Thursday, 12 April 2012

Nicosia

I went to Nicosia on the green bus from Limassol which had a bus stop by our hotel.  The bus ride itself is quite an adventure.  The bus was a mini bus with seats for twenty passengers and starts down at the New Port and picks up at four stops in Limassol and then takes about an hour to get to Nicosia, stopping at a couple of places on the outskirts.  The bus was fairly crowded when I got on and the fare was seven euros return so it must be subsidised in some way.  Two of the main stops in Nicosia are the hospital and IKEA and about half the passengers got off at them.

Nicosia was just as lovely as I remembered.  I spent a couple of hours wandering around the back streets and then set off for Famagusta gate intending to take in the market on the way.  The market was fabulous, no proper stalls as such, people had come in from the villages with their produce and it was displayed on upturned milk crates.  One woman had about twenty different types of green leaves, all beautifully cleaned and bunched.  All the bunches were one euro each and she had maybe two or three of each type and since I got there fairly late she could have started with considerably more.  There was one chap selling his olive oil, all bottled up in anything he could find.  There were Keo brandy bottles, plastic water bottles and lots of small plastic Coke bottles.  Another woman had live chickens and was wringing necks to order.  This is exactly my type of market and I absolutely loved it.  It made me long for a kitchen to play in instead of being fed (wonderfully) in a hotel.

I went up to the top floor of Debenhams for a drink in the cafe and the views were stupendous.  The sight of the Turkish side of Nicosia means that there is a ban on photography from the restaurant but the views are engraved on my brain.  I had a little mooch in the foodhall in Debenhams and they were selling Wyke Farms cheddar cheese at eighteen euros a kilo - about three times the price in UK - and that was the best cheddar they had.  I can imagine the expat community being very grateful for any sort of cheddar despite all the lovely local Cypriot cheeses displayed.

When I went to catch the bus back I found quite a queue waiting - some dozen or so black young men who I thought might be students.  I could not understand the language they were speaking so have no idea of their nationality and when the bus came they more or less stormed on taking up more than half the bus.  I got on but at least half a dozen people were left in Nicosia to wait two hours for the next bus, they were not happy and harangued the poor bus driver.  The driver was incredibly polite and stopped at the bus stops on the outskirts of Nicosia to explain that he was full up and could not take any of the waiting passengers.

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