Some weekends you want to just kick back and relax and others, you feel the need to shake off the weekly buildup of stress and tiredness. This weekend was like that when I packed up my kids, their friend and our dog and headed up in to the mountains.
My daughter’s friend has never been up to the mountains for a proper visit, other than a quick-stop school trip to Troodos Square and back. So, the kids decided that we should take her to Kaledonia Falls. We’ve been walking this trail since before they put in the bridges and steps that make it an easy enough route for people to do in their Sunday-best and loafers. But regardless of how many times we have walked it, my kids never get bored. We don’t always do the full trail though, finding it easier to park at the Trout Farm at Pano Platres and do the shorter walk up to the Falls and back from there.
The kids were particularly energetic today and wild-footedit over (and under!) the little bridges and mostly off the beaten path – touching every cascade of water they could reach, picking up sticks and pine cones… It had rained heavily for the past three days (so much so that Platres’ entire cherry crop was ruined this year) but it was a glorious afternoon, as the filtered sun came through the overhead leafy canopy and lit-up the brilliant-greened moss underfoot.
They were infectiously happy… Running free and wild – testing their limits and balance as they teetered on tree branches over the water and slid up and down boulders. And the smile on my daughter’s friend’s face was all the money… I forgot how tired I was from my busy week and stood in front of the waterfall with the gilrs, arms out wide and let the spray refresh us.
On the way home, we decided to stop at the new premises of the Platres Chocolate Workshop for a well needed sugar-fix and ended up staying far longer than I’d expected when we first stepped through the door in our muddy boots. John, if you’ve never met him, is wonderful. I have a soft spot for older gentlemen with a twinkle in their eye… Entertaining and softly spoken, he let us try a number of different chocolates – his unique Vietnamese ‘Jungle’ chocolate (that no other Chocolatier will buy because it is ‘tainted’ by the peppery cinnamon taste of the Vietnamese jungle in which it is grown and in my opinion, why it tastes so good)… His FLAVA (pure royal jelly and cocoa) dark chocolate that contains no sugar or other added ingredients and yet isn’t at all bitter… All the while, patiently explaining in his soft voice the history behind all of these choices and what makes them unique… Including the World’s most expensive bar of rare-sourced chocolate at a whopping 100 euros for 100g of rare chocolate layered with real gold leaf!
Our conversation was so engaging that we stayed for a very long time, but John kept the kids amused with his stories and free ice-cream… Velvety soft-scoop, made locally for him using a higher content of cream than other brands. I would definitely recommend his yoghurt ice-cream, it’s amazing – with a hint of tartness to take away the sweetness of the cream.
I came home with some Jungle Chocolate and Royal Jelly goodness (because it really IS good for you, click here to see why), but I’ll be making an excuse to visit again soon, even it involves a 2-hour hike with the kids beforehand.
John and his lovely wife Praxi also run chocolate workshops, where you get the chance to make your own chocolate and eat it of course! They are now expanding their business to chocolate workshops for kids: in schools and for birthday parties and events in people’s homes; their large apartment in Nicosia; or at their premises in Platres.
Contact details are on their site if you want to know more. And no, I wasn’t paid for this recommendation (forgetting of course the free chocolate and ice-cream tasting we had while we were there! J).
The day was topped-off with cherry picking in Yiayia’s orchard (the ones that were left, at least, after the storm)… My kids can spend hours in that orchard, turning over stones, climbing the trees, whooping and hollering with no neighbours to disturb.
Every time we return to the mountains after a noticeable absence, I am reminded how much happier we are up there… breathing the fresh air, with the smell of damp earth in our noses and the mud between our toes.