This is a trip made in October 2011 from Paphos to Nicosia via the Troodos Mountains stopping off in Omodos, Platres, Troodos and Kakopetria before staying the night in Nicosia and crossing the border into the northern Turkish side of the city.
Picked up the Honda HR-V car hire in Paphos at around 0915 and headed eastwards along the motorway A6 towards Limassol (Lemesos as it is sign-posted locally) turning off at Avdimou following signs for Pachna and Omodos. Heading north the road climbs steadily offering views over hills and valleys before arriving in Omodos at 1030. Omodos is a small village on the wine route with a picturesque cobbled square. There are many wine tasting places in the village which also has a number of local embroidery shops. The meandering narrow streets ooze traditional Cypriot character and the village is also home to the Monastery of the Holy Cross, one of the oldest and most historic monasteries in Cyprus.
Driving further north into the foothills of the Troodos Mountains was the small town of Platres. Platres seems to be a place on the move with internet access in most restaurants and cafes and messages from the local Community Council about developments in the town. On the down side these developments need to be paid for and parking in Platres was all pay and display (1 euro for 2 hours). Platres has a leafy Alpine feel to it with the temperature noticeably lower and the air fresher. Views down the valley to the coast at Limassol could only be glimpsed through houses although Platres makes a good stop off for lunch – take your IPad and also catch up on your emails!
Further north is the namesake village of the mountain range, Troodos which turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment. A man-made feel with one large hotel, a couple of restaurants, a small shopping area selling toot and an ice-cream van! The views were possibly spectacular but obscured by cloud and the air was full of odd looking flying insects. Troodos is only 4 Km from Mount Olympus which at 1952 metres is the highest point in Cyprus. At the top is a goverment installation and again there was poor visibility for viewing. The best views of the trip were on the way down from the top of Mount Olympus before joining the main road back to Troodos with spectacular views down the coastline to the sea.
Descending the northern slopes of the Troodos Mountains but still at an altitude of 667m is the charming village of Kakopetria with its main square surrounded by restaurants and shops. On the eastern side of the Karkotis river is the old village which has been beautifully maintained through a preservation order issued in the 1970′s. A walk along the narrow cobbled street reveals a historical look at life in a Cyprus village and is well worth the visit.
Taking the B9 road, the drive to Nicosia was a little slow especially after reaching the outskirts of the city. With only a small map of the old walled city and surroundings, it was a case of asking for directions which were excellent. The car was left overnight at D’Avila Car Park on the south side of the old city which was very close to the accommodation at the Centrum Hotel, located just off Ledra Street, a pedestrianised street with the border crossing across the Green Line into the Turkish Occupied Area of the city.
A walk down Ledra Street is very similar to Carnaby Street in London; trendy shops, cafes, restaurants and bars sit side by side with ubiquitous eateries like Maccy D and KFC. As you stroll north these peter out to reveal a Police Station with prefab building outside. No need to show your passport crossing from south to north as you then enter UN occupied no man’s land. This 50 metre stretch of Ledra Street is surrounded by derelict buildings and a street runs across east to west with huge 10 metre high steel barriers making viewing either over or either side impossible. Along part of this street before the barrier is a building site style screen with large images and commentary of the UN’s efforts to reconcile the situation. Continuing on Ledra Street was Turkish immigration where you can either have your passport stamped or fill out a piece of paper with Name, Nationality and Passport Number and have that stamped. Stamping the piece of paper seemed the sensible option. The north side of Ledra Street picks up where the south side left off with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops. Prices are in Turkish Lira although Euros are accepted but it is probably better to pay by credit card. The streets in the north of the city were much quieter and as dusk fell, the Call to Prayer could be heard from the impressive Arabahmet Mosque.
If you enjoy a beer then try the Efes Pilsen available on draught in a few bars – a very nice drop and far superior to the Keo on offer in the south.