Cyprus

Family Holiday Diary 2016

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Saturday

Met R and S at Gatwick. Ate big brunch in Lebanese restaurant. Males drank beers. At 11am.

I took my book to WHSmith to try and persuade the manager he might like to stock it (not easy to meet an ‘airside’ manager unless flying somewhere and it’s easier to persuade in person than by email.) He was surprised, said no one had ever asked him before, but promised to look into it (he was unsure if being at an airport meant he had less choice than a High Street branch – where the store manager has discretion over what he stocks.) Asked if he could have a copy of book for his staff to read. Left one (though losing a book had not been part of my plan!) I will email him when I’m home, in a couple of weeks, and let you know if he agrees to stock them.

Flight uneventful. 4hours.

Paphos airport efficient (empty, wondered why.) I used toilet. You can sometimes tell a lot about a country from the toilets. These were clean but I was slightly perturbed by the signs…

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Bought water, collected hire car (which, for 7 people, is more of a van.)

Drive to hotel long. J map read, relatively little abuse from family. Hotel (Hilton, Nicosia) nice. Dinner by pool. Hotel has a glass elevator. Rooms nice. Learnt Greek for ‘thank you’ – ‘ef-harry-stom’.

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Sunday

Late breakfast. Males very late. Nice range of food. I ate too much (meant to be losing weight.) Males didn’t drink beer.

Swam/read. Weather very hot (might be why airport was empty. Last year, in Malta, it rained one day. Hence D now booked us in near Sahara resort. Hoping it doesn’t rain this holiday…)

Drove to Nicosia Old Town. Van very wide for narrow streets. Parked (stressful) and walked around. R didn’t buy flipflops. Wandered, by chance, to border with Turkish controlled northern section. Saw sandbags and barbed wire and a young soldier who picked up his rifle as we approached. Decided not to try and chat (wasn’t sure my eight words of Turkish would make much of a conversation. Plus thought he might shoot me.)

The whole divided Cyprus thing seems strange to me. I missed it at the time, so will explain briefly: After the Brits left in about 1960 (Grandpa did his National Service here) the Cypriots were a mix of Greeks and Turks, who lived peacefully alongside each other. In 1974, according to the Turkish Cypriots, a few Greek Cypriots were pressing for the island to be joined to Greece. They staged a coup, backed by Greece, trying to overthrow the government by force. In order to protect the Turkish Cypriots, Turkey sent in their army, who marched down from the north. This history is told rather differently in the south, where they claim the Turkish army invaded Cyprus, unhindered by the UN, and have since refused to leave. They now state the north of their country is under Turkish occupation.

I can offer no insights as to which is the true opinion. Probably there is some truth on both sides and ordinary people, who just wanted to get on with their lives, were hurt on both sides. I can tell you that the border is odd. It looks temporary, like something students have erected as a dare overnight. But with armed guards (who also look like students.) The country is now divided, north and south, with what is called ‘the green line’ running through the middle. This is patrolled and fenced, with passport border controls and military and signs telling you not to take photographs or enter certain zones. It is odd. However, for a marriage, I can see that a green line has certain benefits. Tried to instigate a green line in hotel room (when in Cyprus…etc) It didn’t work. I clearly also need Turkish soldiers.

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The old town in south Nicosia seemed a bit run down. Not sure if this is because we were seeing it mid summer (when sensible people are elsewhere.) There was a strange mix of very expensive shops right next to very cheap shops. We wandered round for a while, then ate dinner in a boiling hot kebab place (which said it had air conditioning, but if it did, they hadn’t turned it on!) D worried about the drink/driving laws half way through a Keo, which boys kindly finished for him. We were given tiny pots of bitter yogurt for dessert. Most of us passed them straight to S.

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Went back to hotel and chatted in lobby. J played the grand piano (proud mummy moment.) D made up a quiz (which got a bit long to be honest.)

Tomorrow we plan to walk through border into Turkish controlled section. Why not sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss it?

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Thank you for reading.

anneethompson.com

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