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.