We arrived in Cyprus on Sunday, at around teatime, and spent our first day, Monday, getting used to the hotel and local area. The weather was glorious and we booked to go on 3 trips.
The first of the trips was to the Troodos Mountains on Tuesday, the oldest mountain range in Cyprus and the island’s highest point. And it poured and poured and poured with rain, with thunderstorms knocking out the power.
We got drenched visiting the tomb of Makarios III, first president of Cyprus when it became a republic. It wasn’t the nicest of visits, but the statue above was made in England and transported to its current spot (just above his tomb) in pieces.
And the hail came down. We thought we might get sanctuary in the local monastery, but the storm had knocked the power out there too. It was cold, dark, packed with people. So we left from there early too.
Wednesday was a much nicer day, with the return of the sunshine. Our second trip was to the ancient city of Salamis, dating from the ancient Greek.
As Salamis is in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, we had to apply for temporary visas, cross the UN border, and show our passports. That was quite exciting yet a little sinister, crossing the no-man’s land between the 2 sides.
Now, I always believed that Cyprus was half Greek and half Turkish, but one visit there has re-educated me. Greece never actually owned Cyprus, but Greeks did settle there. The Ottoman Empire did own the island, and that’s why there are Cypriots of Turkish origin too. But it’s never been Greek.
Salamis is one example of the first Greek settlers, but many of the artefacts have been replaced with copies as the originals, such as marble pillars, are in various museums around the world.
There are several statues with their heads cut off around the site, and this is because the statues were of the ancient gods and when Christianity came to the island, the heads were cut off.
After Salamis we went to visit Famagusta, which was the centre of commerce until Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. Now the old town stands behind barbed wire and fencing while they decide what to do with it. Several kilometres of commercial buildings remain in their bombed and deserted state, and photography is strictly prohibited …
… however, from just a mile or so down the road and, in fact, from our hotel balcony, you can also see the old town very clearly. But we don’t have any pictures to share with you here. Apparently, though, it can all be seen on Google Earth …
So, down the road from “old” Famagusta is “Venetian” Famagusta, which we loved. We veered off the tourist track to explore the back streets, and wished we had longer to sample more of the local cuisine and atmosphere.
We visited the mosque too, which used to be the cathedral, and we visited the sea gate, from where we could see “old” Famagusta. And we saw several houses that look abandoned, and may have been in 1974 when the local residents grabbed what they could and fled.
Venetian Famagusta is surrounded by a stone wall that has a sea gate and a city gate. New and old sit side by side, but it’s quite touristy, with local vendors tempting visitors with free samples of their wares. There’s a quiet garden just opposite the sea gate where some of the trees were in bloom.
At the end of of our visit it was back on the bus and back over the UN border into the rest of Cyprus again. We were glad to get back to the hotel after a very long day, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Pictures from our third trip will be posted next time.
Back to the present and I’m still quite busy. I finished the hard copy edits on the current book yesterday, but need to get the electronic edits done today and back with the client.
Today I also have diary work to do (fave job), pdf software to research, and writing work to catch up with.
I have washing on the line as well, so will be keeping half an eye on the weather – if anyone spots rain, shout!
We didn’t have the pak choi for tea yesterday as the poet got his strimmer out when he got home from work and we had pasta instead. So I can’t report back yet what he did with it or how it was.
Maybe next time … Enjoy the pictures.