The Pafos Forest is a 70,000-hectare reserve occupying the northwest slopes of the Troodos Mountains. In its centre is Cedar Valley, a forest of the ‘cedrus brevifolia’ trees similar to the famed cedars of Lebanon. These trees grow to a height of 30 metres and can live up to 500 years. Cedar Valley is reached by car from Pafos in about one and a half hours. The winding road takes you through and above the forest’s canopy, affording you views of the lacy branches of the cedars, which spread out horizontally in distinctive patterns. Though the forest is largely untouched, there are several stops worth making. In Cedar Valley, one hairpin turn is paved with cobblestones. Here is the trail head for ascending Tripylos Peak (1452 metres); as you make your way up, take a closer look at the cedars and keep an eye out for mouflons, the notoriously shy wild sheep endemic to the area. If you fail to see any mouflons, it is worth driving further to Stavros tis Psokas, the forestry station in a former monastery from the nineteenth century. Here you’ll find a café, picnic grounds, and an enclosure for mouflons. Walk around the perimeter and you will eventually find about 30 of the sheep grazing. On the drive, you will pass the heads for the Moutti Tou Stavrou and the Chorteri trails and the Chapel of the Holy Cross. During your visit, be sure to take a deep breath and enjoy the scent of the cedars and pines.
Ouzo is widely enjoyed in tavernas throughout Greece and Cyprus with a sequence of small dishes known as meze. Typically, a distillation of grapes or grains is prepared in a copper still and then infused with anise and other herbs for further distillation and bottling. The liquorice flavoured aperitif is served at room temperature. Pour some into a glass, add ice if you prefer it chilled, and add water to taste. The water will emulsify the anise oil in the ouzo, turning the clear liquid into a milky blue substance. Usually possessing an alcohol content of about 40%, ouzo is best sipped as you nibble on small dishes over a leisurely meal. Start with a selection of dips (like tahini) and move on to fresh cucumber, tomatoes, olives, or aubergine with feta cheese. Ouzo pairs nicely with salty foods like saganaki and anchovies. It is a perfect complement for calamari, octopus, and small fried fish like red mullet—all staples of the fish taverna. Ouzo is also used in cooking, as in the popular preparation of prawns sautéed in it. Increasingly, mixologists are using the aperitif in cocktails. Anise-flavoured liquors have been made in the region since at least the 14th century CE. The modern production of ouzo, though, dates to the middle of the 19th century, around the time of Greek independence. It started in Tyrnavos, but the island of Lesvos now dominates the market. Order from our wide selection of ouzo at Mediterraneo, Annabelle’s seaside taverna, and enjoy meze like a local.
The village of Lempa, four kilometres from Pafos, holds several interesting attractions. On its edge is the Prehistoric Settlement of Lempa-Lakkoi. Excavations here reveal the foundations for a cluster of houses from the Chalcolithic culture (3500-2500 BCE). Built from stone and mud, the village lacked defensive walls. Archaeological evidence suggests that its inhabitants lived by hunting and fishing, gathering, and cultivating plants and livestock. The Lady of Lempa, a figurine of a fertility goddess on display in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia, was found here. Next to the archaeological site is the experimental village—a recent reconstruction of several buildings using the materials, technology, and manufacturing methods common in the Chalcolithic era. Scientists built the structures to help them understand building techniques, the look and feel of the spaces, and how the dwellings functioned. A few reconstructed buildings were burned down or allowed to decay so that archaeologists can better understand the remains of the prehistoric structures. In the contemporary village, you will find an artist colony. The natural spring greens the valley below and supported the manufacture and export of glazed pottery in the middle ages. The Cyprus College of Art is a studio and residency centre for artists from throughout the world. Look for the distinctive front sculpture wall and garden; it was created by former college director Stass Paraskos, students, and visiting artists using cement and found objects. Nearby is Lemba Pottery, where you can purchase handmade pots; ceramics classes (individual or group) can be booked online in advance.
Dine with Annabelle in the mornings and you’ll come to recognise a familiar face: that of David Bayes, the breakfast chef. David has played many roles since he joined our culinary team in 1991 as a chef de partie. For the past three years, though, he has overseen the breakfast, working with a team of nine to meet the diverse needs and expectations of the guests. David knows the preferences of repeating guests and can organise special orders with advance notice. Of course, you are invited to experiment with different combinations throughout your stay: at the live egg cooking station, for example, you can select the ingredients for stuffing your omelette before handing them to the cook for preparation. Is the bacon not as crispy as you’d like it? Just ask David to send out a fresh plate cooked to your satisfaction. Be sure to check out the broad selection of breads and pastries from our baking team. At a time when diners are highly attuned to the ingredients in their food, the team has organised the buffet with sections devoted to gluten-free products, lactose-free foods, and jams made without processed sugars, among others. If you have a food allergy, just alert him; he knows the recipe for every dish and can tell you which to avoid (for example, did you know that bacon contains gluten?). Look for David in the distinctive white chef’s toque—he is eager for your feedback and wants to make sure your day gets off to a great start.
A visit to the Archaeological Site of Kourion makes an easy day trip from Pafos—it takes about 45 minutes to drive there. The oldest architectural remains on the site date from the Hellenistic period (325-50 BCE). Examine the remaining structures and you can witness the shift from the polytheistic religion of Greek mythology to monotheistic Christianity. The Roman Nymphaeum, for example, was built in the first century CE and served as a sanctuary for the Nymphs, the daughters of Poseidon (god of the sea). The House of Achilles, built in the fourth century CE, has floor mosaics with pagan themes—including one featuring Achilles, son of a king and a Nymph, meeting Odysseus. At about the same time, though, Christian themes and images were incorporated into building design. The House of Eustolios, for example, was built during the early Roman period, remodelled in the third and fourth centuries, and lavishly rebuilt during the fifth century. A late mosaic inscription there says, ‘This house … has now girt itself with the much-venerated symbols of Christ’. During the fourth-century reign of Roman emperor Theodosius I, paganism was suppressed and cultic worship at temples ceased. Other examples of the rise of Christianity in Kourion include the fourth-century establishment of an episcopal diocese and the ruins of a fifth-century basilica. The site includes the remains of an agora, baths, and a theatre. Now restored, the theatre offers performances overlooking the sea; it’s an excellent way to complete your day’s adventure.
A delicious meal on holiday can inspire you to try new dishes at home. Annabelle eases the way by offering bespoke cooking classes led by members of our culinary team. Meet with a cook in advance to discuss your favourite dishes and to plan your menu. In class, you will be provided with an apron and a hat and everything you need to prepare the meal. The instructor will discuss basic issues like knife techniques, kitchen functionality, inspecting ingredients, seasoning, and working creatively with leftovers. A recent class focused on five dishes served at Mediterraneo, our seaside taverna. The group started by making tzatziki, the popular yoghurt dip; students learned the best technique for grating and draining the cucumber. In preparing a Greek salad, the instructor demonstrated effective ways to chop and style the ingredients for an attractive presentation. For a hot starter, the group stuffed feta in filo pastry for deep frying; here they discussed flavour combinations as they finished the dish with honey and lime zest. The main course was seabass filet wrapped in grape leaves. First, they learned how to remove the skin and bones from the fish. Then they wrapped the filet with sundried tomatoes and rocket in the grape leaves and prepared it for sous vide cooking. The dish was complemented with roasted baby potatoes, grilled fennel, and citrus salsa. The group also learned the secrets of making baklava. Students received written recipes for the dishes. The session concluded with the five-course meal at Mediterraneo, where they shared the dishes around the table in the meze style popular throughout the region.