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yellow rose a quiet bar girl on beach

sandy beach Protaras is the tourist resort of Paralimni, in the South East of Cyprus within the Famugusta area. Once it was scrubland, sand and a golden beach. Now it has the Wild West appearance of a town that has developed far too fast for its own good - a greater affinity with Las Vegas than a typical Greek village or small town. Some scrub is still there and luckily so too is the golden beach - reputed to be one of the finest beaches on the island.

By midday the main street of Protaras is unbearable due to the heat, absorbed and reflected by the concrete surroundings. A little landscaping and especially tree planting to break up the harsh contours and give a little shade wouldn't go amiss. At night Protaras is a cacophony of sound as each disco-bar tries to outcompete its neighbours as they all vie for business. The best that can be said for much of the architecture is tacky.

Planning control is poor, non-existent, or simply ignored. At the Paralimni end of Protaras, near Sfinx Bar (formerly Maestro Bar), a huge McDonald's sign has been erected that is an appalling eyesore. Clients at the adjacent hotel will have from their balconies the view of a McDonald's plus the stomach-churning smell of McD's junk food. Globalisation and McDonald's is destroying local culture everywhere, even a small place like Protaras cannot escape.

Protaras at night New for 2003, the road through Protaras was tastefully lined with bricks (it must have cost a small fortune) and made one way. At either end fountains around which the road curves, plus a few very well designed shelters, which also serve as bus shelters for the Paralimini-Protaras-Ayia Napa bus service. Sadly though, an opportunity for landscaping was missed and no trees planted. What is needed is a tree-lined street and a few squares and courtyards planted with trees.

Since 2004 and Cyprus joining the EU, there has been a property boom in the construction of villas and apartments.

In the heart of Protaras, overlooking the sea, the exclusive development of Tsoukkas Len Michael Beach, luxury villas and apartments, is expected to commence in the autumn of 2006, and be completed by spring 2007. On the outskirts of Protaras and within and around Paralimni, can be found many more developments of villas and apartments, many of which are still under construction.

The disco bars in the centre of Protaras are in constant conflict with the hotels and apartments. What is needed is a bulldozer to flatten the lot and replace them with Greek tavernas.

Elvis at Love Boat Every other bar, even hotels are getting in on the act, has an Elvis wannabe. All are absolute crap. The one exception being the 'Elvis' at the Love Boat in the centre of Protaras. The Love Boat also has a very good 'Tom Jones'.

Sfinx Bar Bars worth visiting are the Love Boat and Rockafellas. The coolest bar in town is the Sfinx Bar at the Paralimni end of Protaras.

For a quiet drink try Nicolas Tavern or No 1 Restaurant.

There are three nightclubs in Protaras, or there were three, one always seems to be permamently closed Q Club and Boogies.

Appearances can be deceptive. Protaras may not have any ruins from ancient civilisations, the architecture may not be the world's greatest, drunk karaoke singers and English DJs are not everyone's idea of a good night out nevertheless it does have its good points. The golden beach is still there gently shelving into the clear blue unpolluted sea of the Mediterranean. The night clubs, disco bars and restaurants are some of the best on the island. The many hotels may not look much from the outside, inside sheer luxury with food and service second to none. On the beach are a variety of water sports, from peddle boats to jet skis and paragliding. And beautiful girls working on their sun tans.

Sunrise Beach Hotel Vrissiana Beach Hotel girl on beach

Protaras has a very wide range of eating places. If you want to eat in the gutter there is McD's, through to Japanese and everything between.

Nicolas Tavern The place to eat in town has to be Nicolas Tavern, a very popular traditional Greek Cypriot taverna. The kleftico melts in your mouth. Also worth eating at is No 1 Restaurant.

Delicious - the Inn Fast Food A local down-market version of McD's, Delicious - the Inn Fast Food, serves quality fast food throughout the night. It is packed at 2am, with an amazing atmosphere.

Protaras has been awarded the coveted EC Blue Flag in recognition of the fine quality of its beaches.

Church of Ayios Ilias On the outskirts of Protaras is a small attractive stone church set atop a rocky crag - the Church of Ayios Ilias. It is well worth a walk to the church and the climb to the top. From the top there is a panoramic view of Protaras and the surrounding countryside.

New for 2006, a well-equipped net café with fast machines on the main road a little way out of the centre of Protaras past the Sfinx Bar on the corner. Internet access points with varying degrees of reliability and speed can be found in the Sfinx Bar, Zodiac and Love Boat. Those found in a few hotels are too expensive.

In the spring the cliffs and rocky shoreline are carpeted with wildflowers.

sunrise sunset wild onions

Protaras is located approximately half way between Ayia Napa and Paralimni, less than one hours drive from Larnaca International Airport. A regular local bus service runs from Paralimni to Ayia Napa via Protaras.

Boat trips run along the coast from Protaras. One way to Cape Greco, the other way to view from offshore the ghost town of Famagusta, now under illegal Turkish military occupation.

Travel tip Trips booked through local travel agents are a far better deal than those offered by tour operators.

Travel tip A better exchange rate can be had in Cyprus than in the UK.

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(c) Keith Parkins 1996-2006 -- September 2006 rev 26