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Cyprus

Tourism Cyprus

Cyprus - Larnaca

sunny 23 °C
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After two busy days in Cyprus, my final full day was my chance to rest and relax - but did I do so? Well, not really...a lie in was about as far as it went!

9am

9am


Larnaca

Larnaca

Getting up in time to grab breakfast, enjoying the beautiful sea view over Larnaca Bay, I eventually made my way down the promenade, past the Christmas decorations, despite it being in the 20s, arriving at Larnaca Fort.

Promenade

Promenade

The fort was built in the 14th century, and is now a museum, with history of the architecture of the island, as well as military installations in Larnaca. There are also good views of the coastline of the town, as well as the minaret of the mosque next door.

Larnaca Castle

Larnaca Castle

After taking a look in the shops and buying a few souvenirs, I then headed through the town towards the Salt Lake, located between Larnaca and the airport. Whilst the front of the town is well kept, the back streets appear much more like one expects of Mediterranean towns.

Salt Lake

Salt Lake

Arriving at the lake, after beating off what seemed like every fly on the island, I walked as far as I could get before my feet sunk too far into the saturated ground, with views of pure white ground stretching for miles ahead.

Arriving back in the town, I took a look around the Marina before heading back to the hotel for some dinner. Once it had got dark I then headed back out to re-explore the town with my camera again in tow, to take some night pictures of the lit up buildings.

Fort by night

Fort by night

Having another relaxing nights sleep, and a final leisurely morning in the town, I eventually made my way over to the modern Larnaca airport for my flight home.

Christmas at the airport

Christmas at the airport

Arriving well in advance of my flight, after getting a few essentials in the shops for the way I home I sat down before being approached by a lady who wanted to "ask a few questions". The lady worked for the Statistical Agency of Cyprus, and was asking tourists questions about their time on the island. Starting with basic questions "how long have you been in Cyprus", "where did you stay?", she eventually moved on the the question "Did you spend any money on clothes or shoes?" - taking a look at my muddy clothes from yesterday's walk to the salt lake, before I had even answered she had already ticked the "No" box! A bit rude, but quite hilarious at the time - I did stink a bit!

After speaking to that woman

After speaking to that woman

The final part of the holiday was the 5 hour flight back on Monarch, which after the inbound flight I had already figured this would be far from pleasurable. Whilst the seats were certainly much more spacious, Monarch had decided that as the plane wasn't going to be used again that evening after landing at Luton, they would instead park up at the hangar, and proceed to only open the front door - meaning people like me who were not paying an extra £30 and stuck at the back had to wait absolutely ages to get off, and on to a bus. Eventually arriving at immigration, which was only half open despite the plethora of staff sitting about, it proceeded to take 45 minutes to clear the airport - without needing to collect a bag - a new record!

Flights excluded, the holiday was certainly one of my favourites. Cyprus is a lovely island with good weather, a lot of history and things to see, as well as a very organised nature and friendly people. The best resort in the Mediterranean, and one I would definitely recommend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Cyprus Tagged sea beach history fort airport christmas tourism Comments (0)

Political Cyprus

Cyprus - Nicosia & Famagusta

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Although the first day going to Kourion was busy, it was the second day that was the real exploration day of the holiday.

Setting my alarm for 6:20am (despite it being a holiday) I got up and ready, and then went up for breakfast as soon as it opened. Eating as fast as I can, coming back down to grab my bits, I then legged it through the McDonalds next door to the bus stop to grab the 8am bus to Nicosia. Luckily I had enough time to spare, as after arriving at the bus stop I found that for the second day running, the stop had moved around the corner. Nevertheless I made it, and just over an hour later I had arrived in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia.

Nicosia is the last divided capital city in the world. The southern side being the Greek Cypriot side, whilst the north side is the Turkish Cypriot side. Closed until 2008, it is now possible to cross in the city centre and visit both halves.

Where North meets South

Where North meets South

I started by city exploration by walking along the edge of the UN controlled buffer zone between the two sides, walking along the only part where both sides meet - the Roccas Bastion, where I noticed I was being watched from the north side, and I then walked along the boundary line seeing the entrance to the UN headquarters, as well as a watchtower, reminiscent of pictures I had seen of Cold War Berlin.

UN Buffer Zone

UN Buffer Zone


Ledras Street

Ledras Street

Heading back towards the centre, I walked along the city walls on the south side, before heading through the winding streets towards Ledras Street - the city's main shopping and pedestrianised street. Heading up the Shacolas Tower I was instantly given views over the whole city and beyond, particularly at the northern side, and in the Kyrenian mountains the large Northern Cypriot flag carved into it. This flag is 450x200 metres in size, and despite being located 12km away, is clearly visible from the capital.

The TRNC flag

The TRNC flag


Views of the North

Views of the North

After taking a view over into the north side, it was now time for me to enter it, and walking back down the very westernised Ledras street, with it's posh shops and very European feel, it was not long before I made it to the border crossing. Handing in my passport to be checked I then walked the short distance through the UN buffer zone and reached the north side. Almost immediately the difference between them becomes clear. Not only do the languages and currencies change, but the whole feel of the area. This was not just a different land (my 60th, incidentally), but a different world. The streets are windy, shops bursting with products, and secular Islamic culture beaming from every angle.

Northern side

Northern side


Inside the converted mosque

Inside the converted mosque

Taking a walk around the, in my opinion, far more interesting side, I took a look inside the mosque, the bazaar, and the caravansarai.

