Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day Five: Another Winery, Another Village, Another Church, More Great Sites

Dafermou Winery
Of course the day started much the same as any other day with me rising early and having a great breakfast down in the Mediterranean Hotel's Garden. I had my usual two pots of coffee and of course there was Elena's smile along with one of her peers who sang as he served.
Andri was on time but as usual I was late. It was not going to be a hugely busy day but we did have some ground to cover. I said to myself as I sipped the coffee, "Tomorrow will be another story!"
I was supposed to go out later on in the evening with Stelios and his friends for a night on the town but was not sure how tired I would be when we got back from touring.
We were off to our first spot----The Dafermou Winery is located above the Lefkara Valley and is an ultra modern facility that makes some fine wine.
We were met by Savvas Phakoukakis who gave us a brief tour and tasting of the wines available. We tasted some fine whites and roses as well as some top notch Maratheftiko. At the winery they make a number of blends such as a red Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, a rose Cabernet/Syrah and a White Sauvignon Blanc, Xynisteri, Chardonnay. The wines are very well made with excellent integration  and style.
 Lefkara Village
We enjoyed visiting this winery and soon we were off to visit Lefkara Village which is famous for its Lefkaritika or embroideries as well as its silver crafts. As a point of reference, Lefkara is situated on the southern slopes of the Trodoos Mountains.    When we arrived we saw groups of women along the narrow streets working on their craft much like their mothers and their grandmothers did before. Pictures within a museum show how this has not changed since the faces and dress styles were different but the work was the same.
Lefkara, like many of the other villages, is quite old and has been uninterruptedly  inhabited for many centuries. It is said but unproven that Leonardo Da Vinci came here and purchased  some lace. Nice story but not sure of the accuracy but that is what the villagers stated. It would be nice if it did happen.
Nicosia (Known also as Lefkosia)
Nicosia is Cyprus's largest city, its capital and also its main financial centre. Nicosia's history goes back to at least 2500 BC and subsequently came under the rule of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Romans,Turks and the Byzantines. Richard the Lionheart conquered Nicosia and most of Cyprus in the 12th Century after which it came under the auspices of the Knights of St. John who sold it.
There was a period of Frankish rule after which came the Genoans and Venetians.
The Ottomans invaded Nicosia in the 16th century and remained until the Island of Cyprus came under British domination in the late 19th Century.
In 1960 Nicosia became the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.
Nicosia is split with the northern part being under Turkish occupation since 1974. The southern part remains a vibrant and industrious city.
Nicosia was no different this day. Full of crowds shopping, I briefly stopped to look down Ledra Street at a restaurant called "The Berlin Wall" aptly named since behind it lay a wall that has split a city as well as a country.    
Ledra Street  
Andri and I visited Ledra Street which is the main shopping area of Nicosia. It is loaded with various stores and one can not help but notice that even the golden arches of McDonald's  with its local flavour advertised such as the Helloumi Breakfast (I call it the McHalloumi).
There are a multitude of restaurants which serve a plethora of foods and dishes. Not far is the Archbishop's Palace and St. John's Cathedral.
St. John's Cathedral (Agios Ioannis)
This Gothic church was renovated in the latter half of the 17th Century after it became part of the Orthodox church. Prior it was a Benedictine Monastery until the 15th Century. Inside there are amazingly beautiful and very in tact wall paintings which depict stories from the Bible. It is considered the official state church. The paintings and frescoes were all  intact and absolutely beautiful.
Cyprus Archeological Museum 
Andri took me to the Cyprus Archeological Museum. One of the most amusing times I had on this trip occurred then when she had trouble finding a parking space. She did find one but was afraid that she would get a summons for staying there. She saw a police officer and went up to him to basically say "I am parked there and will be there for about an hour---is it okay since I have a guest from abroad?  The officer looked at her and said--"I can't promise you will not get Andri was livid and was at a quandary as what to do until one of the museum personnel recognized her (she is a licensed guide) and found a space in front of the Museum. Problem solved ------but funny!
The Cyprus Museum was founded in 1888 and has been in existence since. The basic reason for at least part of its founding was to stop the theft of historic relics and articles from Cyprus by expeditions and politicians of other countries. The first law concerning Archaeology in Cyprus was enacted in 1905 and followed by a 1935 law furthering of officialism of the Museum and its goals.
The present museum consists of 14 rooms---each of the room follows a historical chronological and thematic path.
 The exhibits represent Cyprus's prehistory and history. One of the items that truly sent my imagination running was actually a bed that was found in a 7th Century BC tomb at Royal Necropolis of Salamis. The bed was accompanied by a throne (chair) and could easily have been a bed frame from a local modern furniture store. The tomb incidentally was complete with chariot, horses in full battle gear and other treasures.
Andri and toured the museum but soon it was time to go onto our next adventure which was-----lunch!
Kathodon Restaurant  
The Kathodon Restaurant is located within a stone's throw of the "buffer zone" that separates Turkish held territory from that of Cyprus. In fact I could see the Turkish flag flying above the buildings in the distance. The Kathodon was very inviting both inside and out. I usually judge a restaurant's worth by its washroom cleanliness and I must say that I soon felt very comfortable in both the hygiene and quality of the food. No wonder this restaurant is rated 8th or 9th among 237 other restaurants in Nicosia.
The food was amazing and came "Meze" style. The owner specifically included some octopus when he heard I loved seafood. The repas was indeed delicious and varied. The food was accompanied with the usual entree of three types of yoghurt. The salads were amazingly good and fresh and the dishes that came sent my taste buds to new heights.
Soon it was time to go to our last destination but it was about one and a half hours away from Nicosia. Time was not waiting for anyone so we finished up our coffees and off we went.
Larnaka is the third largest city in Cyprus. Once again it has a colourful history just like that of Limassol (Lemesos) and Nicosia (Lefkosia). Its history goes back to at least 1200 BC and probably much further. It is built upon the ruins of a much earlier ancient city called "Citium".
 Apart from having an international airport, Larnaka is famous for its historical sites such as the Church of Saint Lazarus, the Aquaduct which was built in the 18th Century and many sarcophagoi, which are called Larnakes. The city is therefore aptly named.
Church of Saint Lazarus
If one can remember the story, Lazarus was a great friend of Jesus Christ and died while Jesus was away preaching. Jesus did not return to Lazarus until after four full days of his death. By that time, Lazarus was wrapped and sealed in a tomb since bodies began to decompose quickly during those days.
Jesus wept when he found out that his friend had passed and he went to the tomb and ordered Lazarus to awake. It should be noted that the smell of the body was already being noticed. 
The rock was flung away and Lazarus appeared still in his wrap and walking.  
Lazarus later fled Judea and settled in Cyprus where he became a bishop. He died some thirty years after his resurrection and was said to have been buried where the church now is. Some of his bones are on display in the church.
The church itself is quite ornate and unfortunately was damaged in the 1970's and had to be partially restored.
After the church Andri and I drove to the "Foinikudes" which is a very pleasing stretch of beach front promenade that many use for a relaxing and utterly gorgeous scenic walk or to stop and have a coffee or cappuccino while watching the crowd and the rolling waves as they come ashore from the blue Mediterranean.
After a nice cappuccino, and off we went to return to Lemesos for a good rest in order to prepare for the next day to come which was going to be a long one!
End of Day Five