First trip to Cyprus - Part 3
Exploring and eating outIf you prefer to explore on your own, we found the bus ideal. To visit Polis, we walked to the terminus at Coral Bay, or catch the 615 from Paphos, then the mini-bus 648 that leaves at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. It takes around 45 minutes through little traditional villages up into the hills with fantastic views. It is an excellent day out, with half a carafe of local white wine (well alright, two half carafes) and tasty fish soup in the sun at Ch.Mikis Tavern in a cobbled square. It is great value at just over €15 for the two of us, and clearly what holidays are all about. Every hour the bus goes from Polis to Karvella bus station, then the 618 into Paphos town all for a €5 day ticket.
Coral Bay itself is ideal for walking and exploring. We were fascinated by the hint of a large dome we could just see along a bit of headland from the restaurant at Coral Bay bus terminus. We finally found the signs for Maa-Palaiokastro, the Museum of the first colonisation of Cyprus, behind the Soreda Hotel. It is indeed a very discreet entrance to the site, with little to suggest what you will find behind the wire fencing for your €1.25 OAP admission fee.
But, walk across the scrubland towards the sea and suddenly the magnificent copper dome and steps down to a huge curved, copper door greets you. Not just a stunning structure, but a fascinating display of notices around the inside curved walls, natural light from the top of the high dome, and incredible echoes as you walk towards the central copper panel. This is an absolutely “ must-see” that is worth the 615 bus ride to Coral Bay, and the entrance fee, even if you would not normally be interested in archaeological sites.
You do need to be here at least two weeks to start to get a feel for the place, and it will depend on the time of year, of course. We were here just before the season had started so it was probably less cared-for than it would be a few weeks later. They are exceptionally good at presenting their ancient history and relics, and their museums are much more visitor-friendly and informative than ours in some cases. We have seen some guests who have only sat at the pool every day for 3 weeks – how do you know what Cyprus is like in that case?
Places to eat
There are several good restaurants along the “strip” in small town of Coral Bay so plenty of variety for an evening away from the hotel restaurant. The Santa Marina Fish and Chips shop did an excellent standard serving complete with bread and butter and a cup of tea!
Lekanto Restaurant is the place to visit for the substantial meze of traditional Greek Cypriot dishes. We struggle to finish this quantity of dishes, although we love all the starters and main meat options. We actually went for the kleftiko and stifado, both of which were excellent, perfectly cooked and presented. We actually managed a dessert this time – creme caramel – and a very drinkable local red wine Othello. This was really good value at €50.90 for everything. Email: [email protected]
Another great meze restaurant along the street is Seriani Restaurant, and we did indeed try the meze this time. OK, so there were some morsels we could not finish, but it was a fantastic selection of 20 dishes, and the large carafe of dry white wine seemed to be an ideal accompaniment to a very enjoyable, long relaxing evening. Again, good value at €52.25 including wine.
On the other hand, opposite the hotel is the large Blazing Saddles pub that offers good range of beers and wines at reasonable prices, karaoke if you are in desperate need, and a rather good Elvis impersonator each week, so clearly there is plenty of choice to suit all tastes.
A Friday evening, we had a lovely meal at Coral King Restaurant just down the road from our hotel. I chose the Scalopini pork with plums in a creamy sauce – a lovely smooth, creamy sauce with real pieces of plum. It sounds an interesting combination, but we had seen it advertised in several restaurants as a 'Mediterranean dish'. It was worth trying and I would have it again at €15.95. The local coffee liquer is similar to Tia Maria, very drinkable, and better than some similar coffee liquers at €2.95. It was all beautifully presented, great staff and overall excellent service. Email: [email protected]
Adria Restaurant advertised as the best steak house in the area, it was indeed a superb meal. The rib-eye steak was cooked to perfection (€23) and the fillet steak with stilton and masala sauce was just melt in the mouth (28). There was a complimentary small glass tumbler of creamy asparagus soup while waiting for the main course (we didn’t order a starter) then lots of different breads with garlic butter and tomato butter – very nice! The presentation and service was first class and the only quibble we would have is that the food was served on a wooden board so the vegetables went cold quite quickly, but really we could not fault the evening. It was indeed first class though not cheap – total €74.50 and service charge was apparently not included although the menu said it was. Still worth a visit.
Chalkies Bar on Coral Bay Avenue is only a small bar along the main 'strip' of Coral Bay town, but very friendly and boasts an English chef, good beer and free WiFi on their advertising board outside. As February was just before the tourist season starts, we tried their Winter Warmer special for €3.95 – perfect on this particular stormy evening following a couple of cool, rainy days. Plain, basic food was on offer including sausage and mash or cottage pie. An excellent choice, with big fat real pork sausages and a tasty mince cottage pie, very generous portions (for us). Definitely worth a visit as it was good food at very reasonable prices.
For holidays to Cyprus Silver Travel Advisor recommends Sunvil