North to the Blue Lagoon

So today there was no need for a guide.  As a result, it was just me and my driver Panicos heading north for a boat trip to the port of Latchi for a trip to the Blue Lagoon.  The drive took us due north along the same narrow windy road we took yesterday to see the Agios Neophytos Monastery.  Once past the monastery, we continued high up into the Paphos Mountains, passing olive groves, vineyards, prickly pear cactus and the almost ripe pomegranates as well as tiny villages where agriculture was the main trade.

Cypriot vineyards

Now the vineyards were interesting because the grapes grow on plants that look more like little bushes than the long vines that are trained to grow along fences we normally see in other wine growing regions.  And the reason why?  Apparently in the 1800s most of the European vineyards were struck by a bug infestation that killed all the vineyards.  Cyprus was one of the few countries that was not infested.  As a result, Cyprus vines are centuries old and are different from the rest of Europe, which had to replace its destroyed vineyards with vines from the U.S.  And that is the reason most of the European and U.S. vineyards bear a similarity in size and shape compared to Cyprus vineyards.  Who knew??

Anyway, about 30 minutes into the drive, we reached the crest of the road in the  Paphos Mountains.  At this point, Panicos suggested we stop for Cypriot coffee in the little town of Arodes.  Now, as most people know, I am not a coffee drinker … but when in Rome … So shortly after 9:30 a.m. we stopped in the town of Upper Arodes, the Cypriot portion of the town (as opposed to Lower Arodes, which is the Turkish portion of town – more on the Cypriot/Turkish relationship when I visit the divided city of Nicosia.

300 year old church in Arodes
Cypriot coffee in Arodes

The little village was charming and included an ancient looking church, which Panicos casually said was 300 years old.  Next door, we stopped in a little shop where we watched the proprietor hand make individual, doll sized cups of coffee.  Once our coffee was made, we took the tiny cups and sat outside under a lemon tree.  And damn if it didn’t smell incredible.  (Yes.  Just like lemons).  The coffee turned out to be very similar to Turkish coffee (which I was not going to say), but was quite good.

View to Polis
Old stone building in Vrousia

After the coffee, we continued on towards Latchi.  As we started our decent towards the coast, we were able to take in amazing views of the little towns dotting the coats including the towns of Polis and Latchi.  And the road narrowed even more (if that was possible) as we drove through the village of Vrousia with its ancient stone buildings, tavernas and hanging baskets.  I could have easily asked Panicos to pull over and let me spend a few hours there.  It was gorgeous.

Aphrodite statute in the port of Latchi

Once we reached the northern coast, it was only a few short kilometers until we pulled into the port of Latchi where we were joining our boat for a one hour trip along the northern coast to the Blue Lagoon, a crystal clear lagoon where people go to swim.

Our boat was a two story boat with just me and a group of Polish tourists numbering about 20 people.  The boat was supposed to hold 100 so there was a lot of space to move around.  As we pulled out of the port, we saw four other boats loaded to the rafters with people.  Now I am not sure why there were so few people on our boat, but I think the boat was chartered by my tour company, Ascot Tours, hence the small number of folks on our boat.  (One hilarious side of being on a boat with 20 Polish people … they kept trying to speak to me in Polish.  One woman looked incredulous when I told her in English I didn’t speak Polish.  I actually felt bad I did not know a single word.)

Homes on the hillside on the way to Blue Lagoon
Herons on rocks on the way to Blue Lagoon
St George’s Church on route to Blue Lagoon
Roman port where slave ships anchored

Anyway, once out of the harbor our boat motored along the Northwest Akamis coastline in calm, crystal blue waters. As we sailed along, we passed gorgeous summer homes on the hillsides, a large rock in the middle of the water that appeared to be a resting spot for herons and St. George’s Church (no idea how old, but it looked old) high up on the hillside.  We even passed an old Roman port where Roman slave ships would anchor and offload those who had been captured and were to be sold as slaves.

We eventually reached the Blue Lagoon around 11:30 and spent an hour anchored in the waters allowing plenty of time for swimming.  The water was crystal clear and you could see all the way to the bottom.  Unfortunately, the area has become so popular that there are no fish in the area, although there is a nearby breading ground for turtles who arrive during May and June and then depart the area.

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon
On the boat returning from the Blue Lagoon

Anyway, I was one of the first off the boat and into the water, which was incredibly salty and very, very warm.  I swam around for about 20 minutes and was surprised by the number of people from my boat who donned life jackets, noodles or similar floatation devices.  A handful of folks never left the boat.  Curious, I spoke to the Polish tour guide and she said that people in Poland are not big swimmers.  Landlocked and a colder climate is not conducive (according to her) to being good swimmers.  Things you never knew ….

The source of my laughter.

By 12:30 we were back on the boat and reversing course back to Latchi.  As we pulled away from the Blue Lagoon, we passed a boat and I could not stop laughing.  My Polish counterparts didn’t get what I was laughing about.

And, as luck would have it, as we motored along, I spotted a huge sea turtle swimming alongside our boat.  Highly, highly unusual for this time of year for a turtle to be in the area.  I yelled “turtle” and was pointing, but I didn’t know the Polish word for turtle and few of my fellow passengers even bothered to look up.  And I had put my camera away so no picture.  Bummer!

View from restaurant towards Latchi

Anyway, once at the port, Panicos drove in the direction of the Blue Lagoon to the Baths of Aphrodite Seafood Restaurant, which overlooks the route our boat took to the Blue Lagoon.  Magnificent views and OK food.  I had the grilled octopus, which was tender, but not grilled enough for my liking.  I also had a Mediterranean salad along with some pretty tasty garlic bread.

View from the path to the Baths of Aphrodite

After lunch, I walked from the restaurant across the road and hiked up the hillside to visit the Baths of Aphrodite, a small natural grotto underneath an old fig tree.  The grotto is fed by a spring that flows down a wall of rock and forms a pool amongst the moss.   Legend has it that Aphrodite would come to bathe here, and according to Greek mythology, Aphrodite met her lover Adonis at the pool when he stopped for a drink while hunting.

Baths of Aphrodite

Anyway, the short hike took me up along a path up the hillside through a small area of trees and botanical gardens before winding down into the grotto.  Quite frankly, the grotto was a bit underwhelming, but the hike and views were spectacular and the aroma from the various trees was wonderful.

High above Paphos

After the brief visit, I hiked back down the hill to the car.  Panicos advised that we were going to drive back on a different route to Paphos.  This drive took us up and over the mountains to the coast where we wound our way through the outskirts of Paphos.  On the way, we stopped to take in the spectacular views from the Paphos Mountains looking down on Phaphos town.

Atop the white cliffs at Coral Bay
The white cliffs at Coral Bay

Once we reached the coast, we drove through an area called Coral Bay, which is filled with spectacular homes.  Panicos told me he had a suggestion for a great picture stop so one short detour down a residential road deposited us onto a hillside overlooking the most amazing white cliffs.  It was gorgeous and well worth the detour.

After the quick stop for pictures, we drove along the coastline to Paphos where Panicos dropped me off at my hotel.  I was hot and a bit tired, so a dip in the pool sounded like a good way to end the day.

Author: lawyerchick92

I am a lawyer by trade, but long to be a full time traveller. My life changed for the better when my brother donated a kidney to me on October 14, 2002.

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