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We stayed in Herzliya long enough to get a new mainsail made and the European school holiday rush to be over in Cyprus, we knew the marina at Larnaca was always overflowing onto the dock and that too always full…

……  by mid September it seemed the rush was over, we felt it was safe to move on, we ‘phoned Larnaca Marina and they assured us there were plenty of vacant berths.


But by the time we got there 48 hours later, the situation had changed!
A convoy of Israeli yachts had arrived in port without warning, in the Israeli way announcing that they were here to stay ( and really, there is nowhere else for them to go) and they had taken all the available space…our call to report that we had arrived and to ask which was to be our berth was met with a stunned  ‘…you want what???’
But we were not turned away, instead they accommodated us for the weekend in the only possible available place, the loading dock for the travel lift!

It made for a central berth with easy acccess, but not for peace of mind. We couldn’t move away far in case there was an urgent need to lift a boat.
Despite our ‘captivity’, it was an interesting weekend, seeing the interaction between the Israeli and Lebanese crews, 2 nationalities used to lobbing bombs on one another over their borders, but here forced to co-exist on a common dock and share facilities for a long weekend…we learned a lot more about Israeli behaviour and confirmed some of what we already knew!
Fortunately on Monday there was an exodus of all craft. We could take our own spot on the over flow dock, the seawall and there relax, -relatively…
Check-in to the country made us realise very quickly that we had left one bitterly divided country, Israel, for another, equally so.
The Greeks blame the Turks (and vice-versa) for divided Cyprus and we were quite astounded to hear the bitterness. Although we could with difficulty visit the north as tourists, there would be no assistance from anyone south of the border to do so and if we considered taking the boat into a Turkish division port, we would be banned from the south in perpetuity…
It’s a crazy place this Eastern Mediterranean!
We resolved to confine our visit on this occasion to the south and set out to enjoy what we could.

Cyprus is hot and dry almost everywhere and in parts very pretty.
On the sea-way between Europe and the Middle East it is where history has been happening for a very long time, many important people have passed through,while others, starting with the Greeks of ancient Kition (as it was known then) in 13th century BC, have stopped and taken possession.

Now the old town is a disorder of crowded narrow one way streets over from a splendid seaward promenade

with a small Turkish Quarter still remaining

and a dilapidated mosque, both reminders of when the country was undivided prior to 1974.

Sitting grandly in the centre of the old town is the Orthodox Church of St Lazarus, (Agios Lazaros), he was the brother of Mary and Martha, the same Lazarus who had the misfortune of dying twice.

After his resurrection by Jesus he came to Larnaca and became Bishop.

He was buried in the crypt of a church, he remains there to date, (maybe), he was discovered in 890 AD when the high altar of the new church was built on top.

The town around is a busy tourist trap for Europeans, especially the English, the narrow streets often grid-locked by large expensive cars, Marks and Spencers and all the high street shops, while along the waterfront are endless English pubs and glorified fish and chip eateries. They’re just over the road from the mediocre beach, where deck chairs and sun-bathing space can be prebooked and paid for,it is all about spit-roasting to lobster red the English, – for a high price!

A little out of town, away from the tourist hotels and tall apartments is the ‘Kamares’, appearing to be a Roman Aqueduct, but not, it was built by a Turkish regime in 1745 to bring water into the town.

It passes immediately adjacent to the Salt Lake; dry, breezy and a test to heat tolerance in late summer when we were there However, it fills every year in winterand is then visited by flocks of migrating flamingoes.
In the past, it was harvested commercially for its salt, but now, not surprisingly in the light of its proximity to the town, the salt is considered unfit for human consumption.

On its banks are the golden date palms, the fruit hanging there for the taking and although effectively precooked by the heat, still tasting great!

Also there on the Salt Lake, and of major significance to the town as a Muslim tourist attraction, is The Hala Sultan Tekke.
It is the Muslim equivalent to a Christian ‘monastery’. Within the precincts is the tomb of Umm Haram, who was the foster mother of Prophet Mohammed.
According to Muslim historical accounts Umm Haram died on this spot in 647 A.D. while accompanying the Arab invaders. She was buried here and later the Ottomans built the present mosque in her honour.

Out to the east of Larnaca, after passing through one of the British Military ‘Sovereign Territories’ is Ayia Napa, a very busy resort town for Europeans. The British predominate, -with the worst of all the holiday entertainments that might be expected, -cheap fun fares, tacky restaurants and sex shops…

But about 10 km beyond it, almost on the border with forbidden Northern Cyprus is one of the few free anchorages on the island. There’s room for about 3 boats, the best of clear water and so is a favourite destination for day-dive charters from Larnaca or Ayia Napa.
It is one of the few places that Israelis can go to be truly cruising, out of a marina. There is nowhere for them at home, Lebanon won’t allow them in and they are also out of favour in Turkey,  -so unless they go all the way to Greece, this for them is it and it is almost always full!

To the west of Larnaca,  a decent bike ride away in the other direction and up on the hills is the little town of Lefkara.

It is famed for its lace making and traditional silverwork.

