels on Booking.com

Agapinor Hotel
The Agapinor is a 3 star hotel, with good reviews. Prices start from 50 Euros for a double room with city view. It's a modern building, with swimming pool, close to the beach.

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

Website: http://www.agapinorhotel.com.cy/index.html
I received a friendly, positive response from the Agapinor Hotel:
As we are a pet friendly Hotel we could accommodate you and your pet however it would be in a room at the car parking level. The Room is a twin bedded room with of our Hotels usual amenities private bathroom etc, however the view is only of the car park.
Also our pet policy is that the pets are not allowed in the rooms on their own hence avoiding barking of the dog and must be under the supervision of the owners at all times. Also the Pets are not allowed in the dining and public area and pool area but in the lobby supervised.

Around Pafos

Lasa Heights Hotel
This small, family-owned hotel is located 19 km from Paphos, in the mountains, with views of the Akamas Peninsular. Prices start from 70 Euros for double room. The Lasa Heights has received few, but good reviews, and is included in websites promoting eco- and agro-tourism in Cyrpus.

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

Website: http://www.lasaheights.com

I received the following short but welcoming reply to my email: 
We do not mind the size of the dog as long is a friendly dog
Elpida's Stone Houses
These beautiful, traditional rentals (with swimming pool) are in the village of Goudi, about 24 km from Pafos town. Prices from 60 Euros per night for a one bedroom apartment. I didn't find any reviews on Booking.com

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

Website: http://www.elpida.mycyprusagrotourism.com/#HOME
Although they replied that big dogs are not permitted inside the apartment, I really appreciated that they tried to suggest alternatives, and to be accommodating. This still seems a good option, as long as your dog is happy to sleep outside :
I’m afraid that the dog cannot be hosted inside the apartment; however there is a specific area for each one of the apartments (something like a veranda) where the dog can stay safely. We also have a big area behind the resort (a field) where the dog can play or even be hosted there.
 In some cases where the dog is calm enough and there is no risk to damage any furnitures and is not to hairy we may alow a dog to stay inside the apartment, but a labrador may be too big.

Claim to be pet-friendly on Booking.com, but as I didn't manage to contact them, I can't be sure

Kiniras Hotel
This 3 star hotel looks fabulous from the photos (it's one of the top on my list to try out!). It is a beautifully restored 15th century Venetian building, based in Pafos old town and has easy access to the beach, bars, shops etc. Reviews on Booking.com were mostly pretty good, and prices start from 50 Euros for a (economy) double room.

Booking.com:  Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable

Hotel website:  http://www.kiniras.cy.net
I didn't receive an answer from this hotel, so recommend you call/email to check before booking

Dora Apartments
These apartments are outside of the town of Pafos, in the village of Kissonerga (9km from the town). Prices start from 60 Euros for a studio. There were only 2 reviews, both quite positive.

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

Website: http://www.dora-apartments.com
No email address or contact form on website, so I couldn't check the pet-friendly policy, I recommend you phone to check: Tel: +357 99655867

Sunny Hill Hotel Apartments
Another 3 star, with reasonable prices (from 47 Euros for an apartment with sea view), and good reviews. These apartments are centrally located, and close to the sea

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable

Website: http://www.sunnyhill.com.cy
Unfortunately, I received the following response, and I'm not sure it that means that it is not convenient for the particular dates, or for the size of the dog, or just generally it is a problem to have dogs there...
We are very sorry but we are goimg to have problem with our guest staying in our hotel.
Androniki House
This is a beautiful house with traditional architecture. It features on various Agrotourism/Ecotourism sites. Located in the village of Episkopi, it provides the opportunity to enjoy the life of Pafos (10km away), and to escape from the crowds after. Prices start from 60 Euros for a one bedroom apartment, and the reviews are pretty good.

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable.

I didn't find a website, so could not check the pet-friendly policy

Dalia Villa
Dalia Villa is located near to Coral Bay, 12 km from Pafos. I only found one review for this villa, but it was quite good. Prices from 190 Euros per night for a 4 bedroom villa with swimming pool.

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

I didn't find a website, so could not check the pet-friendly policy

Pendalia Villa
This 3 bedroom villa has a private swimming pool and mountain views. It is situated about 19km from Pafos. I didn't find any reviews for Pendalia Villa. Prices from 156 Euros per night

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable

I didn't find a website, so could not check the pet-friendly policy

Amarakos Guesthouse
Kato Arkourdalia (pretty far from Paphos, in lovely area). Pretty good reviews. 75 euros for studio (2 adults)
Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges.

Socrates Apartments
These apartments received very good reviews. They are located in the small town of Polis Chrysochous, near Latsi Beach. Prices from 45 Euros for a one bedroom apartment.

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

Website: http://www.socrates-apartments.gr
Unfortunately, no response to my email

Natura Beach Hotel and Villas
This 3 star accommodation is located in the town of Polis Chrysochous, and has received good reviews on Booking.com. Prices start from 100 Euros for a twin room. 

