This is my first post from our new country, North Cyprus, and as you can see, I’ve chosen a new moniker for my blog, given that Cyprus is Aphrodite’s Isle, and also a new format to represent new beginnings.
We have had a hectic time since we left Australia but finally things are settling down and I’m in the mood to write again. Our flight from Perth, Australia, to Dubai left early and arrived on time, but was seriously cramped and crowded. Service from Emirates was terrific, and I guess there is no good way to travel in cattle class.
Luckily our Dubai flight was about the shortest you can manage for a long-haul trip to Europe and was only 10 hours. We did fly from Hong Kong to the UK once and it took 15 hours, an absolute nightmare. By the end of it we were just sitting there like stunned mullets feeling like we’d be flying around the world for ever!
What did I think of Dubai? In two words – Plastic Fantastic. We landed in the dark and had a hair-raising drive to our hotel with the taxi, the drivers are insane and the speeds they drive at are terrifying. But while building and glitzy stuff are forging ahead in Dubai, somehow the wealth contrasts hugely with the poverty of the guest workers from Pakistan, Bangla Desh, India and other developing nations and it takes the gloss of this city, at least, it does for me and my husband.
We weren’t sorry to leave and take off from Dubai for Cyprus at 8.15 in the morning. But first we had an interesting adventure when we had to go down stairs, climb onto an airport bus and then get transported to our waiting aircraft. The bus hurtled along, as is the case with all traffic in Dubai, and we passengers began to exchange worried looks when the journey continued… and continued … and continued. Were the passengers disappearing into the ether, only to be seen like ghosts floating around this huge airport for ever and a day? Luckily, we did finally reach an aircraft where we disembarked (with great relief!) and had to climb up stairs to reach the cabin. Interesting experience!
The four-hour flight seemed to fly past, particularly given the distances you fly in Australia and the previous long-haul flight we’d had. It was so exciting flying over the coast of Lebanon and suddenly seeing the panhandle of Cyprus appear on our right-hand side. It only seemed minutes from the time we flew over the coast of Lebanon to landing at Larnaca Airport in South Cyprus.
We had arranged for a taxi driver to pick us up and drive us to North Cyprus, to Buyukkonuk on the Karpaz Peninsula (the panhandle), where we had rented a house, and we were delighted to encounter this gentleman. He was enormously helpful not just getting us to the house but in fixing things up for us when things went haywire at our new abode.
We arrived in Cyprus on one of the coldest days of winter in the coldest winter the island has experienced in living memory. Just our luck! The first night the power and water failed. The wood heater smoked the house out because, as we later found out, the flue was blocked. The toilet started leaking badly from a bodgy hose fitting at the back so we couldn’t flush, only use buckets of water. And the house hated us. You could feel it as soon as you walked in. And we returned the feeling. It’s funny how you can walk into one house and feel at home, and walk into another and know it’s not making you welcome at all.
So a few days after we arrived, we drove into Kyrenia to look for another rental home. I think one of the loveliest sights I’ve ever seen is as we drove up the mountain-side from the Karpaz Peninsula to the Kyrenia side of North Cyprus and saw the Mediterranean stretching out before us. It was a beautiful day, clear blue sky, bright sunshine and the sea was like a millpond, an impossibly azure colour. It made the whole move worthwhile just to see that scene.
We had booked a hotel on the west side of Kyrenia and set about familiarising ourselves with the area around this major city. Luckily we found a holiday apartment straight away and were able to move in within a couple of days, a huge relief! It’s a ground-floor, two bedroom apartment with air-conditioning, in a holiday complex with gardens and a communal swimming pool. It’s a bit cramped but ideal for us while we went house-hunting.
As you can see, the scenery here is absolutely wonderful. On the other side of the mountains is a plain until you reach Famagusta, the main port for North Cyprus. We weren’t too keen on Famagusta, a bit seedy like a lot of port cities, and too far away from the mountains for us. But Kyrenia and surrounding suburbs are at the base of the Besparmak mountains and it’s wonderful to walk out in the mornings, see the mountain range directly behind us, and then turn around to see the Mediterranean stretching out before us. Absolute bliss!
So yes, we have found our new home, in the suburb of Alsancak (pronounced Alsanchak), which is just outside Kyrenia and close to the sea. Our ground floor apartment is in a holiday complex, it’s three-bedroom, all air-conditioned, with one bedroom having a balcony outside so I’ve snaffled that for my work and teaching area, a nice-sized living room, modern kitchen with all whitegoods (both areas air-conditioned), a good-sized shed in the garden which my husband has first dibs on for his model railway, a covered area in the garden, and a medium-sized garden. As the apartment is part of a holiday complex, there’s also a communal pool, which we will doubtless be using when the summer gets here as it gets very hot in Cyprus in July-August. We pay a monthly fee for maintenance which suits us down to the ground as we don’t have to do any of the work ourselves, just look after our own garden which is smallish and easily maintained.
We should be moving into our new home by the end of April, which will be great as our boxes from Australia are turning up on or around 16th April, and the current owner is kindly allowing us to store all our cartons in the unit until we move in. Now we’re at the point we’re we can take a deep breath, slow down, rest and relax and – while we’re waiting to finalise our home purchase – do the tourist thing and start visiting all the historical sites on this beautiful island.