Friday, 30 November 2007

Golf balls

The trees have grown taller since I was in Cyprus a good few years ago, so this set of golf balls on the top of the Troodos mountains are not so obvious now as they once were. At 6,500 feet up they should have a good range at whatever it is they do. The temperature change when driving from the coast to this spot is very noticeable. It was summer when I was last there, and the coolness was a welcome change from the hot, burning heat of the coast. This time, at the beginning of winter, I was glad I had remembered to take a pure wool sweater - and I wore it long before we got to the top. I would not like to be there when the sun goes down.
In fact, it was the lack of sunshine that spoiled our visit to the Greek Orthodox Kykkos monastery. It is filled with mosaic wall pictures, many done in the late eighties, using gold leaf that glitters and glistens in the sunshine. I thought it was the most amazing place and persuaded dh to make the trip, but when we got there, the sun disappeared, it was cold within the monastery walls and the mosaics didn't sparkle. The church is small, and claustrophobic. The thick, suffocating incense doesn't help. Almost everything seems to be made of gold. Chandoliers, cupboards, screens, everything. It is a working monastery, with monks in black robes whizzing about. It is definitely worth a visit, but try and do it on a sunny day.

The picture of the mountains doesn't look impressive, but I think you can click on it and get a larger version. You need to imagine that this covers an area that takes an age to drive through. It's like the old trick - you climb to what you think is the top of the hill, and there's always another just beyond it. Well, driving through the Troodos is like that. You think the next bend in the dirt road will take you out of the mountains, but it doesn't; it just shows you another corner. It has a charm and beauty all its own and if you are not terrified you will wreck your vehicle, it is exciting to drive the dirt roads.
The other thing that Cyprus has is history.
In particular, Roman history. There are catacombs and ruins all over Pafos, some in the grounds of hotels, others just off main streets of the town. The picture I have here is of the Asklepieion - what I tend to think of as the theatre. The lighthouse is some distance behind it, though it appears to overlook it here. We went and sat on the terraces, and did what everyone does - tested the acoustics. They work, of course.

It must have been pleasant to sit there and enjoy a play in the warmth of a summer evening with the sea breezes winding in across the back of the neck. The whole Roman settlement is built on a bluff overlooking the harbour with the sea on one side and the harbour on the other. The site is huge, and more than half of it is yet unexcavated. The House of Theseus is vast - the inner courtyard is as big as a bowling green, and rooms surrounded all four sides. I'll put some pics of that up tomorrow.

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