Answering Your Dining Dilemmas

What do you fancy for dinner

Ever had the situation when you have a yearning for one type of cuisine while your loved ones want something different?

Usually dinner menus have enough options to satisfy everyone, but occasionally you find an establishment that goes even further.

Typical family-run restaurants tend to offer the traditional fare that Cypriots most enjoy. And surely it’s one of the pleasures of travel to sample the local cuisine during your stay.

Cypriot Specialities

Cypriot dishes to make your mouth water include the freshest of locally caught fish, Stifado – an intensely tomatoey beef stew, Kleftiko – super-tender slow-cooked lamb, Moussaka, charcoal barbecued kebab skewers or halloumi.

As an appetiser, what beats dipping slices of pittas in tahini, tzatziki and olive tapenade, and a tasty village salad topped with salty feta?

We also recommend seeking out a traditional restaurant away from the tourist traps to sample an authentic Cypriot meze during your stay. As these can consist of more than 20 small dishes, remember to skip breakfast – or ask for a doggy bag if you can’t manage it all!

Other Cuisines Found in Pissouri Bay

For a small resort, there’s an amazing array of restaurants within walking distance…

Our fav haunt is Pissouri Bay Cafe Bar whose fresh Mediterranean menu includes imaginative salads, tasty pasta dishes and risottos, along with curries and a variety of burgers.

Also well worth a visit is Pizza Venetto serving home-made cheesy pizzas and great value family favourites.

When you fancy something a little more spicy, book a table at Saffron whose menu offers contemporary Indian cuisine, including authentic dishes, traditional curries and tandoor specialities.

West to Mandria

Close to Paphos airport, the compact centre of Mandria village has some interesting restaurants. We recommend booking at any of these options to ensure you have a table reserved…

Il Vesuvio is a good quality Italian trattoria and pizzeria where you will find plenty of choice on the menu and indulgent desserts.

Kentroikon seafood

Kentroikon has a unique offering with an extensive menu including Cypriot, Mediterranean and – surprise, surprise – Chinese dishes, meaning this restaurant could be the perfect answer to your dining dilemmas. And it’s not a case of jack of all trades, master of none… as you can see from their online reviews, satisfied customers confirm that all the cuisine options are good, making this restaurant well worth a visit.

No visit to the area is complete without dinner at Mandria Fish and Chips. Great service, generous portions, quality ingredients and always perfectly cooked. We love it!

Kalí órexi !

Ampeli Villa: 2019 Updates

Plenty of viewing and listening options

We are constantly on the lookout for ways to tweak and improve your stay at Ampeli Villa, aiming to make it as easy, comfortable and welcoming as we can.

In addition to our regular maintenance, there’s an ever-growing list of ideas for upgrades. This inevitably gets longer after comparing notes with friends and fellow holiday rental owners. Plus we do our best to implement thoughtful suggestions put forward by our lovely guests.

Browsing the gallery, quite a few minor changes are not reflected there… mainly because our visits tend to be working holidays with paint pots, ladders, tools and mess all around. It’s a case of making do with a quick dash round with the camera once we’re back in ‘guest-ready’ mode. Inevitably some shots are missed or spoiled by something in the background. One of these days it would be lovely to have a proper photographer in – another job on the wish list.

Giant Fan Palm

Fan palm natural parasol

We took the decision to take down our second (and last remaining) gigantic fan palm last November. This key feature of the border behind the pool had simply grown too big for the garden.

It’s incredible how quickly the garden grows in Cyprus. Despite the poor clay soil and extreme heat, most garden plants seem to thrive as long as they are given a good start with regular watering. Once established, trees and shrubs seem to manage quite well in the arid conditions.

The patio pots are a different story… because they need their daily fix of H2O, especially in the hotter months, the garden irrigation system is essential.

Unfortunately the palm tree was casting a large shadow, and dropping messy black seeds in the pool. Plus it was now so tall that it had got beyond the reach of our hard-working gardeners’ ladders when they had to climb up for trimming off the dead leaves.

The removal process was quite a feat… Daniel Petrov and his team at High Access Point did a most impressive and professional job which we captured on this time-lapse video.

