Cyprus, Northern Cyprus
Planning and overall impression
When planning for a winter trip we chose Cyprus for a number of
reasons: reasonably good weather in December, plenty of historical
places to visit and interesting status due to its political situation.
We ended up spending one week in the south and one week in the north,
which was about right for a place like Cyprus.
south made a good impression due to its good infrastructure and
development status. The north impressed due to its wealth of historical
sites and culture. The beaches we saw were relatively unimpressive, if
compared to other beaches in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Nature
and sceneries were ok, but not terribly interesting. December January
is low season and the weather is not at its best. It's probably better
to visit Cyprus in spring or, even better, after the summer when the
seawater is still warm enough for swimming, but the summer season is
already over. During the winter many restaurants and cafes are closed.
north of the island is far less developed than the south and looks like
it has been left behind. When crossing the border from the south to the
north, it feels like travelling back in time, like entering an east
block country during the cold war period.
Generally speaking costs are lower in the
north than in the south. Costs for accomodation are moderate when
staying in apartments. We got a very good deal with the Olive Tree
hotel in Kyrenia, where we were staying on half-board, enjoying very
good breakfasts and buffet dinners. Price levels are in line with those
of other beach locations along the Mediterranean.
Food portions were huge in restaurants in
the south - big dishes, actually sufficient for two people.The taste ws
ok, but not too great. Heavy on fried stuff (lots of French fries for
In the south we stayed in apartments, while in the north we booked a
four star hotel with half-board. In all places there was no heating,
only an A/C unit which could be used to heat the room. The first
apartment in Paphos was poorly serviced (no staff available over Xmas
when we arrived). The standard of the places where we stayed was good
(except for the problems in Paphos).
Money / Exchange rate
(End of December 2016)
Euro = 3.7 TRY (Turkish Lira in use in the north, Euro in use in the south)
1 Euro ~ USD 1.05
ATMs are everywhere, both in the south and the north of Cyprus.
phones and prepaid cards
We roamed with our German SIM cards in the south, because the phone
costs were low and roaming surcharges minimal. In the north I bought a
local SIM card, which could only be used in
Northern Cyprus and for calls within Northern Cyprus and to Turkey. 55
TL for a package with 5GB of mobile data and 100 minutes of calls. No
need to show a passport or other identification document when buying
the SIM card. Good, high speed mobile Internet.
Good WLAN in the apartments in the south, very slow WLAN in the hotel
room in the north (almost unusable, had to rely on the mobile phone for
A mix of sunny and rainy days in the south, with top temperatures
around 15-16°C. Similar situation in the north, but the days were a bit
more sunny, especially south of the coastal mountain range.
Health / Vaccinations
None required for Cyprus.
VISA / Entry requirements
No visa needed for us for south Cyprus, as southern Cyprus is part of
the EU. To get to the north we needed passports, but didn't have to
apply for a visa in advance.
We experienced no problems of any kind.
- Most of the top sights are in the northern part of the island.
- There are many ruins of churches and monasteries and other archaeological sites, well worth a visit.
- The city of Kyrenia with its harbour is picturesque.
- The castles along the northern coast (Buffavento, Kantara, St Hilarion, Kyrenia)
- The archaeological sites of Amathus and Kourion
- Trekking on the Akamas peninsula, except probably during the summer when it is too hot.
Things to avoid
- Nothing in particular, although I must say that the beaches are unimpressive, if compared to other beaches in the Mediterranean.
We rented cars both in the south and in the north. Driving, even if it
was on the left side of the road), was simple and uncomplicated, once
you got used to driving on the other side of the road. The roads are
mostly in a good shape, except for some mountain roads in the north.
There are some motorways, but with a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h or
(some of the thumbnails are
clickable and lead to larger images)
Oracle Exclusive Resort, Paphos. One
of the worst places I've seen over the past years. In the pictures and
on paper it looks nice, but the reality is quite different. First of
all it's not easy to find, because there is no board with its name
outside. We spend ten minutes in the car circling around it, until by
using the satellite view of Google Maps we realise that indeed the
place must be this one. Then we spend another ten minutes looking for
the reception, which is very well hidden and at 11pm not so easy to
find. Finally we knock at the door of some tourist and this fellow
tells us where the reception is.
Then: the rooms are quite cold and it
takes some time to switch on the A/C units to generate some heat. But
there are not enough blankets in the rooms and despite over half an
hour of discussion and phone calls the receptionist is unable to give
us additional blankets. He claims that he doesn't have the keys to open
other empty rooms. Then, in one of the toilets the light is broken and
because it has no windows it is totally dark. Also in one of the rooms
the light is broken. Then, in the cupboards there are no clothes
On the positive side the apartment is
spacious, has a fridge, microwave, toaster, complete kitchen with water
boiler, washing machine for clothes. Free WLAN included in the room
price. Very little hot water in the toilets however. Shirley can't take
a shower because the water is cold.
Weather: overcast in Munich, about
5°C. Some rain every now and then on Cyprus. Quite fresh in the evening
(temperatures well below 10°C).
We manage to leave home at 9:15am and drive to Freising, where we will
park the car. The motorway this morning is quite empty and we reach the
parking by 9:51am. There we park the car, pay the parking fee for two
weeks (42€) and wait for the next shuttle bus to the airport. This
leaves at 10:15am. It takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the
airport. First they drop off some travellers at the terminal 1, then
they drive us to the terminal 2.
Unbelievable situation, the small one (Natasha) managed to tie together
the shoelaces of her shoes. She must have thought it's fun, but how to
walk like that and the knot is really tight now. Some effort to untie
Then we drop the luggage at the baggage drop in. Totally automated
device, you show your boarding pass and get the adhesive tape to attach
to the suitcase.
We proceed through security and passport control. Lots of careful
checks today at security, especially checks for explosives.
Around 11am we are at the gate. Quite crowded, not enough seats
available where to sit down. And we wait, wait, wait because the
12:05pm Lufthansa flight is delayed. Due to a broken plane they change
the plane and instead of entering from the gate we have to take a bus.
A bit uncomfortable.
The plane finally takes off after 1pm, with almost an hour of delay.
The LH1760 flight is fully booked, seems a lot of people are going to
We land in Larnaca at 5:15pm and proceed through passport control, then
go to the baggage claim. There we have to wait a long time for the
luggage. Finally we go to the arrivals hall and look for the counter of
the Hertz car rental.
There is none. After some searching and a call to Hertz we are directed
to a woman in the reception hall who tells us to go to the second
floor, then out and walk to a bus stop where there is a shuttle bus
which will bring us to the office of Hertz.
Because Hertz wants to save some money by not having an office in the
airport we lose about 20 minutes.
Once at the Hertz counter I sign the papers. Some discussion and I
finally get a renault Trafic. This is big enough but is also a very old
car and very poorly equipped. There is no rear camera with LCD screen
and there are no front or rear distance sensors, which makes parking or
reversing such a bit car quite a challenge. On top of that the rear
window is steamed initially so I can't see
behind. And people drive on the left side of the road, it's dark etc.
I start driving and end up in a military sector of the airport, then
reverse and finally manage to start driving towards Larnaca. For some
reason I cannot enter the address of the hotel of Albert into
the Sygic navigation system. And Google Maps refuses to start
navigating, even if I saved the offline maps of Cyprus to the phone. So
I'm forced to quickly purchase a data package (300MB for 15 Euro valid
for seven days) just to be able to drive to Larnaca.
