North Cyprus Holiday Journal - Newbies in North Cyprus - Day 9
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Kyrenia Gate
Kyrenia Gate
photo by: TRNC Ministry of Tourism
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Newbies in North Cyprus, Day 9

Day 9: Wednesday

By now we had realised that distances in North Cyprus are relative. Our rather out of date guidebooks warned of the long drive from our rental villa in Esentepe to the Karpaz Peninsula. However, the locals thought nothing of the journey, and as the new mountain road whisked us through to the Bogaz area in no time at all, we soon found ourselves in a quite different part of North Cyprus. Gone were the major villa developments, replaced with the occasional new apartment block, and then giving way to genuine villages.

We passed through Yenierenköy, home to Turkish Cypriots moved from the last Turkish enclave in south Cyprus, then on through another anomaly, the village of Sipahi, inhabited by Greek Cypriots reluctant to leave their homeland after Cyrpus was divided in 1974. Beyond the village we discovered Agios Triós, the remains of a 5th century basilica nestling in an olive grove, its mosaic floor patterns still bright in the midday sunshine. Next to the remaining pillars and walls, a lady was picking olives from her trees, and the only other life in the whole area apart from the custodian were the lizards, scuttling through the remains and sunning themselves on the baptistry font!

Greek Icons

We fully intended to drive further along the north coast of the Karpaz Peninsula, but due to resurfacing work, Fate instead took us to Deks restaurant. Owned by a very sparky British couple whose daughter had married a Cypriot policeman, they had ambitious plans for their friendly restaurant next to a rocky North Cyprus beach. As we arrived, a Turkish lesson was underway in the verandah for the local expat population, enabling them to join in local life better, and the owner told me proudly of their 'Deks Treks' programme of guided walks into the mountains, discovering mysterious statues and ruined churches. Indeed, we didn't need to go very far from Deks to discover two contrasting churches. We parked our car in the shade of the 18th century Agios Thyrsos, full of reproduction Greek icons. At the water's edge, was a much older chapel, a site of pilgrimage for Greek Cypriots who came to leave rags at the site of a healing spring. Below the church, natural freshwater spring flows, in defiance of its location with the sea almost surrounding it. Staff from Deks look after both churches, keeping them clean and tidy and open for visitors from all over Cyprus, both north and south.

It was perhaps out here, then we discovered the true spirit of North Cyprus, an unhurried pace of life coupled with a generosity of spirit that welcomed visitors, where folk went the extra mile to look after churches just because they needed looking after. If we had more time, we definitely would have gone further into the Karpaz Peninsula, to discover more hidden treasures, rocky bays, and some glorious beaches. And don't be fooled by guidebooks that say there are no petrol stations in the Karpaz - they are springing up like mushrooms all over the place!