I had originally planned to see Ancient Kourion and Kolossi Castle by bike, or even before that they’d been part of an organised tour, but somewhere along the way I decided that going there by bus wouldn’t be a bad idea. It did however increase the chances of making a mistake, and not being able to see everything I wanted to. If that did happen, then it’d just be something else to see on my return in March.
What had put me off cycling there was that I didn’t know if there’d be places to lock the bike up, and whilst it offered flexibility in the timings, it did sacrifice time as well. Ideally I also wanted to visit the archaeological museum today as that is one place which also doesn’t open on weekends.
In order to fit in a run, I got up at 06:15 and did just 4 miles mostly along the seafront again. This time I knew exactly where I was going to get back to the hotel. Once I’d got ready, I was then back out for a day of sightseeing, heading towards the Leontiou EMEL bus station at the Old Hospital. I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble finding it as the water tower is a good landmark, and I’d already been that way when I arrived in Lemesos a couple of days before.
The 17 bus took around forty minutes to get to Kolossi Castle, costing €1.50 as all local buses here do, and I was the only passenger for the entire journey. That’s not a bad way to stay socially distanced during these pandemic times! Whilst the village of Kolossi lies in both Cyprus and the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the castle is entirely in Akrotiri.
The entrance to the castle is €2.50 and you should show them your Cyprus SafePass before entering, but they didn’t seem that bothered about it. The rule has only been in place for a week, so I guess people are still getting used to it. To be fair, it was very quiet - other than me there was one small group of four looking around.
There are some ruins in front of Kolossi castle that you can look around, and some stairs up to what is considered the main floor. There is also an entrance at ground level, which is what I used. This leads into two rooms of similar size with windows near the arched ceiling. In this first room there is also a staircase up onto the main floor.
On this floor there is some artwork on the wall near the entrance, and then a couple of alcoves on two of the walls which are like seating areas, and in the adjacent room is a large fireplace as well. There’s another similar floor above this, and then finally you can get onto the roof. Whilst you get a good view of Kolossi from up there, you can also get reasonable views of the aqueduct, and the sugar mill below.
Having seen everything in the castle I went back down and walked over to the aqueduct and then the sugar mill. Both of these are fenced off so you can’t get up close, but you still get a good idea of what they’re like.
Only 25 minutes had passed since I’d arrived, and I now needed to get to Ancient Kourion. The easiest way to do this was to walk through the village to the main road, and catch the 16 or 18 bus from near the Primary School. The strange thing was, I couldn’t see a bus stop anywhere and as a result I missed the 09:42 bus. To make matters worse, I didn't see it stop anywhere which meant I still didn't know where the bus stop actually was.
I went inside the nearby shop and asked where the bus stop was, and apparently it was the car park - I just needed to stand outside and flag the one I wanted down. It’s a shame there’s no sign to indicate the car park is the stop! The next bus would be one that’d go to Agios Ermogenis - which is the closest I could get to Ancient Kourion, so was ideal. What was not so ideal was that having missed the last one I’d now got at least 28 minutes to wait. That time came and went, and I was starting to wonder if I should have walked from Kolossi to Kourion. It’d have been around seven kilometres, so maybe a little over an hour at my walking pace. I could have been half way there by now. Running ten minutes late, the bus finally arrived, and I was at my destination twenty minutes later.
I photographed Agios Ermogenis first, but there were people working on the roof of the church. They didn’t seem to speak English, so whilst the front door was open, I wasn’t sure if I could go in. Not wanting to waste time, I then walked swiftly to the entrance to Ancient Kourion - a journey of about five minutes. These ruins cost a little more to look around at €4.50. It seems most places in Cyprus are either €2.50 or €4.50 to look around if they’re not free.
My legs felt a little tired walking up the hill to the theatre - I’d covered quite a lot of miles in the last week, and I knew I’d still got so many more ahead of me. For the theatre it seems most of the semi-circular seating area was either found intact, or has been reconstructed. At the bottom there is then a wooden stage which you can go down to so you can look back at what performers would have seen. Judging by the lights mounted on the walls at the top, it seems likely that they do performances here sometimes still.
Next I looked around the ruins of the house of Eustolios which includes some mosaics, such as a fairly intact one of Ktisis. I thought the building beyond that might be more to see, but this turned out to be the visitor centre and car park. I think it’s likely that more people drive here than arrive by bus. There were very few people when I arrived, and everyone was spaced out over the entire grounds. The downside to this though was that if I wanted a photograph of myself in front of any ruins, there’d be nobody to take one for me.
The path from there leads to the Agora which covers quite a large area, with a few columns, and also sections of hypocaust for what would have been the baths - a very common feature of Agoras everywhere. Then behind this is the Gladiator house, named such due to the mosaic featuring them, and then the house of Achilles. It’s easy to find yourself in places where you shouldn’t be though, or at least places it seems you shouldn’t be as there are random barriers in places, and then following a path you might find yourself on the other side of it.
This area is also a good spot to get a photograph of the coast and the cliffs, though this morning it was hazy, and not as clear as other days had been. It was however slowly brightening up. To finish the sights here I looked around the ruined basilica, and what they refer to as the earthquake house. Around this time I saw a helicopter flying past very low, lower than the cliff I was one, it looked like it had come from RAF Akrotiri. In the haze in the distance I could just make out the radio towers, or at least that’s what I assumed them to be, but at any rate, they were the ones I’d cycled past just under 24 hours ago. They seemed so very far away - maybe taking the bus had been a good idea.
