Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Week in the Sun

Spring is slowly creeping toward Kyiv. Winter was not as brutal as I had anticipated. The weather was manageable, but the darkness and gray days were sobering. Luckily, our school had a week long February break. Seven of us fled the dark winter days and headed south to the island nation, Cyprus.

Our first stop was in Prague. I was excited to return to one of my favorite cities on Earth. We made the most of our nine hour layover: eating lunch, watching the astronomical clock, walking the cobble stone streets, crossing the bridge, exploring the castle... Seriously, I don't think I could get tired of Prague. Ever.

We landed in Cyrpus relatively late at night. Our rental car reservation was apparently lost in space . Luckily, Ken was able to find the reservation on his email account and we secured a seven passenger car with a fold out seating area in the trunk. (It was actually surprisingly comfortable!) Our mission was to follow horribly written directions to our rented villa, where our friends, the Mudds, were patiently waiting for us. We spent over 3 hours driving (it was only supposed to be 1 1/2 hours, but like I mentioned, the directions were horrible. Imagine reading something like, "Go to the first intersection after the first stop light and then keep driving through that intersection." I'm not kidding. They were that bad.) and after a brief stop where Nick secured directions for Ken, we finally found our house.
We took our time waking up on Sunday and spent the morning swimming in our heated pool. The air felt light and quite refreshing. Rachel and I loaded ourselves in the Mudd's car, the Chapmans and Nick loaded up in the other and we all left for an off roading adventure. Our first stop was at Coral Bay, where we climbed rocks and let the sea water lap our toes.

The off roading part of the trip reminded me of Albania, complete with a goat crossing. We saw breath-taking scenery and enjoyed an Indiana Jones type trip around the western coast of Cyprus. Eventually, we reached a small town and one open restaurant. The waiter was extremely friendly and fed us food reminiscent of Greece.

The following two days were spent around the city, Paphos. We took walks around our rental home, ate down town, swam in the pool, watched movies when it rained (while the boys went golfing... luckily there where no thunder storms!), went grocery shopping, played pool at a local pub, cooked yummy meals and I burned my finger. These were graceful days filled with pleasant conversation and friendly silences. I loved being with my six friends and enjoying community.Our next great adventure started out with the plan of going to Aphrodite's Bath. Somehow, I had got it into my overactive imagination that the Baths were around a rock in the middle of the sea and that if you swam around the rock three times you would then find love. As a swimmer, I really wanted to swim around it (just for a challenge, mind you, because really, how in heaven's name would that help you find true love?). We all wanted time in the sea and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. This is what greeted us:
It was a tiny waterfall trickling over a tiny pond of water. An eel was swimming there and I doubt he was preoccupied with "love." It wasn't a complete waste of time, though. As usual, I had to use the bathroom. Rachel and I ran down to a restaurant followed by the two cars. This is what we saw:
This magnificent coastline was not a disappointment at all.

Then we split ways. The Chapmans and Nick drove on to the capital city, and the Mudds and the two of us girls went wine tasting and beaching! We found a family owned and operated vineyard where we were treated to a tour of a wine museum (which was primarily family relics) and wine tasting. The wine was adequate and the company grand!

Yep, that's an old distillery in the background. We sampled some schnapps too! (Except Alyssa of course!)
By then, it had heated up to true beach weather. We found a sandwich shop and drove down to the municipal beach. We ate lunch overlooking the sea. Jon went to find a quiet place to do homework and the 3 of us girls went for a nice long walk along the sea. Then, we found a sandy area to camp out in and read our books.

How did we end the beach day? We visited the ancient Tombs of the Kings (where the wealthy were buried, but it's unlikely that the kings were buried here). The tombs were built to look like Cypriot houses. We were allowed free rein of the park and explored all around. I wouldn't mind a final resting place overlooking the sea!

We went home after a stop for tea (Cyprus was once a British colony and of course the influence is everywhere). Tea for Two became a tasty spot for snacking, lunching and sneaking dessert! The rest of our group joined us later, after we had fixed dinner and were enjoying a night swim in the pool. They had had an amazing adventure in the Turkish occupied section of Cyprus. Our day was pretty great too!

Thursday, Rachel and I joined forces with the Chapmans and Nick and drove up into the mountains. We were planning on hiking, but we weren't prepared for the temperature difference between the mountains and the sea. It was about a 30 F degree difference, at least! We managed to bundle up Rawly and put on as many layers as possible once we found a warmish place to hike. It was a beautiful walk up to a waterfall. The hiking book we borrowed from the house listed it as difficult, but it was a breeze compared to hiking in Albania.

One tired out little guy!

The final day was spent in the pool and on the beach. Ken, Nick and I finally swam in the sea. I really wasn't going to, but when Ken announced that he was taking the plunge, I couldn't be left behind.
This week of sea and sun put me in the mood for Albania. That is my next great adventure... a return to the land that started it all.
The gang at dinner! Rawly, Alyssa, Ken, Alyssa, Jon, Nick and Rachel.