Cyprus: waiting for discovery

My wife and I, seeking an unusual destination, decided to go to Cyprus, March 11-18, ’05. Cyprus is an island of great beauty that combines Roman ruins, the sea and mountains.

We took a package with Amelia International (176 Woodbury Rd., Hicksville, NY 11601; phone 800/674-4591 or visit www.amelia The deal cost $1,395 and included airfare from Savannah, Georgia, six nights at the Miramare Hotel in Lemessus (Limassol) and transfers to and from the airport, which is situated 45 minutes from Lemessus. Although this price may seem high, the airfare itself is usually very costly.

The hotel was a little off the main road and was very quiet. The staff was friendly and helpful. Breakfast was wonderful, with bread, meat, cheese, sausages, eggs, beans, yogurt and many other items. March is the beginning of a glorious Cypriot spring, and we were able to eat breakfast outdoors the last three days we were there.

For sightseeing, we signed up for tours with local companies sometimes and also took service taxes, which pick you up at the hotel and take you to your destination along with several other people.

We took tours to Mount Troodos, where the winter snows were just starting to melt, and to North Cyprus, which is still occupied by Turkey. It is worth going to North Cyprus on a day trip. Kyrenia has a gorgeous horseshoe harbor and is very relaxed.

We went by service taxi to Paphos, southwestern Cyprus. This town has Roman mosaics as well as wonderful seaside restaurants, where we ate trout and fresh tuna.

We also took a service taxi to Nicosia, a divided city (part is in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is not recognized by the U.N.). I wandered the streets of South Nicosia by myself and went to the lookout where I could see North Cyprus through the barbed wire. Nicosia has two fine museums: the Byzantine Museum, with a display of icons, and the Archaeological Museum.

It is too bad that more Americans do not visit Cyprus. I think they would be delighted. This was one of our very best travel experiences in terms of hotel service and genuinely welcoming people. Cyprus is a very safe country with little crime or hassle. It has long been popular with British and German travelers. We are eager to return.

Tybee Island, GA