According to Google Maps there should be only 6 km to the centre of
Larnaca, but for some mysterious reason Google Maps sends me on a big
round and we drive 19km to reach Larnaca. There finally I manage to the
Golden Bay Beach hotel where Albert is
waiting for us. We are there around 7:30pm.
Since I cannot find Albert in the reception hall of the hotel, I call
him and he finally gets to the car. Now in theory we could drive to the
hotel in Paphos, but we are tired and hungry. So we first look for a
restaurant. Albert directs me to one near the hotel.
When I park the car I notice that it is not possible to lock the big
rear door. Some trying but no success. Finally I call the Hertz car
rental. It turns out that there is an issue with the button in the door
- you have to play with it a bit to be able to close the door. Crappy
rental car of Hertz.
We have a nice dinner in the restaurant and a bit after 9pm we start
driving towards Paphos. The roads are mostly empty and we manage to
reach Paphos around 10:35pm. Then we lose some time looking for the
hotel and arrive there shortly before 11pm. I end up sleeping after 1am
due to all the issues with the room.
Oracle Exclusive Resort, Paphos.
Weather: fresh in the morning,
during the day the temperatures climb to well above 10°C and in the sun
you can sit in a restaurant without jacket and sweater, if the wind is
blocked. A bit windy along the coast. Mostly sunny, but with some
In the morning there is no hot water in the toilets, even if we kept
the hot water system switched on the whole night. The flat is quite
cold, so taking a cold shower is not an option. I call the reception,
but nobody answers. So I walk to the reception, and find a notice that
today, on 25.12, the reception is closed and in case of emergencies you
have to call 'Dominique'.
I call this person and inform her about the situation. She promises to
come in one hour. But it's already 10:30am and we need to leave the
hotel at the latest by 11:30am because my mom wants to attend the
catholic mass at 12pm.
When we are all set up to check out of this place today, around 11:15am
Dominique rings our bell. She comes in and explains that in this place
the hot water is obtained from a solar system and you need to switch on
the system one hour before the shower. You can't leave the system on
the whole night and on cloudy days in the winter there may not be
enough hot water. Then Dominique gives us the keys of another
apartment, from which we
can take the blankets.
Around 11:40am we
leave the hotel and drive to the Agia Kyriaki church.
Google Maps fails to find this place. I'm in the middle of nowhere when
the navigation ends. We ask somebody on the street but nobody knows
to get to Agia Kyriaki. Some more investigation in the Internet and I
key in a different destination into the Google Maps navigation
This time I end up at a Greek Orthodox church which today is
closed. More searching and finally we are in the Agia Kyriaki
church about 10
minutes late. The service is in English and initially we are not sure
if this is an Anglican service or a Catholic one.
Anyway, while my mom attends this mass, the rest of us explore the area
around the church. This is a quite interesting archaeological
excavations and beautiful mosaics. Lots of ruins of 6th century
churches and palaces.
then 1:30pm when we are back in the car in order to drive to the
restaurant. I'm planning to eat along the waterfront. It turns out that
we could just have walked, because it's only a few hundred metres
between the church and the waterfront. By the way, easy to find a
parking free of charge.
restaurants and cafes in this very picturesque area, but a
large number of places is closed because of the winter season. Since
the food is a bit pricey along the waterfront, we walk a bit away from
the waterfront and have dinner in a place in a side street (in sort of
The food ends up being very plentiful. Large portions, which we can't
finish. The only problem is that the taste is a bit so-so. Very
stomach-filling, but not that delicious.
It's 3pm when we get out of the restaurant. I bring everybody to the
car and we drive to the Paphos archaeological park. Only 700m distance,
but given that we are a large group of people with ages ranging from 8
to 80, it's simpler to move around in a car. And it's late anyway.
When we are there it's about 3:20pm. Turns out that the archaeological
park is closed today. So I drive to the next interesting place, the
graves in Nea Paphos.
This also turns out to be closed, so we just drive to the Lighthouse
beach. There we walk along the promenade until after sunset (around 5pm
at this time of the year).
Now the question is what to do with the evening and with the dinner,
because we had a heavy lunch between 2 and 3pm and we're not in the
mode of having a heavy dinner.
We drive around town a bit, checking if there are open supermarkets
where we can buy something to eat in the hotel for dinner. It turns out
that all supermarkets are closed today and there are only some kiosks
where you can buy simple things and drinks.
We buy some food and drinks in a kiosk, then drive towards the beach
area where the McDonalds and KFC fast food restaurants are, in order to
buy some take-away stuff for the kids. Along the way we stop at a
bakery where we buy some cookies.
Then we check out a Chinese restaurant which we saw earlier today. Lots
of dishes in the 9 Euro price range, perhaps not bad. Finally we buy
some fried chicken for the kids in a KFC and drive back to the hotel.
We spend the rest of the evening in the hotel. There is still no hot
water, so we boil water and use it to fill up a bathtub where to take a
bath. After 8pm Albert goes out again for dinner and is back at 10pm.
monastery -> Paphos
Oracle Exclusive Resort, Paphos. In
the morning again there is no hot water, and I again wash my hair with
freezing cold water. I don't mind doing this in the summer, but in the
winter some warm water would be appreciated. In the evening when we are
back, the light in the toilet is fixed and there is finally some hot
water with which to take a shower.
Weather: not good today
unfortunately. Overcast in the morning, cold in the mountains with some
rain starting at 2pm and quite windy. Relatively mild in Paphos in the
evening and no rain
In the morning since the weather forecast for Kykkos is not too bad I
decide to do the daytrip to the monastery today.
should be better, but I need the day of good weather for the Akamas
So we leave the hotel around 10:40am and start driving towards the
Troodos mountains where the monastery is located. The road initially is
relatively straight with few curves, so you could drive fast, but there
are countless 50km/h speed limits everywhere. And the road passes
through a lot of small towns and villages. Then, once we reach the
mountains the road consists of countless very narrow curves and 30km/h
With the big Renault Traffic van and six people on board I
that fast. And at one point the van gives 'brake fault' error messages
and even tells me to stop driving.
guessing there must be some
issue with the brakes, for instance some lose contact. But the brakes
seem to work, so there shouldn't be this error message.
twice the Hertz car rental and talk to a lady who obviously has
no clue. Basically it's Hertz Cyprus who maintain their cars very
poorly and don't fix problems when they arise.
With stops it takes over two hours to reach the Kykkos monastery. At
12:50pm we stop at a parking area where there is a restaurant and some
shops. Pretty freezing right now, so we walk into the restaurant for
some food. The food is, well, eatable but quite overpriced. And this
restaurant has no heating, so we have to eat quickly and with the
About 45 minutes later we get out of the restaurant. Immediately my
ladies walk to the shops and check what there is to buy. Some shopping
and we end up spending a total of
20 Euro on dried
fruits and nuts. Not
bad stuff by the way, actually quite delicious.
Then we proceed to the entrance of the monastery. It's a relatively new
building, maybe 100-200 years old and in a pretty good shape. Kind of
nice, with many mosaics on the walls, but nothing really ancient.
have a look at the place, then get into the museum (entrance: 5 Euro).
In the meantime it has started raining and is really freezing. Even
inside the museum it's quite freezing. It's a small museum with a room
with stone age stuff (about 2000 BC) and some larger halls with
Christian art (paintings, some from the 13th century, religious clothes
The small church in the lower part of the monastery is really beautiful
but photography is prohibited there. Lots of murals, paintings, golden
chandeliers, candle sticks etc.
