We hadn’t initially planned to go to Cyprus, but it was a cheap flight from Israel and after some quick research; the beautiful beaches, coupled with daily high temperatures of 25-30 degrees, it was just too tempting to resist! Our airbnb host pre-arranged a driver to collect us from the airport, he was an ex-pat from the UK (along with our host and many others in Cyprus). We landed in the dark, so we didn’t get to see much on our drive to our accommodation, but it was nice to be back on the left side of the road again. Our driver told us we’d come at a good time, being the end of the season but still having most places open. We hadn’t realised when booking, but pretty much all of the coastal towns close up from November 1st creating more or less a ghost town…luckily, we’d booked our departing flight for October 31st! After we’d settled into our accommodation (a studio unit) we took in the night life of Protaras from our balcony – the many bars were booming. Suddenly, we noticed a lot of smoke rising up from the middle of town… then flames too… then we noticed water spurting amongst the flames – phew, the fire crew must be there…
After watching all this drama unfold, we retired inside where Kadin discovered while researching the area on his phone, that it wasn’t a dramatic fire at all… but a show called: ‘The Magic Dancing Waters Live Show.’ The show apparently has water fountains, lasers and erupting volcanoes (with fire) all timed to music.
We had five days in Protaras, we enjoyed several walks around this beachside resort town. There was a pretty church on the hill above our accommodation which we walked to one afternoon.
Downtown was still fairly busy (for the end of the season) and the beaches were packed!
After being in Israel the prices seemed really cheap! It is definitely cheaper than the UK, as most of the population were UK expats who had moved for a simpler life; reduced cost of living and many only working for the 6 months of the year (the tourist season). If the tourists weren’t also from the UK, they were likely to be Russian or Bulgarian… they definitely weren’t from New Zealand or Australia – we were a real novelty! Because of the cheap prices, we went out for meals more often…
Most of our time was spent relaxing at our apartment. Our complex had a beautiful pool that was never too busy. We even went for a night time dip too…
On ‘Day 3,’ we decided to go on a boat cruise. We started by heading south of Protaras towards Ayia Napa, our guide providing commentary along the way. It was a great way to see the different beaches and churches along the coast
We also enjoyed a couple of snorkel stops along the way. The water was a stunning turquoise and an inviting warm temperature when it came to taking the plunge.
As we neared Ayia Napa we came to the sea caves …a very busy tourist spot!
On our way back up the coast we had our last snorkel opportunity, we ended up just enjoying a relaxing swim and float instead.
Before heading back to Protaras our cruise continued north for some more sight seeing opportunities. We passed by the iconic St. Peter’s church.
Further north the boat came to a stop – we’d reached the imaginary line that separates the Turkish Cypriots from the Greek Cypriots. Cyprus is a divided country with a boarder running through the middle of it (controlled by the UN); the northern part is controlled by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. From our vantage point on the water we had a clear view of the ghost town of Varosha. This was once a popular tourist destination with many high-rise hotels and resorts; however, they were abandoned in 1974 during the Turkish invasion.
We decided we couldn’t leave Protaras without attending the infamous ‘Magic Dancing Waters Live Show’. We managed to get front row seats – even though it was really busy. While we were waiting for the show to begin, we noticed the sign in front of the stage informing the audience ‘front row seats may get wet’ – that explained why our seat was available. The show was actually amazing! We’d thought it might be a bit tacky – but it was mesmerising. Although we ended up absolutely drenched – thankfully it was a balmy Cyprus night. Kadin made a few gifs again to give you all a sneak-peek at the show:
After our five day stay in Protaras, we reluctantly checked-out and caught the local bus to our next destination, Ayia Napa. Luckily, this was another beach resort town. We also treated ourselves to a 3-night stay in a hotel (more days by the pool – starting to feel like a holiday).
Ayia Napa is much more of a party town. The night clubs, bars and restaurants were all themed…
It was an easy town to walk around, we went for a nice sunset stroll around the harbour and continued to make the most of the affordable restaurant prices.
There were several beaches to choose from along the coast. So, we enjoyed a morning of beach hopping along the coast.
We went for a quick swim in the famous Nissi beach…
Before settling on some loungers at the beautiful and quieter ‘Sandy Bay,’ for the afternoon.
Once again, we found ourselves checking-out. This time we took the bus inland to the capital city, Nicosia. Interesting fact: Nicosia is the last divided capital city in the world. The UN controls the ‘buffer zone’ an area between the wall that runs through the middle of the city (and country) separating the self-proclaimed Turkish of Cyprus from the Republic of Cyprus. We stayed in an apartment on Ledra Street (the main street in old town and 150m from the border crossing into Northern Cyprus).
The main streets were fairly busy, but as soon as we walked down the side streets, we found ourselves completely by ourselves. We enjoyed several walks around the old town.
We walked along the wall and amongst many of the still abandoned neighbourhoods, watching the military walking around the buffer zone.
The next day we ventured into Northern Cyprus. It took about 10-20 minutes to process through passport control, as you had to be processed on each side. Once we’d made it through the gates we entered into the market scene …mostly people were selling counterfeit brands (handbags, shoes, sports gear, watches etc) which are prohibited to bring back across the border. We were entertained by the ice-cream man who makes a show of repeatedly not giving the ice-cream to his awaiting customer.
Once again, as soon as you deviate away from the main streets it was completely deserted. We walked a large portion of the neighbourhoods passing the many abandoned homes. We followed the wall again, but this time from the Northern Cyprus perspective. Along the way we met an elderly man who was feeding his cats, he told us “Turkish are not good,” he explained that he was a Greek Cypriot and he hopes one day the turkish will leave and the Cypriots will come back to this side. The Turkish occupation started back in 1974 and so this man has been feeling like a prisoner in his home for over 40 years…
Our stay in the capital soon came to an end, we caught our next bus to Limassol (another coastal city). We stayed in an apartment on the waterfront. It seemed less touristy than the eastern coast but we noticed many hotels and resorts under construction (so we’re sure it’ll catch up before long). There was a lovely board walk along the coast and a large marina too.
We caught the bus to our final destination in Cyprus, Larnaca. We were really impressed with the bus system throughout Cyprus; each bus ticket cost no more than €5 each, the buses ran frequently and there were always plenty of seats. Larnaca is a port city (including the international airport). We enjoyed a walk along the waterfront and sat on the beach watching the planes landing at the airport.
There is a Salt Lake not far from the airport. Later in the year it is frequented by flamingos. There weren’t any flamingos during our visit, but we enjoyed the late afternoon sun reflecting on the lake instead.
We spent the last day in Larnaca checking out the city further including a visit to the Medieval Castle of Larnaca and the Church of St Lazarus.
You might be wondering why the title “Cool Cats of Cyprus” since there hasn’t been many throughout the post (except us, of course). An informal icon of Cyprus is the cat, because the island has an estimated 1.5 million cats (more than the population of people). Throughout our stay we met many ‘Cats of Cyprus’. It was very tempting to take one, especially the little kittens that came right up to us… but we took photos instead and decided to just offload them all into one spot at the end! So, please enjoy our kitty collection from across our trip in Cyprus…
We had an early morning start before flying to our next somewhat unplanned destination – Bulgaria.
Have fun at work!