Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Dinner at Sea Crest Restaurant, Latchi...with your dog

10/10 for Sage's "Poor me, I'm so hungry" face
While on our 'Spring break' in Latchi this year, we tried out a couple of the local tavernas and restaurants, with the usual criteria: 1) how's the food, and  2) can I bring my dog along?

As it was early in the year, mid April, not all the places were open, and some had only a very limited menu. The Sea Crest Restaurant, by the small harbour area, was one of the few places still open during the evening. As we approached I felt the owner and staff nervously eyeing up our big dog.

Outdoors seating area at Sea Crest Restaurant
Once we said we were happy to sit outside they were extremely friendly and helpful, although I did gather that dogs would definitely not be welcome inside the restaurant (fair enough).

It was a  bit cold, and we had to keep our coats on while eating - but there are very few months in Cyprus where it's too cold to sit outside of an evening. I also really enjoyed sitting by the water and looking at the boats; to me it only feels like a holiday if you can sit out by the sea and eat fish.

View of small harbour from the Sea Crest Restaurant

We had octopus and small fried (whitebait-type) fish, salad, wine, and paid around 15€ per person, which seems a fairly typical price for the more touristy areas of Cyprus.

The owner turned out to be very friendly, and quite an animal-lover himself. He gave Sage quite a lot of attention, and brought out a plate of bones for her (so absolutely no reason for the "I'm so hungry" face in the first picture!

Here is their FB page: where you can see some customer reviews, menus and events

Monday, 19 May 2014

Explore the Akamas Peninsula...with your dog

On the coastal road leading to Fontana Amoroza from the Baths of Aphrodite
I love this part of the island and would be very happy to spend more time exploring around here. This is the second time we've visited Akamas; last year we hiked the Aphrodite trail, this year we hiked the Adonis trail, as well as spending some time exploring the northern part of the peninsula. Both times we visited the Akamas area it was very early in the season (April this year) and there were very few people around. Also the weather was perfect for hiking; some of these paths would be very hard work in the heat of the Cypriot summer!

The day that we just bimbled along the coastal path from the Baths of Aphrodite, I was just recovering from a cold and was feeling quite unwell. I had in mind a very short, easy walk to the first small beach I remembered seeing from the path when we were following the Aphrodite trail last year. We didn't have much of a plan, except to walk a bit, enjoy being by the sea, and let Sage have a run around.

We followed the path along past where we had previously turned up the mountain for the Aphrodite trail, and shortly afterwards found a way down to the sea. 

Around this point I had a little run in with a group of people speeding through the wildlife on quad bikes. It seemed like an organised trip, which makes this even worse in my opinion. They came by us really fast, whipping up the dust in our faces. Of course we held Sage and got out of the way fast, but I wonder whether the wild animals in the area have the same chances of survival? I wish the CTO would get on the case to preserve one of the last remaining areas of natural beauty on Cyprus' coastline, and restrict the areas where vehicles are allowed to go. Everyone should be entitled to enjoy Cyprus' wildlife, but if the goal is to race through trying to go as fast as possible and make as much noise and dust as possible - doesn't seem like you need to be in an area of outstanding natural beauty, destroying it for everybody else.... gurrrrrumpf.

There are a few small pebbly coves along here. While we were here there were a couple of groups of walkers and families, but not too many that it felt busy. 

I was very tempted by the sea here, but was trying to get over my cold; it probably would have helped, but I wasn't feeling brave..

Inevitably, our short, easy walk became something quite a bit longer. I have inherited my Dad's trait of always wanting to see what's around the next headland, just going on to the next cove.... and around this patch of coast each time we got around the next headland, there was another inviting looking path or beach or something to tempt me on further.

We didn't get all the way to the tip of the peninsula, I would like to do this whole walk sometime when not feeling unwell. I found some dive companies and boat tours that operate around this coast during the summer months (which could mean it gets a bit busy and hard to have your dog with you in July/August time), which listed some of the points of interest along this stretch. 

