Day 8: A journey through the centuries

On Saturday, we started our weekend blessed with a chill day of site visits and quality time with Demetra. To start the day, we had a nice late 10am departure, much needed after a week of little sleep, before departing on a short bus trip to the Kolossi Castle, our first castle of the day. This castle was just on the outskirts of Limassol, so it was a short bus ride and then we were in sight of the beautiful 13th century castle. Now these ancient castles are nothing like the Cinderella-esque castles that typically come to mind when thinking about these royal structures. As a castle from the Crusader period, it is a lot smaller than other castles on the island, and standing inside it has a very basic structure and framework. This is not to say that it wasn’t beautiful and full of rich history, it was just interesting to note that a castle, typically associated with lavishness, was basically just two cubical rooms with little decor. Despite this simplicity, I can’t help but wonder how long it took to construct this castle given the lack of technology at the time. Also, you had to enter via drawbridge, which I found to be very cool and exciting.

After the Kolossi Castle, we boarded the bus again to travel into the Troodos Mountains to the Kourion Ancient City. On the bus ride there, I looked out the window and was in awe of the surroundings. Never before have I seen a place from which you can see hay bales and the ocean at the same time, with farmland going all the way to the coast. Once in the ancient city, we walked to the Greek amphitheater, which is still used as a concert venue today. Sitting there and listening to Demetra’s stories while taking in the sights and sounds was oh so relaxing, and probably one of my favorite scenes of the trip. We then got to go down to the coastline for a group meal at a restaurant on the water, then had time to walk around.

From here we ventured to another castle, the Limassol Castle. This one, being built in the 6th century, was architecturally much different. While the outside was insignificant, the inside was gorgeous and full of artifacts that were recovered. We were told that this was one of the stops Queen Elizabeth made on her visit to Cyprus in the 1990s. This was interesting to me as at dinner the night before we were in a place Bill Clinton visited. I never realized how many important people have been here as I hadn’t heard much about it before the trip.

After the castle, we were free to the afternoon. A few of us decided to do some shopping and went to a market in the square, full of locals selling handmade jewelry. We then spent some time at the beach to enjoy the nice weather. One thing I’ve noticed becoming a common thing is that since Cyprus is a vacation destination almost exclusively amongst Europeans, they are unused to seeing Americans and find our group to be fascinating. This has led to some interesting conversations that I can’t wait to have more of.

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