From Ayios Ioannis To Vretsia
As the Xeros Valley gives way to Paphos Forest, two old Turkish Cypriot Villages stand on either sides of its slopes. We took the long-neglected road from Ayios Ioannis to Vretsia, and discovered not only beautiful countryside, but another abandoned village, and several ancient mills along the way.
During the summer we visited Ayios Ioannis, and wrote a two-part blog on our experiences. It is a fascinating place, which used to be populated by Turkish Cypriots. They were displaced in 1974, after which Greek Cypriots displaced from the North settled. I noticed, while we explored the part-abandoned village, a sign pointing to Vretsia. We have visited Vretsia on numerous times in the past (see blog list below), and it is well worth a journey. However, it is on the opposite side of the valley, and the area between can be quite inhospitable at times. I was puzzled as to the route this road might take, and we were passing nearby recently, with time on our hands, so it seemed rude not to go exploring...
Initially the road is fairly well maintained. It took me a bit by surprise though, in that it doesn't take a direct route. Instead it hugs the valley and heads towards the distant sea. You can see the road on the left of this picture, carved into the side of the hill. Drive carefully, as it is a long way down. The views along the way are outstanding, especially now there is a hint of green returning to the countryside.
There is a more direct route, which follows the course of a nature trail. However, we covered that in the original Ayios Ioannis blog.
The journey is worth it for the views alone. There was a big fire on these hills over the summer, but you wouldn't be able to tell that from this scene.
Mystery Water Feature
This took me by surprise. By the side of the road, there was one of the traditional water fountains you find in nearly all Cypriot Villages. Most of these were built by the British in the 50s. However, this one appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. Even stranger, it had neither the ER crest nor the ROC crest you get on later models. So who put it there, and why?