My final day in Cyprus last week was really quite warm and Sunny. Larnaca was without clouds for the first time during my stay in Cyprus.
I went down to the sea front for breakfast in one of the local cafés – I ordered a chocolate croissant and was expecting something relatively simple and small to each for breakfast…What I got was a massive croissant smothered in chocolate sauce. Bit over the top, but it was good!
I had a busy day ahead with lots of little stops along the way. After checking out of the hotel I drove for about 50km in to Lefkosia (Nicosia), the Cypriot capital. I found a cheap parking spot within 5 minutes walk of Ledra Street, the main pedestrianised shopping and tourist street in the centre of the city.
Cost of parking there: Just €2 a day – with the added bonus that I found someone who didn’t speak much in the way of English – not often I find that in Cyprus, so I jumped at this rare opportunity to speak Greek and get a reply in the same language!
In Lefkosia I paid a visit to the Shacolas Tower – the Museum & Observatory from where you can enjoy views across the whole city and in to the Turkish-controlled North of the city.
I had a walk around the pedestrianised city centre and sat down in a café with a drink and an ice cream, watching the city’s cat population wandering in and out of the restaurants. The weather in Lefkosia was really quite warm – almost t-shirt and shorts weather.
Returning to the car I set the sat nav for Perivolia; a village near the Airport where another Gloucestershire Greek-learner has a Summer house by the Sea, a little way out of the main village.
It’s not exactly the sort of place you go in the winter though – most of the houses I walked past were full of builders and the beach, unlike in Larnaca, Pafos and Famagusta, was completely deserted – but at least I can see I know roughtly where the house is, even if I wasn’t completely sure which one I know I was in the vicinity of it.
With a few hours left before I needed to be at the Airport it was on to the next stop. I headed back in to Larnaca where I’d have a late lunch but first I wanted to visit the Salt Lake.
A turning just off the dual carriageway between the Airport and the city lead me to a parking spot where I could walk alongside the lake for a while. I had seen flamingos on the lake when I drove out on the way to Lefkosia in the morning, but they’d gone by the time I returned (how annoying!)
But I did manage to pay a visit to the Hula Sultan Tekke Mosque, a Muslim shrine on the banks of the lake. It is an important site for Turkish Cypriot Muslims (the third most important in the Islamic world).
Visitors can go inside – there’s a space outside to leave your shoes (a requirement if you want to go inside), and of course everyone must dress respectfully. It was interesting to walk around and have a look at the building both inside and outside – I should have been more prepared and downloaded the Audio Guide from the Visit Cyprus website. Next year I’ll do it properly!
On the footpaths and in the area surrounding the mosque there must have been 20-30 (or more) cats – and they were just the ones I could see. They seemed well fed, mostly, and quite curious and friendly.
One tabby cat came up to be as I was taking my shoes off, and then I came out of the mosque was waiting for me outside. I only sat down to put my shoes on, and the cat decided he wanted to sit on me. Another cat wouldn’t let me leave!
Why are there so many cats by the mosque I wondered? I did a bit of searching on Google and found there there are a couple of hundred cats there… Volunteers feed them daily, It’s almost like a sancturary. I’ve also discovered (thanks Wikipedia for this info) that the domestic cat is a revered animal in Islam – they are admired for their cleanliness and are allowed in to homes and mosques. The prophet Muhammad loved cats.
Lost of cat photos!
After leaving the mosque I went back in to Larnaca, parked up and went to find some lunch. I went to the Kalamaki Bar (Kalamaki being the Greek word for the wooden sticks used to make souvlaki).
I just ordered a simple pork souvlaki (2 sticks), which came with some slices of pita bread. You can also pay slightly more to have it as a portion – I’d imagine that would come with chips and salad or something like that.
Souvlaki – being the one Greek food that just about everyone knows – often varies in quality depending on which restaurant you go to or whether it’s just a cheap souvlaki from a beach bar – I was impressed with how it was served at the Kalamaki Bar. Good quality meat, nice sized chunks of meat, and I like the added pita bread too. So that’s one to go back to.
This was finished with a walk along the sea front while I had an ice cream before returning to the Airport for my flight back.
So that busy day was the end of my 2019 Cypriot holiday. I will be back in the Greek speaking world in almost 3 months, when I do my drive to (and from) Greece in May/June, which I’m really looking forward to.
The journey home from Cyprus was relatively straight forward: Just a 15 minute drive from Larnaca to the Airport, fill the car up with petrol (€30) – got €80 back from the car hire firm for returning the car full, flight left Larnaca on time and landed back in to Gatwick, under Low Visibility Procedures at 23:20.
Grabbed a few hours sleep in a hotel just outside Crawley and at 5:15am I got on the road to drive to work – I made such good time that I was home in Cirencester by 7:20am, just enough time for breakfast before work (and pick up my work clothes which should have had with me but forgot). Then I got stuck in traffic because of a road closure, had to turn round and go the other way, and was 10 minutes late to work.
You can’t win every time! But given that I’d driven from Gatwick that morning, I wasn’t too disappointed.
Bye for now.