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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day Four: A Trip Down Lemesos Lane

It was day four and I woke up feeling as though I belonged to this area. Not a stranger; yet so enthused and enlightened as though there was so much to learn and see. I was hungry since I missed dinner the night before----on purpose as I was well too aware of my major failing and that is good food attracts -------and the food was both plentiful and good!
I decided to work on my blog and articles that night. The hunger was there this morning however and I quickly showered and went to have breakfast.
The Mediterranean Beach Hotel was lavish with its buffet breakfasts and there was much to enjoy. I was "good" however and limited myself to one plate of eggs, bacon, some cold cuts, grilled zucchini and olives. The smiling young lady who served me leaned that my penchant for coffee knew no bounds and a large coffee pot was "plonked" on my table with a mischievous grin that basically meant--"There you go---enjoy your cups of coffee----you really love your coffee don't you!"
I did and I appreciated the second pot that she brought over also!
The time went quickly and I realized that it was time for me to meet my new guide. I was late!
 I climbed up the marble staircase from the hotel garden where the breakfast area was located and met my new guide, Andri, in the hotel foyer near its main entrance.
Slim, a petite five four with a distinctive pretty face hidden by a striking pair of dark glasses, Andri gave the large smile that I had become accustom to from those I had met in Cyprus so far.
Today we were going to visit Lemesos or as it is also known as Limassol.
The day was the same as the last three---sunny, blue sky up above and warm. It was a perfect day to tour the town I was staying in.
Old Limassol And Food Market
Limassol is a splendid mixture of old and new. Amongst the modern roads and luxury hotels is a plethora of ancient and medieval archaeological  sites  such as Limassol Castle which was built in the 12th Century and later demolished by Turkish invaders. It was rebuilt later in the 16th Century. It is here in the Chapel of St. George that Richard married his fiancee, Berengaria de Navarre.
We toured more of the old town  It was bustling like any vibrant city would be doing.
An interesting spot was the food market, which was much like many southern European markets of its type---full of vegetables, fish, poultry and other odds and ends for sale. The one thing that denoted the market from others that I have seen in other areas of Europe was the huge archway that formed its entrance.
"Do you know why the arch is so tall and large?, asked Andri. I shrugged my shoulders in a "No!"
"In the old days they delivered their goods by camel so the arch had to be high and large for both beast and rider!" she said.
It led my mind to a time gone by without  planes, trains and automobiles and I wondered what it must have been like.
Limassol Marina
Our next stop was the Limassol Marina which showed the modern Limassol to its fullest. Here, docked within the marina were boats of every kind and size but one thing said a great deal about them, they were expensive and not your average outboard motor or fishing boat. It seemed that the rich and wealthy of the World certainly knew the marina well.
The marina had other attributes such as out door cafes where one could eat and have a Cypriot "Super" Coffee in the open air. Moored at the dock was a replica of an ancient Greek/Cypriot ship which looked much like I imagined the ancient vessels which roamed the seas around Cyprus looked like. As a matter of fact, one such vessel which was transporting wine was discovered in 1999. It was packed with 2500 amphorae and was dated at 2300 BC.
Andri and I stopped to have a coffee before heading on our way to our next destination in the Troodos Mountains to a village known as Agios Mama.
Agios Mama and The Rebecca (Revecca) Winery
Agios Mama is located on the southern slopes of the mountain chain and is in the Commandaria region famous for its sweet wine. We visited the Rebecca Winery and were heartily welcomed by lovely Elena Iwannou and after being given the grand tour we shared some delicious wine pairings with the Commandaria wine. Helloumi Cheese was perfect with the wine as were the fruit and nuts that the owners so graciously gave us. One thing that I did notice was the grape trellis that was overhead. The bunches of grapes had little umbrella like structures which were to protect the vines from predatory animals and the sun.  
The wines of Rebecca are made with mainly Xynisteri and Mavro grapes though small amounts of Cabernet, Chardonnay, Maratheftiko and Matro (Mourvedre) are used.
The wines are amazingly good and made with tradition in mind.
We said good-bye to Elena and moved to our next destination which was Kapopetria village.
Kapopetria Village   
This village is located close to 700 metres above sea level.  It has some geographic prominence since it lies where the Kargotis and Garillis Rivers join to flow as one river to Morphou Bay.  Dating back to the seventh or eighth century, the village also shows some activity in ancient times through the discovery of statues dedicated to the Goddess Athena and Hercules. The village is also famous for its association with UNESCO via the Church of "Saint Nikolaos tis Stegis".
St. Nikolaos tis Stegis (Saint Nicholas of the Roof)   
This Remanent of an old monastery is so named since it has additional steep pitched timber roof to protect it from the weather. The church itself houses Byzantine art from the 11th through 19th Centuries and has been declared a World Cultural Heritage  by UNESCO.
After we had our tour of the church we went and walked down the old village cobbled streets. I marveled at the great amount of flowers such as Bougainvillaea, roses and lilies that lined the houses and balconies. This amid the rolling hills of the mountains, weathered but cared for houses and doors plus the golden sunshine certainly made the whole experience fairy tailish and picturesque.
We stopped at a restaurant called Linos where we sat down to have our lunch with a variety of dishes accompanied with some rose wine.
Nestled high (900) metres within almost the centre of the Troodos Mountains is the Village of Omodos. The village is famous for several things among which are George's Bakery where one finds special traditional "Arkatena" or sweet buns as well as "Siousioukkos" which look like stuffed sausage but are actually made from boiled wine batter (Paluze) and walnuts.
The village also has a host or artists which produce jewellery, art and art reproductions. The village is famous for its wine festival and its Church of the Holy Cross which is said to have actual pieces of the cross that Christ was crucified on as well as the skull of the fifth apostle, Saint Phillip.
One item that was also of interesting was the ancient wine press that seemed still operative. The visit was inspiring and relaxing but on the way back to Limassol (Lemesos) it was the magnificent scenery of the mountains shrouded in mist that gave rise to my imagination and appreciation.   
We arrived just in time for supper but since I had such a fine meal at Omodos, I was not hungry so I vegged since tomorrow was another day and another adventure.