After the small beaches, we came to an area of eroded limestone pinnacles and a bit further on was a small cave. 

All along this path you had fantastically blue water to one side, the high Akamas peak to the other side, and in between was a small strip of meadow-land full of massive goats and not much else.

We walked as far as the so-called Amphitheatre. This is a historic limestone quarry, which resembles an amphitheatre due to way the rock was removed. Huge square blocks hewn from the stone has left rows of smoothed stone, separating the quarry from the sea.

Again, we had the whole area to ourselves, and it would have been perfect for swimming had the water just been a little bit warmer (or if I was just a little bit braver!)

Have a look at this map and description of the various points of interest around Akamas by the Cyprus diving group -  

I already mentioned that this area may be quite a bit busier in summer. I should also note that there is a serious lack of shade, so if your dog is sensitive to heat, better to go early or late in the day (or better still, visit in April-May when temperatures are not too hot).

Friday, 2 May 2014

Spring break...with your dog

Evening on the beach outside our apartment
For a couple of years we've had a short spring break in the west of the island. Last year, while staying in a village in the mountains between Paphos and Polis Chrysochous, we spent some time exploring the Akamas Peninsular and the coast around Latchi. This year we decided to stay on the coast, and found an apartment just outside of Latchi - Amalia Apartments (+357 26 321825)

View of Amalia Apartments from the beach
The website states that the Amalia Apartments accept dogs on request, so we phoned to request. Although our experience was extremely positive with this place, I do want to have a small grumble about the 'sizeist' attitude landlords and restaurant owners seem to have when it comes to dogs - we were asked what size our dog was - and I can't see what difference it makes. If you claim to be dog friendly, it should not make a difference what size your dog is. And it doesn't even make sense; if you are concerned about damage, asking what age the dog is more relevant, or perhaps even the breed (although obviously I don't approve of this either).

Master Bedroom in our apartment
Anyway, the landlord met us, and had no problem with our (slightly bigger than average) dog. He was perfectly nice and friendly, and even gave her a quick pat.

The apartment we stayed in was big enough for a family of 5! It was huge. (Plenty of space even for a Great Dane!) There was a large open plan living and dining area, with tv, internet access, comfortable seats etc, as well as fully equipped kitchen. We paid 42€ per night.
Second smaller bedroom with single bed

The external areas were lovely, although not ideal for dog owners.

At the front of the apartments was a small paved area, with pub-garden table and benches. This was a lovely place to sit, and right by the beach too. However, it was not enclosed and there is a fairly busy road between the apartment and the beach. For inquisitive dogs who like to wander off, probably better to sit out the back...

At the front of the apartment
At the back of the apartments was a communal garden area with swimming pool, grassy area, and a sad looking tennis court. I'm not sure how our only neighbours felt about Sage peeing on the grassy lawn. We did try to stop her, but she just couldn't resist it. The landlord didn't tell us any 'rules', but I imagine other guests would not want dogs running around by the pool. Again, this area was open, so a bit hard to contain your dog.

Just next to the apartments was a small area of wasteland that was used for parking, which was very convenient for dog peeing, when we could persuade her away from the grass.

Swimming pool and grassy garden

Living area and kitchen
Outside our apartment

While we were there, during early April, there were hardly any tourists around. Probably it gets more difficult to be there with your dog during the high summer season, but in Spring it is great. There is a sign on the beach outside Amalia Apartments, forbidding dogs to bathe, but not actually forbidding them being on the beach... maybe I'm just being pedantic. But there was nobody around to complain anyway.

It was lovely to open our door and be right on the beach; to be near some amazing places for hiking and exploring, some of the loveliest beaches. I would recommend this area of Cyprus to everyone, and the Amalia Apartments to anyone (with or without a dog) looking for a reasonably priced, self catering apartment by the beach.