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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cyprus: the search for traditional charm

Brown cafes are ubiquitous in European cities like Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. These traditional bar-cum-eatery-cum-coffee shops, with their big picture windows, rickety wooden furniture and cigarette smoke-stained walls, have an atmosphere and warmth that no modern cafe can match. Slide into a tattered old leather banquette, order a local beer, and simply sit back and soak it all up - hanging out at one of these is a wonderful way to while away an afternoon or evening. The problem is that after you experience enough of them, their endearingly faded charm spoils you. Wherever you travel, you'll be looking for equally atmospheric experiences. As we do. In Cyprus, unfortunately, we've been hard-pressed to find them. There's no denying that cities such as Lemesos and Nicosia have their fare share of stylish cafes and contemporary bars but finding a characterful, old-fashioned coffee shop or traditional taverna among all of the tacky English pubs, Irish bars, betting shops, and fish and chip joints, has been a challenging task. And in the villages they all seem closed - for the winter or for good, we're not sure. Which is why we were relieved when we discovered The Mill Hotel in the village of Kakopetria in the Solea Valley of the Troodos Mountains. On the top floor of this renovated old hotel is an unpretentious eatery that oozes traditional charm. Picture rustic wooden furniture, rough stucco walls, paintings featuring local village scenes, and a big fireplace in the corner of the room. The food is as tasty and hearty as the surroundings, and the service is warm and hospitable. If only we discovered more delightful places like this. Any tips?


Prêt à Voyager said...

OMG, I didn't eat there, but Christiana took me there for the great view before we wandered around the old windy streets of the old town.

So exciting!


P.S. Oktana was my favorite little cafe in Nicosia. Also LOVED the hamam (Omeriye)too.

Lara Dunston said...

Thanks for the suggestions - will have to check these out before we leave. Looked at the Omeriye hammam - beautiful, I agree.