Büyük Han

Büyük Han

Having explored the centre of the city, I continued north, walking towards the Kyrenia gate and the Whirling Dervish museum before making my way to the bus station.

Whirling Dervish Museum

Whirling Dervish Museum

After working out how, I purchased my ticket for Famagusta, and once again hit culture shock getting on the bus. Whilst in the south the intercity buses are spacious coaches, in the north they are minivans, that when the seats are full, pull down expandable seats appear in the middle that block in everyone behind! Thankfully I was staying until the end so didn't have to ask for people to get up!

An hour later, and after driving past a huge mosque in construction, I arrived in Famagusta, on the eastern coast, just north of the UN buffer zone at Dhekelia. The city was historically one of the most important in the region, with it's port being the closest to the Middle East. Arriving just outside the city walls, I walked past the huge dilapidated city walls through the Land Gate, and into the city centre, walking past historical ruins before arriving at one of the most peculiar sights in the world - a former Gothic Cathedral, with its top blown off, and a minaret added to the side converted now into a mosque!

Former cathedral

Former cathedral

Walking towards the city walls again, I climbed up the stairs to get a view of the port on the other side, before walking back towards the Canbulat Gate, and the memorial to the civil war.

Varosha

Varosha

Famagusta was in the 60s one of the world's top resorts, with the majority of people staying in the tourist resort of Varosha. Located just to the south of the city centre, and mostly populated by Greek Cypriots, when the island became split, the northern side, who now controlled Varosha closed it off from the world, creating a ghost resort falling apart and stuck in 1974. One of the most peculiar things about this resort, is the fact that a handful of hotels and restaurants on the boundary of the resort remain open, but to get to them means travelling along a single coastal road from the city centre, that on both sides contain military buildings where photos are not allowed. Therefore these hotels just north of Varosha are effectively closed off from the rest of Famagusta with just the beach and sea for company. Not my ideal holiday destination, but certainly an interesting experience. Walking back towards the city centre along the cracked roads it was easy to see how this would have been a lovely resort many years ago, but due to a lack of investment has since become dilapidated and shabby.

Varosha

Varosha

Having now seen all I had wanted in the north, it was time to make my return to Nicosia, and eventually Larnaca. Having arrived back in good time in the capital I quickly hurried through the city centre to catch my bus, leaving from a very eastern world straight into western in a matter of a minute or so. An experience previously only witnessed in Sarajevo.

Despite spending over four hours on buses, travelling 140 miles, and getting back to Larnaca almost 10 hours after leaving, it was a brilliant, if tiring day. So much history and culture to see that is highly recommended.

Luckily my final full day was going to be my 'relaxed' day, and I could at last have a lie in!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Cyprus Tagged mosque beach religion history island cathedral border war islam Comments (0)

Ancient Cyprus

Cyprus - Limassol

semi-overcast 20 °C
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For the 11th and last holiday of the year I went to Cyprus to explore the history, politics and tourism of the Mediterranean island.

Unfortunately as this was now the winter season, I was limited to a twice-weekly Monarch service from Luton to Larnaca - where I wanted to base myself, and this is where I realised just how bad a service this airline provides now. They clearly are on the back foot in terms of proving a no frills service - with expensive seat selection, no food or entertainment, and old planes (with bulky seats) squashed together so much that half the plane probably ended up with DVT by the time they arrived on the island.

Although I had to pay £10 to make sure I had a window seat (so at least for the 5 hours I would have something to lean on), it ended up being quite fortunate, as the two people next to me moved to spare seats at the back of the plane meaning I therefore had the whole row to myself - possibly worth the £10 charge?

Electronic Infobox

Electronic Infobox

After the disappointing flight, however, my room at the hotel was amazing! Being super modern, there was a digital box outside the room showing the room number and the message to leave - instead of a paper hanger on the door requesting not to be disturbed, or to have the room made up, a touch pad inside lit up the desired notification on the box outside. There was also a speaker in the bathroom, connected to the TV, so you could still listen whilst showering, LED lighting around the ceiling, and a balcony with a sea view. The most awesome hotel I'd stayed in in a long time!

Nightclub style room

Nightclub style room


Amongst the ruins

Amongst the ruins

After waking up the next day for breakfast with a sea view, I caught the bus to Limassol, where after taking a quick look at the castle and promenade, transferred to another bus ending up at the historic site of Kourion, located just within the Akrotiri base. This contained a restored amphitheatre facing the sea, as well as many ruins that could be walked amongst and some historical mosaics.

Mosaics

Mosaics


Kourion Amphitheatre

Kourion Amphitheatre

As there were only a few buses on Sundays I had to watch my timings to make sure I didn't get stuck in the middle of nowhere, but as I was on time I had an extra ten minutes before needing to make my way to the bus. I therefore decided to go back to the amphitheatre to take some more photos, and decided it might look good to take a photo of myself on the other side of the ring. However as the time only had ten seconds and it was quite a large structure, I had to run as fast as I could around it to the spot I had selected with just enough time to turn around and pose. After waiting for other people to clear the area I needed, I made it to the right spot on time as the other tourists watched in bemusement at what I was doing. Nevertheless it made a nice photo!

Running around the amphitheatre

Running around the amphitheatre

Despite being two hours away by bus from Larnaca, it was definitely worth visiting, and gave me the historical basis to begin my journey in Cyprus.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Cyprus Tagged history ruins ancient modern Comments (0)

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