Ν ν – Νεκρόπολη – Necropoles. Nearby the center of Pafos, just by the seaside you will find one of interesting Cypriot necropolis. Those are Tombs of the Kings from the 4th century BC. The thing about them is that they are named kings’ but have never been used by monarchs. Archeologists seeing the richness and size of the site, at first expected it to be the place of royal burial. Later they found out that none of the kings bodies were here. Those richly decorated,carved out of the solid rock catacombs were probably the graves of some prominent Cypriot officials. It’s the huge area and the impressive performance that allowed them keep the name of Kings’ Thombs. Some graves even resemble houses, they are so big, have many rooms and are have carved collumns. They are an example of stone carved buildings – the most impressive of such is of course Petra in Jordan, but if you havent seen any of this type it’s a good reason to visit the Thombs of Kings. Make sure not to go there at noon as it is a pretty long walk on almost no-shade area.
Ξ ξ – ξαφνική απόδραση – Sudden escape – Chernobyl – this is what comes to our minds first when we think about an abandoned city, a city that suddenly was desolate and has been deserted until today. And basicly it’s all that weknow. As a matter of fact there are some more of such ghost cities in Europe. One of them is in Cyprus. It’s name is Varosia and it used to be a big district of Famagusta. One day in 1974 it was suddenly abandoned by it all residents. The reason for this action was an upcoming battle of Turkish and Greek army in 1974 during the Turkish invasion to the island. Citizens in order to protect their health and lives flied from the city leaving their homes in a hurry. All that of course with the strong belief to come back as soon as the fights finish. Before all that happened Varosia was the center of Cypriot tourism, it’s beds were over 50% of all hotel beds on Cyprus. Today this neighborhood is under Northern Cyprus’ controll and Turkish army fenced it with barbed wire and aby access to it is strictly forbidden. Neither former residents, nor Turkish settlers are allowed to inhabit Varosia. Turkis army and the nature are the only ones who can enter the zone. The result is that all the luxury hotels from the seventies are completely ruined today, have no windows, paint peels off, plants bloom in the most unexpected places. Deteriorating buildings tower over beautiful sandy beaches. Former residents of Varosia are still ready to come back and revitalize the city however lack of agreement between Greek and Turkish Cyprus makes it impossible and Varosia is till a ghost town.
O o as Ola. Ola had great time on Cyprus. She was delighted with the weather, friendly cats she could run everywhere with, beautiful veiws and new car seat. Here for the first time she sat in the car as an adult and she liked it a lot. After coming back home we had to go shop fot he new seat right away. Although Ola doesn’t play on children’s playgrounds yet we noticed that the island is well prepared for the lottle ones and they are easily accesible. Hotels are equipped in baby cots, restaurants have high chair, we even noticed some changing tables, but just few. Generaly Cypriots have very positive attitude to children. Journey through the streets of Cyprus cities with the stroller was not always easy, sidewalks are often narrow plus from time to time unexpected lanterns appear in the middle of them. Anyway it was easier to push the stroller through the streets than let Ola run on her own feet. She usually run the opposite direction then the one where we were going. Luckily the stalls with inflatable pets and other colorful toys we out of her interest yet!
Π π – Πράσινη Γραμμή – Green Line. Green line is the buffer zone created by UN between the Republic of Cyprus and Norther Cyprus. The island is another territory in the world where due to impossibility of reaching peace, two parts of conflict had to be phisically separated from each other. The history of Green Line dates back to the sixties of 20th century. At that time, because of hostility of two nations, British forces had to divide the island to set apart Greeks and Turks. In 1974 after Turkish invasion to the island, green line divided nations for good and became impassable. In fact it is a demilitarized area of different width, going form north to souts of the island. Some cities ended up in the middle of the zone, others, like Nicosia, were cut by the line. The border runs through the center of Nicosia making it possible to be the capital city of both countries. The border was impassable for 30 years. Only 10 years ago did Turkish and Cypriot authorities allowed to cross it. Today everybody can freely cross it, of course having a passport. Turists cross the border moving between two countires, particularily in Nicosia, because most of turistic sites of the city are located on Turkish side. Whole procedure takes only a moment (if no queue) and the stamp of Norteh Cyprus can be done in the passport or not, depends on you. There are 7 crossings on the Green Line, some of them can be used only by car, some by foot. If you want to take rented in Republic of Cyprus car to Northern Cyprus, you just need to buy additional insurance at the crossing. It’s 20 euro for 3 days. There is no possibility to rent a car in Norther Cyprus and drive it to the south of the island. Although free crossing of the border people had not lost their hostility. UN forces report around a thousand of different incidents taking place in the buffer zone per year. Those range from insulting to the use of guns so possibilities of ending military mission on this area are poor.
