Our excursion of Sunday 12 January 2020 takes us to the village of Lythrodontas, a short 30 km drive from Nicosia. The village is famous for its quality olive oil. This outing involves two hikes, with a common start, and an extraordinary experience, which includes Vasilopita at the taverna. The 1st trail, named Lefkothea, involves hiking around a hill, in a circle, reaching up to the hill top named Aetomoutti, and climbing down the hill. At the point where the hill circle ends, and the 1st trail reaches a dirt road, the 1st trail flows into the 2nd trail. The 2nd trail is named Ithaca, is all on dirt road and linear; it is downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back. The downhill is at points quite demanding. The total hiking distance is about 10 km, hiking time is about 155 minutes, which with stops translates to a 3 hours experience. The degree of difficulty is 2 (medium).
There are several attractions in store; among them, the 360° views from an altitude of 945 m at the Aetomoutti peak; fields of free-growing (wild) olive trees; pillow lava geological formations; and a literary twist.
We gave the 2nd trail the name Ithaca, while we were puzzled concerning its worthiness for inclusion in the Cyprus Strollers program of activities. In search of an answer as to why should the club be inviting Strollers along a dirt road downhill and then back uphill, we were inspired by the message by poet Cavafy in his poem Ithaca: a traveler ought to look for the thrills and rewards in the journey, rather than the destination.
Here follow excerpts from poem Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933):
“As you set out for Ithaca
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to give you wealth.
Ithaca gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.”
The poem by Cavafy was inspired from the adventures of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. Here is a synopsis of the adventures of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey:
Odysseus (in English Ulysses) was king of (the Greek island of) Ithaca and a hero of Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey. Homer portrayed Odysseus as a man of outstanding wisdom, shrewdness, eloquence, resourcefulness, courage, and endurance. Odysseus’s wanderings during his long journey of return to Ithaca following the fall of Troy are the central theme of the Odyssey. He first comes to the land of the Lotus-Eaters and only with difficulty rescues some of his companions from their lōtos-induced lethargy; he then encounters and blinds Polyphemus the Cyclop, a son of Poseidon, escaping from his cave by clinging to the belly of a ram; he then loses 11 of his 12 ships to the cannibalistic Laistrygones and reaches the island of the enchantress Circe, where he has to rescue some of his companions whom she had turned into swine. Next he visits the Land of Departed Spirits, where he speaks to the spirit of Agamemnon and learns from the Theban seer Tiresias how he can expiate (extinguish the evil incurred by) Poseidon’s wrath. He then encounters the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Cattle of the Sun, which his companions, despite warnings, plunder for food. He alone survives the ensuing storm and reaches the idyllic island of the nymph Calypso, who imprisoned him. It took Odysseus 9 years to escape from all threats and reach his destination, Ithaca. (source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Participating Strollers are welcome to get inspired and bring along further contributions during the day, on the theme of Ithaca, which you may share at stops or at the conclusion of the hikes.
The hike starts at 10:45 am. Xenophon is leading the hike, which will go ahead even in light rain; if you need to, call 97613720. At the end of the hike, we shall sit down for lunch and Vasilopita at our taverna of choice in the area. Vasilopita is the Orthodox traditional cake for the start of a new year, and it comes with a hidden coin, which grants the lucky person a prize: you can be the lucky Stroller for 2020. To facilitate arrangements, for your better service, you are required to pre-register, if you are joining us for lunch. To do so, please e-mail the walk leader by end Thursday. No need to register if you are not dining.
You have the choice of meeting the group at the hike start, or meet at the designated meeting point in Nicosia. In either case, you need to carry copy of this set of instructions. Meeting in Nicosia offers two important advantages: we drive in full cars, leaving some cars behind; thus, we save in fuel and enjoy the trip in good company. The meeting point in Nicosia is the Handicrafts Centre (Kentro Heirotechnias) on Leoforos Athalassas (Athalassa Avenue), which offers ample parking space. The car trip starts at 10:00 am. Please ensure you observe start times, for the benefit of the group.
How to get to the walk start:
Get to the main junction between Leoforos Lemesou/ Limassol Avenue and Leoforos Athalassas. Zero your odometer at this junction. Drive along the Nicosia-Limassol motorway, heading towards Larnaca. At the 15.2 km reading the motorway splits in two: do not go straight (towards Limassol), take the left turn, towards Larnaca. At the 16.7 km reading take exit number 8 to the left, signposted to Lythrodontas. At the 17.4 km reading you reach a T-junction: go left. Slow down, drive carefully for the next 200 m. At the 17.6 km reading turn right into the E103 road (do not be misled, there is a sign also indicating ‘Nicosia’ at this same turn). At the 18.9 km reading you enter the village of Agia Varvara. At the 25.2 km reading you enter the village of Mathiatis. At the 28.3 km reading you enter the village of Lythrodontas. Drive along the main road crossing the village. At the 30.0 km reading you pass a large supermarket on your right and the road bends left. The road then narrows as it winds through the village centre and past the village coffee shops and houses. At the 30.4 km reading you reach a Y-junction; do not go right (to Mahairas); go left, towards Lefkara. At the 30.6 km reading you reach another Y-junction; go right. At the 34.1 km reading you reach the walk start; there is an E4 sign and a nature trail sign named Lefkothea on your left. We meet here. Park your car on the side or climb up left where there is more space for parking.
How to get to Steki Marinos taverna from the walk finish:
Turn your car in the direction from where you came. Zero your odometer and drive towards Lythrodontas village. At the 3.6 km reading you reach a T-junction. Turn right. At the 3.7 km reading, as you drive past the main village coffee shops, turn left. Caution, you turn left before the church on your right hand side. The Marinos taverna is the 2nd store on your left, in this narrow side road. To park your car, search for parking space in the surrounding area.
How to get to the meeting point for the car trip, coming from the Landmark (formerly Hilton) hotel area:
Get yourself on Makarios Avenue, heading out of town and set your odometer to zero as you drive past the Nicosia Landmark (formerly Hilton) hotel. At the 0.1 km reading you reach traffic lights (with the Apoel club building on your right), go straight. At the 0.5 km reading you reach another set of traffic lights, go straight. Driving along, you pass a few more traffic lights, staying on this main road (named Leoforos Lemesou/ Limassol Avenue). At the 2.1 km reading, you reach a principal set of traffic lights. Set your odometer to zero again and turn right here. You are now in Leoforos Athalassas, a very busy avenue. At the 0.2 km reading you see a large empty space on your right and the Handicrafts Centre (a single-storey building) on your left. Park in the parking area. We meet here. The Handicrafts Centre is next to the church of St. Barnabas.
How to get to the meeting point for the car trip, coming from the Presidential Palace area:
Get to the round-about next to the Presidential Palace. From downtown Nicosia you reach this along the Kyriakou Matsi avenue or along the D. Severi avenue. Set your odometer to zero on the round-about and drive along the principal road towards Strovolos. At the 0.3 km reading you reach traffic lights. Go straight. At the 0.6 km reading you reach a 2nd set of traffic lights. Set your odometer to zero again and turn left. You are now in Leoforos Athalassas, a very busy avenue full of shops. At the 2.6 km reading you see a large empty space on your left and the Handicrafts Centre (a single-storey building) on your right. Park here.
Google Maps: Here is a map for those coming from the Landmark (formerly Hilton) area to the meeting place for the car trip http://tinyurl.com/phjc6s7
Google Maps: Here is a map for those coming from the Presidential Palace area to the meeting place for the car trip http://tinyurl.com/neo9duy
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