The Final Chapter of Cyprus…#3

The final chapter, number three. First I had to encourage Mike not to stop at every damn winery. (But later, more forcefully threatening death or dismemberment…) We stopped to see the Kolassi castle, the 14th century headquarters of Saint John and the Templars. Shortly after that the Templars were killed- but the why is the more important and lengthy than I can write about here.

They city of Lemsos shows what the typical attraction for foreign visitors is- but we moved further up the coast where it was a bit quitter.

This was the only picture that my dying camera could take. Our room on the 4th floor of the Capital Coast hotel had a wonderful view of the water. Even catching a very tiny, (if you have good eyes) boat in the distance. What I couldn’t catch was all three swimming pools in the picture.

Two draw-backs: the air conditioner in the room didn’t work- but it did 10 minutes after the janitor showed up. We ask the front desk for bedside reading lights… We never got them… older people tend to read more often than watch TV when people pound on the door to turn down the sound.

Dinner across the main street, was marvelous. The owner and Mike got into a wine discussion about the Cypriot wines we were drinking. Mutual interest often starts a friendship.

These following paragraphs, written by husband, gives a bit more background to the country as a whole. There will be a taste of the wine further along- but no test.

Cyprus is a small island–roughly 3500 sq. miles, making it larger than Delaware but smaller than Connecticut,–in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  It lies 60 miles west of the Syrian coast and miles south of Turkey’s southern shores. Athens is over 500 miles to the northwest.

With its strategic position in the Mediterranean, the island has over the centuries seen many players and occupiers: the Phoenicians, the Hellenistic dynasty of Alexander the Great and the Romans.  The Byzantines had their short stay in the 10th century.  And, of course, there were the  Crusaders (11th century). 

Richard the Lionheart captured the island then turned it over to the Knights Templar who in turn sold it to the French noble family of the Lusignans (a 300 year reign). 

Then came the Genovese and Venetians. The Ottomans had a 300 year hold before Britain took administrative rights to Cyprus in 1878.  This hold lasted until 1960 when Cyprus established independence. However, animosity between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots  soon surfaced and in 1974   the Turkish government sent troops to Cyprus to put down a coup d’état–a coup that was encouraged  by Athens. 

Since that time the island has been partitioned into the ethnically Greek south Republic of Cyprus  and the northern Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (recognized  only by Turkey).  A “Green Zone” buffer border separates the two–a 112 mile border with only 5 vehicular crossing points plus two more pedestrian crossings in the walled city of Nicosia, the capital of both “counties”. One island, two cultures, two languages, two currencies (Euros, south/ Turkish Lira, north). After over 40 years the island is still resolutely divided!

Shortly thereafter we drove from Pafos and over the mountain to the North Coast of Cyprus.

We stopped at an empty border patrol station, waited a bit- and then figured they had gone to lunch and then headed on.

A few miles later a large motorcycle pulled alongside us. We stopped an explained our side of the story: there were no bars or people around to stop us at the checkpoint. He laughed and said they were eating lunch on the other side of the road. But you’ll have to pay a $25 dollars fine before flying home. “Not a problem” said Mike and thanked him.

A few miles later, (see the last 5 lines of Mike’s writing giving special details of the border arrangements.)

Dome Hotel, Kyrenia city.

Our suite was on the fourth floor and not only overlooked the Mediterranean Sea, but had two balconies- an especially good feature when you are traveling and have laundry that needs to be washed and dried.

Mike went off expecting and found the Kyrenia Castle, and loved it.

Kyrenia is right on the sea and has existed since the 10th century BC. Excavations have revealed Greek traces that date back to the 7th century BC, but the site was developed into a city under Roman rule. The castle endured several sieges but is still standing today.

Mike toured the whole place in 100 degree weather- slightly cooler inside but not much!

He returned enthusiastic from the sight and said, “That’s where we’re going to eat dinner tonight.” And I was delighted because the temperature was falling.

We ate under the white awnings in the harbor above. Once seated on the portside there were four youths who sat at the table next to us. They were very friendly and had just taken the fairy over from Turkey.

They asked, “If you don’t mind we’d like to practice out English with you.”

I said jokingly, “We only speak Californian English.” and we then enjoyed our dinner conversing with these young people. Mike left them with half a bottle of wine and they were delighted.

The next day we decided to walk around the town where we were staying. Being in a hotel right on the Mediterranean Sea with an air-conditioned restaurant is dying and going to Heaven!  

Mike had made a reservation for a sea-side table- which was great except for a strong storm came that night and large waves crashed against the canvass opening and splashed us! And I saw fish! And Mike said, “I don’t, catch yours.”

Our next big ticket stop was the Hiliarion Castle on the mountain top of the ridge behind us.

Hiliarion Castle

We parked in the lot below the Hiliarion Castle. I got out and had a drink while Mike hiked up to tour the castle. The heat and the steep- Mike went slogging up the mountain- temperature unknown but high. While I sat in an air-conditioned café below and had a glass of wine.

Mike made a wonderful sketch of the Castle as a birthday present.

We left a lot out, they’re still fighting but so are we! But we enjoyed this country enormously. Thanks Cyprus!

Guess what this is. There will be a prize for the winner!

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About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels. Kevin Klimczak, extraordinaire, is the website designer and editor of the blogs.
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