When we are done with the monastery it's already 3pm.
raining, but everybody is freezing, the soil is wet and it's late
anyway. So there is no option to have a walk in the forest and
get back on the car, where at least it's dry and warm.
Getting back to Paphos takes about two hours with stops. Once there we
buy some groceries in a kiosk and get back to the hotel. There we take
a rest and after 7pm go out again for dinner.
Dinner is in the same restaurant (a 'taverna') where Albert had dinner
yesterday. The food is not bad, but not that inexpensive either. We are
back in the hotel at 9pm.
peninsula -> Paphos
Oracle Exclusive Resort, Paphos. This
morning there is hot water in the shower and in the evening, when we
are back, all rooms are heated. Looks like the staff are making an
effort to improve their rating.
Weather: rainy in the morning, then
overcast and sunny after about 11am-12pm. Clear sky in the evening, not
In the morning it is raining, so I don't know exactly what to do today.
Because if it rains, the trip to the Akamas peninsula is not really
doable. On the other hand, postponing it to tomorrow is not really an
option because I would be driving too much in one day (need to drive to
Larnaca on the 28th).
On the other hand the weather forecasts contradict each other. One is
predicting rain the whole week, another one is predicting good weather
In the end I decide
to drive to the Akamas peninsula, have a look there
and in case it rains, simply drive back to Paphos. I tell everybody to
bring umbrellas and be prepared for rain.
So we leave the hotel at 10:20am and start driving towards the
Aphrodite baths in the Akamas peninsula. It's 47km and Google Maps
gives a bit under one hour of driving time. The road is easier than
yesterday, but still relatively slow. Lots of 50km/h and 30km/h speed
With a couple of stops along the way, we reach the parking of the
Aphrodite Baths at 11:30am. The scenery along the way is beautiful, if
the sun is shining. The parking is again free (we haven't yet had to
pay for parking here in Cyprus).
the car and start walking on the trail to the Baths of
Aphrodite. I have a half idea to do a loop along the northern coast of
the Akamas peninsula, then go inland and return to the parking.
Stunning, stunning scenery along the coast, great
beautiful when the sun is shining.
There are a number
of good trails
which criss-cross the peninsula and I guess you could spend the whole
day trekking on it without getting bored. The Akamas peninsula is void
of people or settlements, pretty wild and unspoilt.
Because we are a largish group of six people, with ages from 8 to 80,
we move very, very slowly, because there are countless stops and people
walk slowly. We'll end up doing the Aphrodite trail loop in reverse,
first walking along the northern coast, then climbing the cliffs and
going inland, and finally returning to the parking.
At one point we have to stop and send back my
mom, with due to her age
is not really able to do so much walking and in any case is hungry
t's lunch time and
she hasn't had lunch. She will walk back
with Albert to the parking and wait for us there in the restaurant.
Later we realise that it was a good idea to send her
one point the trail becomes very, very tough and it would have been
very difficult, had she been with us.
Essentially, after moving inland and climbing to about 250m-300m above
sea level, the trail becomes flat and wide and we walk in the sunshine
in a beautiful area. Winter is actually a good time to do this trekking
because it is fresh (in the summer it must be very hot, perhaps too hot
to do this trail).
It also becomes obvious that the distances are quite big, i.e. we can't
make it to reach the southern coast and instead take the way back to
the parking. At one point the trail becomes very bad, because it is
very muddy and slippery and you have to walk down on rocks. Shoe soles
totally covered with mud and this mud is what makes it so difficult to
walk down, because it is so easy to slip on the rocks. It must have
rained here until a day or just hours ago and therefore everything is
Natasha manages to fall three times when walking down (twice into the
mud), while Alissia doesn't fall at all. But overall the kids are not
tired and easily walk the 7.5km of the trek. Lots of people today on
We're back at the
parking at 3:25pm and walk to the restaurant where we
join again with Albert and my mom, who have been enjoying a long lunch.
Since it's quite late, we only have some small emals and some drinks
(quite pricey restaurant, considering what we take).
After 4pm we start driving back towards Paphos. Short photo stop at
5:25pm in Paphos, then we drive to the Kings Avenue mall. This is a
nice, modern mall with many shops, a Carrefour supermarket, a cinema
and a food court. We spend some time in this mall, having some dinner
in the food court and buying some stuff in the supermarket. We're back
in the hotel at 7:30pm.
Eleonora hotel apartments, Larnaka. A
small apartment consisting of a living room (TV, phone, A/C which
doubles as heater) with kitchen area (fridge, cooking plates,
microwave, water boiler, cooking utensils, plates glases etc.), toilet
with shower and a sleeping room. This time the toilets have hot water
and the room has no issues. Free WLAN in the room and parking for the
car. The hotel is centrally located in Larnaca, in the shopping area a
couple of hundred metres behind the beach. A bit noisy at nice, as
there is music from the pubs below the hotel.
Weather: a mix of sunny and
overcast, no rain. Temperatures peaking at 14°-15°C.
In the morning we pack our stuff and check out at 11am.
We then drive
to the harbour area, park the car and walk to to the harbour. From
there it's a short walk along the waterfront towards the medieval
castle, passing in front of (heavily overpriced) restaurants and cafes
and many souvenir shops. The castle (2.50€ ticket) is relatively well
preserved (or perhaps has been reconstructed) and is directly facing
the sea. It's really small however.
Shortly after 12pm we leave the castle and slowly walk along the
waterfront towards the car. Some brief stops here and there to buy
things. It's a great sunny day right now and the colours and the light
At 12:30pm we enter the archaeological park (ticket: 4.50€). This is a
large area, immediately west of the harbour with ruins from the Roman
period. The park is still under excavation and it's highlights are not
so much the buildings and temples. It's more the well preserved
mosaics, which depict various scenes and patterns. The site is
moderately interesting: the Greek ruins in Sicily are more impressive.
Behind the theatre there is a white lighthouse.
At 2:30pm we leave the archaeological park, get into the car and drive
to the Tomb of the Kings avenue, where plenty of restaurants are
located. It's now 3pm and Shirley, the kids and myself will have a late
lunch in a Tea for Two restaurant, while Albert and my mom have a lunch
in a nearby tavern.
Around 4pm we are done with the lunch and start driving
Larnaka. Some traffic jam initially in Paphos, but as soon as we reach
the motorway the traffic becomes very fluid. Speed limit of
less) everywhere. Around Limassol there is some more traffic
rush hour traffic).
manage to miss an exit and end up on the
motorway to Nicosia, which basically makes me lose some time.
We reach the hotel the first time around 6:30pm. Then we lose some time
looking for a parking until we realise that we can just drive into the
hotel gate. Then we lose more time parking the huge Renault Trafic in
the parking of the hotel (not an easy task and I almost hit another
In the evening we go out for dinner at 7:45pm. We find a place along
the beach, the Tuck Inn, where we have some light dinner. At 9:30pm we
walk back to the hotel.
Eleonora hotel apartments, Larnaka.
When we come back in the evening the heating doesn't work properly in
one of the rooms - it keeps going on and off.
Weather: rain in the morning, until
about 11am. After that it's sunny with some clouds in the sky until the
We only manage to
leave the hotel after 11am. Then we lose a lot of
time to drive with the large car out of the hotel, because somebody
parked a car and narrowed the exit. It's 20 minutes of manouvering the
car until we finally manage to get out. Probably the last time I rent
such a big car.
We then drive towards Tamassos, which is an archaeological site listed
in the Rough Guides guidebook. It takes some time to get out of the
Larnaka urban area, because this extends for some km into the
hinterland. Overall the road is good and leads to the motorway to
At 12:45pm we stop at a beautiful Greek Orthodox church, and a few
minutes later at a construction site where they are building what looks
like a very photogenic Russian Orthodox church which lies next to a
wooden church, also this very beautiful. We are at the Tamassos site
shortly after 1pm.
The entry ticket costs 2.50 Euro (senior people 1.25
Euro). The site is
quite small and surprisingly underwhelming.
There are just some
of columns under a roof and two tombs reachable via staircases. Inside,
the tombs are rather simple, the walls are almost void of decorations
(here and there are some patterns) and the sarcophagi are
rectangular structures with no decorations at all.
But the area around the site is beautiful and the kids enjoy playing
around. It takes some effort to get Natasha back to the car after the
20 minutes we spent here. She is busy playing with a grasshopper.
We need a bit over half an hour to reach Nicosia, driving on secondary
roads and a stretch of motorway, then ending up in some traffic jam in
Once in Nicosia, the parking I was targetting turns out to be full. I
continue driving and get stuck for some time in the narrow streets of
the old town with our huge minibus.
Finally I manage to drive out of the historic core and run into a
parking. I drive into this parking and place the car somewhere. Soon
the owner of this place arrives. It's 6 Euro for the parking, but he
doesn't want us to place the car in this spot and points to another
place. This other place is quite narrow and not suitable for my car.
Some discussion and lots of shouting. The guy doesn't speak English and
is not that polite either. Finally he tells us something which probably
means that we should get lost.
So we drive out of this place and luckily quickly find another parking.
This is even cheaper than the first one (only 3.50 Euro) and we manage
to park the car in a good place. Later, when exploring Nicosia, we
realise that there are parkings all over Nicosia where you can leave
It's now 2:20pm and we haven't had lunch yet. On the other hand, if we
look for a restaurant and have lunch, by the time we finish it's 4pm
and it will get dark soon. So I tell the people to skip the lunch now,
do the sightseeing instead and eat something after 5pm when it gets
dark. The kids will have some drink and food along the way (bubble tea
walk into the old town and pretty quickly run into Ledra street,
the main shopping street of Nicosia (or Lefkosia, as the Greek Cypriots
call the southern part of Nicosia). This is a very nice street with
many elegant shops and restaurants. Not that many sights actually, but
very nice pedestrian area.
We walk along Ledra street until we reach the border crossing into
northern Cyprus. There we queue up to cross the border. There are two
the Cyprus and Northern Cyprus one. The formalities are
minimal: all you need to do is to show your passport, they register
your name, and you are allowed to go through. No stamp is placed into
the passport - they just keep track that you are crossing the border.
As soon as we enter North Nicosia, the environment changes
dramatically. Lots of shops selling cheap or counterfeit goods (and
it's prohibited to bring them back to south Nicosia). Prices are a bit
lower (for instance 1 Euro for a scoop of ice cream vs.
1.50 Euro in
south Nicosia). Everything looks less developed and backward. Less
clean and flashy.
We walk until the St Sophia cathedral, which is a Christian church
which has been converted to a mosque. Basically the upper part has
somehow been chopped off and minarets have been added. No entrance fee.
We spend about half an hour in the northern part, then walk back to the
southern part of Nicosia. Albert has in the meantime already gone to a
restaurant with my mom and is having some food.
With Shirley and the kids I walk to Archbishop's palace and St John's
cathedral. Walking around the streets I realise that the historic core
is actually not that big and it's easy to cross from one end to
another. There are not too many nice sights of historical places inside
the wall. Very few palaces or churches for instance. The capitals of
the Baltic countries which I visited earlier this year had many more
sights to make an example.
the Archbishop's palace ahortly after 4pm. By now the sun is
already very low in the sky and is no longer illuminating directly most
buildings. At 4:20pm we start walking back to Ledra street, arriving
there at 4:45pm. Now the street and shop lights are already on and the
evening is going to start soon.
We look for an Asian restaurant with Google Maps and find one in Ledra
street, the Bamboo restaurant. This is quite clean and modern and
serves a variety of Asian dishes (Chinese and Indian). Food is not
terribly authentic, but is quite eatable and not too expensive. We
spend a bit over an hour in this restaurant having a meal. Albert
and my mom join us towards the end. Around 6pm we start walking back to
Overally Nicosia is a quite nice and pleasant capital, with nice
shopping and a few sights. But it's not too terribly interesting from a
We walk back to the car, pay the parking fee and drive to The Mall of
Cyprus, a shopping mall outside of Nicosia,
after 7pm. Parking in the parking of the mall is free of charge.
This mall is adjacent to an IKEA centre and some other shopping
outlets. Quite flashy and modern, but the food court is relatively
unimpressive, or let's say is smaller than the food court of the Kings
Avenue mall in Paphos. I was thinking of having a dessert in this mall,
but cancel my plan as there is no outlet offering nice desserts. We
just walk to the Carrefour supermarket and buy some food there.
Then we drive back to Larnaca, arriving around 8:30pm in the hotel.
Again some effort to park the car in the hotel parking. Hopefully
tomorrow we are able to drive out with less effort.
Eleonora hotel apartments, Larnaka.
Weather: overcast and sunny in the
morning, sunny and rainy after that. Heavy rain after 3pm in Limassol
and quite wet for the rest of the day.
We leave the hotel
quite late after 11am and initially drive to
Amathus, arriving there at 12:15pm. Amathus is an ancient historical
site dating back to 1000 BC,
and was ruled by
Greeks, Phoenicians and
Romans. The entry costs 2.50 Euro (1.25 Euro for elderly, free for
children). The site lies along the coast and is relatively small. There
are not too many intact structures, in fact only a few columns are
still standing, while the rest lie in pieces on the ground. The site is
nevertheless kind of interesting and well worth a visit.
We leave Amathus at 12:45pm and drive towards Kourion, an
archaeological site west of Limassol. This dates back to Dorian and
Mycenean times around 1200 BC, although the current structures are all
from the Roman period.
The ticket costs
4.50 Euro (2.25 Euro for
elderly). Initially we end up on the Kourion beach, a quite interesting
pebble stone beach, where some people are kitesurfing (strong wind
today). Google Maps has directed us here but after some time we find
the right entrance to the Kourion site. We are there shortly before 2pm.
We see an ancient theatre and some ruins under a timber protective roof
with mosaics. After a few minutes it starts raining heavily for some
time. In total we spend about 40 minutes in this place, which is a bit
hard to visit due to the bad weather and the fact that the ruins are
split into two clusters. Also this site is not too terribly
interesting, if I compare it to other archaeological sites in the
We walk back to the
car and start driving towards Limassol. I key in
the Limassol castle as a destination and we arrive there at 3:15pm.
Everybody is hungry because we haven't had lunch so far and it is about
to start raining soon, so we walk into the pedestrian area and enter
into one restaurant on the square facing the castle.
There we have a long lunch (or perhaps let's say meal), until 5pm.
Outside it is raining and the restaurant despite the covered (tent)
roof and the heating is actually quite fresh (there are no tables
inside the building).