Ρ ρ -ρεύμα – Electricity. Going to Cyprus you need to know that electrical outlets are of British type there. Those are the ones with three rectangular pins, they call it G type. So before you leave it’s good to get yourself at least one adapter. We say at least one because going on holidays everyone usually take phones, tablet, camera and so on. Recently we all more and more surround ourselves with electronic devices so the access to the electricity is necessary. Surely in most hotels you will be able to buy or borrow an adapter at the front desk, but it’s worth to have your own one with you. Sometimes, after long journey some of our devices might need to be charged already. If you are planning to rent a car on Cyprus, taking car charger might be useful (or at leat USB wire).
Σ σ ϲ ς – συνάδελφος – Friends. Cypriots are very sociable nation, or rather nations, because we can say the same about both southern and northern Cypriots. Definitely mediterranean climate is something that helps it. Cypriot man often sit outside for whole days, in summer times in the evenings, in the company of their friends. They enjoy all kinds of board games and similar plays: cards, backgammon or domino. Laughter and long discussions are heard on the streets untill late. All that is acoompanied by good coffee and cigarettes. Women are unlikely to take part in such activities. Ola of course did not wait too much and made some friends right after we came to Larnaca. First contact sport in her life, football, luckily ended up with no injuries. She seemed to like new friend and he seemed to like her too. However new frendship didn’t take too long cause we had to leave soon.
Τ τ – τοπίo – Landscape. Beautiful landscape in addition to the waether is one of the special things that tourists look for in Cyprus. The island located on the Mediterranean Sea, flooded with sun and surrounded with azure blue waters is something that visitors, especialy from the countires of little worse climate, desire. Rocky shores carved by water are charming. Imagine the view of the coast with the peaks of mountains in the background. Seeing all that you just want to sit down, relaks and watch it waiting for the sunset. Sunrise is probably as much beautiful as the sunset but it’s hard to get up so early on holidays. Out of all places we visited we specially liked one – Cape Greco. The nook is located in the south-east of the island, and is a part of national park. In the peak of the season it must be crowded but in spring time we had almost whole place just for us. There was only one couple there, barely visible, nested somewhere in the rocks. It’s a perfect place for a romantic date. But a visit with one-year old girl is nothing like that. Instead romanticism we had to keep an eye on Ola, trying to keep up with her running around.
Υ υ ϒ – υποδομή – Infrastructure – Cyprus tourist infrastructure is well prepared to serve masses coming to the island. Over 2 milion people visit Cyprus each year, majority of which are British. Cities that focus touristic life as Paphos, Larnaca, Limassol or Protaras offer plenty of beds of different standard. Some people choose to visit charming resort of Kyrenia (Girne), the capital of tourism in Northern Cyprus. All the resorts have the choice of public and private beaches, indoor and outdoor pools and restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. What is interesting, original local cuisine is not easy to be found. Fast foods are easily accessible. In main restaurants bewteen fish & chips and pizza or sushi we can find some local dishes. To get some authentic food it is better to look out of the very center of the resorts. Roads connecting the biggest towns on the island are very good, well-maintained, so going on your own on the trip accross the island is a good idea. Of course if you dare drive on the left hand side (or you are British and it’s not a challenge for you). Cities names on the signs are also in English and most of Cypriots speak this language so getting lost will be difficult. Island has three airports, the biggest of which is in Larnaca serves over 5 milion passengers each year.