The good news is that the pygmy date palms near the pool are looking better than ever, so we hardly miss our tropical giant.

Pool Border

As Cyprus is in an earthquake zone, it is recommended that swimming pools are built with a metal frame and pool liner to give a degree of flexibility that you don’t have with a tiled pool. The downside is that PVC liners do not shrug off greasy sunscreen like tiles do.

To refresh the pool, Border Choice installed a ‘Greek key’ border along the waterline where sunscreen accumulates and bakes on. This adds an extra layer of protection to the liner, improves the look of the pool, and – hopefully – gives a surface that is a little more robust. It’s not a perfect solution, however, which is why it’s still important to use the garden shower for removing sunscreen before swimming.

Super-Quiet Air Conditioners

Although the existing air conditioning was in good working order, we have upgraded to inverter units for the 2019 season. These initially draw AC power, then the DC inverter kicks in to control the speed of the compressor. This should give everyone a more restful sleep because the units run more quietly.

In the living area, the two smaller units were swapped for a larger one, and the two-hour timers removed.

Shiny New Taps

As the local hard water gives the taps a hard life, a change was due. We particularly love the kitchen tap which dispenses drinking water separately.

With recent focus on environmental concerns over single-use plastic, you’ll be pleased to know it’s safe to drink the local tap water, so there’s no need to lug home vast quantities of the plastic-bottled variety. In the villa you will find reusable glass bottles that you can fill up and keep in the fridge.

Guest Handbook

On our recent pre-season visit I was delighted to find the perfect folder for displaying the new guest handbook pages. Previous visitors can probably tell that designing this document is something I love. There is also an online A-Z version on the password-protected section of this site for booked guests.

The folder came from Jumbo in Kings Avenue Mall, Paphos. A Woolworths-type store offering a wide range of value homeware, (including beach paraphernalia and pool inflatables).

Sunbed Cushion Covers

We are moving on from ‘home made’ lounger towels and trying something slicker. This season’s new covers are microfibre, rather than cotton which should make them more durable and colour-fast. They are much less bulky to launder and store and should be quick drying.

Fingers crossed you like them!

Looking forward to welcoming this season’s guests…
Kalosórisma !

Brexit Need To Knows

Brexit-flags
29 March Brexit

Like everyone else we had hoped that this would be finalised by now.

Rest assured you can still happily arrange a holiday to Cyprus whatever happens with Brexit in the coming weeks and months.

At the time of writing, (31 March), the long-awaited 29 March 2019 deadline has passed without agreement in the UK Parliament. The UK may be leaving with no-deal on 12 April, or there may be an extension for further negotiations to secure a Brexit agreement with the European Commission.

The following advice covers both scenarios…

Flights

Even if there is no-deal, the European Commission and UK government have each said that UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU.

The aviation regulator has confirmed that you will still be eligible to claim compensation under EU Regulation 261 for flight delays, as this is not restricted to EU citizens only.

Regarding holiday insurance, MoneySavingExpert has done some research with UK insurers to ask whether their policies would cover Brexit-related flight disruption.

Passports

Passport

You should check that your passport will have at least 6 months’ validity beyond your travel dates in case of a no-deal Brexit.

The EU will count your passport validity at 10 years from the date of issue. It’s important to know that, because if your passport had extra months added when it was issued (due to being renewed early), those additional months will not count.

Click for the latest advice from the UK Government.

European Health Insurance Card

EHIC

Although we take EHICs on our visits to Cyprus, it is much quicker and more convenient to use the local private medical facilities in Pissouri itself, rather than travelling to the state hospitals in Limassol or Paphos.

We strongly recommend taking out independent travel insurance at the time of booking. This should not only allow you to access the local private medical facilities, but also cover you for medical evacuation, cancellation, and lost luggage.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK-registered EHICs will no longer be valid.

Driving Licence

Driving licence

If there is no-deal, the UK Government will seek reciprocal arrangements for EU countries to recognise UK driving licences. In the meantime, UK licence holders will also need a 1949 International Driving Permit to drive in Cyprus.