At the height of the tourist season in July and August, hundreds of tourist buses fill the bus parks and people pour into the tiny streets…

…but at this time, comfortably after the end of summer,most of the lace factories and trade shops have closed, the streets almost deserted.

It is so quiet and picturesque that one could be persuaded that this really is a sample of the way Cyprus was before the British came?

It is also the time when the cactus fruit are at the best…

I’ve been fascinated by these fruit since first seeing the cactus in Eritrea; through Israel the fruit became more and more commonly for sale, but here where they are ‘vine ripened’ they are at their best…deliciously tangy-sweet, seedy and moist, -but with deceptive, invisible spines. They will take days to work their way out of the lips and fingers if they are eaten unpeeled, -a lesson learned about not taking fruit from over the fence!!!

We hired a car and the size of the country is such that by taking day trips from Larnaca we were able to see all of Southern Cyprus.

On the road to the southwest, just beyond the road to Lefkara and 688 metres up on a hill -with a tremendous view over Larnaca (and everywhere)

is the old monastery of Stavrovouni

It is one of the most traditional and strict in Cyprus, women are not allowed to enter at any time, men must wear long trousers. Unfortunately on such a hot day and us unprepared, we were counted out immediately!

Further southwest is Limisol (aka Lemesos), where Richard the Lionheart landed in the 12th century and claimed Cyprus for himself starting an English occupation which still continues.
It is now a major industrial and commercial centre with an extensive hotel strip along the main seafront road. It is busy with British on holiday.

There’s King Richard’s castle by the old harbour in the middle of town, but there’s little of the original and that there now is dwarfed by surrounding blocks of holiday flats.

and there’s the Akotiri Peninsula with another British Soverign Airbase, (another bit of British Territory), then further west is Kourion Beach and on the cliff above, the ancient city of Kourion. It was founded in Neolithic times, occupied over the various ages since and although now is an archeological treasure is difficult to appreciate in the extreme heat, being busy with busloads of tourists, and realistically just another, albeit historically significant, collection of old rocks!
There are a lot of them about in this part of the world!


Inland from Limasol is the Troodos Massif.
These are a range of respectfully high mountains in the middle of the island and Mt Olympus at 1952 metres above sea level is the highest point on Cyprus.

There are roads all over, although the area is relatively unpopulated. Parts  are as close to the Cyprus before tourists as now remain, -but nowhere is tourist free.

Platres, on the Limasol road is not one of the tourist free towns, it was built as a mountain retreat along the lines of an Indian hill station in the British colonial era, important people used to come to stay here.
However, for the package tourist now, the attractions of the beach are greater than the fresh, cool, clear air of this town halfway up Mount Olympus, it is relatively quiet.
Much of it is modern, but there is still some charm to the place, probably more by virtue of its mountainside situation and the narrow winding road access than its little remaining colonial heritage.

Above Platres is the summit of Mt Olympus with its numerous cross country ski-runs and photographically protected communications ‘ball’, watched over by very vigilant soldiers, -keeping a suspicious eye on any tourist daring to show a camera…

On the northern, cooler side of the Troodos Massif are cool, dark green conifer forests and within them, many small villages, narrow cobbled streets, stone walls and terracotta roofs.

Despite their definitely being on the tourist route, at the time we were there, if you were lucky and quick between bus loads, you could almost experience having the place to yourselves!

In Kakopetria we had a delightful Cypriot lunch al-fresco, almost alone at the tables,

then were able to walk up through the narrow alleys of the old village above, -just keeping ahead of the slower bus tour immediately behind.
Judging by the size of the bus-parks on the outskirts of town, July and August in these places must be just diabolical!

One attraction for visitors to the Troodos area are the Unesco World Heritage designated Byzantine Churches.
They are numerous, small churches, hidden away in the valleys and built between the 11th and 15th centuries as private retreats for the Orthodox church to escape the repression of the French Roman Catholics dominant in Cyprus at the time.
The churches are small, barn-like buildings, overhanging, steeply roofed for the snow and many, richly decorated with vivid frescoes.

Agios Nikolaus tis Stegis (Church of St Nicholas of the Roof) near Kakopetria is one such church.
Named because of its having a double roof, the original building was founded in the 11th Century, then as one was not enough for the snows, a second, bigger, steeper pitched roof was added in the 15th.

Within it are some of the best of the frescoes and remarkably well preserved. Again we lucked it between bus tours, we had an unobscured view and were able to enjoy it in the total silence.

We continued our circuit around the northern part of Greek (Southern) Cyprus, passing through the main city capital Nicosia (Lefkosia), the signs of war and a divided country are still obvious. The Turkish border is right there, their large red flag emblazoned on the hill-side as a reminder of their presence and the pre-1974 airport now lies abandoned, unusable now as to land, aircraft would have to fly over Turkish airspace, that’s not acceptable.
We got ourselves confused in one way roads and missed bypasses, inadvertently driving into the middle of the busy city. We were interested to see the sights so not immediately concerned, but once in there, just wanted to get out. There was nowhere to park, no chance to stop and had no good map to follow if we could!
We left Nicosia for another time.

