Paphos Digs

DSCN0587I am in the Cypriot seaside resort town of Paphos, a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its archaeological treasures.   I am sharing an apartment near the water with a part time tenant who sneaks in from the veranda.  She responds to “kitty” even though in Greek she is “γaτάκι” –pronounced  “ghataki.”

photo (5)Paphos is lovely, with a long stretch of beaches and an historic harbor.  However, the economic crisis is more obvious here than Larnaca or Nicosia, with entire blocks shut down in tourist areas and new housing developments suspended in mid-construction.  Up on the hill, the indoor mall of familiar retail stores is a novelty and seems to be surviving.  With deep guilt, I went there yesterday to stop sweating, and bought a blouse after I enjoyed a grilled salmon salad at Wagamama.  This made me feel very American and grown up, as well as self-conscious about the way my feet look after 300 miles of walking in flip flops.

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The ruins here are still being excavated and really give you the sense of the thrill that keeps archaeologists working in blistering heat to wipe grains of sand off of 3 ton rocks.  Very inspiring to imagine the buildings and lives of people who lived 3,000 years ago!   Kato Paphos is famous for the mosaics on the floors of Roman houses built circa 500 BCE.

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Some other interesting things in Paphos:

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Cyprus has many Byzantine churches similar to this one, except this one is tiny — maybe a little bigger than your living room.

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The sacred pistachio tree near the catacombs is believed to have special powers. If you tie a cloth to one of its branches, you will be cured of all ailments.

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The Paphos Archaeological Museum displays these recently-discovered terra cotta hot water bottles, made during the Roman period and designed to treat specific body parts.

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This pre-Jesus pottery has influenced modern Cypriot pottery and would sell like hotcakes in the Bay Area.

I am really glad I came to Cyprus — strategically located to be the darling of empire builders, and home to friendly neighbors, complicated national politics, a gorgeous coastline, 4,000 years of antiquities, cool pottery,  and a kind of weird flag.

5 comments

  1. Cyprus seems to be full of neat stuff! I really have enjoyed waking around the few archeological sites I’ve visited around the world, and your photos and descriptions made me realize that’s an aspect of travel that I enjoy more than most of the others. The mosaics you showed are particularly amazing, plus I’d like to order several of those terra cotta hot water bottles for my various aches and pains.

    1. I imagined Kitty with pointed blue glasses and a flip. I’m glad she’s a friend you can relate to. Please tie a cloth on a branch for me and Vic! Love you.

  2. What a perfect room mate. I really miss contact with animals when I’m traveling. Hope your next stop has cooler weather. Cyprus sounds and looks really interesting, even in the heat.

  3. Hi Kim, I’m also happy you have a cat companion. Many years ago I spent most of a summer in Paris and had an alley cat visit me frequently in my hotel room, climbing in through the window. Cyprus sounds fascinating. I’ve always wondered what it was like, and love reading your stories. Happy trails to you!

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