Moving right along my list of countries that I still need to visit in Europe is Cyprus. For the record, this list is horizontal, not vertical, so pay no attention to the order in which these are being presented.
Why do I want to go?
Because it’s probably the most controversial of all European countries. While the entire island is part of the European Union, EU rules do not yet apply to the northern part which is inhabited by Turkish Cypriots. The country has been divided since 1974 when a group of Greek Cypriots who wanted the island to become a part of Greece attempted to overthrow the president. Turkey was not into this move at all so sent in some of their troops to take control of the north. Since then the island has been split in two by the infamous “Green Line” which is still watched over by United Nations security forces to this day.
Controversy aside, Cyprus is a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea so you bet it’s got some great beaches. And if I get bored with the beaches, then I can just go skiing. Seriously. In the winter months, the Troödos Mountains can get a fair amount of snow making it possible to hit the beach and the slopes all in the same day. I could even hit the Middle East by nightfall if I were real motivated. Cyprus is very close to Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel – all places I’m dying to explore – so therefore it would be a great jumping off point for me.
Where will I go?
There are tons of archeological sites in Cyprus which is cool but the thing I am most interested in seeing are its beaches. Unless I have a lot of time, I probably won’t be hitting the touristy southern beaches of Agia Napa, Larnaca, and Lemesos. No, I think I will head straight up to the north – specifically to the Karpas Peninsula and Kyrenia where I can have a strip of sand all to myself. I’m into “remote” these days and that is apparently the best word to describe the northern beaches of Cyprus.
Also a must-see is Nicosia/Lefkosia. It’s the last divided capital in the world with the Greek side having more modern sights and the Turkish side more historical. Seems like it would be quite a contrast and interesting experience considering I will need my passport to move from one part to the other.
The Troödos Mountains is the place to go for skiing in Cyprus, but let’s get real here – I am not a skier. I know how and I might attempt it if I got bored with the beaches, but most likely you will only find me in those mountains if wine tasting is on the agenda. I read some of the best wine on the island is produced there, especially in and around Omodhos.
And finally, there is Pafos. It looks ok and there are a few UNESCO sites there, but the point is that this is where Aphrodite/Venus/goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation was born. Kind of cool if you are into Greek mythology. By the way, did you know Aphrodite was the daughter of Uranus…? Interesting story, Google it.
How will I go?
I’m actually not as concerned about how I will get to Cyprus as much as I am how I will leave it. There are lots of low-cost flights from Europe to southern cities of the island like Larnaca or Pafos; then I can just work my way up. Once I am up north though, I have a feeling temptation is going to set in and I will want to take advantage to my proximity to either Turkey or Lebanon – definitely will not help my European to do list situation, but things could get a little more interesting. If I wanted to go west, I could think about a holiday to Bodrum or Antalya in Turkey. If I wanted to go east, I’d definitely lean towards either Beirut or Tel Aviv.
Did I miss something? Would I be making a mistake skipping so much of the “European” part of Cyprus? Would love some input from someone who has recently visited.