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The Sanctuary of Apollo is one of the largest historic religious sites in Cyprus.

Apollo was a god of beauty, music, woodlands, prophecy and archery, and a protector of forests.

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Inside at one end was a small desk where a middle-aged woman in a flowered dress sat with a rubber stamp in hand.

She seemed to be enjoying a joke with a man who was handing her a package.

At the other end of the room was a table, just large enough to seat two old ladies dressed in black...

Both nursed a tiny cup of Greek coffee and every so often they threw back their heads and laughed until finally, one of them said something so funny that the other began to slap first the table and then her friend's plump arm.

It dawned on us. This was not only a post office, but also the local cafe.

From here we carried on through the mountain roads.

We found a derelict village, eerily silent in the harsh sunlight.

The product of an earthquake perhaps or maybe a Turkish village, abandoned after the partition of Cyprus, waiting for its inhabitants to return.

We passed fruit sellers on the roadsides, cherries piled red and succulent on their stalls. Behind them, goats munched happily.

Our last clue took us to the Saint Neophitas Monastery where we were looking for painted people and water.

Inside, we found fabulously painted religious icons, Byzantine perhaps but shining fresh and new, as if painted yesterday.

We also found a little group of local people queuing. When we asked them what they were doing, they told us that they were paying their water bills!

That was a fitting end to the day. High up, overlooking the forests, beginning to feel the first cool breeze of evening and watching the sun turn to a peachy glow.

We had come on a treasure hunt and had found treasure of another kind.

Not for us were the likes of the gold hidden far below the buildings of Famagusta.

Instead we had found a surprise, a charming and timeless old world Cyprus, far from the new villages and the souvenir shops.

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