Paddy's Day in Pafos
Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
35Trip End Jun 13, 2004
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St Patrick's day marks the first full day of my trip. I flew into Pafos yesterday via Stansted. I had no problem taking the bike, neither Easyjet nor Cyprus Airways charged for it and both flights were on time. A good start.
The day started at 7.30am for me, but my body was telling me its only 5.30 as I emerged from my tent into the chilly air for my first view of Cyprus in the daylight. Beautiful, a dusty, deserted campsite. I could hear the Mediterranean washing against the shore nearby and overhead swallows clicked and whistled as they surfed the breeze like aerial dolphins
I arrived at this campsite last night in a taxi from the airport. Before paying the driver I used his headlights to find a torch. Just as well for he disappeared as soon as he got the cash. Seeing a light in the window of the building he said was the office, I headed for it. Despite knocking and shouting I could get no answer. The campsite is several kilometres outside Pafos and my bike was in several pieces in a big bag, so I decided to go ahead an pitch my tent anyway.
Just as I finished erecting it in a space between two empty caravans a car pulled up at the office. I went over to let them know they had a customer. When I asked how much I owed I was told;
-Nothing. The campsite is closed.
-Oh, the taxi driver told me it was open.
-How long you stay?
-Ok. Is free.
I thanked him and returned to my bed for the night.
So my first task on Paddy's Day was to reassemble my bike and cross my fingers that it would actually work and I didn't have any pieces left over. Amazingly everything fitted together perfectly. However the valve on one tube was faulty, so I've already had to replace a tube and I haven't gone anywhere yet!
I cycled the few kilometres into Pafos, getting used to the feel of a fully laden bicycle again. It handles like a tank. I'm carrying about 25kg spread between four panniers. By the end of the trip I'll be able to pack and unpack them by touch.
I pushed the bike the last few hundred metres along the promenade to the harbour. It was quite busy with couples, mostly retired English people judging by the accents, strolling along, enjoying the sunshine and the gentle sea breeze. I'd forgotten how much people stare at you when you're accompanied by a heavily laden bike. A mixture of curiosity, jealousy and relief its not them I always tell myself. I sat on the harbour wall munched a couple of sandwiches and took in the view.
The harbour itself is picturesque. A little square fort overlooks it, windowless, dark brown stone and about the size of a large country house
As St Patricks Day is a day of culture and heritage I thought I would take in some Cypriot culture and paid a visit to the Unesco World Heritage Site by the harbour. My first impression of the site was that it was a huge piece of overgrown waste ground. However as you follow the walkways around a little glimpse of the ancient world was revealed. Archaeologists have uncovered mosaics which covered the floors of the houses of old Pafos. OK, so its the ancient equivalent of modern polished wooden floors. The detail of the mosaics is excellent. The pictures represent scenes from old myths.My favourite was the one in the House of Orpheus, where a person, presumably Orpheus, is surrounded by many different types of animals and birds.
In places there are so many pits and trenches it looks like the crew from Time Team have gone crazy and just cleared of. Fortunately I was just leaving about mid-day as the tourist buses arrived.
I spent the rets of the afternoon wandering around the town
Having decided to stay I went for a walk to suss out the Irish pubs. I'd seen at least three during the day. I started in the pedestrianised area which was full of very nice looking restaurants and British style pubs. All were virtually deserted. It was like Bundoran out of season. I had my first pint of Keo, the local larger, in The Player. The beer was nice and I'd love to know where they got the music, Irish country music, if you've ever heard it you know how bad that can be. Full marks for authenticity.
Not surprisingly the pub was not exactly packed. After a couple of pints I headed for the Lodge. I could hardly get in the door. It was a mainly middle aged English crowd with a few Irish stuffed in there too. The night was very enjoyable although the two singers weren't too sure of the words of songs like the Fields of Athenry etc. Beetles songs were a suitable alternative. The music stopped at midnight as apparently the old woman across the road complains to the police about the noise. The crowd started drifting off about 1am and I did likewise.
The streets were silent as I wandered to the hostel. I got a wee bit lost and realised a was going the wrong way when the road started going downhill not up, so I turned around. I had passed two police jeeps outside a cafe a couple of hundred metres earlier. When I walked back past them the police all rushed out and called me over. They searched my pockets. I never realised what a lot of junk I had in them until I saw it all on the bonnet of the jeep. One guy kept insisting I was Scottish even though he had my passport in his hand! "No. No I'm Irish". All the usual questions as I explained about St Patricks Day and that I was a bit lost.
One officer got excited when he pulled a little bit of scrumpled tin foil from my jacket. "Hashish" he exclaimed. Now i was a bit worried but I laughed when I saw what it was. It was the tin foil of a Ferrero Roche that Jenny had given me the weekend before. I'd eaten the chocolate as I walked back into Buncrana and put the litter in my pocket. He was a little disappointed when I explained that it was a chocolate wrapper. They lost interest in me and went back into the cafe. I had to call one back to get directions to the hostel.
Anyway, as you see, I had what passes for a normal Paddys Day.