On the second of our three day car hire, we visited the Troodos Mountain waterfalls. Being on top of a mountain, it was a VERY long walk up in midday heat so only my dad had a brisk walk up there whilst me, my mum and Louise waited at the bottom under some shaded trees. We did manage to find some "mini" waterfalls though! Whilst waiting around, a truck pulled up. Out got two "forest police". They smiled at us but didn't speak much English. They were putting up a new sign near the path going up to the top of the mountains. When my dad returned (took a whole bloody hour!), he asked what the sign said. Another man had pulled by since and the sign said anyone found disposing of their rubbish, ciggerette butts or lighting fires in the forest would get a fine of 150,000 EUROS. Holy moly! That's about £130,000! After the forest outing, we popped to the forest's cafe and got an ice-cream. My one (pictured above ^) was a cookie ice-cream. It was the most beautiful thing, ever.
We then got back into the car and kept on driving higher and higher on top of the mountains until we got to its very peak. We were on a mission to find the Mykkos Monasteries. I have a huge family in America and one dear cousin is a Priest so we felt it would lovely to visit somewhere that means an awful lot to somebody we love dearly. Once we arrived in the very, very, very small town, it was a completely different atmosphere. I felt as if I was in a scene of The Walking Dead. You couldn't hear a thing! There are no birds in the mountains of Cyprus as the locals shoot them so none fly around in anymore in fear of their death. There were no people about. It was literally like experiencing a zombie apocalypse (I wish!!!!!). We parked the car and walked through the grounds of the monastery. I feared for everybody's safety if we walked on the grass so we stuck to the path! Once inside a man with wonky eyes (literally the most scary man I have ever seen) looked at me, my mum and Louise and almost hushed at us and handed us three robes and at the same time saying "NOOOO, WOMAN 1, WOMAN 2, WOMAN 3". I think we offended him! We were dressed in shorts and were told beforehand that we would need to cover up our arms and legs before entering so we brought leggings to change into and hoodies/cardigans to wear. However, other women were clearly walking around in dresses and shorts with no robes... Confusing! It was a novelty wearing the robes at first. Mine completely drowned me, but they got hot after five minutes of wearing them and I couldn't wait to get it off.
The actual monastery itself was something that instantly made me feel extremely weird inside. I really cannot explain the feeling I felt, but both my mum and Louise felt exactly the same. The courtyard itself was very quiet, just like when we first arrived. You couldn't hear anything! We visited the museum (you had to pay around three euros each) that held the robes that Archbishop Makarios III wore. He was the President of Cyprus before the present one and his body is currently in restoration a further 2km up the mountains. We managed to find the actual church. My Dad opened up the door and was GROWLED at by a little old Cypriot man who then shut the door in our faces. We later realised my dad had opened up the exit door. Once inside, me and my sister took a seat where the monks go to pray. One monk walked by and started talking to me in Cypriot. I looked confused and he then asked if I was English. I replied yes and he told me off for 'crossing my legs in church'. Overall, it really was the weirdest experience of my life and not something I will ever do again. I have a lot of respect for monks and generally people who are very religious but I don't personally believe in anything, even though I am christened. Still, it was nice to try something new out, just a very eerie experience!
After the monastery, my weirdo dad wanted to go the further 2km (just a bendy turn going upwards from the monastery really). As we approached, there was a HUGE metal memorial statue of Archbishop Marakios III but no sign of any 'body'. My dad realised it was up another little hill and he wanted to visit. As for us girls, seeing a dead body (even in a coffin!) would be slightly weird and I am so glad I decided not to go. You see, my dad is a paramedic and has been for almost 25 years, so he has seen the very worst. When he returned, he had an odd look on his face. We asked what was up and he said all you could smell up there was the body. Marakios' body has been in restoration for over thirty years. He was buried in his jewels, crown and most expensive garments so his body and shrine is constantly on guard (armed with GUNS!) 24 hours, 7 days a week. Other countries seem a little clueless when it comes to humanely disposing/restoring bodies, so he was literally just put in a marble coffin and left... for thirty years to 'naturally' rot. Being on top of the highest mountain, there is no fresh air. My dad says "there is nothing that smells like a rotting body. It has a distinct smell which stays with you forever".
Hope you wasn't eating anything whilst reading that! Final instalment coming tomorrow!