The closest entrance to the wilderness of the Akamas peninsula from Pafos is found near Lara Bay—just follow the signs along the coastal road for about 20 kilometres until the surface turns to dirt. To experience the diverse flora and geology of the region, why not take a trek on foot? Look for signs pointing to the Avakas Gorge, where a trail wends its way along a stream bed and through a deep crevice eroded over millions of years by the flow of water. Leave your vehicle in the car park just below the restaurant (the bridge to the car park at the trail’s head has washed out and can only be traversed by foot) and walk through a valley along an unpaved road to the trail. The trail begins in a broad meadow and then continues through a juniper forest; notable plant specimens are identified by markers in Greek and English. The area is a micro-reserve for Centaurea akamantis, an endemic flowering shrub that grows in just one other place on the island. During Spring, you will see abundant wildflowers along the stream of the Avgas River. As you make your way, you will find the path narrowing and the banks becoming more imposing as you enter the gorge. Though stepping stones have been set along the way, be prepared to walk in the stream itself. The cool, shady gorge offers a refreshing respite from the Cyprus sun and a memorable two-hour sojourn into the Akamas wilderness.
All living beings must learn to respect, fear, and love the natural world. How do they express these feelings? In a new exhibition, Ergenç Korkmazel will propose that rituals play an important role in creating a visual poetry for understanding nature. ‘Rituals and Poetry of Nature’ will include such scenes as a ceremonial bath in a fountain and a solemn gathering of flowers in a meadow. The photographer aims to suggest that through such rituals, one can be nurtured by the natural world and attuned to its beauties and secrets. This process, he will argue, is critical in the modern world, constructed as it is of concrete walls that separate us from the outdoors. The opening reception takes place on Saturday, 4 May, from 20:00 in Danae. After hearing opening remarks by artist Miriam McConnor, attendees can enjoy a cocktail reception, live music, and the exhibition itself. The photographer will be on hand to answer questions. Korkmazel was born in 1972 in the village of Stavrokonno in the district of Pafos. After the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, he resettled with his family in the occupied area. He first studied photography in 2001. In 2004, he returned to the town of his birth and pursued a career in photography. He has presented five solo exhibitions and participated in many group shows, including international exhibitions in Denmark and Turkey. He was the first official photographer of ‘Pafos: 2017 European Capital of Culture’. The exhibit runs through 20 May 2019.
The pale pink, lightly scented blossoms of the almond tree are a harbinger of Spring in Cyprus. The tree was brought to the island in antiquity from Western Asia and has since been cultivated for the nut found inside the stone of its fruit. Almond nuts can be eaten raw and are a good source of protein and fibre. In Cyprus, almonds are most frequently encountered in beloved desserts. Daktyla, for example, are made by coating a thin layer of pastry with a paste of chopped almonds, cinnamon, sugar, and rosewater and rolling it into a tube; the tube is fried in oil and drizzled with a syrup made from honey, lemon peel, cinnamon, and cloves. During the fall harvest, treats made from almonds are featured in village grape festivals. White grapes are crushed, heated to form a syrup, and then combined with flour to form a kind of jelly known as palouzes. Though palouzes can be enjoyed on its own, it is also an essential ingredient in soutzoukos, the distinctive sweet in which almonds are threaded on a string and then dunked into the jelly; look for these candle-shaped delicacies in the sweet shops of Geroskipou village near Pafos. Other popular treats that contain almonds include kataifi (nests of phyllo stuffed with nuts and syrup) and glygo amygalo (preserved almonds). To celebrate the arrival of Spring, Almyra commissioned Yiannis Sakelis to paint an almond tree in bloom on its garden wall. It’s a sign of sweet things to come!
Pafos is home to several Christian monasteries founded during the Middle Ages. The two largest, Agios Neofytos and Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa, were formed in the twelfth century. Then, the Byzantine Empire and its capital, Constantinople, were beset with attacks by Seljuk Turks from the east and Latin crusaders from the west; many Byzantines sought communal safety in Cyprus. A growing interest in asceticism also led some believers to set up hermitages. A Christian named Neofytos, for example, carved a set of three connected cells into a cliffside above Pafos. This complex, called the Enkleistra, has domed ceilings with frescoes depicting the final days of Christ and furnishings carved into the stone. After eleven years in seclusion, Neofytos opened his retreat to students and established a cloister that would grow over the centuries into the monastery and museum we can visit today—it is just nine kilometres from the town centre. A bit further afield, the Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery is situated in the hills about 40 kilometres away. It was founded by Ignatius, a monk who discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary while walking along the Pafos coast. When he removed the icon from the sea, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who asked him to build a monastery—which he established in 1152. The complex fittingly includes an important collection of icons along with a winery. You can visit it on 20 April with sister hotel Annabelle’s Monastery and Winery Tour; contact Guest Services for details and reservations.
Traveling with a baby can be a daunting task—parents need to provide constant care while anticipating the baby’s needs throughout the trip. Almyra’s Baby-Go-Lightly programme alleviates the stress by allowing parents to order supplies in advance. Just fill out the online form and the items will be waiting for you in your room! Jars of baby food are available in a variety of sizes and flavours. For beverages, we offer fruit juice (apple or pear) and formula milk (sterilisers and bottle warmers are available, too). Planning to give the baby a bath? We’ll provide a complimentary tub; just tick the boxes to order baby bath gel, shampoo, powder, or lotion. There’s no need to worry about running out of nappies—just pre-order what you need (sizes 1 to 6 are available). We also have all the supplies for nappy changing and potty training. Your active baby will need some special items to enjoy the holiday: order up swim nappies and flotation aids for a dip in the pool or sea. We can provide a baby gym with mat, puzzles, a colouring book with crayons, and storybooks in English and Greek. Also on hand are baby walkers, buggies, bouncy chairs, carrier pouches, and booster seats for cars. Children’s menus and high chairs are available in restaurants that welcome children. When it’s time for bed, we’ll bring warm milk and biscuits to the room. If you want to spend some time alone, just request a babysitter from Guest Services. Traveling with your baby couldn’t be easier!
Want a souvenir from your trip to Cyprus? Instead of an object, consider bringing back the skills to make a meal from the local cuisine. At Almyra, chef de partie Elpida Kyriacou teaches a master class in cooking meze—the small dishes that make up a meal in the traditional taverna. Guests are invited to the live cooking station in Mosaics, where they can learn how to make four or five dishes. Start with an easy dip like tzatziki by mixing shredded cucumbers, Greek yoghurt, chopped mint, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper. Then try your hand at dolmades: Elpida will teach you how to blanch the grape vine leaves and refresh them in ice water, prepare the stuffing of minced lamb, white onion, tomato, rice, and chicken stock, season the mixture with lemon juice, cinnamon, and herbs, and stuff the leaves before finishing the dish in the oven. The secret to serving grilled halloumi cheese successfully rests in creating the proper salsa; you will learn how to combine the right proportions of olive oil, tomato, red onion, parsley, and fresh mint leaves. Preparing prawns with ouzo takes some skill. Elpida will help you peel and de-vein the prawns before you sauté them halfway. After removing the prawns from the pan, you will add garlic, onion, and tomato before deglazing the pan with ouzo. Then you return the prawns for cooking and seasoning. Instruction is not limited to these dishes: you can work out a bespoke programme. Take home her recipes and memories you can savour again and again.