You can get this over the counter from 2,500 UK post offices. The fee for a 12-month permit is £5.50. Your post office will need a 35 x 45 mm passport-style photo, and your UK photocard licence. If you still have the old paper licence, your passport will also be required. As each applicant signs their permit at the post office before it can be officially stamped, you have to apply in person.

How necessary having this remains to be seen… we were blissfully unaware of their existence until recently. We certainly never had one for visiting Cyprus prior to their entry into the EU in 2004.

Currency

Euros

There’s no way of knowing how the currency exchange rate will change.

If you are worried about this, Martin ‘MoneySavingExpert’ Lewis suggests hedging your bets by buying half your holiday currency now and half later.

Mobile Roaming

Since June 2017 we have benefited from ‘Roam Like Home’ across the EU.

Whether this will continue after a no-deal Brexit will depend on individual mobile providers. With the exception of Three (who already offered this prior to the EU ruling, and pledge to keep it), the big UK players only say that they have ‘no plans’ to reintroduce roaming charges.

In the event of no-deal the Government plans to legislate for a £45-a-month default charging cap.

Live Music For Summer Evenings in Pissouri

Waiting for the show at Pissouri amphitheatre

A visit to Pissouri amphitheatre for one of the summer ‘tribute act’ shows is one of our favs. There’s something magical and special about a live musical performance, and when it includes so many familiar numbers, you’re on to a winner.

Just off Pissouri Square, the magnificent modern amphitheatre was built as the village’s ‘millennium project’. With a sea-view backdrop from the tiered stone steps, shows begin in daylight and continue through sunset, finishing under floodlights. A great community get-together, the atmosphere is lively and relaxed – with chat, banter, singing and dancing. Everyone takes cushions to sit on (a must for comfort!), plus cool boxes with drinks and snacks.

Pissouri Tribute-Act Concerts: 2019

Wednesday 17 April | Meatloaf: Terry Nash | Vineleaf Tavern
Friday 17 May | T Rex: Rob Cairns | Vineleaf Tavern
Thursday 2 June | Phil Collins and Genesis Tribute | Platea Tavern
Tuesday 11 June | Re-Take That | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 15 June | Boyband Legends | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 22 June | Rod Stewart: Bob Wyper | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Friday 28 June | Queen: Regina | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 6 July | Two Sides of Phil Collins: Andrew Rafferty | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 13 July | Jersey Boys: Oh What a Night | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 20 July | Il Divo: The Four Stations | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 7 September | Barry Manilo: Paul Barrie | Pissouri Amphitheatre
Saturday 21 September | Simply Red: Fairground | Pissouri Amphitheatre

Promoters

By visiting the Cyprus tour promoters’ websites and Facebook pages, you can find further information on dates, venues, tickets, prices, etc. If there’s a concert you’d like to catch during your holiday, do book up early (you can do it online) to be sure of your tickets, as popular events can sell out.

Kendall Events

Morrelli Events

Other Ideas For Your Cyprus Holiday

Our Top Ten List

Before Booking a Villa…

Rip Off Britain Holidays presenters

A Cautionary Tale: Booking.com

The first story in today’s episode of Rip Off Britain Holidays (currently available on BBC iPlayer) is a warning to anyone contemplating booking through an OTA (Online Travel Agent). In this particular instance it was Booking.com, but you should be aware that similar problems could arise with HomeAway, Expedia or TripAdvisor which all operate in a similar capacity.

The Benson’s Madeira Villa-Booking Experience

John Benson and Christine search online

In January 2018, John Benson and his sister Christine found a villa on the island of Madeira for a very special family holiday to mark landmark birthdays and a diamond anniversary. They selected a roomy beachside villa with a pool and lovely gardens to accommodate three generations of their family together. The rental was £8,000 for two weeks, booked online and confirmed by Booking.com.

Their problems started a month later when the villa owner contacted them to say that as the villa had been double-booked, their booking was being cancelled. By this time the family had already spent a further £2,600 on non-refundable flights.

Although Booking.com said it would find them an alternative villa of equivalent or better size and standard, over a period of weeks the offerings were nowhere near comparable with the original.

