I am standing outside a beautiful neoclassical building dating back to 1920, with whitewashed columns, surrounded by a wonderful courtyard full of roses, mulberry trees, sour orange trees... I briefly stop at the entrance, taking deep breaths. I want to stay here forever! The fragrances of jasmine, rosemary and lemongrass seductively emerge all around. I can immediately draw a picture of the night setup in my head: Full moon, under the imposing presence of the thin and tall palm tree... Sometimes under the influence of the magic of the big screen... Sometimes following the classical sounds of a cello and an oboe... A rembetiko music group going in and out of “airplanes and ships”, a virtuoso soloist skillfully tiptoeing on the pianos octaves, a saxophonist wandering in the trails of jazz music, two professional storytellers bringing dragons and beasts to life. The wooden inscription says it all: “Technopolis 20”.
The dream of Marcella Neocleous and Marina Symeonidou –friends since their school years– became a reality. The two of them, employing their love for the city and their knowledge of music and cultural management, they have managed to create a vibrant cultural nucleus, dynamically demonstrating the cultural image of Pafos. As soon as the door opens, we are greeted with a wide and fresh smile! It is Marcella’s. “Ready?”. “Absolutely”, I reply. She promised me to show me the artistic face of the city, through everything that she personally loves. And I am positive that I will not get bored at all!
Our first stop is the “Kimonos” Arts Center. Right behind “Technopolis”, in a beautiful neighborhood drowned in bougainvillea and Indian jasmine flowers, ligned with houses of the 1960s. In the building on number 2 of Kimonos street, is the home for the inspiration and the creations of an artistic group, which is compiled by Charalambos Margaritis, Paris Christodoulou and Yannis Sakellis. Workshops for painting, mixed techniques, engraving, silk screen printing, other printing methods, animation, comics... For adults, teenagers and children. From time to time, they also organize events and screenings, while they also host remarkable artists from abroad. “Kimonos” also has small self-contained rooms that also function as guest houses.
“Before we go anywhere else, I would like to show you something”, Marcella says in a conspiratorial manner. We reach the Town Hall Square, in front of us we see the “Evsevia Club”, we make one more round and walk through quiet lanes. And suddenly... amongst the neighborhoods, the sea appears! Houses overlooking the endless blue. “Well, this Pafos is absolutely crazy!”, I exclaim. Marcella laughs: “That’s why I adore her!”.
We abandon the car near the Kostis Palamas Square and before I even get the chance to stare at the “Sleeping Eros” by Nikolaos Tsadiotis, we are headed to a neoclassical “dollhouse”. “Table for two, overlooking the square, once the sun has set guys!”. The setting inside incudes everything. Typewriters, scales, collectible bottles, old prints... My attention halts at my favorite Oliver Twist. “As soon as we finish our walk we’ll eat here. Burgers, pumpkin pie, ‘ospriada’... ‘ala koutourou’”. I’m teasing her by telling her she is on a mission to season me with culture and intellect, because she knows I love good food. She laughs... “I’ll show you all the guilty secrets of the city”. On the way, she introduces me to Suzy, who makes the most delicious cheesecakes in the world, under the “antoinettian” Let Them Eat Cake, while in her beautiful courtyard you’ll find companies playing board games, also enjoying jazz and artistic live happenings.
She leads me towards the Labyrinth, the wine bar, which occasionally hosts exhibitions, the Latest Thing with its unique suggestions for every kind of event and just before we reach the two storey gallery “Blue Iris”, she makes a complete u-turn: “We’ll bypass so I can show you the ‘secret’ path to the Municipal Art Gallery”. We walk down the picturesque stairs in front of the Axiothea Hotel and we arrive at the in the Alsos Ivis Maliotou. The perennial “olive tree of peace” is also there, whose trunk has been covered with knitted fabric, handmade by women of peace2peace, as an act of symbolism. A wonderful promenade walk surrounded by elaborate neoclassical structures. And we head back to the center, at the bustling Kennedy Square, which is home to the city’s most “in” bars: Boulevard, Noir and Plato. Just above Plato lies the most beautiful veranda of the city, Agora, with imaginative appetizers: “It is worth trying the vegetarian options! Chickpeas... beetroot salad!”. Marcella has noticed my intense desire to collect insider’s tips…
The old cinema “Attikon” is located nearby, which is connected to the Palia Ilektriki –cultural events venues– and the “Markidio Theater”. These buildings where refreshed during the emergence of Pafos as the Capital of Culture for 2017. We also take a stroll to the transformed “Hani of Ibrahim”, aspiring to become an “open culture factory”, we are browsing around the various little shops and we follow the pedestrian walkway towards Hovoli, the cute cafeteria with a frame of the “Hanging Gardens” of Pafos. “As you’re walking, always look up!”, she tells me. What is this now, the motto of the day? Before I even finished my sentence my eyes stumble upon a spectacular graffiti. Multiple enormous colorful –on the walls, on the rooftops– they emerge along the whole the way, decorating the city with little stories. “We’ll stop here”, my guide tells me, right in front of the The Place. It is a concept store selling traditional items, ceramics, handmade soaps, loukoumia, wines, and pitchers... “Foreigners have a great affection for it. Various workshops are also organized here, where you can meet the artist, attend ceramic courses. You can watch a Karagiozis performance and learn how the shadow theater figures are made”.
Continuing our walk, Marcella points to the Delubak Espresso Cuisine, ideal for an afternoon full of coffee aroma, good company and saxophone and just right across the cozy chocolaterie Chocology. “We’ll make a stop! Please, make a note that they must lock me up in here for the whole night, so I can indulge myself to the debauchery of chocolate”, I plead with her, while having in mind the “sinful” mayor from the movie “Chocolat”.
Further down, next to the Home of Arts and Literature, she shows me the Anana 8Bit Coffee for those in the know, sporting a vintage tropical atmosphere, serving pink lemonade and organizing interesting evenings with live music journeys, theme parties and creative competitions such as “Brandy Sour vs. Zivana”. “Coming out of the poetry evening, you’ll toss back two or three drinks to get your head straight”, she makes me laugh... Somewhere at this point, we have closed our circle. She promises me that the next time we meet, she will take me on a journey to a quieter, relaxing and beautiful setting. To her village, in Tala!