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The first plane-flight of Elisabeth, travelling to Platres, Cyprus

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Thursday 15 February, the first plane-flight of Elisabeth, travelling to Platres, Cyprus

Elisabeth has never flown before so she is quite excited but also a bit afraid. But it is the easiest way to get quickly to a place far away. In later years her fears will grow but it won'st hold her back to get into a plane to visit faraway places.
Elisabeth at SchipholTo flee the cold and wet Netherlands; that is the whole point of this holiday. So there we are, on Schiphol, Amsterdam, on our way to Cyprus. Neither of us have ever been there before; but there are more novelties on this journey: for the first time since 10 years we travel with the train, a special experience in Holland. But we only have a 30-minute delay, very exceptional for the Dutch railways (so we have been told). And Elisabeth has never flown before! A quick, last cigarette, just before departure has to help her calm down. She doesn't know then (neither of us), this would only be the first of 7 flights this year!
The Alps from the plane We have promised to give a call to our daughters, but we discover we had left the cellular phone at home. Panic! Although they are both grown-up, they need to be able to reach us. So we buy one at Schiphol, 'guaranteed' operational abroad. Well, not... First of all the battery has to be recharged (which we do, first thing on Cyprus) and then it becomes clear one has to apply for the possibility to make international calls in Holland. And we sure could have used a telephone on this trip when our car broke down in the middle of nowhere. But that's for later...
View from the plane The Alps from the planeWe fly with Cyprus Airways and it takes about 4 hours to get there. Elisabeth is lucky and gets a seat by the window. At 6 o'clock in the afternoon we arrive at Larnaka and it takes a while before we can get into our rented car. So we drive away from the airport at twilight.
Teije needs some time to get used to the car, with the wheel on the 'wrong' side. And at first we are quite confused by the traffic signs on which sometimes 2, sometimes 3, names are used for one town: the greek name (in the Greek alphabet), the British names and the new Greek names in our alphabet. For example: Limassol, Lemesos and Lemesos in the Greek alphabet. And they don't use a system, every time it is different...
We have booked a hotel in Platres in the Troodos mountains and the last 15 kilometers are very tricky, especially in the dark. When we arrive at Platres, the village seems completely abandoned and we see no sign of the hotel. All houses have shutters and they are shut at twilight to keep the cold out. After half an hour and knocking on some doors, we finally find a very small sign at a very steep driveway to hotel New Helvetia. The owner welcomes us most heartily.
View from our balconyPlatres lies in the Troodos mountains in the center of Cyprus. Our hotel is situated on the northern side of the village, which distinguishes itself by big differences in height within the village itself. We thought it would be a nice central point from where we could travel to all parts of the island. Afterwards it would have been better to take a hotel in Limassol, because every day we have to drive that last, tricky part from Limassol to Platres (often in the dark).

Friday 16 February 2001, the south and east of Cyprus

Governors beach Rocky coast near Governors beachThis morning we get up early, for our first drive through this beautiful country. Our plan is to drive to the coast near Limassol and then go east to Ayia Napa. The weather is very nice, it is warm and a relief compared to the weather in Holland.
At Governor's Beach we make a stroll on the beach and admire the blueness of the Mediterranean Sea and the tropical vegetation, so near to the salty sea. Cyprus is closer to the Middle East than to Europe and has a very pleasant climate.
Rocky coast near Governors beachWe try to avoid the main roads and take as much as possible the minor tracks. That is always a perfect way to get a better impression from a country. Although the island isn't very large, it takes quite much time to get from one side of the island to the other side. We only use the dual carriageway when we think we were in a hurry (almost never, and there is only 1 such way: between Nicosia, Larnaka, Limassol and they are busy expanding it towards Paphos).
We look around and enjoy the scenery, the sea and the weather and forget to take any pictures. Well, we will make up for that in the next few days.
Harbour at Ayia NapaThe southeast part of Cyprus, especially the area near Ayia Napa, seems to have evolved from an area with characteristic, small villages into an extensive touristic center, just in a couple of years. Usually, the heart of the old village has been conserved, with a church or monastery as central point. But now hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops surround it and make the villages twice or sometimes 5 times bigger than they were. The beaches at Ayia Napa are the finest on Cyprus with fine sand.
Before the Turkish occupation, in 1974, Famagusta was the famous holiday spot in the area; nowadays the city lies in a military zone and is desolate. We take a break at a bar but after some time we have to flee inside since there is too much wind.
It has been a long, but fascinating day, without many pictures, unfortunately. After a short rest in our room, we move to the bar of the hotel with our maps and travel books to plan the next day. We want to see everything, but with only one week to spend, we know this plan is doomed to fail.


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