There are a number of fantastic days out possible from the villa but one of our favourites is to head over to the Famagusta area, and this is what we did today. There is so much to see over there it makes for a very full day out.
Set off about 930 and its about a 1 hour 15 minutes drive depending on traffic. Our first stop was the Monastery of St Barnabas which is between Famagusta and Salamis. A lovely honey coloured stone monastery, now an archaeological museum with a cloistered courtyard and church (now an icon museum) at its heart, very special to Greek Orthodox church members. There is a small chapel housing the remains of the saint, who is the patron saint of Cyprus The present buildings mostly date from the 1700s but there has been a church here since Roman times. Barnabas was a contemporary of Jesus Christ and witnessed some of his miracles. He converted from Judaism in 33AD and returned to Cyprus to found a church, together with his cousin John Mark and Paul of Tarsus (St Paul). Its a very interesting place to visit, the museum and the ion museum are excellent. While walking around the cloisters a gardener was working and he gave us some wonderful fresh figs from the tree there. They were perfectly ripe. We had a coffee in the little café too.
To learn more about Barnabas and his times see http://www.whatson-northcyprus.com/interest/famagusta/salamis/barnabas.htm
The next stop on our tour was Salamis itself on the coast just a few miles away. This is a huge archaeological site parts of which date back to 1500C. So much remains unexcavated but maybe that is a good thing until more settled times. There are a good number of excavations to view however including Greek and Roman bathhouse complexes with swimming pools, fountains and the usual collection of rooms of different temperature. There is also a large gymnasium square with pillars and a marble pavement. Beyond this area is the theatre, the amphitheatre and then the Roman forums. You could easily spend a day here. There is a lovely beach with cafes just at the parking place and you can snorkel out and find the remains of the harbour which wwas the source of Salamis' prosperity. If you have any interest in the ancient world at all I encourage you to go. To know more about Salamis, look here http://www.whatson-northcyprus.com/interest/famagusta/salamis/salamis.htm?zoom_highlight=salamis
We left Salamis at about 1pm and headed about 20km north to Bogaz. Bogaz is a picture perfect little fishing harbour with tavernas on the quay and lovely floral gardens. We found a table more or less at the waters edge and ordered a selection of fishy treats. I had octopus, marinated to silky softness and then grilled to make the suckers just crisp. It was the best I have ever had - anywhere - not a hint of the rubber band about it. Bob had calamari and they were equally delicious. Stuart had sea bream - YUM. Fi had lamb shish - succulent. All of this was accompanied by 4 meze plates, chips, salad, bread and dips, drinks..... about £6.50 per head.
On the road again and this time down to Famagusta itself. We park near the Sea gate. The Old City is totally walled in the usual honey coloured stone and the walls are extensive and mighty. Inside the walls are atmospheric shopping streets, a ruined palace, several impressive churches/Cathedral which now serve other purposes. It's a wonderful city to wander around with some excellent shoe and handbag shops. A couple of things to look out for: the pillars outside the ruined Lusignan Palace, are looted from Salamis. The fig tree outside the Cathedral of St Andrew has been dated to 600 years old. After shopping and wandering and visiting the cathedral, we climbed the sea wall to look out over the bay that had withstood so many invaders. To the left was Othello's Tower, named after the Shakespearean character with pretty flimsy links to Famagusta.
Finally a great treat: afternoon tea at the most amazing patisserie in Cyprus in our opinion: Petek. It's right opposite the Sea Gate. There is a tearoom and an adjoining shop selling an extraordinary variety of cakes, sweets, chocolates, amazing Turkish delight..... Honestly, you've never seen anything like it. The Turkish coffee is also absolutely to die for. The best ever. We had a great sweet treat.
Back to the villa, a bit of a rest, showers and out to dinner at what is probably my favourite restaurant, Ambience. Such a glamorous setting on the water perched on a series of wooden decks, spectacular lighting, great service and fantastic food. We will undoubtedly eat there again several times over our visit. It really is a superb restaurant. And not expensive. Dinner cost us around £12 per head.