I considered stopping there to have lunch, but it was windy on these cliffs so I decided to keep on walking until I found somewhere else to sit, preferably in the shade too. Whilst I’d hoped to exit out the far side of Kourion so I’d be well on my way to the Sanctuary of Apollon Hylates, I had to return to the main entrance as the other is closed. This would add maybe a mile and a half on to my hike. It was already going to be long enough! Whilst walking all the way round to the main road I thought about my decision not to cycle, and thought how much quicker this bit would have been if I’d got a bike now. It was hard to know how the day may have been different if I’d cycled - I suspected I wouldn’t have finished Kourion by now if I had. It was 11:50, and it looked like there wasn’t going to be anywhere to sit down to eat my sandwiches so I kept going. On the main road I eventually came across a dirt track that, according to my map, would be suitable for getting to where I wanted to be.
The track dipped down below the road, and I’d got a feeling I’d eventually need to go back up. Sure enough, and the end of this track was a hiking path that started with a steep climb to start with, and quickly went higher than the road. After around twenty minutes I reached a viewpoint. It was directly in the sun, but I sat down and had a few crisps, half of my sandwich, and a sip of water before I got going again. I’d only lost ten minutes to this, but it was needed. I’d finished one water bottle already, and would need to be more conservative with this one. Of course this was the time when the sun would come fully out though - just to make it that little bit harder work.
I soon found some ruins to photograph, and then the ruins of an ancient stadium. With these photograph stops, and diversion away from the road where the track needs to go around a bit of a valley, it took around twenty minutes to reach the Sanctuary, which cost €2.50 to enter. This was up to €9.50 for the day already, so if I’d known how to get one of the Museums and Antiquities day passes, it would have been a saving of €1.00 with a potential €2.50 more if I managed to make it to the museum in Lemesos. How likely that was, I was unsure.
The main point of this place is the partially reconstructed temple of Apollo with a number of columns. Beyond this there is a bath, and a number of other small buildings such as the circular monument. It seemed a long way to walk for ten minutes of taking photographs.
I sat at the entrance then, and tried to use the Taxi app on my phone to book one from there to the museum. It predicted it’d be around €20, but would be a massive saving in time. It’d give my legs a rest as well. I sat and waited. No drivers would accept the fare, so my order was cancelled. I’d have to walk.
It took just thirty minutes to get from the top down to the turning for Agios Ermogenis, this time mostly sticking to the road as it was shorter, which is when I tried the taxi application again. Still no luck. I’d checked the bus timetable on my way down, and it’d be a long wait to get a bus from there, but if I could get into Episkopi then I’d have more options available.
It took me twenty minutes to get from there to the bus stop on Odos 7. Whilst this stop isn’t shown on Google Maps, it was on Maps.me, and it was on the CyprusByBus website as well. It’d give me a few options for getting back, but it took a while to figure out which side of the road I’d need to be on - the bus could easily turn either way at the end of this road, but it was something I was able to figure out logically.
I’d got a thirteen minute wait for the bus, which of course meant I was waiting seven minutes more than that whilst wondering if the bus timetable was actually right or not. I’d expected the journey to take around an hour, but the 16 bus was fairly direct and got me to the EMEL bus station in just 33 minutes. Just as the bus was reaching the station I used the taxi application once more, seeing if I could at least get a taxi from there to the museum, but still no drivers would accept the fare. I was in Limassol, and still couldn’t get a taxi. It seemed their local equivalent of Uber was a waste of time.
It was a 22 minute walk from the station to the museum, more or less going in a straight line. I wasn’t sure if there was a last admission time or not - I couldn’t find any details of one online. When I got there I had to show my SafePass this time, but instead of paying €2.50 as I’d expected, it turns out that the museums here are currently free as an incentive to get people visiting them again. Fine by me, I was going to visit anyway.
There is however very little on display here in what seems to be three corridors. The first room is mostly amphoras and other vessels, and the next two are a little more interesting with sculptures both big and small, and weaponry as well. Even with me taking my time, I’d seen it all in just ten minutes. I had to ask at the front desk if there was more I’d not seen as I was very surprised.
For the next hour I walked very slowly along the seafront, and spent some time getting my feet wet in the sea. It was something I’d not done in a very long time. I was trying to waste as much time as possible so I could photograph the sunset, and also stay out until it was time to find somewhere to eat. Towards the end of that hour I started to look at every menu I walked past, and finished at TGI Fridays where I eventually decided to stay.
I’d ordered at 16:45, was eating by 17:05, and was back out in the night by 17:30. I’d had chicken again this evening, but plenty of vegetables and mash as well. It felt like a healthier meal than the last couple of evenings at any rate. I then walked back to the hotel slowly, photographing some more Christmas decorations as I went. With how easily I could find my way back now, it felt like being in Paphos was such a long time ago.
I’d been expecting to complete the passenger locator form for my return to the UK this evening, but with the new rules taking effect at 04:00 GMT tomorrow, they would not allow it to be completed before this time. The website needed to be updated first. On top of a long day on busses, and needing to pack, it seemed that tomorrow could turn out to be a very busy day indeed.