Eventually after persuading a customer service agent to re-examine their case file, the family was sent an email with links to a choice of suitable villas. Booking.com pledged that any price difference would be the responsibility of the owner of the first villa.

Favourite by far was a villa listed at £18,638 for the same fortnight. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but read on…) Because this was far in excess of the original rental paid, the Bensons double-checked the Booking.com offer carefully. Finding the same villa advertised elsewhere for the same dates at £11,000 – coupled with Booking.com’s price match guarantee – gave them further reassurance that the shortfall would be a more acceptable £3,000, rather than the full £10,000+.

Further problems arose when Booking.com thought the Bensons had booked a villa they had not been offered, because they could not find the villa via their own email links. They instructed John to cancel which would release the dates – enabling them to check on their live system.

This in turn caused the owner of the second villa to charge an eye-watering 70% cancellation fee of €14,700 – for a booking that had only been in place for a matter of hours. Even after having the circumstances explained, this villa owner inexplicably refused a refund.

Appealing to Booking.com also had no effect… The response highlighted their terms and conditions stating that they are a platform linking travellers and suppliers. Their fine print stresses that your contract is with the advertiser – allowing property owners to set their own conditions and cancellation charges.

A Happy Ending – Thanks to Rip Off Britain?

Neither set of villa owners nor Booking.com come out of this account well. At the very least I would expect the first villa owner to use their local knowledge to offer assistance with finding alternative accommodation – especially as Booking.com deem them responsible for topping up the shortfall.

As the Bensons emphasise throughout the programme, they kept expecting that once matters were explained to the parties concerned, all would be well. It is mind-boggling that the situation escalated to the degree it did.

Following the involvement of BBC’s Rip Off Britain, Booking.com looked into the Benson family’s case again. Happily they have finally been reimbursed for both their villa cancellation charges and flights, in addition to being given a welcome £3,380 contribution towards another holiday.

How To Avoid This Happening To You

The key message here is that if something goes wrong, booking with one of the large holiday companies may not offer you the help, support and protection that you are expecting.

We have a checklist of suggestions to work through before booking accommodation online, created for our FAQs page. Chief of these is to book directly with the owner, after doing some research to check that the owner is both bona fide and trustworthy. You should be able to gauge this from online reviews and feedback.

The lack of concern over cancelling the Benson’s booking raises suspicions that in the scenario above, rather than finding themselves double-booked as they claimed, the first villa owner may have used this as an excuse in order to take another booking – possibly offering a longer stay, smaller group or higher rental. If this were the case, you may be able to track down other instances of unethical behaviour…

In the days of social media and online reviews, dissatisfied guests will soon find an outlet to vent their feelings. Make sure you check before booking, rather than once it is too late. Returning guests are always a good sign. (And remember to read the owners’ responses to any criticisms, as these can be enlightening.)

Oh and don’t forget to book your holiday insurance when you book your accommodation, rather than just before you travel.

Our Checklist

It is perfectly safe to book directly – use this checklist to protect yourself from scams:

 1 Can you pay by secure card portal?  PayPal is not recommended.
Although we prefer bank transfers, we also offer Mastercard and Visa card payments, or Revolut app transfer. To accept card payments our status has been verified by our secure processing portal.

 2 Is there a contact landline number? 
If you can’t get us on our UK landline +44 (0) 1923 853113, we’re probably in Cyprus!

 3 Do an image search.  Right-click on image > search Google for image. Make sure there are no rogue listings.
This is a check we also do to make sure no one is using our photos fraudulently.

 4 Look for an owner’s website.  Property on a listing site? Google name, location, tagline and images. Owners who have taken the time and effort to create their own website usually offer direct booking without booking site fees. Check the domain registration.
Nikki registered pissouribay.com in 2006. You can track our website development via the WayBackMachine.

 5 Is the owner active on social media? 
Find us on , , and . See our pics, read our posts and check our guest feedback.

 6 Is the owner knowledgeable about the local area? 
Feel free to ask questions. Even if it’s something we haven’t come across in our 50+ visits, we’ll do our best to find an answer for you.

 7 Read guest comments and reviews on and . 
Our website guestbook quotes visitors from 2006 to date. And we recently started collecting online reviews. Owners’ responses can also be illuminating!

