Visiting the high point on Cyprus
|Mt. Olympos||1952m||1952m||High Point Cyprus|
When Anne suggested that we should book a trip to Cyprus, I mumbled “sounds like a good idea“, violating the “be here now” principle, that I unfortunately do from time to time. I reckoned it would be like any other trip to a Greek island – mountainous, curvy roads, hot weather and nice food. What I didn’t understand at first, was that on Cyprus, people are driving on the left hand side of the road.
Driving on the “wrong side” has always scared me. So, I’ve never tried. And this was potentially a show-stopper. But, after having been on a sailboat for 9 days in the Greenland sea earlier this year – and sailing on the ocean is close to the top of my list of things I really, really dislike – then I reckoned this was the year of taking on challenges. So, Cyprus was a go!
Anne had ordered room at Hotel Londa, located in the outskirts of Limassol and by the beach. We typically pick a place which is somewhat central for our day trips to the various mountains, and Limassol was our best option.
Friday: We returned to Sogndal on Thursday afternoon, after a very nice mini-tour in eastern Norway. In order to catch the 08:00 flight from Bergen, we could either continue directly to the Bergen airport and spend a short night there, or drive at night. We chose the latter. I wasn’t able to get any sleep at all and was not truly fit for fight when we left Sogndal around 1am on Friday morning. After all, I had driven from Alvdal to Sogndal earlier in the day.
But we got to Bergen, parked the car, got through Security and on the plane without any hassles at all. And then we were on our way to Cyprus!
Arriving on Cyprus
It’s normally difficult to prepare for the high Mediterranean temperatures, but we had quite a tropical week in Norway, and the standing joke was that we were heading to Cyprus to “cool off“. But you can’t really compare centigrades like that. So it was still a “shock” to leave the airplane.
The airport was quite modern and the passport control was just outstanding. Self-served, and we could just hand the printed document to a guy collecting them. I was tempted to recommend that they add some more ink to the printer, but assumed they would be able to figure that out by themselves. No trouble with the luggage either. And to top it all – there was no one in line at the Sixth rental car office.
We were then guided to the outdoor office (no queue there either) where we expect to find a get a fairly decent car – based on our reservation. But I think we were played. The Sixth representative seemed slightly disturbed about the fact that none of us had driven on the left hand side before, and immediately suggested an upgrade to automatic shift. We said, OK – why not. And I reckon she gave us the worst car she had in the garage. I don’t really blame her, but I’ll try to avoid this mistake in the future.
After a while, we got on the road that took us away from the airport, and for the first half hour, I fired up the windshield wipers when I should really have been blinking. I’ve heard it’s a very common mistake…
My preparations for getting to the hotel without any issues were in vain, because we ended up on the wrong motorway. As there were no signs pointing to Limassol (very, very odd) we had to fire up Google Maps and let “the lady” guide us. My handheld GPS also came in handy, as the cell phone map wasn’t always real-time. And when we finally realized that Limassol was Lemesos (on the signposts), things started to get better. Driving on the left was easier than I had thought and the car performed fairly OK on the motorway.
Google Maps took us straight to the hotel (good job!), where we found parking (hooray!) . The hotel and the staff made a good impression. We were offered a welcome drink, and shortly after, we were installed in our room. And then we noticed that we were one backpack short! After thinking through the situation, we agreed that we must have left it at the rental office. I phoned them, they confirmed that the backpack was there. I asked them if they could get it to our hotel, and the woman I spoke to said she would get back to me. Which she never did, but more on that later. In any case, we were not lacking any vital items…
Next, we took a taxi to a bookstore in Limassol where Anne bought the best maps she could find, and then we had lunch in Limassol. She had ordered maps from Amazon in good time before the trip, but Amazon failed to deliver. Disappointing! There would be no hiking today, but at least we could start preparing for our hike the next day – To Mt. Olympos (1952m) – the highest top on Cyprus.
Pictures (Canon 80D/Iphone6) from the travel to Cyprus:
Saturday: After breakfast, we left for the high point of Cyprus. We let Google Maps guide us to the motorway, but that didn’t go quite as we hoped. After some trial and error, we finally got on A6, westbound.
After 7km, we took B8 to the north. The road got more curvy the higher up we got, and the car screamed in pain every time I requested some acceleration in the uphills. I thought the car was dying.
After 35km, we reached the Kaledonian waterfalls trailhead, and had to decide whether we would go from here, or higher up. Starting here, we were looking at a 14-15km long hike, which could be a challenge in this heat. But, we decided to go for it. First, we drove up to the Troodos village and bought food, and then back down to the trailhead where we parked the car.
The hike up the forest was really nice! The trees provided shadow and we could always dip our heads in the nice valley creek. There were a lot of people on this trail – most of them aiming for the waterfall 1,3km up the road, but some also heading all the way up to Troodos.
The waterfall was nice, but not mind-blowing for Norwegians living on the western side of the country. We’ve seen waterfalls before. But on a Cyprus-scale – definitely nice!
Higher up, we joined the “old road” which we followed up to Troodos.
We went over to the Visitor Center (closed for rebuild or something) and then joined the main road again higher up. After a little while, we found a forest path that went in the direction of the top, and soon after, we could see the military installation on top.
We didn’t see much wildlife during our stay on Cyprus, so we cherished to see this Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) near the top…
We were of course obligated to ask the (British) military guard if he would allow us to walk up to the high point – which was inside the military base, but as expected – he let us know that this was totally out of the question. And given the photo restrictions on top, we had to take our picture a bit on the outside.
In any case, we had circumvented the installation and was roughly at (if not equal to) the same height outside the fence, as the high point inside the fence. As such – we decided to claim the high point of Cyprus. We had travelled a long way to get here, and this is as close as we could get. Mission accomplished!
We took a slightly different route back down to Troodos. We had several options for longer routes, but decided that it was OK to just return and get back to the hotel. After all, we had some swimming to do…
After we had passed the Kaledonian waterfall, we felt the urge to jump into a pond. There was no one else around, so we went for it.
Anne hadn’t even got dressed before we had an Italian school class surrounding us – determined to take a dip in the same pool. Very strange…
The school class had however not brought the Italian courage, and were reluctant to take a proper dive into the pool. A “hunk” started to splash water onto the girls, which I found a bit pathetic. So, I decided to show them how Norwegians do it, and jumped into the water.
OK – the above picture is totally ridiculous. Why is this old guy in the water with the young girls? Clearly, a 10 on the pathetic scale. But – as if I care what people think. At least I inspired several of the girls to take a proper dive and they all waved goodbye to us when we left.
We returned to the car after a 15,2km hike. It was a good one. The Cyprus high point was “in the bag” and everything would be a bonus from now on. We returned to our hotel in Limassol, had a nice swim in the ocean and went out for Meze on a Syrian Restaurant. In fact, I think the restaurant was called just that…
After settling in for the night, we woke up to fireworks. Very odd, given the month of the year…
Trip statistics: 15,2km, 820 vertical meters, 4h:34m
Pictures (Canon 80D) from the trip: