I recently traveled to Cyprus. It was an interesting journey in that I didn’t have a Plan A, or Plan B really. I knew I wanted a beach. That was the plan. I knew I wanted no ‘ordinary’ tourists. That was the plan. I knew I wanted a hot encounter. That was the plan. All plans lead to North Cyprus, on the far eastern end- the Karpas Peninsula.
The Karpas Peninsula is an area where the mainstreat tourist dollar has not yet reached- or to any mega-resort status. There are definitely signs of imminent resort building so I suggest that you go- NOW while it’s still pristine & low key. I would say that it is, typically, a place for tourists to drive to for a day to check out, and then trot back to their comfy hotels near the action, casinos, etc…
So, a little background is first in order to tell you all about what Cyprus is exactly… I think it’s safe to say that it is a disputed territory (island country) in the southeastern Mediterranean. The island is divided into 2 separate ‘areas’; The Republic of Cyprus, or the southern part, which is governed by Greece, and Northern Cyprus (officially the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus TRNC), governed by Turkish Cypriots.
There is the infamous `Green Line’ that is ‘drawn across the island, horizontally, denoting north & south. Various checkpoints occur at the Green Line so that Greeks and Turks can ‘somewhat’ freely move about. I say this because it is necessary for some denizens to get a passport card stamped instead of a passport page stamped as not all is ‘paradise’ in this Mediterranean ‘paradise.’
As the contemporary story goes, in 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus. Let’s just keep this post ‘happy’ and stop right there… Politically it’s a hot plate issue throughout the region. I love me some hot plates…
Archaeologically speaking, the island has a raich heritage with many different tribes/kingdoms leaving a historical & cultural mark in the archaeological record with a prehistory dating back to 10,000 BC. It seems everybody wanted a piece of Cyprus’ ass, right up to our present timeline. I took a bite out of Cyprus’ ass for sure!
But I digress… back to things I can divulge…
So Cyprus had many suitors that included during Neolithic times to be the Hitites, Mycenaeans, Assyrians, Persians, Achaemenids, & the Greeks (under Alexander the Great & the Ptolemy Dynasty).
The Romans (Holy Roman Empire) dominated the Middle Ages occupation. Well, it was the Eastern Roman Empire, or more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire that ruled Cyprus. Not to be left behind, the Ottomans took over rule right up until British occupation (oh yea, lots of Brits on Cyprus). Independence finally came in 1960, and THAT folks brings us up to date on basic Cyprus history 101. It is so much more convoluted than this, but a decent freshman start for sure.
So, off I trotted. I landed in Lefkoşa one balmy April evening. Lefkoşa, in my opinion, is a most underrated city- prolly due to the fact that it is inland. Must be dreadfully hot in the summertime. Locals told me that a lot of citydwellers head to the coast during the summer so the city can be a skeleton of sorts. The city’s historic district sits smack in the middle of The Green Line, or the UN Buffer Zone. That is another story that I may or may not remember to get to later on…
So I’m at Ercan International Airport waiting for my ride. I was staying at http://www.burhansgoldenbeach.com/ & Burhan’s brother was picking me up. So earlier you read about my criteria while on Cyprus and from what I read on the net, Burhan’s place was right up my alley. I did not think I would be disappointed, and I certainly was not. Of course, it was still early in the tourist season- actually it wasn’t yet tourist season, so this was equally beneficial for me. From what I know, this is the most remote part of Cyprus, and it was fantastic. Fantastic to not have to look at any highrises, or really anything at all but for a few camps in the area. There were no casinos, discos, Starbuck’s, not even any electricity where I was staying.
So I was happy. I hung out with the crew in the evenings and on the beach during the daytime. We drank. We smoked. We ate quality, wholesome food. We sat out underneath the stars, etc. Therapy. Nuff said… Gets kinda fuzzy from here anyway and I can’t divulge everything…
I decided that I wanted to check out Lefkoşa my last 2 days so off I went. I left my beach bungalow and beautiful Golden Beach where the sands stretched unblemished for kilometers & kilometers for bright lights big city… Because I had no Plan A or Plan B, I decided the night before that I would leave in the morning, so off I went again after a lovely breakfast & goodbyes to the crew. I just started walking in the direction of the city- 3 hours away… So yes, I hitchhiked. Now, this is always a preferred way to travel when you are just in that… mood. That mood that is filled with spiritual wanderlust, and time is no problem. It took me 3 rides to get into Lefkoşa and each one of them was a pleasant surprise.
My first ride, about a kilometer down the road from Burhan’s place (not because no one was stopping to pick me up, but because that was the first car that came down the road), was from 2 local farmers. They were country gentlemen. They dropped me off in Dipkarpaz- the only ‘city’ in the entire eastern end of the peninsula. Next was a guy that was going to Famugusta! What luck as that was a long journey from where we currently were. We stopped off at his sister’s house to pick her and her two children up. Off we went. They were Kurds and excited when they found out that I lived in southeastern Turkey. So I got to see the sights of downtown Famagusta, etc.
The last ride was just that, a fairly non-eventful ride through the island interior. Lefkoşa, as I said, is really an interesting city. The 2 different sides of the Green Line are like night and day; In the north, it is like a moment in time that has been standing still for a while. The Turkish side, in my opinion, is filled with mystery in a sort of decaying grandeur. Now, I’m just talking about the historic part of the city that straddles the Line- the Walled City as they call it because the historic part is surrounded by Venetian walls (yes, the Italians were a ((brief)) part of the island heritage as well). It has a very nostalgic feel to it. It’s like you can see through the looking glass of time into the city’s past legacy. Old signs & billboards, wallpaper that is in a continual state of peeling off the walls, musky smells in the bookstores where it appears that some books have not been touched on the shelves, etc.
In the south (Greek) part of the Walled Cirty, it just feels more contemporary, and more lively. The coffeehouses were thriving with university students. There were a lot of modern shops, in comparison to the lovely bazaar area in the north. So, traipsing between the 2 parts is no problem as there is a pedestrian walkway through the official UN Buffer Zone. There are many passport controls along the way, but it is a breeze.
I was only in the city 2 days/1 night, but definitely connected with the area. I also had the best Greek food I’ve had in a long time. Both sides of “The Line” had their merits. I will be back…
So, here are some pictures to leave you with-
|My daily dose... Once an island girl, always an island girl... my life. my law...|
|another daily dose...|
|all that is required of me|
|it's all about symmetry.|
a windowpane into the un-tame
somewhere in here; Neptune's domaine
somewhere, something's tapping
echoing my name
not in vain
relaxation- my capability,
unencumbered style of nobility
|yea, seemed the perfect time to bust out my biography on... wait for it... Mata Hari...|
|either sunrise, or sunset run, I can't pinpoint it exactly...|
|for some reason, I see a Mallard duck here...|
|everything is illuminated; ah the joy of life!|
|sand dune spilling out to the sea|
|you're a heartbreaker when we part from each other|
|rock-hopping Cyprus style|
|I always like to get my feet dirty|
|On the road again. Leaving Burhan's Beach Bungalows. Destination unknown...|
|A church in the lovely town of Dipkarpaz|
|Lefkoşa- looking south to the UN Buffer Zone from the north|
|Roaming through a Han in the north searching for treasures...|
|cool Caravanserai in the old town- north|
|interesting architecture: church w/minarets|
|trekking through the backstreets|
|just having a look-see|
|lost somewhere in a maze of alleyways|
|Button button, who's got the button?|
|next to the Buffer Zone. Last chance... off to the south...|