After the meal, while the ladies walk back to the car,
Albert and I
briefly walk through the historic centre. It's kind of nice and with
better weather it would be pleasant to stroll through the alleys. We
run into the Ayia Napa cathedral, then walk back to the car.
Around 5:25pm we drive to the My Mall shopping mall, a few km out of
Limassol. With a stop at a petrol station along the way to refuel the
car, we arrive at the mall at 5:50pm. The My Mall is one of the better
malls I have seen so far in Cyprus. Flashy and modern, with many
elegant stores. There is a rink and a food court, but no supermarket.
We have some ice cream and snacks in this mall and leave it after 7pm.
Then we drive back to Larnaka, reaching the hotel after 8:15pm. Again
some effort to park the big minibus in the parking of the hotel.
Eleonora hotel apartments, Larnaka.
Weather: after yesterday's rain we
are indemnified with a sunny day. It's mostly sunny the whole day, with
some clouds every now and then. No rain, but quite fresh. In Larnaca I
see some tough woman walking in the sea with a swimsuit.
We sleep until 10am
(!) and leave the hotel quite late after 11am. We
spend the first part of the day having a look at Larnaka.
which the hotel is located, Ermou, and the subsequent streets (Kleanthi
Kalogera and Pavlou Valsamaki) until the beach are all full of fashion
shops (lots of Italian chains) and watches shops. Quite elegant and
Between the Larnaca pier and the Marina there is a stretch of sandy
beach with some sun-loungers. Today the beach is almost empty. Along
the beach there is a promenade with hotels, restarants and cafes. Lots
of boats anchored in the marina.
Around 12:30pm we
walk south towards the medieval fort (entrance: 2.50
Euro). This is a kind of cute seaside fort, with a rectagular outline.
Behind the fort there is the Djami Kebir mosque, which today is closed.
I get into the fort and have a quick look. Some cannons in the inner
court and a small museum on the first floor. You can walk on the
At 12:50pm I'm done with the fort and together with the ladies I walk
to the church of St Lazarus, which is about 100-200m from the beach.
This is a small, but very gorgeous Greek Orthodox church. It lies
adjacent to the Byzantine museum and dates back to the 9th century AD.
Right now (1pm) the church is closed and reopens at 3:30pm.
Because the ladies are quite hungry, we walk back along the beach to
the Tuck Inn where we have a lunch.
Then at 2:15pm we
walk back to the
hotel, fetch the car and drive to the Kolossi castle west of
It takes about an hour to get there and in fact we arrive at 3:40pm.
The Kolossi castle is a 13th century castle in the shape of a cuboid,
very well preserved and quite photogenic (entry: 2.50 Euro, children
free and elderly 1.25 Euro). The castle is surrounded by the
some buildings. Inside there are some rooms and a staircase which
connects the various levels and leads to the roof
with merlons and
crenels. Nice view of the surrounding area from the castle roof.
We leave the castle at 4:20pm, then take the car and drive to Limassol.
It's basically the same road as yesterday and we arrive at 4:50pm.
After leaving the car in a parking we walk to the Ayia Napa cathedral
and the Limassol town hall. The town hall is unimpressive, but the
cathedral is quite nice.
At 5:15pm we drive back towards the airport in Larnaca. Near the
airport we refill the tank, then we drive to the Hertz car rental and
return the car. It's really a relief to return this huge car without
having had any accidents or damages.
After the formalities are concluded, the Hertz staff brings us to the
airport and from there we take a taxi (20 Euro) back to Larnaca. These
20 Euro are a bit a lot considering that the distance is only 8km.
Once in Larnaca we have a dinner in a restaurant. The Tuck Inn is
closed now and so are several restaurants along the beach. After the
dinner we walk back to the hotel.
The Olive Tree hotel, Kyrenia. This is
a four star establishment located about 8km east of the centre of
Kyrenia, somewhere in the hills. To get there and from there into town
or anywhere else you need a car (not sure if the hotel has a shuttle
service). Nice room with a carpeted floor, phone, heating/aircon unit,
flat screen TV, fridge, cupboard with electronic safe, toilet with hot
shower. Good water basin. WLAN available in the room, but unusable
because too slow. And it requires you to login with a browser (unusable
on certain tablets). Excellent buffet dinner.
Weather: nice and sunny in Larnaka.
Still sunny when we arrive in Kyrenia, but then it starts raining
around sunset and gets quite fresh.
At 11:30am the taxi
I booked through the Internet is here. The driver
will bring us to Kyrenia for 65 Euro. I realise later that the driver
is from Northern Cyprus.
Around 12:30pm we are at the border. They just check our passports
without placing stamps inside. Quick procedure lasting only a few
minutes. At the border, the driver places a magnetic taxi sign on the
Then we continue driving and around 1pm we are at the car rental in
Kyrenia. Later I realise that we actually arrived at 2pm, because
Northern Cyprus has the same time zone as Turkey.
Northern Cyprus is overall less developed and flashy than southern
Cyprus. Every now and then there are monuments with flags of Northern
Cyprus and people in enthusiastic poses. Kind of makes me think of
propaganda monuments à la dear leader. Somehow Northern Cyprus feels
sort of left behind, something like the German Democratic republic was
before the reunification with West Germany.
Anyway, at the car rental they let us wait a bit (actually we lose half
an hour waiting for the car to get ready - when I arrive it's totally
dirty). Finally I get the car, a Kia Carens which is much smaller than
the Renault Traffic we had before. We load our stuff in the boot, drive
to the hotel and check in. Because only one room is ready, we place all
luggage inside there, then drive into town.
Driving in Northern Cyprus is more chaotic than driving in Southern
Cyprus. The roads are less well marked and there are fewer street
signs. On the other hand, speed limits seem to be enforced here.
in southern Cyprus there are a lot of radar camera warning signs
everywhere I haven't seen a single speed camera, while in northern
Cyprus behind many radar camera signs there are actual speed cameras.
Discipline levels on the street seem to be similar in north and south
So we drive into Kyrenia. Quite narrow streets, lots of traffic. At one
point I turn left and follow the street signs for a parking. We reach a
parking and leave the car there. It would be 5 TL, but because we only
have Euro, it's 2 Euro. Then we walk towards the harbour.
The harbour is gorgeous and would be even more beautiful if the sun was
shining. Typical medieval city harbour with a fortress overlooking the
bay, the bay filled with fishing boats and yachts, restaurants and
shops along the waterfront, lots of people.
We have some lunch between 3pm and 4pm in a restaurant overlooking the
bay. Pricing level lower than in south Cyprus, taste not bad, portions
not as giant as in the south. They have cherry juice and this is not
After the lunch (it's actually already 5pm local time) we walk briefly
around the harbour area (on the wavebreaker). It soon starts raining,
so we don't stay long and walk back to the old town. By now the evening
lights are on and everything looks more scenic.
In a shop I buy a local SIM card. I'm told it can be used only in
Northern Cyprus and for calls within Northern Cyprus and to Turkey. 55
TL for a package with 5GB of mobile data and 100 minutes of calls. No
need to show a passport or other identification document. Then we walk
back to the car and drive to the hotel. Along the way, I
refuel the car (the tank they gave me is almost empty) with 100 TL
(which here buys 27.5 litres of petrol).
In the hotel the receptionist informs us about the local time in
Northern Cyprus. One hour ahead meaning that the sun sets at 6pm
instead of 5pm.
Then at 7pm we have a dinner in the hotel. Quite good buffet dinner,
lots of choice, delicious desserts.
