Pride of place among Monarch Airlines’ busy summer schedule must go to new flights to Paphos in Cyprus and Bodrum in Turkey. Both are hot destinations with their own special personalities...
CYPRUS is not afraid to trumpet its godlike status – or should that be goodesslike? This beautiful and varied eastern Mediterranean island claims it’s the birthplace of Aphrodite. She, of course, was the ancient Greek mythological goddess of love and beauty. Aphrodite's Rock some 20km from Paphos is where, according to legend, the goddess emerged from the foaming waves.
The Aphrodite cult has always been strong here. Locals believe that if you swim around the Rock naked, you will be fertile for life – or if you swim round it three times at midnight, you will meet your true love and find perpetual beauty. So you know where you’ll be heading as soon as your Monarch plane lands!
Actually there’s a lot too to detain you in this ancient town in the east of Cyprus. The harbour at Paphos attracts visitors all year round, with its alluring array of quayside fish restaurants and tavernas. The view is superb, with lots of colourful fishing boats bobbing in the harbour.
Today’s castle is all that remains of a much earlier Byzantine castle dating from 1391, which was demolished by the Venetians. The Ottomans used it as dungeons and the British as a warehouse for salt. It can be reached via a small bridge over a moat.
Further evidence of Paphos’s antiquity lies with its must-see mosaics depicting scenes from mythology, which can be found near the lighthouse.
They were discovered by accident in the Sixties and further excavation revealed a number of well-to-do Roman houses. The main sites are the House of Dionysos, the House of Aion and the House of Theseus.
Beyond the beachfront stretch of Kato Paphos with its cranks of opulent hotels the main interest lies in strolling round the colourful streets of the old town. Pick of the hotels? Hard to pick one out but probably the Paphos Amathus Beach Hotel (www.amathus-hotels.com/paphos). There are other beautiful complexes northwards towards Coral Bay.
Of course, such development does offer a threat to wildlife. Environmentalist have so far been successful in protecting the unspoilt Akamas Peninsula, home to several turtle habitats. In the Lara Bay Marine Reserve, a protected turtle habitat area, the endangered green loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.
Plos is a pleasant little town to hang out in but we recommend a fresh sardine or swordfish lunch in the picturesque fishing village of Latchi, which has some of the best fish restaurants Cyprus has to offer.
Less than half an hour away you’ll find one of the best historical sites in Cyprus — Kourion. This was once an important city kingdom and the main attraction for tourists today is the amphitheatre, originally built in the second century BC. In the curved auditorium the spectators’ seating area accommodates around 3,500 people.
If you need to get away from the coast, hire a car and head for the Troodos Mountains, which offers dense forests, abundant wildlife and a great number of nature trails and hiking routes. Its mountain villages offer handcrafted goods such as lace and silverware. Mount Olympus at an impressive 1,951m is the island's highest mountain.
If Paphos seems sedate go for an adrenalin rush at the Aphrodite Water Park, which offers the double-twist open slide, the black hole, the five-lane racer and the free-fall and kamikaze slides.
BODRUM can never be accused of being sedate. It is a centre for sailing holidays along the Turkish Mediterranean coast but also attracts plenty of nightlife-seeking landlubbers. Yet behind all the bustle, it boasts a fascinating history, at least the equal Paphos’s.
It was once known as Halicarnassus and in 377 B.C. became the capital of the Carian King Mausolus. Although little remains of its ancient history, a restored theater, dating from Roman times and that could once seat 13,000 people, is carved into the hills overlooking Bodrum's harbour.
Herodotus, its most famous son, was born there around 485 B.C. and went on to pen his "Histories." It was another writer, however, called Cevat Sakir Kasbaagacil, who wrote dozens of essays in the 1920s that waxed lyrical about it that helped turn Bodrum from a sleepy fishing village into one of Turkey's most popular resorts. A year-round warm climate has also helped.
Shopping, dining out, sightseeing are there in abundance all along the 650 sq km peninsula now. The 650 sq km Bodrum peninsula has a plethora of attractive beaches, Dodo beach out by Yalikavak is pretty and sandy (dark sand) and is quiet apart from Sundays. The water is amazingly clear and there are sheltered coves around that area where the Gulets (sailing boats) moor up and bob around looking scenic.
Yalikavak is about 20 minutes from Bodrum but its got a nice buzz of its own in the summer time, a little covered bazaar and a weekly market. It is a favourite summer retreat for Turkish city dwellers. The town is centred around its small harbour with a 300-year-old windmill to one side. Restaurants line the seafront and in the streets running back from the sea, grocery shops sit alongside an art gallery housed in an old water cistern and a kilim showroom in a former olive oil press.
On the coast road towards Gümüslük is a smart new yacht marina with an open air cinema and lots of gorgeous walks in the area.
Nearby Tuzla lake is famous as a natural wetlands sanctuary for birds. Greater flamingos flock there between October and April, and you may also see pelican, great white and little egret, as well as many butterflies.
Ruins of the ancient city of Bargylia – including a Roman temple – are scattered over the hillsides among the olive groves, pine and tamarisk trees.
Bodrum's major attraction is its formidable harbour castle, built by the Knights of St John, which now houses a world-class shipwreck museum filled with the relics from several millennia found in inshore waters.
There are lots of attractive hotels outside Bodrum, notably the luxurious Kempinski Barbaros Bay (www.kempinski.com/tr/bodrum), but if you want to soak up the frenetic energy of the town itself we recommend the more affordable Bac Pansiyon, Bodrum. Insist on a sea-facing room; the others face Bodrum's "Bar Alley". There's a roof terrace with a great view of the castle. Doubles from £40.
For full details of all Monarch Airline’s flights from Manchester visit www.monarch.co.uk.
I met with Yvette Vaucher today who was the first woman to climb the north face of the Matterhorn.…Read more
I'd have preferred it if this article had fewer details about the Cote d'Azur and more about the…Read more
For God's sake, why put flights to Zurich, which is hours and hours away. The nearest airport is…Read more
Hi, I'm wondering if there was in fact some typo's with the breathing/pacing figures above...…Read more