Nicosia

Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
1
7
35
Trip End Jun 13, 2004


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Flag of Cyprus  ,
Sunday, March 21, 2004

After an extremely comfortable nights sleep, I rose at the respectable hour of 8am. A delicious omelette for breakfast and I was ready to tackle the arduous downhill road to Nicosia. I said cheerio to the staff and I was off.

Swifts screamed overhead and a chiffchaff sang from a nearby tree as I reached the main road. Kakopetria is a well located among pine forest with the snow capped Mt Olympus behind. Apparently it is doing well from the new drive in Cyprus to promote agritourism, where people stay in renovated country houses.

Well over a third of today's route was down hill, the rest gently undulating, with the warm sun above me and a strong breeze on my back it was cyclists heaven. I was making brilliant time and had to keep stopping to admire the view lest it speed by completely.

After the mountains and forest I was now passing through the fertile plain, loads more traffic, mostly heading toward Olympus, probably for a last days skiing, and more towns.
I saw a few UN pick up trucks on patrol and it was the first sign that there is another side to Cyprus. Then I noticed a huge Turkish flag emblazoned on the side of the mountains ahead of me, a declaration of ownership. I know all about flags from home.

I was within 9km of Nicosia when I hit the motorway. There was no sign saying I couldn't go on it, but they are horrible places to cycle. So I had to make a detour through a few small villages on another road. It added about 10 to 15 km to the route but I still got to Nicosia in early afternoon.

It never ceases to amaze me that someone can build a cycle path which ends in the middle of nowhere. I found a path by the river into Nicosia, a good one. However in just stopped in a large patch of waste ground with no hint of where to go next. Ahead was a dual carriage way, so I pushed the bike under the road bridge along a pebble river bed and got onto the carriageway in the direction I hoped Nicosia was.

I found the city easy enough, as ye do, but it was a bit of a mission to find the hostel. It being a lovely Sunday afternoon the tourist office was closed. A helpful shopkeeper directed me to a B&B nearby. He was a little expensive, 15 pounds. He also agreed that although there was a hostel he wasn't sure where it was.Try near the British Consulate. He would say that wouldn't he.

I did so and asked a few more people. I got vague directions, but no-one was too sure. In the end I found it by cycling around the general area where people said it was. It was worth the hunt. Five pounds and very friendly. A sign on the door said to leave your gear in the dining room if no one was around and the manager would be about later. I did so.

Later on I first meet two students of International relations who were on a work placement. They filled me in on some of the cross border work going on in Cyprus. It sounded very like home. I went out for a pint in the Romulus pub round the corner and meet the manager when I got back. We had a good old chat. I learned quite a bit about Cyprus from him.

On Monday 22nd I only had the morning to explore the city before cycling to Larnaca. So I set of early. After a quick visit to the tourist office for a map, I cycled around the cathedral district. I came across a huge statue of a cleric outside an important looking building and asked a passing council worker to take a photo of me in front of it. My Nicosia photo.

Initially I thought he spoke little English, but after a while his accent grew more and more English. he'd spent some time there. We ended up going for a cup of coffee and I learned a lot more about Cyprus. That lasted almost an hour.

I now only had time to go up the Shacolas Tower, part of the Woolworths store. From the 11th floor observation platform you get an uninterrupted view of a huge part of Cyprus.
Before I knew it it was time to go back to the hostel and pack.
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