Highlights of PARALIMNI

Trip Start Apr 14, 2012
Trip End Jun 10, 2012

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Flag of Cyprus  ,
Friday, April 20, 2012

One of my plans this morning is to get to Paralimni to visit some interesting ancient churches and see what there is around. This time I get bus #102 (OSEA) http://www.cyprusbybus.com/routes.aspx?sid=7

(Provide your Timetable from the Reception desk).

I walk to the bus stop which is a few metres from the main square along with a British couple who stay at the same hotel and are telling me that they are coming here again and again and that they plan to find an apartment and move to Cyprus when they retire. Many British do this and stay permanently here after they get their pension. We reach the bus stop and still chatting waiting for the bus till the moment I see the huge wooden signpost " Nikola's Taverna" opposite the road. I had no idea that it was here although I came some months back but he was not present that morning.   I politely tell the couple that I have to see this friend and I cross the street in the awning of the restaurant.

I had heard of Nikolas and his amazing local cuisine and I wanted so much to meet him.

I enter with excitement and loudly I say,

      “Hi guys, where is this famous Nikola who is so popular all over that I want to meet”?

He recognizes my voice (probably accent) because we had talked over the phone some months back and he steps forward to meet me.

His friends want to tease him and smiling they add

       “Why…is it only Nikola who is famous here”?

When I ask if he remembers me he replies

        “How can I forget you….and I expected you to come months ago but you never showed up”.

Anyway I am here now and I will be for 2 more nights so surely I am going to taste his well known over the area excellent cuisine. Nichola’s wife is a well known cook who used to teach classes and it is her who passed the secrets and tips to the big boss now!

Nikola is very polite and I found in him the authentic Cypriot. He offers to drive me to Paralimni and introduces me to his elder daughter who is a nice young lady and a pharmacist.  He drives off and insists that he will expect to see me at the restaurant tonight. I tell him that I am having dinner at the hotel but he insists.

Paralimni is within the Famagusta district. After 1974 with the illegal Turkish occupancy of the North, has become an administrative centre. It has increased in size swelled by the many refugees fleeing from the northern parts to be saved.  I am in the central square with the three churches and the open theatre. The square is huge, clean and beautiful surrounded by a number of quiet bars and cafes, a few restaurants and a handful of handicraft shops. Although it might be very quiet this time in the daytime, I am sure evenings are more vigorous and it can be a nice alternative for anyone who is tired of the city hustle to come here, -a very pleasant change from the noisy English disco-bars of Protaras.

Paralimni used to be famous for its picturesque wind mills that used to draw water from underground aquifers to irrigate the surrounding land famous for the exceptional quality of potatoes as I mentioned on a previous entry.  Not so many can be found nowadays though as they have been replaced by electric or diesel-powered pumps, but the few left are surely a nice attraction of the past.

Architecturally Paralimni is nondescript, with no architectural merit - little if anything remains of the original village. Outside of the town centre the houses are not very attractive - squat rectangular blocks but even the new houses are mostly blocks of flats. The town is however renowned for its dancers and folk poets who are regarded some of the best on the island with a tradition that has passed down through the generations. I wonder how many of you have heard the word “ tsiattismata or tsiatista”. Well these dancers and poets are in great demand and they are present at every social event found in traditional weddings, fairs and other festivals or contests. They are particularly proficient in long songs and “tsiattismata”. These love songs are rhyming couplets or four-line stanzas on the theme of love, passion, women and the trials and torments of lovers.

In my attempt to enter the biggest recently-built church dedicated to Saint George I find it close so I get to the next one which is old and very beautiful. The newer one was built much after 1974 to cover the needs of the many new residents coming from the North.

I come to the 2nd much smaller but still very old church dedicated to the same saint. I find it open and enter to light a candle. Within this same square there is a third and most popular church dedicated to Virgin Mary decorated with unusual 18th century porcelain plates. Part of the church belongs to the 13th century and this part houses a small ecclesiastical museum with a collection of icons, religious robes and other interesting photos and portraits. 
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