Φ φ ϕ – φλαμίνγκο – Flamingos. Leaving the airport in Larnaca and heading to the city center you will see quite a big water reservoir. Located almost in the city it is Larnaca Salt Lake. There are couple of such lakes in the world, out of which Caspian Sea is best known. Such lakes have high concentration of salts (mostly sodium chloride) and other dissolved minerals. There are two such reservoirs in Cyprus: bigger Limassol Salt Lake and smaller Larnaca Salt Lake (consisting in fact of couple lakes). Such form is characteristic for dry and hot areas because of fast evaporating water. In summer the lake dries completely and becomes the crust of salt. During winter it gains water again and becomes the habitat for 85 species of water birds. This is a mekka for ornitologists and attracts birds enthusiasts from all over the world to see wild ducks, gulls and of course flamingos. The crutial element for the lake is small brine shrimp Artemia. which is the food for all the birds, and thanks to which there is such a big variety of waterbird species there. In winter season from 2 up to 12 thousands of flamingos are observed there. End of March, when we visited Cyprus, was probably the last chance to see them there. Thankfuly we were lucky to find them swimming on Larnaca Salt Lake. At the beginning we just saw some white spots on the waters and we weren’t sure what kind of birds those are. As we are not any bird experts we made sure that those were really flamingos only when they approached little closer to the lake shore and spreaded their wings to fly. Than we saw that typical pink colour. We were hoping they will come closer so that we would see them better but they kept on swimming on the middle of the lake. Ola probably didn’t even realise what she’s seen cause she paid way more attention to the cats appearing everywhere. If you are planning to visit Cyrpus in winter and land in Larnaka airport, make sure to take binoculars or good camera lens with you, the lake will be on your way.
Χ χ – Χριστός Ανέστη – Resurrection of Jesus. Today, on the 12th of April, according to Julian callendar, Orthodox churches, also Church of Cyprus, celbrate the day of Christ’s resurrection. It’s the most impotrant holiday in Orthodox Church and other christian churches. It is preceeded by a fourty-day fast when no meat or animal orign products are eaten. Last week of feast, the Holy Week, is the time of most intense preparations. On the Holy Thursday Cypriots begin to prepare food for holiday, they bake „flaounes” – buns filled with cheese, rasins and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Also on Thursday they prepare eggs for Sunday battles – they are hardboiled and dyed red. Holly Friday is the day of short processions, during which an icon of Jesus is carried under flour-decorated canopy. An interesting custom is performed on Saturday; huge fires are lit by the churches (lampratzia), the aim is to have the biggest fires possible. The images of Judas are burnt in the fire. The most important service starts on Saturday night, at 11 pm. During this celebration the resurrection of Christ takes place, symbol of which is lighting the candles by everyone. Family celebration starts after coming back home but the real feast begins on Sunday, when Cypriots roast lamb, feast and play egg cracking game. The game is to hit painted eggs against each other, uncracked one wins. Because we visited Cyprus short before Easter we found cities decorated with colorful Eastern eggs and bunnies. They smiled at us from every intersection and city square.
Ψ ψ – ψωμί – Bread. Usually during our trips we try to always have some snack for Ola. A good idea for a snack when traveling is a piece of some kind of bread. Since being on Cyprus we wanted to try some local bread anyway, we visited some local grocery stores looking for something good. Most of times instead of normal bread we were surprised by something strange. Usually by something dry and hard, luckily Ola was able to manage with that of course after necessary long time and much work. Once, expecting a soft bun, we bought topped with sesame fancy-shape rusk, than, buying pita bread, we ended up with some apple stuffed pie, another time we tried something of round shape which happened to be a kind of biscuit full of peppercorns. When finally we found for our daughter some soft bread, Ola was so happy to get it, that after this consumption we had to clead whole back seat of the car. The best bakery products we found in Nicosia on Norhtern Cyprus side. We happened to be wandering it’s streets early morning in some less and less turistic areas. Suddenly we felt this smell of freshly baked bread. On this little street there was a little bakery where three guys were making something of very thin doug with tomato-peper-herbal filling. That was the best breakfast we had on this trip. Even Ola like it, of course only the dough because the filling was kind of spicy. We were happy we went off the main route and found this little place.
Ω ω – ώριμος – Ripe. Cyprus has subtropical climate with average day temperature of 24 degrees Celcius so fruits and vegetables have perfect conditions to ripe there. Besides, olives and grapes we already mentioned, they grow many different kinds of frutis and vegetables there. Along the seaside there are, the most exotic for us, groves of oranges, lemons and peaches. Although watermelons are ready to eat already at the end of May, the best time to come to Cyprus seems to be end of summer, when most of fruits grown there are already ripe. But if you happen to be there in spring, just like us, you can find sweet and tasty ornages and bananas. In fact, no matter when you vistit, there will always be something good there.