The Olive Tree hotel, Kyrenia.
Weather: overcast in the morning in
Kyrenia, with the sun shining through every now and then. Sunny with
clouds in Famagusta and Salamis. Some rain in the mountains on the way
back to Kyrenia; when we are back in Kyrenia we realise that it has
rained today in Kyrenia. Quite windy in Famagusta and Salamis.
In the morning I'm a bit undecided about what to do today
not so clear how the weather will evolve. It's overcast but there are
some signs that the sky might open up. On the other hand the weather
forecast for Kyrenia is bad.
So, a bit after
10:30am we leave by car for Famagusta. I'm speculating
that the weather south of the coastal mountain range might be better.
The road which from Kyrenia crosses the mountain range is not smooth.
Seems to be either a very old road or a road poorly done. And there are
no roadside parkings with entry lanes. You could park the car along the
road every now and then, but you'd have to slow down the car
considerably before leaving the road surface. In addition, this car I'm
driving seems not to have good tyres and
suspensions. Overall the tyres have a poor grip on the road, which
forces me to drive quite slowly on this mountain road.
While crossing the mountain range the scenery along the road is quite
nice. After the mountain range, there is a large plain where very few
people live. It's quite green, probably because now it's the rainy
season. The last section of the road to Famagusta is sort of a
motorway. Not a
real motorway, but it's a road with two lanes for each side and a speed
limit of 100km/h. At every junction there is a speed limit of 65km/h or
75km/h. Lots of speed cameras.
Suddenly the police stops me at a chackpoint and tells me I was driving
at 104km/h in the 75km/h speed limit. That's actually not correct, what
happened is that I braked a bit late and reached the 75km/h a bit after
the speed limit sign.
But then they don't
fine me because they say I'm
We reach the city walls of Famagusta at 11:50am and park the car in a
free parking outside the city walls. Later I see that I could have
parked the car for free also inside the city. Then we start exploring
The historic core of Famagusta could be very cute and in fact there are
many impressive ruins of medieval structures (mostly churches). But
they totally messed up the harbour by placing a modern harbour with a
container terminal. Famagusta could be a replica of Kyrenia with the
cute harbour bay with the castle, instead it's a mixed bag.
tower (or castle) has been restored in some sections with modern
structures which don't fit with the rest.
Around 2pm we stop in a cafe for a brief lunch, then around 3pm take
the car and drive to Salamis, which is only 8km north of Famagusta.
Salamis is an
archaeological site next to the beach and is supposed to
be one of the most significant historical sites in the Mediterranean.
There are parkings both outside the site and inside the site. The
entrance ticket costs 9 TL per person (children free).
Inside the compound there are a number of structures spread over a few
hundred metres, of which the theater is the one which is best
preserved. The scenery and overall setting are quite nice. We spend a
bit over an hour in this place, then get back to the car
since it's almost 5pm and the site is closing. The sun hasn't set yet,
but has already disappeared behind some low clouds.
Driving back to the hotel takes a bit over an hour. Some rain in the
coastal mountain range on the way back. We reach the hotel a bit after
castle -> Bellapais
Hilarion castle ->
The Olive Tree hotel, Kyrenia. Lots of
cats in this place. The kids enjoy playing with them, buy food for them
and even bring them into the room.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with some
clouds the whole day. Very little wind.
After the breakfast, at 10:30am we drive to the Buffavento castle.
Initially the road goes up the mountain as yesterday. At the pass
instead of going down we turn right and start driving on a narrow
mountain road for about 7km. This road is paved, but not smooth and
it's basically one lane only. If two cars meet it's a problem.
To avoid damaging the car I drive quite slowly on this road.
Essentially the road climbs up the mountain and leads to a parking at
about 720m of altitude on the southern slope of the mountain range. We
arrive there around 11am. From this parking you can see the Buffavento
castle in the distance on top of the mountain.
It takes some effort to motivate the ladies to walk up to the castle,
because initially they think that the climb to the castle is too
But then, once on
the path we immediately see that the
path is very easy. It's a plain path with staircases, very easy to
walk. It's just the environment of rough rock and the steep
is a bit scary.
Beautiful scenery and stunning setting by the way. Steep rough rocks,
every now and then some pine tree, great view of the plains.
Dragging up (sort of) the two girls I manage to reach the lower part of
the castle at 11:45am. Here are the lower structures of the castle.
Then the two girls refuse to continue climbing up and instead will wait
here for Shirley and my mom, who are walking up a bit more slowly.
I continue walking up the last section and reach the upper part of the
castle at 950m of altitude at 12pm. The upper part of the Buffavento
castle lies on the exact top of the mountain. From here there is a
diret view of the coast of northern
Cyprus and the
plains on the
southern side of the mountains. Basically this castle could be used as
an early warning system against pirate raids. It offered good
the sea and was very hard to attack due to its position on top of the
There are only some ruins left of this castle: some walls, and a few
rooms. It's actually a relatively small castle, basically only suitable
for inspecting the sea and the plains.
After about 20 minutes on the summit I walk down and join the ladies,
with whom then I walk down to the parking.
Around 12-40pm we start driving to the next place, the Bellapais
monastery. Google Maps suggests to drive back on the same road on which
we came and then take the speedy coastal road. To avoid driving again
on the same road I instead choose to take the mountain road.
This is basically again a narrow and not so good road running parallel
on the mountain slopes. At one point this road becomes very, very bad.
It's no longer paved, just a dirt track with big stones in it. So I do
a U-turn and choose a different route. Basically we drive down to the
valley and use a much better road (paved, smooth). Then, where the
highway from Nicosia crosses the coastal mountains, we take another
road which runs parallel to the highway. On the way, we stop in a
supermarket and buy some drinks and food.
At one point we run into a military checkpoint. The route which Google
Maps is suggesting apparently goes through a military area. Great.
Another U-turn and this time I get on the motorway and drive down to
Then we are stuck a bit in the traffic jam. Finally, after
driving we reach the side road which leads up to Bellapais. Close to
the Bellapais monastery there is a big parking. I continue driving a
bit to check out the area,
and later manage to
miss the parking which
lies right behind the monastery. Instead I continue driving on very
narrow roads and in the end just manage to make a very big loop, losing
a lot of time.
It's 2:40pm when we finally park the car in the parking of the
(5 TL parking
fee). Bellapais is a quite nice area: small cute
villages, houses, orange trees, nice vegetation, great view
of the coast, very scenic ruins of the monastery. Lots of tourist shops.
The cute Bellapais abbey ruins date back to the 13th century. Entry
costs 9 TL. None of the ladies want to get into the abbey, so it's just
me walking into this place. The ruins are not so big, comprising a
church building and some rooms below it, all nicely set up in a well
manicured garden with orange and cypress trees.
After about half an hour in the monastery, I join again the others.
Then we spend some time buying some dried fruits in a shop.
Finally at 3:25pm we start driving to the last place of today, the St
there we drive down to the coast, then take the
motorway to Nicosia for a few km, then turn right onto a mountain road.
Shortly before 4pm we reach the St Hilarion castle and park the car in
the parking of the castle.
This lies in a nice
setting on top of a
mountain. It's much larger than the Buffavento castle: there are living
quarters, even a Byzantine chapel. Also from this castle there is a
good view of the sea. The entrance costs 9 TL.