Booking.com: Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges

Website: http://www.natura.com.cy/hotel-room-villas
Again, no reply to my email, so I can't say for sure that all pets are permitted

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Explore the Vasilikos Valley... with your dog

Kalavasos Dam
One hot day in July, I was lucky enough to have a brief tour of the Vasilikos Valley by one of the main specialists of Bronze Age Cyprus, archaeologist Alison South (director of excavations at Agios Dimitrios, Kalavasos, and co-director of the Vasilikos Valley Project). Together with archaeologist Ian A. Todd, Alison surveyed a total of 135 sites throughout the valley, from the Aceramic Neolithic to the Mediaeval period (see page of the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Cyprus: http://www2.ucy.ac.cy/isa/ekdilosis%20synedria/13.htm)

A good, basic summary of archaeological work carried out in the area of the Vasilikos Valley can be found here: http://www.kalavasos.org/en/archaeological-places-len/archaelogies-len/
There is so much to see in this area, it is well worth a full day exploring. The Bronze Age site of Agios Dimitrios is closed to the public, but you can see quite a lot from outside the fence. Another important site in the area, the Neolithic settlement at Kalavasos-Tenta, which is visible from the nearby road (Larnaca-Lemesos) due to its impressive tent-like modern shelter, is open to the public Monday-Friday. (see Department of Antiquities, Cyprus website for more information on Kalavasos-Tenta:  http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/da/da.nsf/All/F9048934D768E989C225719B003413CE?OpenDocument)
View towards to sea from the Kalavasos Dam

While visiting archaeological sites is not an obvious dog-friendly activity, this area has a lot to offer for a day out with your dog. We started by the old copper mines, just outside of the village of Kalavasos. From here you can take various paths around the valley, which is really incredibly beautiful and quiet. The mountains here do not have the impressive height of the Troodos, but seem to continue endlessly off into the distance in every direction, and since so few people visit this area, it is wonderfully peaceful.

From the mines, we drove the short distance to the dam, and walked across the top where the views are fantastic. This dam provides water year round for the villages of the Vasilikos Valley. You can fish there too, with a license.

Alison told me of sites that were submerged when the dam was constructed, as well as of the paths you can take from there up to various tiny mountain villages (such as Parsata and Vavla) and beyond, to the Monastery of Panagia Galaktotrofousa.

Exploring in the other direction from Kalavasos, you can find the late Roman settlement of Kopetra (just off the B1 going toward Mari), where excavations uncovered a number of dwellings, as well as 3 small basilicas (6-7th century AD). For location see: http://pleiades.stoa.org/places/707544

As it was too hot for hiking, we just wandered around the dam looking at the views, but I am definitely going to come back to explore this area more thoroughly in the autumn.

View Larger Map

Friday, 9 August 2013

Stay in Nicosia... with your dog

I've been doing some on-line research on pet-friendly hotels in Nicosia. From a list of nearly 40 hotels, the following state that they accept pets, some with possible 'extra charges', some with size restrictions...

I would recommend that anyone looking to stay in a hotel in Nicosia with their dog contact the hotel and tell them the size and breed of dog in advance.

Hotels and studio apartments are listed here in order of price (budget to top end) and it seems that there are dog-friendly hotels to suit every budget.

Just to emphasise - I haven't stayed at these hotels myself, reviews based on those found on Booking.com

Asty Hotel 
This is a 2 star hotel with great reviews. It is located pretty close to the walled city of Nicosia (centre). Prices start from 30 Euros

Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges.

Booking.com general information:

Asty Hotel website:

I contacted the Asty Hotel and asked whether a Sage-sized dog (lab, 30 kilos) would be allowed. I received a swift response, telling me that all pets are welcome, with a polite and reasonable caution to keep them quiet during the night. They also mentioned that dogs are not permitted in the communal breakfast area - again, I find this very sensible.

Lykavitos Hotel
At the time of writing, this central Nicosia hotel was offering a deal - 49 Euro for studios (normally 56 Euros)


Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable. 


I didn't find a website for the Lykavitos Hotel (nor contact details), so I couldn't check if their pet-friendly policy applies to dogs of all sizes/breeds, or what the extra charges might be

Lordos Hotel
Lordos Hotel seems a good bet for the lower budget hotels. It is central, prices start from 60 Euros for 1 bedroom apartment, and it has fairly good reviews.

Pets are allowed on request. No extra charges. 


Website:   http://lordoshotelapartments.com

They responded to my email with a nice, friendly answer:
We are a pet friendly hotel and we accept all sizes of dogs.

Hotel Averof
Another reasonable hotel with good reviews. Hotel Averof is centrally located. Prices from 60 Euros for a double room

Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable. 


Website:  http://www.averof.com.cy

The Kapitani Residence
Prices here start from 69 Euros for a one bedroom apartment. These apartments have received good reviews, but are a little far from the centre of Nicosia (2.5km)

Pets are allowed on request. Charges may be applicable.


I didn't find a website for the Kapitani Residence apartments, or contact details, so I couldn't check if their pet-friendly policy applies to dogs of all sizes/breeds, or what the extra charges might be

Hotel Hilton Park
This 4 star hotel is a little out of the centre of town. At the time of writing, prices start from 148 Euros
Booking.com states that :

Pets are allowed. Charges may be applicable. 


