Cypriots love music and they love to play it loud!
On our first day in Larnaca as we were checking out the beach promenade and enjoying a sandwich, an old couple next to us were enjoying the view of the sea and a newspaper while they had the speakers of their smartphone cramped up on loud playing folk music for the entire restaurant to hear.
At the hotel I have had to call down to the reception every night to tell them that the music they are blasting in the entrance hall can be heard all the way to the inside of a room on the third floor.
This is not to mention that every bus driver is having his stereo on loud.
And the music played is Greek.
Apart from the nightly music at the hotel, I don’t mind. I find it fascinating and it adds to the experience. It is just one of those things that make you realise that you are in Cyprus exploring a different culture.
Days in Larnaca
We arrived in the early morning hours to a very grey and sterile hotel room in the centre of Larnaca. Thus, our first day started out lazy with that sandwich at the beach promenade and getting familiar with the city.
With a long afternoon rest at the rooftop pool and lots of little breaks at local hangouts we were well rested for an evening stroll all along the coastline. We ended up at a small fishing hamlet just before Kastela Beach.
The walk was quite magical with the evening sky and the airplanes descending towards Larnaca Airport to the south and the walk home inland gave us a brief meeting with the residential parts of Larnaca, where tourists rarely visit. By accident we ended up on the other side of the city centre in desperate search of food at the charming Art Café 1900.
It is a pleasant place with so many trinkets and knick-knacks. Photos from the first half of the 20th century and paintings all over. The food was excellent and locally inspired with the owner chit-chatting with the guests. In contrast to the many tourist restaurants with laminated menus that we have seen around the beach promenade this seems so intimate.
Hiking in Cape Greco
Not far from Larnaca lies Cape Greco National Forest Park which offers hiking trails full of pretty beaches and dramatic coastlines. On our first full day in Larnaca we took the bus northwest through Agia Napa to Konnos Beach, from where we began a long but beautiful hike through the Cypriot landscape.
We began with a bit of lunch at the turquoise Konnos Beach before a short walk to the pretty Agioi Anargyroi. The walk was marvellous and offered beautiful views of the coast and millions of wildflowers in yellow, red and purple.
Agioi Anargyroi is a small chapel situated dramatically on a small stretch of rock along the coast. The view of the chapel from the hiking trail was beautiful, but unfortunately a large truck in the colours of the Bulgarian flag was parked just beside the chapel offering refreshments to the guests and destroying the view.
After a small reprieve at the chapel we moved onwards all along the coastline, cutting across inlands where the narrow Cape Greco peninsula jugs out from the coast.
The most magnificent part comes as we move past the large flat hill which dominates the area. Looking back towards the hill there is something decidedly lonely and hauntingly beautiful about this place with the wide upon stone field, the coast to the south and the hill taking up the landscape. We only slowly move away from this beautiful place moving towards the famous sea caves
The sea caves are beautiful and so oddly cut into the coast. It seems the sea has constructed a massive sink hole making the ground disappear and showing off the beauty of the rocks below. It makes an intake on the land, which is dramatic and surprising. But the sea caves while beautiful are nothing without all the rest, and I pity those who only travel to the sea caves not caring for the rest of this marvellous stretch of coast.
The day ends with a six kilometres long walk into Agia Napa, where we are refreshed by sinking our feet into the sand at the public beaches, enjoying the cold water of the sea. But before long we have to find our way to the last bus towards Larnaca.
We end the evening at another great restaurant full of young locals. If you ask me the name I will have to draw a pass since it was only offered in Greek letters.
Thoughts on Larnaca
If ever I returned to Cyprus, I would not choose to stay in Larnaca though I’d take it over the resort town Agia Napa any day. While we had a pleasant few days, the city is far from the most interesting to visit and tourist-wise it seems more of a shopping daytrip from Agia Napa than a place which caters to tourists on its own.
While it offers some sights and local spots, it is not enough to return. I’d much rather stay in Nicosia or attempt a stay at Limassol which we unfortunately did not have time to discover.
However Larnaca has charm and we were lucky with the places we went to eat. The best experience was at a small and very local tavern next to the Church of Saint Lazarus. At Stoa Restaurant we were met with friendly locals watching a local football match. Not only was the atmosphere amazing with all the old men enjoying a drink while discussing the game, but the mezes we ordered tasted fantastic and just kept on coming until I am not sure how I was able to rise from the table. I feel as if we got to experience a small slice of the real Cyprus that evening.
After eating we headed on towards the beach promenade which in the day time is full of tourists. But at night the locals take over and places such as the Meeting Pub are full with the local youth. At least on a night when the Champions League Quarter Finals are on – a fact that had also drawn us to the pub.