Since Shirley and the kids don't want to have a look at the castle, I
get in with my mother. We slowly walk up the staircase to the upper
structures. Great views of the surrounding mountains,
valleys and the
sea. Very photogenic ruins of the castle on top of the mountain. The
castle compound occupies the entire upper part of a mountain peak, with
ramparts surrounding the entire peak. From the base to the top it's
about 10 minutes of walking.
At 4:50pm we drive back to the hotel. On the way I refuel the car in a
petrol station (another 100 TL of petrol). Then Shirley spots a large
supermarket, which previously was closed and today is open.
So we drive
there and do some more shopping. Lots of imported
goods (many from
In the meantime it'a 5:45pm, and there is not enough time to bring back
everybody to the hotel and then drive back to Kyrenia for some blue
hour photography. So I drive to the harbour area of Kyrenia, take some
photos and am back in the hotel at 7pm.
The Olive Tree hotel, Kyrenia. The
sauna is an electric one (electric heater).
Weather: mostly sunny, blue sky, but
lots of clouds. No rain, almost no wind.
In the morning,
while Shirley is in the hotel taking a sauna and the
kids are playing with the cat, I drive with my mom into town. We park
the car in the big parking right next to the castle (3 TL parking fee).
Later I notice that some cars are parking for free right besides the
We walk down to the harbour. Not much activity at this time of the day
(10:45am), but great views of the harbour (very photogenic, good
light). Then we walk towards the castle, initially missing the entry
point. We walk once around the castle, which from the outside has no
windows or doors (sort of a monolithic block of stone).
In the end we find the entrance to the castle (ticket: 12 TL) and walk
in. Nice view of the harbour from the western bastion. Interesting
Byzantine chapel inside the castle, cool views from the ramparts.
Inside the castle, in the inner court there is a cafe.
At 12:25pm we drive back to the hotel and join again Shirley and the
With them, at 1pm
we start driving to the Kantara castle, which
lies about an hour by car east of Kyrenia.
On the way we make a couple
of stops along the coast. This is quite cool, with ragged rocks. We
don't see nice sandy beaches. Where we stop, the coast consists of
rocks. Several real estate development projects with holiday villas
along the coast. Cheapest apartments starting at 35000 GBP. I just
wonder who would buy one of these villas or apartments, because in this
area, besides the rocky coast there is nothing of interest.
We stop in the village of Kaplica to buy some food and drinks in a
shop, then continue driving inland to the castle. Now it's a narrow and
winding road, which climbs up the mountain and after 7km brings us up
to the 500m of altitude where the Kantara castle is. We reach the
castle at 2:50pm.
The Kantara castle
ruins are slightly
bigger than those of the
Buffavento castle, but smaller than those of the St Hilarion
castle. Also this castle lies on a mountain top, with views of
northern and eastern coasts. The entry ticket costs 9 TL. From
parking it's a short easy walk to the castle ruins (and actually the
road leads all the way up to the ruins). There is a path with some
staircases with which you can reach the upper levels. Some restoration
is going on when we visit. Overall there are not many structures left.
Shortly after 4pm we leave the castle and drive back to the hotel. With
a short stop along the way, we reach the Olive Tree hotel at 5:24pm.
The ladies get out of the car, while I drive into Kyrenia town for some
blue hour photography. This evening I get some pretty cool shots of the
harbour and the castle. Kyrenia is the most scenic city I've seen so
far on Cyprus.
At 6:30pm I drive back to the hotel.
Pavlides villa -> Koruçam Burnu
The Olive Tree hotel, Kyrenia.
Weather: in the morning overcast,
then sunny, then some rain and later sunny with many clouds. The
forecast for today was rain in the afternoon, but the rain came at noon
(only a little bit) and later the weather was good. Essentially you
can't really rely on weather forecasts for Cyprus.
In the morning it's not so clear how the weather for today will evolve.
Around 10am it's sunny with some clouds but according the weather
forecast it should rain. With rain I would drive to north Nicosia, with
good weather I would do the loop along the northwestern coast. In the
end I decide to take the loop along the northwestern coast and head to
Nicosia if it starts raining.
The problem with the weather in Cyprus is that it is variable and
Anyway, we leave the hotel after breakfast and drive westwards along
the coast. At one point we leave the coastal road and drive inland, on
a road which climbs up the mountain. After some time we run into a
military checkpoint. While I'm about to do a U-turn thinking that
Google Maps made again a navigation mistake, the soldier waves us and
tells us to continue driving.
We have to leave the passports at the checkpoint and then are allowed
to continue driving to the Byron Pavlides villa. Not clear why this
building should be in a military area.
At 11:25am we park the car next to the villa (the "Blue house") and
walk into it. I happened to find this Byron Pavlides villa as a
touristic highlight in Google Maps, but in reality it's a mansion in a
nice setting on top of a hill and nothing more than that. Nothing so
Anyway, the entry
ticket costs 3 TL and includes a guided tour. This is
done in English and by somebody who probably is a Turkish soldier. This
guy walks us through several rooms and tells us a story of a Paulo
Pavlides, half-Italian and half Greek, personal lawyer of Archbishop
Makarios, who according to him had connections with the Italian Mafia
was an arms dealer. And then he tells us that Archbishop Makarios also
had connections with the mafia etc.
Then there are exhibits about the history of Cyprus which seem a bit
biased (like when the Turks invaded Cyprus in the 16th century they
came to "liberate" the country and with an army of 60000 soldiers they
suffered 50000 martyrs).
We end up spending 50 minutes in this place, then drive to the next
one, Cape Kormakitis (in Turkish Koruçam Burnu). It's not such a big
distance, but the last 3km are on a bad dirt track full of stones. We
reach the cape at 1:10pm.
The setting of this cape is sort of nice, but otherwise there
much to see here.
to see how the wawes from one
direction come and meet the waves from another direction right at the
We just spend about 20 minutes at Cape Kormakitis,
then at 1:30pm
continue driving to the next place. This was supposed to be an area of
sand dunes west of Koruçam, but because it's already a bit
probably also here the road won't be good I decide to drive directly to
the archaeological site of Soli.
On the way we pass by Güzelyurt and stop to take a picture of the St
Mamas Byzantine church. We make several stops along the way to take
pictures because the scenery is very photogenic, especially now that
the sun is shining. We reach Soli at 3:30pm.
In Soli there are the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. Very well
preserved half-circle structure. Surprisingly no entry ticket needed,
perhaps because of the road we took (a side road which bypassed the
ticket booth, just guessing). This amphiteater is also very photogenic
and in addition there are great views of the coast and valleys from
At 4pm we start
driving to the last stop of the day, the Vouni palace.
It's not far from here, but getting there takes about 15 minutes. When
we arrive, we are told that the place is closing in 10 minutes, so we
rush to take some pictures.
The Vouni palace is
just a set of ruins on top of a hill overlooking
the bay. To get there you must drive on a narrow, single lane only road
for the last few km. Only building foundations are visible, possibly
the result of excavations. Good panoramic views of the valleys below
and of the coastline.
At 4:30pm we leave Vouni and start driving back to the hotel. It's
quite a long drive, about 1:30h, initially on narrow or village roads,
later on the higher speed road towards Nicosia and Kyrenia. With a stop
along the way to take some pictures of mandarin trees we reach Kyrenia
at 6pm. Then we spend some time buying stuff in a supermarket near a
mosque and drive back to the hotel.
Barnabas monastery -> Kyrenia
The Olive Tree hotel, Kyrenia.
