Monday, 30 June 2014

Cool off in the Troodos Mountains... with your dog

Neither me nor my dog deal very well with the heat. We both spend our days seeking out shady spots to hide in and trying to expend as little energy as possible. Sage, with her medium length black fur coat, really suffers during hot days. So, heading up to the cooler, shady Troodos mountains is a great way to pass the hottest days. 

At the Caledonian Waterfalls (June 2014)
We've spent a lot of time in this area, hiking the nature trails, eating and drinking in the small villages, staying in some of the lovely Agrotourism accommodation available there. It always feels much cooler there (so much so that we froze up there in April last year while it was almost beach weather in the coastal areas), and we have even managed to hike some of the more covered, woodland trails in mid summer. 

Our most recent visit was last weekend. We drove as far as the lovely, shady Platres, and spent some time exploring the village. A friend of mine was visiting, so we took her to see the Caledonian Waterfalls (that I've written about in a previous post, here). Also in this are are the Milomeris Waterfalls, which are at the end of a short walk through woodland, although these falls attract more visitors so a bit less chance to let your dog run around freely, see my review here

Sage posing at Milomeris Waterfalls
Sage posing at Caledonian Waterfalls

This was the first time in several days that I had seen Sage really running around, frollicking even, clearly loving the icy water and shady paths. There were quite a few visitors there, some with their dogs too, including a family who had brought their dog on holiday with them from Russia! Most people kept their dogs on their leads. I find this really tough as there are relatively few places I can let Sage really run at her own speed, to go and sniff whatever she likes, to jump in the water freely - I don't want to ruin her fun. However, I suppose as it gets to summer time and the trails are busier with families and holiday-makers, dog owners may have to have this in mind. 

I have read reviews saying that there was little or no water in the Falls during the summer. These waterfalls are not spectacular and visitors should not expect Niagra Falls here, but the enjoyment comes from following the lovely woodland paths, looking at unusual and endemic species of plant life, crossing the stream on small rickety bridges, enjoying the cooler mountain air and the contrast to the wildlife and climate of the rest of the island. 

Antonis Cafe, Pano Platres

At Antonis Restaurant, Platres

After a long walk (and bit of a swim for some of us) we went to have lunch in Pano Platres. I am sure many of these places would have accepted dogs in the outdoors areas of the cafes/restaurants, but we chose somewhere that looked big with plenty of space to sit with Sage out of the way of other customers. This was Antonis Cafe, on the main road through Pano Platres just by the municipal parking and tourist information area.

At Antonis Cafe, Platres
The staff were very friendly and didn't have any problem with Sage being there. They made an effort to produce a vegetarian option for us, although I think the usual menu is sandwiches/burgers/snacks. A very large fresh salad, halloumi, bread, olives, tahini, 2 beers and water came to just 15€.

We finished our day out with a coffee stop at a place that I am a bit ambivalent about. Green Valley Waterfall Cafe is on the road from Lemesos up to Troodos, in Trimiklini. It has a large open patio space with tables, as well as a covered area, and, what makes it special, a lovingly made path down to some waterfalls absolutely full of plants and animals. I wrote about it here.

I thoroughly recommend spending the 5€ entrance fee to drink your coffee or have a picnic down at these waterfalls. What I don't recommend, however, is sitting with your (female?) dog in the cafe itself. The owner has two small but rather aggressive female dogs that have tried pretty hard to attack Sage on two occasions now. I understand the territory issue, but I was annoyed that I could not enjoy my coffee without fear of being attacked. If you have your dog with you, just head on down to the waterfalls for a more relaxing, peaceful experience.

Green Valley Falls Cafe, Trimiklini

Green Valley Falls, Trimiklini
There is so much to explore in this area and it provides a very welcome break from the heat and bustle of the coast. Your dog will love it too.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

More venues for watching the World Cup...with your dog

Games are projected onto the wall of the bar in the evenings
Trying to watch the games while out and about in Larnaca with my large dog has been a challenge. We have found a couple of favourites, and it has motivated me to try out a few different places that I had noticed but hadn't got around to. We have also been turned away from quite a few!

While trying to catch Germany vs Portugal last week, the bar I had planned to go to was closed, the game begun, we were turned away from several places, and I was feeling hot and bothered trying to watch on a distant screen from outside a popular coffee shop... when I heard the commentary from the neighbouring rooftop cafe bar Le Jardin, and decided to give it a go.

Le Jardin Cafe Bar

Le Jardin Cafe Bar is on Grigori Afxentiou Street, which ends at Larnaca Police Station, opposite from the Easy Hotel.

I had noticed this bar on previous trips to town, and thought it looked nice from the outside, but had not expected them to accept dogs and therefore put off giving it a go.

