Sunday, 15 April 2012

Kyrenia and The North

It is now possible to visit the north of Cyprus so we took advantage of an organised full day tour, being taken by coach.  We stopped at the border in Nicosia and two Turkish officials boarded the coach and checked all our passports, one of them remaining on the bus and accompanying us all day.

We then drove over the mountains to Belapais where we had a stop for an hour or so and the opportunity to visit the Abbey and get a drink.  The Abbey was a bit of a ruin but there was some lovely fan vaulting and superb views down to the sea.  We ordered a couple of drinks at a cafe by the Abbey entrance, these were accompanied by glasses of chilled water and packets of chocolate biscuits - all for the princely sum of three euros.  The North is much better value than the South and they accept euros and sterling as well as Turkish Lira which is their currency.

I had always wanted to see Kyrenia harbour, I read about it in a book as a teenager and it was described as the most beautiful harbour in the Mediterranean.  I am not arguing with that and I have been to Venice.  There were lots of boats in the harbour, some of them really old but quite a few gin palaces too.  The harbour is surrounded by little cafes and we had a lovely lunch with wine which came in at twenty one euros including tip.  The sun was shining and the view magnificent.  We were even entertained by several begging cats. 

The castle at Kyrenia is well worth a visit, lots of history and a wonderful exhibition of an ancient shipwrecked boat and all the contents.  The Cypriot equivalent of the Mary Rose I think.  The views from the top are absolutely stunning - with binoculars on a clear day Turkey can be seen but there was a bit of a heat haze when we were there so we missed that.

We then had half an hour to mooch around the town centre before returning to the coach so I had a lovely time in a Turkish Delight shop and found a couple of different brandies from the Turkish side to take back to make brandy sours.  Turkey is not in the EU so we were warned about only duty free allowances being taken back - the brandy was within our joint allowance.

All in all a really lovely day.

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