Weather: until the afternoon a mix
of sunny and overcast, clouds here and there. After 3pm sunny with
almost no clouds. No rain, very little wind. Fresh in the shadows, warm
in the sun.
We leave the hotel in the morning after the breakfast. The weather is
unimpressive in Kyrenia this morning, but at least it doesn't rain.
Some dark clouds over the coastal mountain range, but as soon as we
cross the mountain range it gets sunny.
In north Nicosia we spend a few minutes looking for a
leave the car on a free area along the city walls. Around 11:20-11:30am
we start walking.
North Nicosia (the part we are in right now) looks like the German
Democratic republic immediately after reunification. Everywhere there
are broken, dilapidated and abandoned houses. It's as if there had been
a war, some houses had been hit by grenade shells and people left in a
hurry. Some sections of North Nicosia feel like a civil war zone. By
the way, lots of dirt and mud on the roads (and not only here in
Nicosia - all over Cyprus; if you have a car you have to wash it almost
It doesn't take too
much time until we are in the area with the
touristic highlights. The first building we run into is supreme court
building. While there a hot young lady in miniskirt and high heels
walks with some papers into the building. Maybe she is a lawyer or some
other professional working in the court, but this shows that although
North Cyprus is a muslim country, women here like to dress sexy.
The supreme court building is very photogenic, especially when
is shining. Some old local people are having a coffee on a cafe table.
Near the supreme court lies the Venetian column.
The next thing we run into is the Büyük Han, which is a 16th century
caravanserai. This has been restored in the 1990s and is very, very
cute. It shows that with some investment into restoration, Nicosia
could be a much more pretty city. Anyway, this Büyük Han has now been
converted to a cultural centre with shops and cafes. Nice inner court
with a square layout.
Around 12:15pm we walk towards the Selimiye mosque and beyond, all the
time stopping here and there. We run into a number of places, including
the church of St Catherine, a church which was converted into a mosque
after the Turk conquest of Cyprus.
Then because the kids want to try out the cone pizza
of a pizza
shaped like an icecream cone with a filling of tomatoes, mozzarella and
oregano) and want to eat in the KFC restaurant, both places being in
south Nicosia, we cross the border, getting into Cyprus proper. Some
time spent eating the cone pizza and KFC chicken. Back in the "western
world" for 40 minutes.
After that we cross again into north Nicosia and explore a bit the
western part around the Arabhamet quarter. More damaged, dilapidated
My mom saying that
people here must be really so poor and
because of this they come to western Europe. We pass by the American
University in north Nicosia (interesting building), then visit the
Armenian church (the Sourp Asdvadzadzin church).
This 14th century church can be visited, but it is necessary to knock
at a door so that the caretaker opens it and lets you in. There is no
entry ticket and the church has been desecrated since 1964. From the
ourside the church is very photogenic and even inside the church looks
After this we are more or less done with Nicosia. We slowly walk along
the city walls back to the car. Since it's early (just 3:10pm), we
drive to one more place, the St Barnabas monastery near Famagusta.
Along the way we stop briefly at the Hala Sultan mosque outside Nicosia
for some photos. Most scenic mosque we've seen so far in Cyprus. The
mosque is not fully complete yet and is still being built.
In Tuzla we do another stop to take a photo of another church. It's a
former Byzantine Orthodox church which was converted into a mosque
after the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus.
The clock tower is
picturesque and old.
We reach the St Barnabas monastery at 4:25pm, just in time for the last
visit of the day (the church interior are only open until 5pm). This is
an 18th century Greek Orthodox building with an inner court and a
museum with paintings inside the church. All in a very scenic setting
in the fields near Tuzla.
At 5pm we drive back to Kyrenia and arrive in the hotel at 6:10pm.
monastery -> Antifonitis
church -> Larnaca
Home, sweet home.
Weather: quite variable today. Windy
in the morning, cloudy, then sunny, some rain etc. Cold in Munich and
In the morning after packing my stuff I drive with my mom to the St
Margas Armenian monastery in the mountains east of Kyrenia. Shirley
will spend the time with the kids relaxing in the hotel.
The distance is not so big. Initially we drive on the road to
Buffavento, cross the mountains, then after a few km turn left and
drive along a small mountain road full of curves. Very narrow, but at
least the road is paved.
Around 11:30am we
park the car in a parking in a picnic area and then
spend a few minutes figuring out where the monastery is. Turns out that
you have to walk down the road which is blocked by a bar. It's a very
nice walk across the forest, with nice views of the forest, coastal
mountain range and of the coast.
With a few photo stops and walking slowly, we reach the monastery at
11:50am. The monastery is in a very poor state. All structures are
damaged, many roofs are collapsed. But the setting in the mountains is
We spend 25 minutes in the monastery, then walk back to the car. While
we walk, it rains for a few minutes. Then we drive to the next place,
the Antifonitis church in the
To get there you
drive along a mountain road (again narrow,
full of curves but paved) for about half an hour. The church is about
10-15 km to the east.
We reach the Antifonitis church at 1:20pm and park the car in the
parking next to the church. Immediately a guy arrives in a car and
opens the door for us. Seems he is the caretaker of this place.
The church is quite well preserved and the interior has beautiful
frescoes. It is in a courtyard surrounded by a wall.
After about 25 minutes, at 1:45pm, we drive back to the hotel. With a
stop along the way, we arrive at 2:30pm.
Then we check out, hand over the keys of the car to the hotel reception
(as agreed with the car rental), and at 3pm get into the taxi to
The driver of this vehicle (a Mercedes minibus) drives with high speed
across Cyprus, much faster than I would dare to drive and doesn't
strictly follow the road rules all the time. With this speedy driver we
reach the airport in Larnaca around 4:10pm (actually 3:10pm local time).
Then we check in our stuff at the counter, have some food and proceed
to the gate.
The Lufthansa flight has over half an hour of delay, but the pilot
promises to speed up and arrive in Munich only 10 minutes late. The
plane is chocking full.
The plane touches down in Munich at 8:15pm local time, with just five
minutes of delay. Then it takes a while to go through passport control
and retrieve the luggage. I call the car parking service and ask to be
picked up. The guy tells me to go to the bus stop Nr 1 and call again
It takes a few minutes of walking to reach the bus stop Nr 1. Nearby
there I see many minibuses of the various car parking services, all
picking up people.
It takes a few phone calls and some discussion to finally find the
right minibus. It's freezing cold and it is snowing. The driver drives
very slowly (30km/h) to the parking in Freising. Once there we leave
the bags and my mom in the heated office room, while I (followed by
Shirley and the kids who insist to come with me) walk to the car.
It's a 300m walk since the parking is big. Since it's an open air
parking, the car is full of snow and ice. I wonder if I shouldn't
perhaps have left the car in a covered parking or if I should have paid
for some snow removal service. Anyway, I get into the car and try to
switch on the engine. No reaction for a few seconds, I already start
thinking that the battery is dead.
Suddenly the engine turns on. I switch on all electrical heatings, get
out of the car and start removing the ice and snow on it. A few minutes
later we drive to the parking office. There we put all baggages into
the car boot space, pick up my mom, set up the car navigation system
and start driving home.
There is heavy snowfall and all secondary streets are covered with
snow. I have winter tyres, but only dare driving very slowly and
carefully. The streets are almost void of cars; very few people who
dare to drive in this weather. Finally I reach the motorway. This is
reasonably free of snow, and here
I speed up a bit to 80-90 km/h. We reach home by 11pm.