A Week in Cyprus!

Last week I was really busy. My cousin and her husband came from London to visit us here in North Cyprus. We all had a lovely time.

I guess I take it for granted that I live in such a beautiful island. We went out a lot during their visit and I came to appreciate more all the natural beauty that surrounds me and of course the originating source of it all.

If you haven’t been to this side of the island then here are some pictures that will give you a glimpse of what I call home.

Girne or Kyrenia

North Cyprus has been known for its political problems for quite some time; however that is a different topic to be discussed in a separate article. Today I just want to introduce you to this little island especially Girne, the most beautiful city in all Cyprus. This is where I live. Other major cities include Lefkosa or Nicosia, Guzelyurt, Farmagusta, Lefke, Iskele and Dipkarpaz.

Turkish Cypriot people are very friendly and hospitable. A majority of them are Muslim but Northern Cyprus is a strictly secular state. As I have observed over the years very few people here ever attend mosque services or wear religious attire however they are enthusiastic about celebrating religious festivals.

I moved to North Cyprus from Pakistan in 1995. I have come to adore this peaceful little island. My quest for spirituality began here. It was here that I found my real self.

City of Girne is the first choice of those who choose to move to North Cyprus and also for holiday makers mostly due to the mesmerizing views of mountains and sea. It was founded in the 10th century BC by Achaean settlers and was for many centuries one of the ten kingdoms of Cyprus. In the 7th century it was fortified by the Byzantines who built the original Girne castle, later expanded by the Lusignans and then by the Venetians. Under Ottoman rule the town remained a minor port. The British built the harbour.

In spite of a lot of new construction during the last few years the town still retains its character with many historical sites worth visiting like Girne Harbour and Castle, St. Hilarion Castle and Bellapais Abbey.

A view from my balcony!

Girne - Lefkosa Road

Girne Harbour

The horse shoe shaped harbour is the focal point of the town with its colourful fishing boats and yatchs and lively cafes. I love taking walks there, it is the heart of Girne.

Saif (my son) and I at a cafe in Girne Harbour

Girne Castle

This impressive Girne Castle is still in pretty good condition. It is situated on the eastern corner of the harbour to the northeast of the city. It was built in the 7th century by the Byzantines in order to protect the city against the Arab raids.

Displaced within this castle is the shipwreck museum. It is the oldest shipwreck ever discovered. The findings suggest that the ship was Syrian commercial ship which sank one mile north of Girne Castle due to a storm in 300 BC.

Bellapais Abbey

The abbey was built between 1158 and 1205 then enlarged and completed between 1267 and 1284 during the reign of the French King Hugh the third.

It was constructed by monks who moved to the island from Jerusalem. It is a fine example of Gothic architecture in Cyprus with a spectacular view of the whole northern coastline of the island as well as the most amazing view of the mountains.

Bellapais Abbey hosts a classical musical festival annually.

Ahmed (my husband), I & Saif at Bellapais Abbey

Somi (my cousin) & Shiraz (her husband) enjoying the wonderful view of Girne from Bellapais Abbey

View of the mountains from Bellapais Abbey

At Home

It was a memorable week not only did we enjoy going out but we also had a really nice time at home especially having breakfast in the balcony.

Our balcony is my favourite place in home. I love drinking my morning tea there and also it is the perfect place to meditate.

Since my cousins were here for only a week we didn’t travel to other cities of North Cyprus. We went to Lefkosa for a day but that’s about it. Most of the evenings were spent at home, enjoying bollywood films and home cooked meals prepared by Ahmed, of course I helped him but I am not much of a cook. However one day I did make chicken curry. Although I am a vegetarian but I don’t mind cooking meat for my family and friends once in a while.

Getting Here

If you ever decide to take a vacation in North Cyprus here is some information that might come in handy. The international airport of TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) is called Ercan Airport near Lefkosa. All foreign country passports are recognized at the entrance ports and airport of TRNC. Citizens of Armenia, Greece and South Cyprus have to obtain visas. Visa applications can be made at TRNC foreign representatives for the nations mentioned above. It is a good idea to inquire at your travel agent whether you need a visa or not if you are traveling from any other country.

There are three major airlines that fly to Northern Cyprus. These are Turkish Airlines (THY), Cyprus Turkish Airlines (KTHY) and Pegasus Airlines. These Airlines provide regular daily flights via Turkey to Ercan International Airport.

An inexpensive network of buses and mini buses operates between all the main towns during the day, and in addition there are “dolmush” (shuttles) operating on the same routes. Taxis are also widely available but they do not carry a meter. However there are standard journey charges.

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