It seemed that half the historical sights in Limassol were closed on Sundays, and some even on Saturdays. This meant that although I couldn’t see those ones today, I’d need to ensure I saw them in the next couple of days as I would not be able to see them on my return visit either. This was the same situation for Larnaka as well - the archaeological site of Kition is closed for the entire weekend according to a spreadsheet downloaded from the Department of Antiquities website. For Ancient Kourion though, whilst the museum would be closed, the rest of the site would be open. There was also the problem of how to get there - there was a bus at 07:45, and then nothing until 14:00, and the last bus from there back to Limassol was at 13:15. It didn’t really give me many options.
I’d been thinking about using NextBike to get from the hotel to Amathus, and then from there to Kolossi Castle and Ancient Kourion. Maybe the better option would be to leave the latter two until Monday when there’d be more bus options, and everything would be open also. So I decided I’d start off with Amathus as planned, and then maybe cycle to Akrotiri.
At 06:20 I heard the bells of the nearby church. The sun would be rising soon, but I didn’t need to make a start today until 07:00. For my morning run I went down Eirinis Street and Loutron Street which are both lined with very old buildings. They have been described before as places that have stood still in time. In some ways, they reminded me of some of the buildings in the souks of Morocco. I carried on until I reached Molos Park and then ran through that until I ran out of park, and carried on along the coastal path about two thirds of the way to Dadoudi beach. At that point I turned around and ran back on myself until I was back at the hotel.
In less than an hour I was back out and on my way to the bus stop at Tzelal Bagiar. When I got there I stood around for a while, and then decided to check on my phone to see what time bus 30 should arrive. To my horror, it said the only one was in the early hours of the morning! I then started walking, and passed the orthodox church of Saint Anthony the Great, and just after I did so I saw the bus pass me by. I was confused. I was certain I’d checked bus 30’s timetable. I got out my phone and checked again, and realised there were more than one 30 listed for Limassol. I checked the other, and there were a myriad of busses available throughout the day. I followed the route I’d seen the bus take, and stopped at the first bus stop that said ‘30’ on it - something the previous one had not.
The wait wasn’t too long, they seemed to run every 15-20 minutes, and it takes around thirty minutes to traverse the ten kilometres from there to the Amathus bus stop at a cost of €1.50. Amathus is one of the ancient cities on Cyprus. It was a royal city up until around 300 BC and today you can see a number of different ruins. The first one I saw cost €2.50 to see, and consists mostly of ruined walls and some columns. These are actually some ancient baths, and you can even see the structure that would have been the water tank at the time.
When I left that I went walking along the road to the ruined port buildings, but there isn’t really much to see there - that’s probably why they’re free. In finding these, I did also find a proper path you’re supposed to use for moving between the sites rather than walking down the main road. I followed this to try and find the necropolis, but I couldn’t find the entrance so abandoned my search for it. On my way back I saw an ice cream truck, but their options were so few I didn’t bother. Instead I continued walking briskly until I reached the large hill I’d need to climb to see the rest of the ruins.
The hill climb was so hot, and I’d just about finished the first of the two water bottles I’d got with me. I tried to keep the pace up, and thought to myself that I hoped after all this effort it would be worth it. At the very least I should try to reach the highest point and get a photograph of Lemesos from there. Part way up I found there were some ruins to photograph, but my map said there was more near the summit, so I continued onwards and upwards. Tomorrow I’d get to see some of the finds in the museum, so it was good to get a good idea of what the place was like first.
When I reached the top the ruins were certainly worth the visit, and the view of Lemesos wasn’t bad either. The most eye-catching sight is a replica of a massive stone vase. Whilst it looks strangely like it belongs where it is, it’s not actually the ‘real’ one - you’d have to visit the Louvre in Paris for that.
It felt like perhaps some of the best sights at this archaeological site were in fact the free ones - the only price was the effort to reach them. The descent of course was much faster, and I followed the path back onto the boardwalks I’d found earlier. Following these I thought if I headed in the direction of the hotels that I might just find somewhere to get an ice cream from. Once I was on that path, I couldn’t find any shops, just hotel after hotel, and no apparent way of getting back to the main road either.
Eventually I found a road up alongside the Four Seasons. It was then only a short walk to a bus stop, which I hoped the 30 would stop at, and whilst waiting I spotted a place to get my ice cream from as well - a bit of luck!
I got off the bus near the Old Port and walked back to the hotel to have my lunch - I figured I may as well use passing near it as an opportunity to drop off anything I wouldn’t need. I then headed back out to hire a NextBike from near the Old Port. The process for doing this seems like they have a good way of making extra money. When you register you have to provide payment details, which is fair enough, but they also charge you €10.00 immediately to be stored as credit. For an hour’s ride it is €2, and €1 for every hour after that up to a maximum of €8 for a day. This means to actually use the credit they force you to have, you’d need to either use it for up to an hour on five days, or use it for seven hours one day, and one the next. Maybe when I return in March I can use the rest of the credit, unless they do something even worse such as specify an expiry on it.