Le Jardin is beautifully decorated with lots of plants, comfortable sofas, inviting lighting. Everyone in there was immediately very friendly and gave Sage a lot of attention. There was another group already there with their dog, a friendly Pomeranian who seemed like quite a regular there.

The match was showing in the early evening, and as it started to get dark I was half distracted from the tvs by the hundreds of swallows diving around the skies around the rooftop bar, as well as by the changing colours from the setting sun. Despite being situated on a main, busy road, as soon as you climb the stairs up to the bar, it is very easy to forget you in the middle of town.

From Sage's point of view, it was nice to get so much attention, but there wasn't much space for her to stretch out as the bar is quite small and narrow. Especially once it got dark, I was quite anxious that someone would step on her as I couldn't really find a corner to hide her away.

From the football point of view, this was a lovely place to watch the game. There were 2 tv screens in the early evening, and as it got dark they projected the screen onto the white wall at one end of the bar so it was even easier to get a good view.

The bar serves cocktails and bottles of beer, as well as sandwiches and wraps. I paid a fairly standard €3 for a coffee.

On their FB page you can find information on the upcoming games, as well as music events and info on the menu:

Le Jardin is a beautifully decorated bar, with a lovely relaxed atmosphere. Simply because of its size and lay out, I might advise taking a large dog somewhere where there is a bit more space, although it's great to have more options, particularly when they are as nice as this one. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Watch the World Cup... with your dog

Watching Mexico vs Cameroon at The Depot

Recently my criteria for choosing a bar to go to in Cyprus just became a little bit harder. Sage just loves football, so at the moment I'm looking for places that not only accept pets, but that are also showing the World Cup. I'm on the look out for dog-friendly bars with garden or terrace areas, and screens outside. Extra points goes to bars with good cheap food, friendly service, and wide range of drinks, of course.

The Depot
We have tried out a couple in the last few days, and our current favourite is The Depot, which is on the beach road just beyond the Fortress at Finikoudes (in the direction of Macenzie Beach). This bar/grill is in a lovely location, especially now work has finished on the walkway by the sea here. If you are not a football fan, you could happily spend your time looking out over the water, and people watching. This 'promenade' was also quite good for a halftime walk with Sage!

Walkway by the sea beyond the Fortress at Finikoudes
Staff at The Depot were very friendly to us, petting Sage, and offering to bring her water. There was plenty of space for Sage to sit out of the way of the other customers, while we still had a good view of the (3!!!) large screens showing the World Cup. 

Drinks were fairly cheap here, about 2.5€ for a large Carlsberg/Keo beer, 2-3€ for a coffee. We also ordered some amazing homemade chips and grilled vegetable wrap, and both dishes cost under 5€.

Terrace area of The Depot
Attention to detail is visible in the decoration both inside and out at The Depot. I loved the use of the breeze blocks from the wall as plant pots and the strange lamps from recycled wine bottles. The large central bar inside also fits well with the style and shape of the building.

The Depot in the evening
So, whether or not you want to see the games, I recommend this bar for food or drinks, with your dog. 
Find them on FB here

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.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sandwich and a view, Koulla's Sandwiches ...with your dog

Koulla's Sandwiches Cantina
We just had a short break in West Cyprus. Just the 3 of us. It was wonderful, and I'm looking forward to posting about the apartment we stayed in, the lovely hikes we went on, the beaches....

But for now, I've decided to tell you about a sandwich place we found. Because this wasn't just any old sandwich place. I think this is one of the best places to sit with a beer (and a sandwich) and enjoy the view that we have found, so far, in Cyprus.

View from Koulla's Sandwiches
I mean, look at this place!

This is Koulla's Sandwiches, just outside the village of Pomos in the West of Cyprus (on Facebook here).

I loved this place because it was perfectly simple; just a kind of 'burger van', with a couple of shady tables, a more sheltered space for the winter, bathroom, just what you need for a quick stop along the road. But, on the other hand,  perched high up on top of a beautiful patch of unspoilt coast, on a quiet part of the road with a back drop of mountains, it had just what you need to happily pass the hours with a beer or two.

Another reason I liked this place was that we had just tried to go to a beach bar a bit further on, towards Latchi, and been put off by prominent 'No Dogs' signs pinned up by the entrance. Of course I understand that not everybody is as dog-obsessed as I am, and some people don't want dogs inside bars and restaurants, but I don't see the problem on an outside patio in a low-key beach bar... 

Anyway. I was pleased to be able to sit somewhere beautiful, with my girl, and enjoy being near the sea and on holiday.   

Koulla's Sandwiches, as you might have guessed, serves a range of sandwiches, with fillings like halloumi, egg, chicken etc. They are large, filling, and cost less than 5€.