I haven’t posted anything in a while (been busy) so I begged(I’m exaggerating, LOL) my dear friend, Veronica, to do a guest post in my blog. She obliged (thankfully) and did an article about her recent trip to Cyprus. Here you go. Read up and be inspired.
It is almost the year-end so I thought it’s time to use up some of my annual leave and have a quick, short escape from Qatar. Not having the luxury of much time to plan the trip ahead, I had a look to see where I can get some sun and warmth in mid-November within a 5 hour flying time from Qatar.
There I found Cyprus…
The Larnaca-Limassol Experience
Flying to Larnaca from Doha takes around four hours direct. Landed in Larnaca, picked up the rental car and there the adventure started. Within a 20-minute drive from the airport, we reached the centre of Larnaca. Being an island, Cyprus benefits from its coastlines; Larnaca focuses their developments along the sea front with restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops lining the promenade and lounge chairs along the beach. It is a nice stroll around the city centre with a mix of old and new. We turned a corner and came across the late ninth century AD Ayios Lazaros Church.
The next day we started our road trip around the island, with Limassol being our next stop. Limassol is Cyprus’s second city and has recently transformed itself into the definition of laidback Mediterranean living. It has a brand new Marina development, and the town is bustling with cafes, bars and restaurants that are as popular with locals as with visitors.
Nature Is Calling
For a bit of change from the city, we ventured into Troodos Mountain which is around an hour drive from Limassol. We stopped at the open market full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The hike to Kaledonia Waterfall gave us an opportunity to exercise, breathe in the fresh air and be one with nature. The beautiful colours of autumn can be seen along the hike, along with the stream running down from the top, it was a refreshing and scenic hike. There were a couple of times where we had to cross the river and hop on and off slippery stones, but making to the top did not disappoint us.
To stick with the nature theme, we opted to stay in a Village House for the night. It was a bit different from the usual hotel stay, but making our own fire for the fire-place kind of made it cosy and all ok though we were in fact staying in the middle of nowhere.
Going Back In Time
The next impressive destination is the ancient site of Kourion. The site perches dramatically on a hillside overlooking the sea, it is one of the most important archaeological sites on the island. The ‘House of Eustolios’ was originally a private villa that was turned into a public recreation centre during the early Christian period. The remains of the building has been kept very well and it was obvious where the columns, the baths and the mosaic floors were. I can only imagine how beautiful it must have been during the time.
Then there is the magnificent 2,000-seat Greco-Roman amphitheater overlooking the sea. The theatre has been well restored and is still used for open air musicals and theatrical performances in the summer months.
Are We Still In Cyprus?
After a few lazy days in Paphos and Ayia Napa, we crossed the border into the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. There have been mixed reviews on the internet about venturing to Northern Cyprus, given the presence of the military, razor wire and guard posts. Anyhow, we found Northern Cyprus added to our travel experience. The difference between Northern Cyprus and the remainder of the country was immediately felt as we crossed the border. It could be because of the fact that we have visited Turkey before and so it was not such a ‘shock’ to us as to many described on the internet. On the other hand, we felt that the place has its own character and charm.
Girne (Kyrenia) is a beautiful harbour town in Northern Cyprus. The Byzantine Castle is stunning, with a horseshoe-shaped inlet filled with yachts and fishing boats and the narrow twisty lanes of the Old Town, it gives a relaxed atmosphere of the town.
The City With Two Faces
Nicosia is the divided capital city of Cyprus. A border crossing is available for pedestrians off Ledra Street, which is a popular street for shopping, eating and drinking. Wandering around the Turkish side of Nicosia made me feel like I was back in time in an old Turkish bazaar. The Selimiye Mosque was also an interesting visit. It used to be a Cathedral (St. Sophia’s Cathedral), completed in 1228 and was converted to a mosque in 1570. The mosque as it stands now, features architecture of both mosque and cathedral and these characteristics are blended into one large impressive building that has survived the test of time, including numerous earthquakes.
Not to forget to mention is that in Cyprus, olive trees are everywhere. Hence, its famous for home grown olive oil, olives and associated products—all full of flavours.
During this trip, we get to learn something new – carob. We have been told that this is a super food and people have been using it for health benefits for over 4,000 years now. Some say carob has a similar taste to chocolate hence sometimes it is referred to as its substitute. I tried it and I have to say that I still prefer chocolate!
Overall, we enjoyed the trip to Cyprus lots. This island has so much to offer – the sun, sea, beach, city life, sleek restaurants, trendy bars, ancient ruins, harbours, impressive architecture, villages, mountains, waterfalls, fruit trees, great tasting food, and friendly people – all on one island. We managed to experience something different every day due to the close proximity of places of interest to one another. It even felt like we have been to different countries at times! I would love to go back to Cyprus again one day for sure.
I’m sold. I am putting this on my list of countries to visit. How about you?
You can follow Veronica’s travel adventures in her Instagram page.