Once registered I selected the bike I was going to rent and I received an SMS with the code for unlocking it. This wasn’t the most comfortable of bikes, and it was a very heavy one too, but it’d do. For the first part I needed to walk with the bike until I was past the Old Port, and then I started riding along the cycle path, and then eventually the road once that ran out. I glanced at my phone a few times to make sure I was going the right way. With the lack of commuting since I started working from home during the pandemic, I was surprised just how easy it still was. Lemesos is quite flat though, and even with this heavier bike I could build up a bit of speed. Maps.me had predicted it’d take me around ninety minutes to cycle to Akrotiri via the far side of the salt lake, but the time it was predicting was ticking down faster than the time was.
When I reached the Limassol New Port I looked around for a way to cross into Akrotiri there, but I could not - I’d have to go the long way around that the map suggested, and this eventually went through the countryside. Once I’d passed through the village of Asomatos, I also crossed out of Cyprus, and into the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri. At the T-junction I then saw the first sign for the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the cats, and knew that I wouldn’t need to look at my phone again.
I saw a lot of aerials of some sort ahead, and a sign saying that stopping is not allowed, nor is photography. So this was part of RAF Akrotiri. I wouldn’t have minded checking my phone to see how much further I had to go, as I’d figured if I didn’t reach the monastery by 14:30 - it’d be too late to look around and get back before dark. There was never any sign to say photography is allowed again, so I’m not sure at what point it would have been okay, but eventually I passed the sign which said I’d arrived in the village of Akrotiri.
There was a road sign for a church, but I had no idea if it was worth seeing or not. It was in the direction of a shipwreck according to the map. I also saw a sign for the church of Tímios Stavrós, but that too I had no idea about. The name seemed familiar though so I assumed I’d seen it during my planning. If I’d continued along this road much further, I would have reached the RAF checkpoint to enter RAF Akrotiri which is it’s own village with restaurants. It’s not somewhere that I could enter though as it’s for serving and past members of the RAF only.
At the fork in the road I instead turned left, and kept close to the salt lake. There were signs saying you shouldn’t drive on it as you’ll get stuck. Eventually I reached the entrance to the monastery and cycled down the long driveway, passing the orchard. The gate at the entrance to the monastery was closed, and the sign said that in winter it’s not open until 14:30 after a long break around lunchtime. I’d got less than thirty minutes to wait, so it seemed like I should.
There were a lot of cats at the entrance, like you’d expect for a place named as it is. There were also a lot of flies about, and they were getting irritating after a while, so I zipped on the legs of my trousers to keep some of them away. I’d need them anyway for going inside. It was getting close to 14:30 now, and there was no sign of activity. I started to wonder if maybe the sign was wrong, so I checked on Google Maps. I’d wasted my time. The monastery is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. When I’d been doing my research I’d found no mention of that - everywhere said it was open daily and provided the times I’d been working to.
Reluctantly I got back on the bike and started to cycle. At the end of the driveway, instead of turning left to go back the way I’d come, I decided to go right, and see if I could find a way back to Lemesos that way instead. When the road ran out, it turned to salty sand, but there were a couple of cars driving on it already, heading in the direction of what looked like it might be a beach. I checked my phone and it said Lady Mile Beach, and it seemed to extend most of the way back to Cyprus. Maybe it was worth a try.
I stuck to the compacted sand, and movement wasn’t slowed too much. When the ‘road’ went to the left it became bumpier, and in places damp as well. I wasn’t sure I should be using a rental bike in conditions like this, and at times it felt like I was being shaken apart by the bumps and the rigid suspension. The bike seemed sturdy enough to be taking it though.
About halfway along this beach road I stopped to unzip my zip-offs again, and take a couple of photographs of the salt lake once I was past the aerials. I still couldn’t see where this road was going, and eventually I found out why: it turned to the left, and eventually met tarmac. That was such a welcome sight! I also spotted a wildlife hide amongst the tall grass, but there wasn’t anything I could photograph with the lens I had on me. There were none of the flamingoes I’d hoped for.
The tarmac road led to a roundabout that indicated Kolossi Castle was ahead, eventually, and to the right was Limassol, or Lemesos as it’s also spelt. It seemed this was a shortcut after all, just it was as slow as doing a few extra miles due to the terrain. By the time I got back to the Old Port, I found I’d been just over two hours - each leg of the journey being somewhere around 55 minutes. I couldn’t be sure exactly though, I only knew the times I’d picked up and dropped off the bike - I had to estimate how long I’d been waiting at the monastery for.
I walked back to the hotel and ordered food from The Ship Inn - I got piri piri chicken with rice and potato wedges, and a slice of apple. The portion size was far too big for me though, so I left the rice, and even then it was a struggle. Whilst I waited for that to arrive I also booked a PCR test for ‘Day 2’ after this trip, to follow the new rules as I’d also been reminded about it by SMS and email from easyjet. Unlike my return from Germany when I paid £68 for a PCR test, this time I was able to find somewhere that would do it for £35.
For the remainder of the evening, I could now relax, and plan for the next day.