On the Hilton Park website, however, it specifies that service animals are permitted, and SMALL pets. I did not find an email contact to find out how small is 'small'. Nor to ask when or why charges would be applicable...

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Hiking around the Akamas Peninsular... with your dog

While we were enjoying a break earlier this year in the west of the island (staying at Chloe's House, Pano Arkourdalia see post 9/6/2013), we took the chance to do a bit of hiking around the beautifully unspoilt Akamas Peninsular. We were there in late April, and it was perfect - very few people around, lovely warm weather but not too hot to move - for anyone lucky enough to be in Cyprus in the Spring, I strongly recommend a trip to this area.

Not knowing the area at all, I followed the advice of my Lonely Planet and headed for the Aphrodite Nature Trail, that begins from the Baths of Aphrodite.
Baths of Aphrodite 
I've read a few negative reports of the Baths. It is basically a small spring surrounded by lush vegetation, no more, no less. We stayed there for about 2 minutes as there were coach loads of tourists filing through taking photos, and, of course, we had our dog Sage with us so crowds are to be avoided. From the baths you follow signs for 2 nature trails: The Adonis and The Aphrodite. We chose Aphrodite, and I'd love to go back and walk the other trail too. I should say here, we actually managed to miss the signs, and do the trail in reverse. I'm not sure if this made it more difficult ... perhaps a bit.
View over the peninsular from the Aphrodite Trail
The start of our backwards Aphrodite Trail took us along a flatish trail, next to the sea. After about 30 minutes, we started to ascend, and this was pretty hard work. There are, however, benches and view points to stop along the way, with fantastic views out over the peninsular. We were climbing (slowly) for another half hour or so.

Once you finish the climb there are a few possible paths - we found markers on some of the rocks and followed those. We also found one possible route blocked by a pair of intimidating goats with the biggest horns I've ever seen. I pretended I was only concerned on Sage's behalf, not for my own safety of course, and we headed in the opposite direction pretty fast.
Ruined Tower, believed to have belonged to a
medieval monastery
The route flattens out, and you finally come to a wonderfully shady grove, with fresh spring water for thirsty dogs, a majestically old and large tree, and the ruins of the Pyrgos tis Rigainas (Queen's Tower). Not much remains of the Tower, but it's isolated location, especially coming across it after a long, hot walk, makes it seem quite romantic. You can find small fragments of painted wall plaster still adhering to the bases of some walls.

This is the point where, had you gone the right way on the trail, you would part company with the Adonis Trail, which winds up through the mountains and inland, while the Aphrodite descends slowly down by the coast.

From this wonderful resting point, our route was all downhill (i.e., usually the trail begins with this fairly steep, but shorter ascent). Soon enough we came in sight of the coast and our starting point. It took us about 3 hours, with a longish stop at the Tower (admiring wall paintings and climbing trees).
At the resting point by the Tower
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (http://www.visitcyprus.com/wps/portal) describes some of the plants and wildlife you will see along the nature trails in this area:

Nature trails go from near sea level past carob, mastic and eucalyptus climbing up to juniper and pine. Along the way you can see rare endemic plants, like the Cyprus orchid, tulip and crocus.

This is a great hike to do with your dog any time other than high summer - there is little shade along the way, except for by the Queen's Tower. You should carry water with you, although you can fill up again at the Tower (potable water). I found this trail quite hard going, but there wasn't any scrambling and the path was quite well maintained. The trail is circular, 7.5 km, and categorised difficulty level 2/3. Apart from goats, and heat, this is great for dogs - Sage spent a very happy morning chasing lizards and bounding up the path.

View Larger Map

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cyprus by bus... with your dog

Buses in Cyprus run fairly frequently (although they stop running quite early in the evening), and are usually the cheapest option for exploring the island. There are intercity buses, running between Larnaca, Lemesos, Nicosia etc, as well as smaller, local buses. You can find information on bus routes from the site below: http://www.cyprusbybus.com/default.aspx

I contacted the bus company to ask whether dogs are permitted on the buses. The answer:
"You are allowed to have pets on board in special baskets with dimensions up 70X40X50cm."
I checked, and this means with you on the bus, not underneath with the luggage. There have been horror stories of pets dying from heat and lack of air when traveling in the luggage section of buses in some European countries. Please don't risk this, ever!

Sage's carrier is a bit larger than the permitted size - 70x50x90 cm - and I don't know how I would manage to carry that, with Sage inside, onto a bus. I've also been on Cypriot buses without my dog, and they can get pretty crowded. I suppose if you board the bus at the first stop, and disembark at the final stop, so you can take your time, this might be manageable. I would recommend this option if you have a small dog that you can carry, but not really for anything above 15-20 kilos (or however much you can comfortably carry).

Unfortunately, this information is not available on the Cyprus by bus website. I did receive an official answer to my query however, so do protest if you are refused entry by individual bus drivers.