Travelogue from a holiday in Cyprus. Tuesday April 19th 2005
A Walk in Pano Paphos
After breakfast we have a word with the reception - we can move into another room at 12.30. We pack and walk into town - the actual town that is: Pano Paphos.
Helle wants to see the market. It has a lot of overpriced souvenirs and junk, but across the street is a pharmacy where we buy plaster and antihistamine for Helle's violent mosquito bites. As a precaution against new air raids we also get a spray that smells like lemon. When the pharmacist sees Helle's swollen bites she is shocked and asks affectionately if Helle would like a glass of water, so she can have a pill immediately. Affection is nice and Helle says "Yes thanks" with gratitude.
We go for a walk in the city centre, but evidently we go in a circle, because suddenly we are back at the market. Well then, let's buy a belt - leather is cheap in Cyprus. We have coffee with a view over the bay, but it is a bit cold in the shadow, so we go to The Pie King. With our coffee we have a delicious almond cake, which has been sprinkled with some kind of liqueur. Now we don't need lunch.
Back at the hotel we move to another apartment on top of the old one. Here the bed(s) are okay, and as an added luxury there are lamps by the bed, and the toilet doesn't leek water onto the floor.
While Helle settles for a siesta, I go to the internet café just opposite the new church. However the guy wants 2 £ an hour, which is twice as much as in Nicosia, so I tell him that is way to expensive and leave. Of course they need to earn a living, but you have to draw a line somewhere.
Agia Kyriaki and Erik Ejegod
So instead of checking mail I go for a long walk. By chance I pass the church, Agia Kyriaki, where Erik Ejegod (literally: "Eric Evergood") is said to be buried. Erik was the first Danish king to go on a pilgrimage to The Holy Land. The journey went via Russia and Constantinople, but the king caught a fever and the company went on shore in Cyprus, where Erik died in July 1103. By the ruins of the old basilica is a memorial tablet, where the name is spelled "Eric" with a 'c'. Queen Bodil continued the pilgrimage and died in Jerusalem.
At the hotel a wedding party has conquered the bar. Some are dressed up, others are in T-shirts and shorts. Many English couples get married in Paphos. Maybe it is considered romantic with a wedding on Aphrodite's island, and if you should get the same idea it is recommended to make a reservation a year ahead.
At the reception is a PC with internet access. It doesn't say how much time you get for a coin, but the receptionist tells me that 50 cents will buy you 5 minutes. That is 6 £ an hour - insane!
The Best Cypriot Restaurant in Cyprus - Maybe
At 7.30 p.m. we take a taxi to Seven St. Georges Tavern in Geroskipou, a village a few kilometres outside Paphos. When we stop the meter says 2.98 £, so I count 3 and a tip, but then the driver says that the price is 4 £. Well, four pounds seems fair. The driver follows us into the restaurant and gives his card to the waiter so they can call him, when we want to return. I get a card too.
Outside in the evening darkness the tavern looks like a farmer's cottage, and I guess that is intentional. Inside there are two rooms with white walls, wickerwork ceiling, wooden poles, dark wood tables in different sizes and a tile floor. The atmosphere is rustic and rural.
At Seven St. Georges there is only one menu: the menu of the day. Everyday a new meze is composed, and the courses are dictated by the best available foods of the season. The waiter asks what we want to drink, and a moment later he returns with water in a milk bottle and a carafe with red wine. The red wine is pleasantly dry, robust and with more tannin than the other Cypriot wines, we have tasted. Soon after a round and freshly baked bread arrives on a wooden board with a recess.
From now on dish after dish arrives, one after the other on small plates. From time to time the waiter gives us a break, and he is kind and attentive. I soon give up to keep count of the dishes, but there is a lump of hard sheep's cheese (à la Italian pecorino) with homemade ham, shredded carrots in a garlic dressing, finely chopped cauliflower in dressing (yoghurt?), pickled beetroot, pickled cucumber, lamb with couscous and a delicate flavour of cardamom, marinated steamed leeks, broccoli-kisch, squash in eggs, asparagus as thin as knitting needles, small marinated aubergines, cinnamon-flavoured chicken with mushrooms, kleftico, beef, salad and much more that I don't recall. Everything is very delicious and tasty.
At nine the owner arrives. I guess George is in his fifties and he has a body profile appropriate for an innkeeper. The grey hair forms a ponytail, and the tanned face shows a big moustache and bushy eyebrows.
George presents himself to the guests and tells us that he will serve food until we say "stop". With pride he says that everything is home-grown and homemade - quality is all-important. Then he settles by a table just outside the kitchen. A glass of wine has already been poured by the youngest waiter. From the table George controls the battlefield. At times he welcomes new guests or have a word with others.
Just outside the kitchen lies a big Cypriot pot. This is the home of the cat Harriet and her five days old kittens. From time to time cream and other delicacies are served on the floor outside the pot, and Harriet emerges to eat and strech.
Helle has cheated some times by not taking her half of the portions - one would like to taste and taste and taste. But the time comes when we must - regrettably - say "Stop!" to George. Coffee and cake finishes the meal.
When we ask to pay the waiter tells George how far we got in the dish-marathon, and George decides it must be only 31 £ for this meal of exceptional taste and quality. If you want to visit Seven St. Georges Tavern, which may be the best Cypriot restaurant in Cyprus, beware that they don't accept credit cards - only cash. It is closed Mondays.
The waiter calls a cap. Back at the hotel I want to taste the red wine, I won in the quiz, but even our united efforts and an attempt with a wooden lever cannot uncork the bottle. So instead we share a beer on the balcony. The door is closed tightly to keep the mosquitoes out.
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