Cyprus, land of love and dreams
A gold-green leaf
Cast upon the open sea.
– Leonidas Malenis, Golden-green Leaf
Life is not fair! I am sure the Cypriots know about that. With 330 days of sun a year, abundant fruits and flowers, stunning ruins, UNESCO world heritage painted churches, and award-winning beaches, Cyprus is as close to paradise as any country can be.
It’s 43C in Nicosia and I sprain my ankle on arrival! At 1km/hr, I roam around this photogenic country during three and a half weeks. From Nicosia, I head north to Turkish occupied Kyrenia and then east to the once-famous 1960 jetsetter resort town of Famagusta before returning to the Greek side of Larnaca. My daughter joins me to visit the beautiful Greek and Roman ruins of Kourion near Limassol, hike in the Troodos mountains, and swim in Paphos and the Akamas peninsula. Precious, perfect moments!
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded to support Turkish Cypriots after a military coup backed by the Greek government. Nicosia remains the last divided capital in the world where worn out buildings, road blocks, political slogans, and military presence are unfortunately very much part of daily life. The “Green line” demarcating the northern Turkish and the southern Greek sides is a shocking reality check in such an idyllic place. There are talks about revitalizing the “no man’s land” dividing the capital. Let’s hope talks will become action soon!
It’s just an easy stroll to cross into the Turkish side! From there I head up North to beautiful Kyrenia by the sea. Five kilometers away lie the ruins of the 13th century Bellapais Abbey, with breathtaking views of the Northern coastline…
Before 1974, Famagusta was a booming resort town with skyscrapers, glamorous shopping malls, and sandy beaches frequented by celebrities like Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. Today, local tourists still enjoy the beaches, but it feels like a ghost town…
A short ride to the North lie the stunning ruins of the ancient Greek city, Salamis.
Time to cross back to the Greek side! Larnaca is a scenic and relaxing seaside resort with narrow streets, old buildings, sunny beaches, and seaside promenades.
We make a pit stop in Limassol to visit the nearby ruins of the ancient Greek city of Kourion before heading to the Troodos mountains. What a marvellous summer retreat! With Byzantine monasteries, old churches, scenic mountains are villages, orchards and terraced hills, the Troodos is an enchanting place with endless trails criss-crossing the mountains.
We end our stay in gorgeous Paphos and the Akamas peninsula to walk in the Tombs of the Kings, enjoy refreshing dips in the Mediterranean, and indulge in abundant freshly grilled seafood.
As always, it’s the welcoming residents who make a difference in our brief stay. Nothing in their traumatic past or current political reality can take away Cypriots’ joy of life. This is a diverse island with multiple ethnicities, races, and religions. So much is lived outdoor here and the Cypriots are really a hospitable crowd. It’s a dream place for photographers!
Like the others so did Cyprus have its secret,
in those secret winds, it had its lot.
– Vasilis Michaelides