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Walking in a warming wonderland: Discovering why Cyprus is a mecca for winter-sun seekers

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Sofia slides the paddle deep into the stone oven and pulls a steaming loaf out into the fresh morning sunshine. Its base gives a hole thud as she taps it to examine whether it’s ready, before placing it rigorously on a worn picket board.

Next she turns to a bubbling pot and lifts out a strainer, on which sits a freshly made hunk of halloumi, which she began work on within the small hours. She places it on a plate, cuts a slice and passes it over, her weather-worn face, framed by a headband, breaking right into a broad smile.

‘Eat, eat,’ Sofia implores.

The cheese is melt-in-your-mouth fresh and bears little resemblance to the stuff in shops. Chased down with the steaming bread and a cup of strong local coffee, it’s the final word mid-morning snack.

Joe Minihane stays at Elysium, a resort in the center of Paphos (above) on the south-west coast of Cyprus 

Cyprus has long been a go-to for those in quest of winter sun. With temperatures topping 25C into late November and rising again in February, it’s the proper place for a dose of Vitamin D and days by the pool.

Elysium, a resort in the center of Paphos on the south-west coast, offers this in spades, with the prospect to slide into the nice and cozy Mediterranean at daybreak before settling all the way down to a languid breakfast on a sun-soaked terrace.

Nonetheless, for travellers who wish to get a broader taste of the island, there’s the chance to enterprise inland, to parts of Cyprus which are particularly quiet and peaceful because the 12 months draws to a detailed.

One of the joys of Elysium (above) is 'settling down to a languid breakfast on a sun-soaked terrace'

One among the fun of Elysium (above) is ‘settling all the way down to a languid breakfast on a sun-soaked terrace’

'Cyprus has long been a go-to for those in search of winter sun,' writes Joe. Pictured above is a room at Elysium

‘Cyprus has long been a go-to for those in quest of winter sun,’ writes Joe. Pictured above is a room at Elysium

That’s why Costas Malaou, from Elysium, has brought us here, to the village of Letymvou and Sofia’s beautiful traditional home.

She is steeped within the slower, older ways of life that endure throughout the island. Within the courtyard, a brazier burns and a table is laid with a collection of local cheeses and meats, plus more coffee and a tray of home-made baklava. The village priest sits at an adjoining table, stroking his wild greying beard while Sofia’s husband busies himself preparing more bread.

Exploring authentic Cyprus is considered one of various outings laid on by the resort and there are 4 of us today, including Costas. We’d otherwise have been sailing on the Blue Lagoon or touring the Unesco-protected Tomb of the Kings, but Costas says this selection is something that an increasing number of guests wish to do.

Elysium (above) treats Joe to an exploration of 'authentic Cyprus', parts 'that are particularly quiet and peaceful as the year draws to a close'

Elysium (above) treats Joe to an exploration of ‘authentic Cyprus’, parts ‘which are particularly quiet and peaceful because the 12 months draws to a detailed’

After eating, Costas, who insists that the vast spread we’ve just devoured is merely a snack ahead of lunch, walks us around Sofia’s small lounge, where traditional costumes adorn the partitions. It’s a side of Cyprus that might be all too easy to miss with the allure of a great book and a parasol back on the hotel.

Just a brief drive higher into the mountains, we reach Tsangarides Winery. After a go searching the chilly cellar, we’re led to a terrace set high above the vines with a view over rolling hills. We sniff, swirl and sip a series of delicious wines and tuck into an obligatory platter of nibbles.

Costas explains that this place has been on the forefront of a resurgent wine scene in Cyprus, where the tradition is as old as that in France or Italy but without their international reputations. There’s definitely much to be said for a day tipple because the sun glints through the encircling eucalyptus trees.

Step back in time: The sleepy village of Letymvou. Here Joe steps inside 'a beautiful traditional home'

Step back in time: The sleepy village of Letymvou. Here Joe steps inside ‘a good looking traditional home’

Food and drinks are at the center of Cypriot culture. There’s also a generosity of spirit that’s inescapable, a way that even the smallest producer or homeowner offers you every part they’ve to make sure you benefit from the finest possible welcome.

We wind our way back all the way down to the coast, past the enduring rock column Aphrodite’s Rock. Here, Instagram obsessives crowd the beach for an ideal shot of the positioning where, legend has it, the eponymous goddess was born. Then we proceed up a series of hairpin bends to a roadside restaurant called Mario’s.

The enjoyment of this place is noticeable as soon as you walk into its cavernous dining room, where glass partitions lead out on to an unlimited patio high on the cliffs. A mild breeze ruffles the tablecloths as we slide our chairs in for our second lunch of the day.

Aphrodite’s Rock. 'Here, Instagram obsessives crowd the beach for a perfect shot of the site where, legend has it, the eponymous goddess was born,' says Joe

Aphrodite’s Rock. ‘Here, Instagram obsessives crowd the beach for an ideal shot of the positioning where, legend has it, the eponymous goddess was born,’ says Joe

TRAVEL FACTS 

Joe Minihane was a guest of the Elysium. B&B costs from £261 per night (elysium-hotel.com). Flights from Gatwick to Paphos cost from £22.99 a method with easyJet.

Bowls of freshly made houmous and taramasalata are laid out with oven-hot pitta, before huge plates of frivolously battered whitebait, succulent squid and an ink-blackened octopus arrive.

Costas won’t hear any protestations about full stomachs as he serves up. Our group of three food-obsessed Brits have spent the day gorging on local delicacies, so we are able to’t really argue.

We each take some deep breaths, loosen our belts and prepare for more. Costas raises a glass to our health and once we finally finish, we’re ready for a late afternoon nap to ease off all of this epicurean excess.

We arrive back at Elysium just in time for the sun to slip behind the horizon. It’s a quiet end to the day, and you can be forgiven for pondering you’d flown 12 hours from London relatively than a much more palatable five.

A pair of rock pipits dart around as the sunshine quickly fades and thoughts, one way or the other, absurdly, turn to dinner.

In Cyprus, it seems, there’s all the time room for more.

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