Yesterday I spent the whole day sorting out photographs from previous trips and reading through my scibbled travel notes. I came across some fantastic photos of my son and husband taken in the Troodos mountains. These date back from a trip of the island we did two years ago. My son was living in Athens at the time, it was Christmas, we wanted to travel and see the island so he agreed to meet us in Pathos as it was easy for him to fly from Athens to Limassol and then get a bus to Pathos.
Pathos was only a base really, somewhere to sleep. Although, the town itself and surounding area was very nice I can never stay put for long, always having itchy feet so within 24 hours from picking my son up, we hired a car and went into the mountains. The Troodos mountains have always fascinated me. Okay, I know they are not the higest mountains in the world but they certainly have a great beauty especially when the sun sets. The orange glow that circulates and forms shadows over the different peaks is a wonderful sight especially when mingled with the bright white carpets of snow that cover the mountain range.
Cyprus is the most densely wooded area in the Mediterranean due to the afforestation programme which began during colonial rule. In the woods around Mount Olympus, the island's highest mountain, there is a wide range of nature trails from which to choose. In my view, the most beautiful of these paths winds for two hours through various vegetation zones of the mountain, at the same time providing an insight into the geology of the region. The path runs from the Troodos forest station along a mountain stream to the idyllic Caledonian Falls and then on to sleepy Platres - a pleasant spot even at the height of summer and the Christmas holiday (this is a popular time for the locals to visit after Christmas Day). When I was there the snow was thick on the ground and looking out into the distance at the mountain range I couldn't tell where the fluffy clouds ended and the snow covered mountain tops started. Forest tracks through deserted terrain lead to Kykko, the richest monastery on Cyprus and close to where Achbishop Makarios is buried. Then it is on to to the forest station at Stavros tis Psokas. To cover this route in a hired car will take around two days that is without any long walks. Obviously you can just go out for a ride in the hills and return to your base but once I am on the road I like to keep going until I have surveyed the whole area. We spent two days hiking in the mountains and stayed over night at a wonderful hotel which you will be able to read about in my journal.
Another area which I found interesting if a little sad is the countryside around the abandoned Turkish villages of Souskiou in the sparsely populated Diarizos valley. Here you will see many derelict properties which serves as a reminder of the horrors suffered by the inhabitants during the civil war. In some ways it reminds me of the area travelling by car/bus from Orebic (Croatia) to Mostar. Desolate and forgotten.
I really can't recommend The Troodos mountains enough. It is a special mountain area; green, beautiful, tranquil and when the mist falls has a dreamlike quality. As you make your decline down the mountain region as the sun is setting it is like you are all alone in an imaginary land.
Out of all the places I have visited I was pleasantly surprised with Cyprus and the Troodos. The island was more beautiful than I expected and the mountains left a lasting impression. The people of Cyprus are warm, friendly and extremely laid back which are admirable qualities. Highly Recommended.
I will also say that it is very cheap and easy to rent a small car in Cyprus. You just go and pick up the keys and drive off - no paperwork or interrogation or fuss over credit cards. You don't even have to take it back to where you hired the car from - you leave it at your hotel/ accommodation or at the airport. They do the rest. Talk about being laid back - Brilliant.