Friday, April 28, 2017

Second foray into Northern Cyprus

Today we walked across the border checkpoint at the end of Ledra Street in Nicosia, and within minutes we found ourselves in Northern Cyprus.
We had a very interesting day...we had not been sure what to expect, and were a bit nervous, but realised that there was no need to be anxious.
We visited mosques, ate Turkish food, drank coffee at an old inn that had been restored, visited the Armenian church and to finish the day off... we visited a Turkish hamam and had a relaxing massage and scrub in the bath area.
It was sad to see the deserted buildings over the border, but there were signs of a relaxed approach to the border.
If only this impasse between the 2 sides could be resolved.

Below, the hamam. The entrance is below stret level as the street has been raised. It was built many years ago from stone looted from a French period church, St George de Poulins.

Below, the restored inn Buyuk Han built in 1572. There are lots pf craft and souvenier shops... as there would have been back in the days when it was a thriving trading hub. 

Below, the Selimiye Mosque (previously St Sophia Cathedral)
Below, deserted houses in North Nicosia

Below, the Armenian Church ... now abandoned.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Nicosia

Today we set off early for the Cyprus museum where there is an impressive collection of artifacts related to the ancient history of Cyprus. The building is set in tranquil gardens and the whole place has a peaceful atmosphere. Here are some of the examples...




After this delightful morning we took a stroll down the fashionable Ledra Street... which has great significance in Cyprus on account of the role it played in the division of the country. The blocking of this street in the centre of the capital was a source of much discontent.

Then on to the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre. We were not sure what was in store for us, but we were delighted to find an excellent contemporary exhibition. The theme was Terra Mediterraneo which examined the role of the Mediterranean Sea as a kind of country  where many political and social activites take place. The tragedies of the place were brought to life in a new way by the 40 or so Cypriot and international artists who were involved.
It was very sensitively curated

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cyprus map

We have been to all of these places except Farmagusta.... we go there tomorrow for the day.
Right now we are based in Nicosia, the divided capital city.

Journey to Northern Cyprus

Yesterday we took a tour to Kyrenia and other places in the North of Cyprus. Part of this journey was rather hard... to see a country divided as it is. It was evident that the tour leader and driver, despite their best efforts to be diplomatic,  were at heart deeply saddened with the situation.

Our first stop was St Hilarion Castle. Built in the 11th century by a French king, abandoned in the 16th century by the Ventians.  What was remarkable was the view (it is high up and overlooks the sea, as a good castle should) and the way the castle was hewn out of rock on such a steep hill.

Next stop was Bellapais Abbey dating from the 13th century.  Built by the French, it is a wonderful Gothic structure, set in beautiful gardens with.... a stunning sea view. It is in disrepair, and not used since 1974 when the Orthodox Greek Cypriots were driven from the North.


We saw the Tree of Idleness that Lawrence Darrell wrote about in his book Bitter Lemons. He wrote extensively about this village and the Abbey,  so it was great to see this pretty little village of Bellapais.

Finally we stopped at Kyrenia where there was.. another castle. This one built by the Venetians, overlooking the harbour. The harbour today is busy with restaurants and yacht traffic. What would a 16th century Venetian think if he came back to visit in 2017?



Then it was time to collapse at our new accommodation in Nicosia.
 This apartment is located centrally and is very comfortable. 
We could barely stagger across the street to a kebab shop 
and have dinner before we retired to a big sleep.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kourion and Pafos

We hit the road to see the cornucopia of Roman ruins.
First stop Kourion.
A spectacular setting on a hill overlooking the ocean. Remains of Roman baths and a reconstructed amphitheatre.
The mosaic below is most famous.

The amphitheatre is amazing



Then on to Pafos to more Roman ruins and mosaics from a Roman villa named after the God Dionysus




And we saw the spot where Aphrodite first set foot on dry land!
Followed by a visit to the monastery of Saint Neofytos.
Exhausting day!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Troodos Mountains

These mountains cover one third of Cyprus. The area is famous for wine and fruit growing.  In these mountains there are many monasteries  and churches with a wealth of stunning  mosaics, wall paintings and icons. The monastery below is Kykkos.


In the Troodos there are many small villages where artisans create 
artifacts such as lace and silver.... and other items. 
The items below were available at the artisan village of Omodos.
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We also visited the small village of Lania where there were many small museums which preserved old machines used in the production of olive oil and wine. it was a very picturesque spot. The scent of orange blossom was delicious.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Cypriot ice cream survey continues

The choice of flavours is challenging... what to choose. Today I chose the Greek sweet walnut flavour. And very delicious it was. I am still working up to the watermelon and haloumi cheese encounter.