Footloose & Free in the TRNC

Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, that is.

At last, we get some sunny weather in Nicosia.

Lively Ledra Street

We get a good view from the top of the Shacolas Tower.

Looking north

An example of the sectarian jumble that is Cyprus: this is an old Greek Orthodox church that was converted to a mosque. Because it’s in Nicosia proper, it no longer serves as a mosque. (At least there’s nothing in it. We peeked.)

And north of the Green Line, we see this 13th-century Gothic church (the church of St. Catherine) that has been converted into a mosque since the Ottoman conquest. (We’ll see more of these in the north.)

Traveling between Cyprus and the soi-disant Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus involves less John le CarrĂ©-esque intrigue than we thought. Even the fact that we couldn’t find Zeno’s registration papers is not a problem. All we need is temporary auto insurance for the TRNC.

Because it’s not a real country, the poor North Cypriots don’t even get an abbreviated country code on their license plates like everyone else. It’s blank.

Citizen of nowhere

People born here are eligible for a Northern Cypriot passport. To save them from being completely un-persons, they are also issued with a Turkish passport.

One cultural trait that the North Cypriots have clearly adopted from Turkey is the love of gigantic flags.

Our first stop is the city of Kyrenia.

Kyrenia is a harbour town with an old town full of narrow lanes and a big fortress.

From the town, to the fortress

The fortress has a few museums in it.

From the fortress, to the town

Our hotel is just outside of the old town.

One day, we drive up, up, up, past a Turkish military base to St. Hilarion Castle.

There’s an apocryphal story that this castle inspired Walt Disney’s evil-queen-in-Snow-White castle.

The Queen’s Window

From up here, you get a thrilling view of Kyrenia far below.

There’s a viewing platform at the highest point. Visitors have made a habit of attaching their used COVID masks to the railings. Why this would enter the head of any sane, normal person is utterly beyond me. We are definitely back in the third world here in the TRNC.

The epitome of ‘Gross’

On the way back to town, we visit the ruins of Bellapais Abbey.

The surrounding village of Bellapais is also nice to wander in.

We see these in towns and villages throughout Cyprus: public fountains built by the British, with the initials of the ruling monarch at the time.

Elizabeth Regina 1953

I’m delighted to learn that Laurence Durrell, a now-unfashionable writer, once lived here. We track down his house.

He wrote ‘Justine‘, the first book of ‘The Alexandria Quartet‘ here.

Plaque over the door

It’s on Aci Limon street, which means ‘bitter lemons’.

Sight or Insight of the Day

One thing we really admire about both the real Cyprus and the TRNC: they both have maps aplenty!

A cornucopia of maps

They’re free, and of excellent quality.

In every other country we’ve been to so far on this trip, actual paper maps that you can hold in your hand have been difficult or impossible to find for love or money. Apparently, only old people still use them.