GUARANTEED sunshine is almost impossible to find in March without sitting on a plane for three hours. But Cyprus is a great option.
That said, my girlfriend Clemmie and I were a bit nervous when we arrived in Paphos to a dull, cloudy day.
Luckily our mood lifted when we got to the King Evelthon Hotel, and after refuelling with the great selection on offer at the buffet it was time to explore.
That was if we could tear ourselves away from our room with its lovely living area, big bedroom, luxury bathroom and, best of all, absolutely enormous balcony.
More of a roof terrace than a balcony, it stretched out for 20 yards, down toward the coast, with stunning views of the resort and the Mediterranean.
The outdoor pool was huge and there was also a big indoor pool, as well as a spa and a gym.
That evening we dined out at 7 St Georges Tavern — where we were treated to a fantastically warm welcome.
The head waiter is the owner’s son and he quickly explained there was no menu, they would just keep bringing out course after course until we could not eat any more.
How you can still book a family break in the Med over the summer holidays for just £125 per person – INCLUDING flights
BIG FAT GREEK DEAL
Holidays in Greece are now so cheap that a two-week break with flights costs just £87
Amazing value Spanish holidays can still be had – with a WEEK on the Costa Brava from just £83pp
Is your daily commute the worst in the country? These are the top 13 most delayed train routes in the UK
New pop-up drawer that fits in the floor under plane seats could finally put an end to one-bag hand luggage policies
SUN, SEA AND THE SPHINX
The latest travel advice on safety for holidaymakers thinking of heading to Egypt
THE ITALIAN JOB
Italy is giving away 100 castles, villas and monasteries for FREE – but if you want one there’s a catch
IT’S BETTER UP NORTH
Londoners pay up to THREE times more on train tickets out of the capital than those coming in
NO SEX PLEASE, WE’RE JAPANESE
The creepy sex museums that lie abandoned in old Japanese holiday resorts
Parents say £60 fine for taking kids out of school ‘is worth it because of the savings made on holidays’
Taking your children on foreign holidays is BAD for their mental health, psychologist claims
DOES IT BEAT THE LONDON EYE?
China’s new spokeless ferris wheel has WiFi and a television set in every capsule
still need to book a hol?
We reveal the best value short-haul and long-haul breaks still available this summer
Dreamland theme park in Kent is relaunching after a £25m makeover… two years after the last grand reopening
WHAT A BEAUT!
You can actually visit the castle that inspired the beast’s home in Beauty and The Beast
REAL LIFE DISNEY!
Belle’s home town in Beauty And the Beast is based on this French village and the similarity is uncanny
The food was delicious. There were lots of superb cold and cooked meats, salads and incredible dips. Carafes of wine and local beers went down well with the meze. Everything, aside from the beer, was made — or in the case of the meat, reared — by the family.
We absolutely stuffed ourselves and drank as much as we could, and the bill came to just 50 euros (£43).
The next day began with beautiful sunshine — not boiling hot but ideal for a spot of sunbathing.
That night we tried a slightly more formal, harbourside restaurant, the Gabor, which serves standard European food.
Halfway through our meal the table started shaking.
I assumed a lorry had gone past, but our waiter told us it was a small EARTHQUAKE.
Luckily, it was not a precursor to a bigger one and we finished our meal in peace.
The next day, we headed to Coral Bay, just 15 minutes’ drive by cab or bus from the King Evelthon.
The beach was nice enough and pretty empty.
I love swimming in the sea, so despite the time of year I decided to brave it.
Unfortunately it was colder than I had imagined and five minutes later I was topping up my tan on the sands again before heading back to the hotel.
The hotel puts on entertainment and live music every night, which is clearly a hit with the guests — though we were enjoying chatting in the bar too much to leave.
A jeep safari let us take in some of the island’s beautiful scenery.
Our guide, Stavros, drove us up the coast through field after field of banana plantations.
After stopping at a couple of lovely beaches we headed into the Akamas National Park.
We drove through a beautiful gorge, parked up and went for a walk up to a waterfall.
Back in the jeep, we wound our way high into the hills that overlook Pathos and were treated to some spectacular views.
Following lunch at a seaside taverna, our final stop was a traditional Cypriot mountain village.
That evening we ate at local restaurant Laona.
Similar to our first night, it was meze- style, declicious and great value.
Fired up by our jeep jaunt, we hired a car to explore the island a little bit more — after a couple of days spent relaxing around the hotel to thoroughly recharge our batteries, of course.
Following a beach stop in Limassol and lunch by the sea in Larnaca, we arrived in capital city Nicosia.
That was the place I really wanted to visit — and it turned out to be the highlight of our holiday.
The city is split down the middle – half on the island’s Cypriot Greek side and half on the Turkish side.
This is a bizarre experience.
Walk down the main shopping street — full of high-end shops and cafés — and you come to a barrier with a toll booth-style border control.
After showing your passport, you enter a sort of no man’s land where a couple of UN troops patrol.
Then you come to the Turkish passport control and, after showing your documents again, are in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.
It was fascinating.
Five minutes earlier we had been walking down a typical European street and suddenly we were surrounded by bustling market stalls, mosques and beautiful Middle-Eastern bazaars.
There is so much to see, but the highlight was Buyuk Han — a stunning walled bazaar featuring lots of small shops and cafés.
After a fascinating afternoon we crossed back over the border and started the one- and-a-half-hour drive back to Paphos.
LOVEHOLIDAYS.COM offers seven nights at the 5H King Evelthon Beach Hotel and Resort in Paphos in June, on an all-inclusive basis from £792 per person including return flights from Stansted to Paphos based on two adults sharing.
The same holiday in June with flights from Manchester is available from £798 per person.
See loveholidays.com or call 0203 870 6844.