It bore Aphrodite but won't bore you! OutUK's Adrian Gillan meets Med men in the island idyll of Cyprus!

For the last five millennia, Cyprus has been jealously sought for its strategic position at the junction between Europe, Africa and Asia - engendering an immensely rich blend of influences and cultures. Past rulers of this sun-drenched 250 by 90 miles isle, topped off by the central Troodos Mountains where you can ski in the Winter, have included the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and us Brits (1878-1960, leaving behind our left-hand-driving and sovereign military bases) - to name a few.

An independent republic since 1960, the Turks have nonetheless illegally occupied the north since 1974, nominally in response to political instability precipitated by the military Junta in Greece - their land claim unrecognised by any other nation. Mercifully, since 2003, it is now pretty easy to cross the once-divisive yet still-monitored "Green Line".
Birthplace of Aphrodite
80% of the island's 800,000-strong population are Greek Cypriot, the remainder split between Turkish Cypriots and others. An EU member since 2004, the Cyprus Pound (CYP£) is worth around UK £1.3.

SIGHTSEEING

Paphos, to the west, contains a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting stunning Roman residences and mosaics in the old Kato Paphos district plus fine fort in the picturesque harbour; capital Nicosia to the north boasts an ancient old town with countless churches, mosques and museums; Larnaca to the east, offers marina, beach and many historical gems.
Hotel-brimming Limassol, to the south, makes a perfect base for exploring the historic riches, not only of its near surrounds - including Kourion (theatre and palace), Kolossi (castle linked to the Knights of the Order of St. John) and Limassol Castle (possibly where our Richard I married, housing a medieval museum) - but of the whole island.
Remains of the Kourion Theatre and Palace
Make sure to stop off at the Sanctuaries of Apollo and Aphrodite between Paphos and Limassol; and make the pilgrimage to the nearby legendary coastal Birthplace of Aphrodite: Chronos cut off his father Uranus' balls and chucked them in the sea, which duly foamed and gave birth to the Goddess of Love and Beauty, who calmly stepped ashore on Cyprus.

NIGHTLIFE

Age of Consent is 17 for all on Cyprus. Sex or nudity in public is strictly illegal; if you meet someone nice outdoors, head somewhere private. Overt public displays of homosexuality, including holding hands, can prompt unwelcome attention in this still-Greek-Orthodox-Church-swayed society, so be discreet; although attitudes are changing - as so often, spearheaded by the young.
Cyprus is also home to clubbing capital Ayia Napa which is at the far eastern end of the south coast of the island.

The oldest gay bar in Cyprus, Alaloum in Limassol nestles in a 15th Century building in a discreet little street just back from the Old Town seafront, aptly around the corner from the Cathedral. Open 10pm 'til late.

To take airs, stroll the stretch of Molos Sculpture Park by the beach, level with - you guessed it - the Cathedral. Or check out the Dasoudi pine tree forest promenade area overlooking the sea, a little out east towards the Yermasoyia district.


Bar talent at the Secrets Freedom Club
When in Paphos, head straight for the Different Bar - a swish, modern, airy, trendy homo hub bang in the middle of the main nightlife district. For airs, check out the area around the old fort on the cute harbour, come dark. If in the capital Nicosia, you can be sure of a fun time in gay-friendly Scorpios Platinum Club.

BED & BOARD

easyJet now operate the London Gatwick-Paphos route with one-way all-inclusive fares from around £75 though it's much more in peak season. You can check other airlines at eBookers.com.
We stayed at the stunning Londa Hotel in Limassol. Following a multi-million euro refurbishment, and designed by an Italian team, the Londa is a modern, elegant and stylish hotel, merging influences from the island and the Mediterranean. You can book this and other Cyprus hotels at special rates through our hotel partners Booking.com.
For more info, there's the Cyprus Tourism Organisation visitcyprus.com.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Alaloum (1 Loutron Street, Limassol; T: +357 25 369 726)
Different Bar (6-7 Agia Napa Street, Pafos; T: +357 26 934 668)
Scorpios Platinum Club (3 Stassinos Street, Nicosia; T: +357 22 351 850)


Revised March 2016

 

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