Discovering the real Cyprus

Discovering the real Cyprus
It’s called Exploring Authentic Cyprus and the book is flying off the shelves with people ordering it ahead of coming to Cyprus and locals snapping it up in their droves. It’s the kind of book you keep in your car for when you’re tired of driving the highways and want to head off the beaten track, and discover something completely different, the real Cyprus… This, says author Phivos Ioannides, is Exploring Authentic Cyprus in a nutshell: it’s certainly not a guide to the island’s tourist traps and well-known sites, but rather a pocket-sized compendium of everything that makes Cyprus truly unique. Because what this book does is provide “teasers, tasters; a jumping off point, perhaps, for those who want to discover the unknown side of the island. Someone who wants to truly immerse themselves in our nature and cultural heritage. It’s a book for the explorer.” Founder of CyprusWalksEtc – a bespoke walking service for those in search of a unique experience when it comes to discovering Cyprus’ hidden byways and secret sites – Phivos has an intimate knowledge of the island. “As a child my parents used to take me all round the country, and I’ve explored the many strengths Cyprus has to offer in terms of nature and culture.” Now in his late forties, Phivos has made a profession from this love of nature, culture, history and the arts, “because all these things go together, I believe, and people who hope to truly explore a place want to learn all about it… Explorers don’t just go to a forest and say ‘how pretty, where shall we go for lunch?’; they go into the forest and find the abandoned watermill, the mediaeval bridge, the ancient tree… and they uncover its background, its cultural significance, its past. For me it’s this combination of nature and cultural heritage – this is what makes a place unique. And this is what makes the book about ‘authentic’ Cyprus.” Even those who have lived here for decades and feel they know the country like the back of their hand will be surprised by the contents. Divided into nine sections – Protaras, Ayia Napa, Larnaca, Nicosia, Limassol, Platres, Paphos, Polis, and the ‘North Part of Cyprus’ – the book is a mine of information. Preceded by a brief introduction to the island and its history, along with a few words on the indigenous flora and fauna, each section boasts a wide variety of categories – and accompanying photos, all taken by Phivos himself – including beaches, walking routes, wetlands, other natural attractions and cultural attractions – such as medieval bridges, watermills, chapels and monasteries, UNESCO sites, ancient trees, ancient ruins, aqueducts, castles and watchtowers… And each has a titbit of information to tease the reader into wanting to know more… enticing them to further explore. “This,” writes Phivos, for those investigating the eastern end of the island, “is a Juniperus phoenicea, 150 years old, 5 metres high and its trunk has a perimeter of two metres. A stop here can be combined with any of the exploration activities in the Cape Greco park: walks, nature study, photography, swimming and snorkelling, scuba diving, bird watching and climbing. Lately it seems like young couples use the location for wedding photos…” Of course, it’s the incredibly detailed maps and the extensive walking routes – all of which have been researched and developed by Phivos himself – that make the book so unique. “I’m fascinated by exploration, by finding new things,” he explains. “So when I research a route, I’m always looking at how the place can offer a fulfilling experience to those who want to explore the area. I look at walks that combine nature – including flora and fauna and scenery – and elements of our cultural heritage. And I’m always discovering new things: in Potamitissa,” he reveals, flicking to page 243 and indicating a photo of a ruined bridge camouflaged by shadow and laced with ivy, “there’s a mediaeval bridge that’s hardly known. You don’t find things written about it; it’s not on the internet or even in the records of the Antiquities Depart…

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