 8 Is availability displayed? 
Our calendar includes the initials of the lead guest for booked dates.

Alarm Bells:
  Are you looking at a paid advert?  Scammers lift copy and photos from legitimate sites, then pay to appear on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Look for the giveaway Ad label next to search results. Check out the website you’re planning to book through on review sites before paying.

  Only one payment option?  It is often ok to pay by bank transfer. (We prefer this method ourselves). However, it is also a method used by fraudsters, so ask whether alternatives are accepted (cheque, card, etc). Definitely avoid payment by Western Union.

  Rate too good to be true?  Be suspicious if the price is much lower than others, especially if you’re offered discounts to pay in one go.

  No bookings calendar?  Scammers tend to avoid showing an availability calendar to enable them to take bookings for any dates you suggest.

  Cyprus-specific:  Before booking a company-owned villa, check their financial status

Flamingo Facts Quiz

Fabulous pink flamingos

When the salt lakes fill, the flamingos arrive

Huge numbers of greater flamingos can be seen on Larnaca and Akrotiri salt lakes over the winter.

As part of their conservation remit, BirdLife Cyprus observers contribute to the International Waterbird Census by undertaking a count every January. The encouraging news is that the population is on the increase.

Flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingo

Flamingo Quiz

1 Where does the name ‘flamingo’ originate, and what is the connection with their colour?

2 Can you name any species of flamingo?

3 What gives flamingos their distinctive pink colouring?

4 Why would it be dangerous for the newly-hatched babies to be pink?

5 How does the whole colony come to breed at the same time?

6 Why are some birds brighter pink than others?

7 Usually mating for life, how do they attract the attention of a potential partner?

8 What is the life-span of the flamingo? You won’t believe the answer to this one!

Flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingo

You can find the mind-boggling answers to these questions in 8 Amazing Flamingo Facts by Sarah McPherson on Discover Wildlife.

Happy Frappe Day!

Happy Frappe Day!

Quite a lot of Greek and Cypriot food and drink specialities were happy accidents, and here’s another…

In 1957, Nestle representative Dimitris Vakondios – attending a conference in Thessaloniki – found himself without access to a kettle to make himself a fortifying coffee. After seeing his boss demonstrating a shaker for mixing milk and chocolate powder to make the Nesquik drink for children, Dimitris borrowed the device. He wondered whether he could use it to blend instant coffee with water. When this successfully created a foamy mixture, he added more water and a few ice cubes to create a tall cold coffee drink – the first Frappe.

Now 7 October has been designated Frappe Day. If you’ve never tried one of these Greek / Cypriot iced coffees, we recommend adding them to your holiday wish list. Somehow although they’re easy to make at home, they never taste quite the same.

Authentic Recipe

Mix 1-2 teaspoons of Nescafe instant coffee granules, a little sugar and water to a foam in a cocktail shaker or with a whisk. Add ice cubes and top up with water or a water and evaporated milk mixture. Serve with a straw.

Our Variation

We like adding a little cocoa powder to make our own mocha version. For an even more creamy version, add a little Greek yogurt – yum!

Photo taken at Muse in Paphos… one of our firm favs. One frappe with milk, the other without.

easyJet Summer 2019 Flight Releases

easyJet summer flights 2019

easyJet to PFO map

Thursdays 20 and 27 September

If you plan to visit Cyprus next summer, the next two Thursdays are significant dates for easyJet customers. With flights from regional airports around the UK including Luton, Gatwick, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh, an average aircraft age of only 6 years, and family-friendly policies such as free carriage of car and booster seats, and their low-cost ‘hands free’ option if you are happy to travel light, this airline is a popular choice for flights around Europe.

easyJet ‘Hands Free’

New easyJet Hands Free 5

This allows you to check in hand luggage for a flat fee at the airport. There are advantages for both the airline and traveller…

Travellers can take toiletries and liquids in larger sizes than 100 ml without the faff of putting everything into zip lock bags. It also saves you lugging hand luggage through security and departures. And you can still take a small under-the-seat laptop or handbag on board. If you haven’t brought a bag, you will be provided with a small plastic bag at the bag drop for your valuables and essentials. You will be called to board after the ‘Speedy Boarders’ with your luggage tagged as ‘Priority’ to come off the carousel first.

