So Long, Cyprus

After problems with our blog software, it’s time for an update. Long overdue, in fact.

We visit the ruins of Salamis, near Famagusta.

Unpillaged pillars of Salamis

Among the ruins are a theatre, several baths, and a public toilet that seats 44 people. A lot of the local villages have used the ruins as a source of building materials.

Greek plaque recycled as a paving stone

We enjoy the sunny weather ahead of our fast-approaching return to Canada.

Maria in Salamis

Here and there are the remains of mosaics and frescos. This one is about the myth of Hylas, our guide book tells us.

Remains of a fresco

Next, we visit the Monastery of Saint Barnabas.

St. Barnabas Monastery

Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew who became an ealy Christian convert and accompanied Saint Paul on some of his travels. Nearby is an underground crypt that once held his remains, so we’re told.

The monastery was abandoned after the Turkish invasion of 1974. Now, the interior of the church is an icon museum.


Our next stop is the ancient city of Enkomi.

Slightly off the tourist path

It’s a sobering fact that this was once a thriving walled city, mentioned in the El Amarna letters in Egypt and in documents from Ugarit on the coast of Syria. Today, little remains besides a pile of stones in a field full of sheep that the wind whistles through. It’s barely even signposted – you have to go looking for it.

Where the streets have no name

Back in Cyprus proper, we spend three nights in Pernera, a place that is normally humming with tourist activity. At the tail end of January, it’s eerily deserted. We are surrounded by shops, restaurants, and hotels, all closed. Even the ATMs are non-functioning at this time of year. There are more stray cats around than people.

Pernera Beach

Saint Nicholas Church is right by the sea. You can walk right in.

Saint Nicholas Church, Pernera

Down the coast is Green Bay, a popular dive spot in the summer. It’s rough and cold at this time of year, though.

Rough waters of Green Bay

That doesn’t stop Maria from going in for a snorkel. Fortunately, we find a wetsuit left outside a shuttered dive shop. Maria borrows it for the duration of our stay in Proteras.

At the southeast corner of Cyprus is the scenic Cape Greco.

Cape Greco

Among the visitors is a man who resembles Russia’s bloody-handed dictator Vladimir Putin, bare chest and all. It’s probably not him, considering one of the party is wearing a Ukrainian flag T-shirt.

We’re glad it’s not Vlad

We’ve really enjoyed our time here. Good food, good wine, good people, lots of interesting things to see. It’s difficult to imagine Cyprus as an international hotspot.

The sea-bound coast

There doesn’t seem to be any easy solution for the island’s troubles. Official Greek Cyprus wants its land back without making any concessions to the Turkish-speaking minority. Turkey, in its current Neo-Ottoman Empire mood of aggressive expansion, is unwilling to vacate the third of the island it invaded and occupied illegally. Meanwhile, the South enjoys the free-running taps of European Union cash, while Northern Cypriots are fated to be an appendage of Turkey.

Sight or Insight of the Day

After a few more days back in Larnaca, we begin our journey home. Our route is Larnaca – London, London – Toronto, and Toronto – Ottawa, returning to freezing temperatures and drifts of snow.

The first thing we see when touching down on arrival in Cyprus is a salt lake full of flamingos beside Larnaca Airport. The salt lake dries up in the summer, so the flamingos are strictly winter visitors.

Courtesy of the Larnaka Tourism Board

And it’s also the last thing we see as we drive Zeno back to the rental office at the same airport. We’ll miss Cyprus.