There was no real destination today but it was a journey, a perambulation, through the mountains of the Troodos range, starting off with a stop at one of the best bakeries for a piping hot " halloumoti" a small crusty bread full of warm oozing halloumi and plenty of mint. We skipped breakfast on purpose and then proceeded to demolish most of it in one sitting.
Our first stop was Kalopanagiotis a mountain village which lies in the Marathasa valley where in the olden days people would go for the ambient climate and lovely spring waters which emanate from the river which flows through all the valley.
The village has been carefully restored with some funding from the EU and the result is reason enough for us to want to be in this blessed organisation and not, like some others, arguing their way out of it. Beautifully restored village homes, cobbled streets, vines which spread like carpets over the courtyards and small gardens bursting with hydrangeas and lavender. There is a tasteful development called Casale Panayiotis http://casalepanayiotis.com/hotel-overview.html where you find fine restaurants and spas and lovely walled gardens, while other houses in the village have been turned into sensitive agro tourism.
The area is famous for its old painted Byzantine churches - ten of them have World Culture Heritage status and we visited one of the better known ones called St John Lampadistis whose origins are thought to be from the 11th Century. Over the years and to the north of this church two further churches were added dating from the 15th and the 18th century. The frescoes are vibrant and depict the history of the times as well as the sensitivities, the last being considered a Latin church to cater for the Catholics on the island.
We were warmly greeted by a Romanian priest and a Cypriot, who took time to tell us about the history of the church and the monastery which surrounds it exchanging news with Anna on the details. I shall post a video of the church music separately as blogger doesn't seem to cope with them very well. We lit candles and went on our way.
Onto Moutoullas a village famous for its sparking water - the first bottled water in Cyprus. A tiny church here, the Church of the Virgin or Panayia can be dated exactly to 1280 from an inscription in the narthex of the church. The frescoes were paid for by Ioannis Moutoullas and his wife and so it is very likely this was a private chapel. Notice the beautiful saints of St George and St Christopher.
Aren't his strippey socks exquisite ?
Wondering how many offers he will get.
Onto Pedhoulas another mountain village where we headed to the top of the village to visit the little church of Archeangel Michael- to witness what is perhaps the only knitting Virgin Mary in History. Here she is. Wonder what the pattern was ? Was it for Jesus or Joseph ? We will never know.
The door caught my eye
The dip, if there was such a moment in the day, came when we saw the various grand hotels which had been so much part of our youth closed and derelict. The famous Berengaria (named after a Queen) now a shell of thick walls desecrated with graffiti. The beautiful Pinewood Forest in a valley, the pool empty, the windows open and flapping in the wind and last but by no means least, Forest Park Hotel. The silver lining here, if there is one, is that they say this one has been closed for renovation. We shall see.
Descending the mountain range we follow the wine trail heading towards Limassol, so a quick visit to Trooditissa the monastery where our sister Niki was baptised. There was a rather odd statement on the door of the monastery saying tourists were not welcome, but there were many Russians in the grounds paying their respects. The village of Foini is famous for its kilns and its waterfalls and Vouni a little further for its beautiful restored houses, quaint coffee shops and wine. We stopped for cold water and the famous glyko- we chose cherries and walnuts in syrup. Yum.
We returned to Nicosia early evening, to tomatoes in olive oil and oregano, black olives, village bread and a cold Keo.
Cheers everyone !