Cyprus: left and north sides of things! (Nicosia, Cyprus – KM 9,575)

-Hello Nüzhet! We have decided to stop our Turkey tour here in Kizkalesi. We are backtracking to Taşucu and will embark on the midnight ferry to Cyprus tonight. Thank you for all the information you provided us regarding the Yörük nomads of Turkey. J+P

Merhaba J+P! You probably had a premonition as it is snowing here in Mersin, the first time in 50 years! All nomad camps in the hills will not be reachable for many days. Enjoy Cyprus and the rest of your journey! Nüzhet.

Going from Turkey to the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a strange mix of familiarity and exoticism. The immediate noticeable difference is the left hand side drive. The first roundabout is a close-call but we learn quickly. I guess we have gotten more observant since the first days of 1998, when we entered Nepal from Tibet, and realized many hours in that not all drivers were crazy or drunk, passing each other on the right hand side, but that WE were on the wrong side of the road!

This will not be a lenghty post, actually. We don’t have the means to stop and write at the moment. Crossing the Green Line to the south into the Republic of Cyprus (“official” Cyprus, the “Greek” side) yesterday and re-entering the EU is serving us a proverbial culture shock. We are sleeping behind a Cineplex and writing from a Presse Café. An image is worth a thousand words, they say. Here is a photographic review of our two weeks touring the Northern part of this divided island.

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Up above the Mediterranean Sea we visit one last Sarikeçili camp. The busy family has 200 goats and this cute little “monkey”. Will he chose to stay nomad? Kizkalesi, Mersin Province, Turkey.

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Time to leave Turkey. In Taşucu we hang a left and roll onboard the ferry to Girne, or Kyrenia in Greek, on the north coast of the island of Kibris. Taşucu, Mersin Province, Turkey.

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Kyrenia Castle by the old harbour is a 16th-century fortress built by the Venetians. If you look closer it was constructed on the ruins of a small Byzantine castle. It was subjected to numerous attacks and sieges until the Venetians took control of Cyprus and enlarge the castle to give it its present-day appearance. Copper-rich with a strategic location, the Mediterranean’s third largest island has a history that reads like a saga. Girne (Kyrenia), Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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From Girne (Kyrenia) to Cape Kormakitis, the northwestern corner of the island, the snow-capped Taurus Mountains of the “mainland” are clearly visible. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Outside Sadrazamköy a builder has quit halfway, the perfect seafront shelter. The sound of multiple gunshots while we are having breakfast is unnerving. It does not stop all day! On our way through Tepebaşi and Güzelyurt (Morfou) we’ll see dozens of hunters. That night in Yedidalga, Murat sheds light on North Cyprus hunting season: for five consecutive Sundays people can buy a license and hunt small migratory birds which are considered a delicacy on both sides of the island. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The Palace of Vouni, on the summit of a hill facing the bay, is thought to have been built during the Persian occupation in the 5th century B.C. The 137-room palace was destroyed by Greek sympathizers from nearby Soli, our next archaeological destination. Yedidalga, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Soli was one of the 10 ancient kingdoms of Cyprus. Its basilica was built in stages with intricate mosaics laid in the 4th century. Among the animal figures, flowers and vines some writing says “Jesus! Protect those who built these mosaics”. We say, Amen! Yedidalga, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Heading east from Girne (Kyrenia) the wind is with us! Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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On the way to Kaplica we can leave the main road and follow this beauty. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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On the north coast of Cyprus one follows the narrow Kyrenia mountain range. Nestled on a 630-meter promontory is 10th century Kantara Castle. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The wind is still with us, let’s go! Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The pan-handle of North Cyprus is the skinny Karpaz Peninsula where wild donkeys are claiming a spot since they were replaced by tractors on local farms and turned loose! Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Fresh kebabs tonight! Dipkarpaz, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Pierre cooking oatmeal to the sound of gunshots. It’s Sunday again! Karpaz Peninsula, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Seems like a lot of work for hand-size birds! Karpaz Peninsula, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Janick makes sure hunters will not mistake her for a partridge! Karpaz Peninsula, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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We can only imagine this Golden Beach being deserted because it is winter. Karpaz Peninsula, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The eerily quiet countryside of the Karpaz Peninsula, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The thick layers of history—Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Lusignan, Genoese, Venitian, Ottoman, British—often poke through the surface. Ruins of a small church speaks of a recent past, when a unified Cyprus was home to Muslim Turkish Cypriots and Christian Greek Cypriots. Since the 1974 invasion, or Peace Operation depending on who is talking, by Turkish forces of the northern portion of the island, it is de facto partitioned into two main parts with most Christians now living south of the UN controlled Green Line. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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The Roman Empire era gymnasium at Salamis, city-state on the Famagusta Bay. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Last pedal strokes in North Cyprus, going for a Turkish bath, eating our favourite sesame pastry with a cup of Turkish tea in the capital city. Lefkoşa, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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In the middle of Lefkoşa/Nicosia we come to a gate and show our passports to officials who apply an exit stamp from a country that does not exist on most maps. Few hundred meters further is a Cypriot checkpoint. Church bells are ringing. Tourists are buzzing around the sights of the old walled city or relaxing with an iced cappuccino or a Stella Artois. Nicosia, Republic of Cyprus.

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Holiday in Cyprus! (Larnaca, Cyprus - KM 9,930)
Return journey amongst the Yörük! (Silifke, Turkey - KM 8,935)


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