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Surreyman  (Level: 272.5 - Posts: 2771)
Mon, 30th Mar '09 5:11 AM


Posted largely to see if these Groups are working and/or are even looked at!

Some 18 months ago we spent time in Southern (Greek) Cyprus.

Hugely enjoying this first taste of this sadly still divided island, in a couple of weeks we'll be taking a look at North (Turkish) Cyprus.

Does anyone else around here have any experience/hints/tips/advice?

Or just post anyway to see if there's any action in this Group at all!

Diolica  (Level: 56.8 - Posts: 5)
Mon, 24th Aug '09 12:25 PM

So how was Northen Cyprus?

Surreyman  (Level: 272.5 - Posts: 2771)
Thu, 27th Aug '09 7:52 AM

We did our customary 'chat' for various interested groups:

This customary account of the latest Spencer trek is rather brief this time round. Largely ‘cos many have probably already been to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, and it wasn’t that unusual a venue this time anyway (must be getting old!).
So this is just a precis but, as usual, any in our various history/travel groups are more than welcome to come back at us for more details on any aspect.
Taking advantage of the relaxed Green Line border procedures, we flew into Larnaca and crossed the (non-existent) border with (non-existent) visas into this (non-existent) newish nation. Saved a lot of mucking about needing to fly into Turkey first, as in the past.
We deliberately based in Kyrenia, that good old ‘Brit Empire’ township (complete with outdated colonial yellow Liz II letterboxes!), and equally deliberately took a small hotel right on the old harbour overlooking the Roman/Crusader/Lusignian/Venetian/Ottoman/British fort (which amply describes the complex historical mix of this area!). Even dear old Dickie 1 bashed it about a bit.
It proved a great choice, rather than using any of the tourist complexes out of town.
And right above us, some 3,000 ft. straight up from the sea, was St. Hilarion, one of the most spectacular Crusader fort sites we’ve ever seen. Yes, even at our senile age we managed to climb up through the several steeply ascending levels of fortifications and yours truly even continued the rock climb up to the ultimate peak. A ‘must see & do’ for anyone visiting.
Unfortunately, visiting the other two major castle sites in these mountains was negated by the complexities of the Turkish army still using ‘em. Since their historical positions dominate the central plain right over to the (Greek) south coast, it’s maybe understandable!
(Due to modern politics, the Turkish army was everywhere. Some 50,000 troops apparently, ‘guarding’ a 250,000 population, and their many controlled areas ARE to be avoided!).
Another Crusader abbey was also most interesting at nearby Bellapais (also home to Durrell’s ‘Bitter Lemons’ for those who have read it).
Ancient Salamis was obviously on our list. Fascinating to be there, of course, but the excavations to date proved very rudimentary, with some very cack-handed reconstructions. Shouldn’t be missed though.
What did surprise, through our iggerance, were the superb mediaeval walls of nearby Famagusta and, equally, the crusader/mediaeval buildings and walls of Nicosia. More directly to our particular tastes, Nicosia also has a marvellous unreconstructed (and unpublicised) ancient han/caravanserai, as well as another rather naff but still interesting reconstruction. We hadn’t planned to visit either metropolis but now realise that neither should be missed.
Re modern politics, and having received the Greek version on our previous visit 18 months back, now hearing the Turkish version proved very interesting indeed. Suffice here to say that there are always, of course, two sides to a story, and we do now feel, on balance, that the ‘official’ UN/EU etc. wholesale support of the Greek version is very one-sided indeed. The Turkish Cypriots have at least as much cause for their current stand as the Greeks. As always compromise from both sides will be needed, but it doesn’t seem too imminent. The Greeks threw out a recent UN referendum attempt which the Turks supported yet also, while we were there, Northern Cyprus held its General Election, and brought in a new harder-line government. (The Turkish Cypriots tend to be more hard-line that their Turkish protectors, which can embarrass the latter’s EU hopes!).
‘Nuff said here, but am quite willing to be less PC if anyone wants to chat around that one!
As in the opening, this was a brief foray into an easily accessible area, but none the less interesting for all that.

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