The Tomb of Kings

The lives that they lived were the lives of kings
Though the blood in their veins was not royal.
The comfort and happiness that wealth brings
Is not always based upon life’s toil,
And the select few who strut these cities
Did not break their backs to build their roadways;
Instead, they pointed to the groves of trees,
Deciding that there the buildings would raise.
They would sit back with their glass of red wine,
Sighing while watching all of the legs run.
They’d brag at how their money made things fine
After the hard labor’s work was done.
But all this greatness was soon forgotten
When they were sealed in a tomb to rot in.

An Off-Season Vacation – Paphos, Cyprus

One of the nice things about living so close to Europe is that I can be in a different country after a short plane flight. Another thing that is nice about this is I can visit some of the world’s most coveted destinations during times where the tourists are gone. It means that I have access to this town with lots of amazing sights and great restaurants without having to fight my way through crazy crowds. This is what I did on my latest vacation. I took an hour flight from Amman, Jordan to the island town of Paphos, Cyprus to enjoy this town before it exploded with tourists during the summer months.

There are some disadvantages to enjoying a tourist sight this way, the biggest of which is the weather. Most of the time people travel to Paphos to enjoy the sun and warmth along the sea shore, but when I was there, I had to bundle up and brave the wind in order to enjoy the outdoors. I was told that it was unusually cold this year, but it still made for a different spring break environment than what I was hoping for.

The businesses were a little more ambitious in getting me to go to them then they usually would as well. I believe a lot of this is because they are gearing up for the upcoming tourist season, and they are really looking forward to this season more than they have in the past. The last couple of years have hit businesses hard, and they need a good summer to bounce back, so they were pulling out all stops to attract that much needed business. There were numerous people that would point to their menus and try to engage in conversation as we walked by. My favorite was the pink pelican that was obviously someone’s pet, and the mascot of the restaurant with the same name. The small amount of tourists that were there were always drawn to this spot to get up and close to this animal that would otherwise be elusive.

On the other hand, the sights that would usually have throngs of people at them were empty. It opened them up to give them the kind of exploration that you always hope to give these historic points. I have been in Europe before where it is almost impossible to move around some of these sights, and they put you in a line to shove you along so they can get as many people through as fast as possible. That was not the case with my trip to Paphos. I could enjoy these sights at my leisure, and rarely did I see other people. If I did, we never got in each other’s way.

In a couple of months, this waterfront will be crowded with people, and I am happy that it will bring in the revenue that is need to keep this place thriving. I know that I will soon be one of the people in some other European town exploring what it has to offer, but until then I will enjoy this quiet European town before the mad rush. It is fun to get to experience it in this way rather than the usual madness that comes with the height of the tourist season, and I can’t wait to experience other European sights in the same way.

The Tomb of Kings – Paphos, Cyprus

Don’t let the Yelp review that complains about this “den of lies” deter you from making your way out to the the Tomb of Kings in Paphos, Cyprus. The writer of the review was mad that the title of the place did not live up to the expectations because they never saw a single king while they were visiting, and yes, there was some truth to this claim. Do not expect to come to this sight to see the vast tombs that hold the bones of once ago mighty kings. In fact, do not come out here expecting to see any bodies because there are none. I am not sure what happened to them, but I was amazed at the way I did not see any of them when strolling through the grassy knolls right off the ocean, but I don’t think that would have made this place any more exciting.

Basically, the Tomb of Kings is an old cemetery for the wealthy individuals who lived on Cyprus in the Hellenistic period. They built elaborate tombs to place their bodies, and then, like a lot of other places on Cyprus, time slowly buried them until centuries later archeologists came along and found them again. They started to unearth the tombs again, so people could come out and see the way people used to live over 2000 years ago.

The writer of the Yelp review might have been mad that all they got to see was a bunch of holes in the ground, and at first glance this is what this sight looks like. From the entrance to this archeological dig, there are a few tombs that were dug into the earth and to get there you have to walk down a precarious set of steps to get to these holes in the ground. But if you visit this sight, you need to move further down the shore and keep exploring those holes.

The tombs get more elaborate the further that you get into the sight. They still might not be tombs that were designed for kings, but they are still worth the effort to see. It highlights all of the classical architectural features from that era, and I can see why people want to come and see these tombs. It also makes me wonder how many more of them are buried underneath the ground that I walked on while I was visiting. There has to be more of these structures there, and I am sure that it only a matter of time before they are unearthed.

Despite the truth behind the Yelp review, I do not believe that the Tomb of Kings is really a den of lies. If you do not take the time or effort to really explore the sight, it does look like a bunch of holes in the ground. There is so much more to this place than that though. It may not have been kings who were buried here, but you get the royal treatment if you take the stroll to the end of the shore, and it is amazing how few people are willing to do that. Take the time to explore it fully before giving a review that might not be the truth of the place, and may even be creating your own den of lies.

The House of Dionysus – Paphos, Cyprus

I did not know a lot about the small island of Cyprus before I travelled out there for a long weekend. Everything I knew came from Shakespeare and Homer. I knew that many wars had fought on it because of its strategic position, and that it was one of the islands that Odysseus stopped at during his long voyage. Recently, there had been talks about Russian oligarchs losing their yachts that were parked on its shore, but beyond that I couldn’t tell much else about it.

I did discover that it is place of rich history and of great beauty. Just because of its location, I knew that I would be running into Greek and Roman ruins, and on my first day there, I was not disappointed. There are actually a lot of places to find ruins on the island, but the one that is closest to the waterfront of Paphos is the Kato Paphos Archeological Park. It sprawls all over a peninsula to the north and cost only 2.50 Euros for entry. I would recommend to go early because there is a lot to see and it closes down by 5 PM.

It is obviously still being dug up, so I am excited to go back in five or six years to see if anything has changed during that time, but in the meantime, there are a lot of hidden corners to explore that will keep anybody busy for a good portion of their day. There is also enough of variety among what to see so that it does not get boring. There are columns, caves, old buildings, and my favorite thing to see, the mosaics.

There is a really nice one in the House of Theseus which is out and exposed to the weather, and it really surprised me that they did not protect it better. I tried to get a good picture of it, but I had found it so late in the day that it was shrouded in shadows. Despite this, it was by far the most intricate of the mosaics and the best one to look at. I will leave it up to you to find it some day, and it will be worth the trip.

The House of Dionysus held the biggest collections of the mosaics, and most of them were surprisingly well preserved for how long they have been around. They depicted many of the greatest scenes from Greek mythology, and they had done a much better job of protecting them from the elements. Though all of the places that are presented in this historic sight, it was the House of Dionysus that impressed me the most. If you come here, and you don’t have a lot of time, I would make it for this spot because you will get the most out of the little time you have by coming here.

It was a nice introduction as to what the island of Cyprus had to offer, and it made me realize that there were many more surprises that I would find on my short weekend trip there.