Cyprus, 2004 - Tuesday


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This trip to Gatwick was much less eventful, as was the flight, although finding out Avis had no record of my booking for the Vitara was a bit of a let down. After they found the booking. I set off to the hotel. The flight in had revealed miles of dirt roads heading up into empty hills, all looking ripe for the exploration. Driving the Vitara to the hotel reinforced this as I passed mile after mile of dirt roads, all turning off the highway. It also showed me how far 4x4s have come since my Lada Niva was designed. It must be said, road work in the Vitara was much more pleasant. It had power steering, and brakes that stopped you. However, I shall ponder this more as I get to drive it more. I checked in at the hotel, then popped over the road for a bottle of Ouzo ‘for later’, and then headed off the highway in search of a non-tourist restaurant somewhere in a village, somewhere off the main road. After driving down the highway for a couple of miles, I saw a signpost pointing to the right. I slowed down, took what I thought to be the turning, only to find I had missed it by a couple of yards. When there are no streetlights, and the road looks like the surrounding countryside, it is hard to identify where exactly you should be driving. Another mark for the Vitara and against my Niva: the lights on the Vitara actually illuminate stuff, rather than just filling up with water in fords. This was a good thing, as the road I was on wound precariously up into the hills, skirting inky black voids, which could have hidden cliffs of hundreds of feet (and having driven it later, I found did). However, the Vitara handled all this well, and got me to ‘I. Araouzos Traditional Tavern’. I walked in to what seemed like someone’s front room, and sat down to a plate of several different types of meat, yams, potatoes, pickled cauliflower, olives from Mr Araouzos’ garden, half a litre of wine from his grapes (“don’t worry, I wash my feet first”, he told me) all mopped up by freshly home made bread, followed by several oranges from the nearby groves. Each member of the family entered in turn, and asked me where I was from, why I was on my own, where I was staying, and what was I doing there. Afterwards I joined them by the log fire, where they sat, continuing their questions. When the bill came, I was surprised to be asked for just £6.00 (Cypriot pounds). The restaurant across the road from the hotel offered just the main meal starting at £8.50. It shows what getting off the beaten path even just slightly (about 5kms) can do. They treated me like one of the family, and everything I ate came from their land, or their friends’ land. They directed me back to my hotel via a much bigger road: bigger, but not better in my book. Tomorrow I want to have a look under the car to see where the vulnerable bits are, and plan to head off somewhere in the daylight, to try something a bit more serious. Meanwhile, there is the Ouzo I bought earlier to contend with.

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