North Cyprus

Trip Start Apr 23, 2005
Trip End Mar 31, 2006

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Sunday, May 1, 2005

North Cyprus is a bit of a contentious issue between Turkey and Greece. Following conflict between the Turkish and Greek population, a Greek military coup attempted to take the then Republic of Cyprus under Greek control. Turkey responded with military force and in 1974 the country was divided into two. The Northen part (North Cyprus) being under Turkish control and the Southern part Greek.

In between the two, a no-mans land called the Green Line was built which to this day still divides the countries under the supervision of the UN. Turkish-Greek relations have always been at least a little bit strained, but despite recent diplomatic progress, the Cyprus issue still remains a problem. In fact, no travellers of non-Cyprus origin can enter Greek Cyprus from North Cyprus and North Cyprus is not recognised as a state by the Greek.

The Green Line

Furthermore (and I only found this out after leaving North Cyprus), There have been reports of many Greek ports not allowing people into the country if they have a North Cyprus stamp on their passport. This seems to have calmed down a bit and I didn't have any problems, but the best practice is to get Cyprus immigration to stamp a separate piece of paper instead of your passport to avoid this.

Anyway, enough with the history lesson, we got to the island and headed straight to the ancient port which is now lined with cafes and restaurants, but is also quite pretty. We were taken to Genghis' mates restaurant (a 20 year old looking guy who owns 3 restaurants on the waterfront and seems to spend the day riding around the port on a scooter wearing designer clothes and doing not much else - Why would you?) where we were fed. Next stop was the castle, but nobody could be bothered except for one, so most of us just headed for a nice little resort where we stayed 3 nights and chilled before heading out to dinner.

Back in at another one of the 20 year olds restaurants we were treated to a traditional but mediocre Cypriot meal of mese (mixed dishes - hot and cold) and Kleftikos which we were told was a local beef dish, but turned out to be boiled lamb and vegetables. On questioning the nature of the meat, I was reassured it was beef. Despite looking, tasting and smelling like lamb and having growing up on a farm where we slaughtered our own meat (lamb and beef), my credentials proved insufficient to argue the point, so beef it was!

The next morning was a tour of some of the ancient sites - Othellos Tower which inspired shakespeares Othello, the monastary of St Barnabus. Chris and I needed some downtime, so we opted out for the morning and would join them at back at the port for a boat trip in the afternoon. We got ourselves into the port to re-join the group, but due to bad weather the boat trip had been postponed, so the 20 year old drove us into the main city in his brand new 4wd at 160kph where we joined the group and checked out the green line and had a bit of a look around. We visited an old church which had been turned into a Mosque - I've never seen such a confused building in my life. Half Christian, half Muslim, but not really pulling off either. It was fascinating to see the Green line as I've never been anywhere where there is any political unrest of any sort.

We then headed back for the boat trip where we swam in the med and had a fantastic meal of fish, chips and salad before heading back into the port while watching the sun set.

We were meant to head out the next day, but the water was too rough for the ferry and we had to spend another day on the island. We spent the entire day by the pool soaking up the sun and messing around in the water - nice and relaxing and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Next day we headed back to Turkey where we travelled to Cappadoccia to spend a quick day to make up for the day we lost.
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