The island of Cyprus is divided into two countries. The northern part is Northern Cyprus and is Turkish while the southern part is Cyprus and is Greek. Throughout the country and especially within Nicosia/Lefkosia you will see the respective flags of each country and the flags of their “sponsor”. The two countries are heading slowly towards reunification and crossing the border has gone from: very difficult, to: “Australian, move on through” without a glance beyond the cover of our passports.
I think that if they were more serious about their reunification they would take down the Turkish and Greek flags and just have the Cyprus and Northern Cyprus ones. Or a new flag that acknowledges the respective heritage of both flavours of Cypriot.
As the country is divided and Turkish is spoken in the north and Greek is spoken in the south each city has at least two names.
We walked into town, through the narrow, twisting whitewashed streets trimmed with blue window shutters. We walk through a beautiful and compact Venetian harbour lined with the quintessential european cafés and yachts. We walk past the rows of English drinking beer and eating meals that invariably have a side of chips. It’s hot, sunny and postcard Mediterranean but we wish we knew where our hostel was.
We eventually find it and we’re offered a choice between dorms that cost 10€ and dorms that cost 12€. There is a 2€ difference in quality the man says without really explaining what that means. When we come back he’ll show us; the rooms are not ready yet. When we do come back we’re shown the 12€ dorm and it’s cramped confines, a slightly more comfortable 10€ dorm and a private bedroom for 11€. Confused we take the private room.
While we were waiting for the gallery of rooms to be ready we took lunch with the English hordes and were served our own sides of chips and main courses. Jess had halloumi puffs and I had a halloumi pide.
Halloumi: it’s good to be back.
Just as Cyprus the island is divided, the capital Nicosia is divided too. We grabbed some bikes and rode along the green line and all through the streets. Seeing barbed wire, barrels and demolished buildings splitting the city was confronting. The city is peaceful now and there local hipsters are thriving.
The further you get from the main tourist street while staying close to the green line the more boutique coffee shops, ateliers and art houses can be found. We’d ride through a narrow alley, past a guard in a post and along a barricade of barrels and concrete only to find a half dozen trendies sitting on crates slurping espresso.
The town of Paphos is another British colony with the main difference being that many people get around on quad bikes.
We considered going to Akamas Peninsula but the Cypriot landscape is really just dry scrub reminiscent of Australia. We considered Polis beach, but it is also known as Gum Tree beach. Wow. Gum Trees. Such excite.
Cyprus is only place on this trip where Greek has been spoken. To me, Greek writing reminds me of complex math.