For easyJet it eases the congestion in the cabin overhead lockers, and adds another small ‘extra’ charge to your booking.

Sounds like a win-win!

More details: easyJet Hands Free

The early bird catches the worm!

To take advantage of the best rates, check out Availability Calendar and Contact Us to ask if we can reserve your preferred dates. Once agreed, we promise hold them for 24 hours which will allow you to book your flights.

Then set your alarm for Thursday morning and hop onto the easyJet website… early risers get the best flight deals!

Good luck!

Arriving over Pissouri

Our photo shows an easyJet Airbus A320 turning over Pissouri on its flight path to Paphos.

Tip: to see a great aerial view of Pissouri on arrival, it’s often best to choose seats on the right-hand side of the plane.

Summer Sky-Watching

Relaxing in a hammock star gazing

One of the pleasures of warm evenings outdoors is lying back on a lounger or relaxing in a hammock and gazing up at the night sky. Because there’s much less light pollution than in more populated locations, and frequent cloudless skies, the viewing is often rewarding. Switch off the garden and pool lights, pour yourself a chilled drink and enjoy sky-watching in comfort…

The constellations, the moon, meteor showers and the International Space Station can all be seen easily with the naked eye, although you may find the villa binoculars enhance the experience.

The Constellations – any time of year

If you’re new to star-gazing, there is a variety of apps which use your smart phone or tablet camera to assist you in identifying the constellations, for example Google Sky Map.

Perseid Meteor Shower – every July and August

Summer sky watching - Perseid meteor shower
Photo: Dominic Alves

The Perseids are one of the brighter meteor showers of the year. Coming from the direction of Perseus, these tiny fragments from the Swift-Tuttle comet provide more than one meteor every minute. The peak dates for spotting these shooting stars is around August 9 to 13, although they can be seen on any dates between July 17 and August 24.

Our tip: Concentrate on one small part of the sky, rather than scanning too wide an area. Spot one and a multitude usually follow!

International Space Station – any time of year

Summer sky watching - International Space Station
Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The International Space Station is most easily seen within a few hours of sunrise or sunset because the sun reflects off the space station providing a good contrast with the darker sky.

The space station looks like an aircraft or a very bright star moving across the sky, although moving in a straight line and 30 times faster.

If you visit NASA’s excellent Spot the Station website, you can find up to date spotting information such as this below to help you decide exactly when and where to look. (For Cyprus viewing you need to choose Nicosia as the location.)

Summer sky watching - International Space Station sighting details
Example ISS sighting information from NASA

Alternatively, if you have an Android phone or tablet, download ISS Detector Satellite Tracker free app which can sound an alarm 5 minutes before the Space Station is due over your location.

Happy sky-watching!

New Cyprus Beaches App

Cyprus Beaches app

Thought you knew the Cyprus coastline? Surely no-one knows it like Andreas Papadopoulos. The detail in this meticulously researched app is fantastic – search for disabled access, public transport, picnic sites, watersports, sunbeds, WiFi. Plus maps, route planner, photographs, tips and a whole lot more.

Free demo version includes Pissouri Bay
Full version €2.29 or £1.99 | For iOS and Android

Alix Norman | Cyprus Mail

“If you’ve lived in Cyprus for more than a year, you know exactly which beaches you prefer. Looking for a pebbly shore, and a quiet day by the sea in Larnaca? Then Oroklini Beach is the place to be. Eastward bound, and in search of sand, snorkeling, and facilities on a Blue-flagged beach? Fig Tree Bay’s a good choice. Or if you’re after total peace and quiet near Limassol, and in possession of a 4×4, then it’s down to Ayios Yiorgos. But here’s the thing: even if you’ve known the island your whole life, there are hundreds of coastal spots still to be discovered. Or, if you’re a tourist, you probably have little notion of just which beach suits your needs. And that’s where the new app, Cyprus Beaches, comes in extremely handy…”

Click to read Alix’s full article …

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