In western Cyprus is the old town of Pafos and beyond it, the hilly Akamis Peninsula, an area of wilderness and live-firing ranges.
There are many walking tracks and nature-trails for the alert…
We drove across it as we wanted to get to the north coast,

in particular to see the town of Latsi, rumoured to have one of the few marinas in Cyprus which was not stuffed over-full!

It is a good little marina and indeed, we found it to be welcoming. With only a little pre-warning, it is possible to use it as a clearance port to and from Turkey or as a rest-up for a few days. It would be a good base to explore from, fewer of the tourist buses get this far over the Akamis Peninsula!
We’ll be keeping it in mind, should the plan to visit North Cyprus eventuate in 2010.

Back in Pafos there is also a marina, -of sorts. It is in the old harbour,beneath the 14th century fort; among the picturesque little fishing boats

on the one side,

but on the other, a mass of crowded, noisy restaurants, fun boats and rides for day-trippers, continuing onto an esplanade of European tourist hotels at their worst.
We visited by car, but there was more to see in this town. We wanted to bring back Quo Vadis and spend longer, based in the marina, despite recognising that we must run the gauntlet of holiday hawkers and food sellers everytime we went to or from the boat, we would come here on the way out to Turkey.
We booked our berth from Larnaca several days ahead, checked daily that it would be available and then enjoyed  a 3 day sail around. It was a brief opportunity to leave a marina and swing on anchor in an anchorage, there are only 2 along the south coast and we used them.

But despite the preparation, it was still not easy, as we found to our consternation. The harbour-master had allowed us to temporarily use the berthing place of a large Swedish Catamaran as he thought they were in the Black Sea for an extended time and did not know of their imminent arrival…
It was to be a grand affair,with a ‘welcome home’ party assembled on our (their) little corner of dock, but the first we knew of it was of a large boat bearing down on us and being ordered to move immediately by a strident, blond middle-aged Swedish woman on the bow and in full flight!
Quite a Greek vs. Swede ruccus ensued, but with some help by amused fishermen and dock boys, we and another small yacht were able to move to make room for them, but madam could not be readily placated…she became the spectacle of the marina and did nothing to help Swedish relations with Greek Cyprus, we kept below the firing line.
Unfortunately for us, we realised that this was just the beginning of our introduction to Mediterranean Cruising, that there would be a lot more of this to come…


Despite the crass tourism of Pafos around the old harbour, upper Pafos, (Ktima) the old centre, remains quite quaint, local in flavour and with useful places like supermarkets and shops to buy alternator belts!

There are also fascinating archeological sites and of ‘World Heritage’ significance.

Literally within a stone’s throw of the marina is Nea Pafos, a sprawling archeological site, the ancient city of Pafos.
It was founded in the late 4th Century BC when Cyprus was part of the kingdom of the Ptolemies, the Greek founders of Alexandria and occupiers of Egypt.
It was a walled city laid out in a rectangular grid with grand buildings developed later by the Romans, reaching the height of its power in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, then after being damaged by an earthquake in 4th century BC and later raided by Arabs, it fell into decline.

There is an amazing collection of intact mosaics having been excavated from beneath the present ground level although with little of the original buildings remaining.

The old city archeological site occupies a peninsula, slowly and carefully being excavated over many years.

There’s a lot more to go, who knows what might be uncovered from under that rough grass yet?

Adjacent to the old city site in another area of wasteland are catacombs, tombs cut by modifying caves in the cliff face dating back to the early Greek Christian era,

an ampitheatre

and the Hrysopolitissa Basilica, with the St Paul’s pillar where St Paul was allegedly tied and scourged.

The  basilica was Christian, the largest church in Pafos and dated to the 4th century.

It was a magnificent building with green marble columns which are now lying scattered on the mosaics about the site.

Like so many other Christian buildings, it was destroyed by Arab raiders in 653AD.
(The adjacent small chapel is comparatively modern and a favourite for English weddings. The whole party is shipped out from the UK, pinstripe suits and floppy floral hats, to go through the nuptials and swelter under the Cypriot sun. One wedding closely follows another, the same family groups, the same laughs, kisses, hand-shakes and hugs,  -as in any English village churchyard, instead of dodging rain showers and cold, seeking shade from the unbearable sun!).

Arguably the main attraction now in Pafos and another World Heritage site is the ‘Tombs of the Kings’.

Situated a little apart from the main area of the old city it is a set of well preserved underground tombs and chambers, itwas used by Nea Pafos residents for 600 years from the 3rd century BC onwards.

They are not all the last resting places of Kings however, only members of the higher social classes, but because of their grandeur were earlier thought must have been for Royal use.
They are built in a similar court style to the Egyptian temples of the same time, -to resemble houses of the living, rather than graves of the dead.

Like most of the Egyptian Temples, they have long been stripped of their contents by grave robbers,  including opportunistic nobles of the 19 hundreds.
Descending into these tombs in the mid-afternoon sun is not far removed from baking in a brick oven!
Cyprus, even toward the end of summer, is a hot country.

We enjoyed our short time there, we could have spent a little more and would be happy to go back, -maybe we will?
However, we had commitments in Turkey, preparations to make for wintering over and we wanted also to sample a little of  Turkish Cruising before we were to return to NZ.

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