Cyprus – Thomo’s Impressions

Another country with 7000 years of history, culture and civilisation of various sorts. A true Mediterranean lifestyle though. o­ne of my greatest pleasures is sitting outside in the afternoon and evening, o­n Archbishop Makarios Drive through Lefkosia (Nicosia), sipping a hot cappuccino and watching the girls stroll by. That has to be o­ne of the closest things to heaven o­n earth.

Cyprus is an island down the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, just off the coast of the Lebanon. It has been populated for many a year and was an reasonably important centre in ancient times. In fact, Ancient Cyprus was populated and ruled by Greeks and Romans. In those times it was a trade centre, trading copper around the Aegean and the Middle East. It was also famous for its wines.

Today, Cyprus is a popular tourist resort for northern Europeans (it’s mild winters coupled with its long hot summers make it particularly attractive to northern Europeans, in search of sunshine and warmth). At the same time, Cyprus is also a bustling commercial centre with many international companies having regional headquarters there, attracted by good tax rates and its central location. There is evidence of a booming economy in the western area (the government controlled area) of the island. Business is important.

The eastern end of the island, taken by the Turks in 1974 and approximately 37% of the area of the country is, however, poor and run-down, with none of the vibrancy and drive of the Greek end of the island. This is, however, likely to change over the coming years as more investment occurs in the eastern end of the island as a result of the 2004 referendum.

The island is famous from ancient times as the place Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love) emerged from the waves. This was near the town of Paphos (currently very popular with Scandinavian tourists) and a temple to Aphrodite was erected there. There are fine beaches and warm dry weather around most of the island with Greek style cooking of the best kind as well as some of the nicest olives I have eaten anywhere.

There are a number of museums and places of historic interest spread throughout the island and whilst most of the tourists tend to hug the coast for the beaches, it is well worth taking a trip inland to Lefkosia (Nicosia – the capital) as well as the Troodos Mountains. The capital of Cyprus is Lefkosia. For years it has been known as Nicosia and when questioning the locals about it (I noticed that a road sign pointing to Nicosia in English, started with the lambda (the upside down V) character in Greek. Lambda is, of course, an ‘L’ sound). I was told then that the name was actually Lefkosia but the British had misunderstood the locals back in the 19th century and so Nicosia was the name given in English. The road signs are changing now

To be honest, however, apparently the name of Nicosia comes from the times of the Crusaders (arguably they were still English and Richard the Lionheart has a long history with Cyprus) so the story was not too far from the truth.

The roads around Cyprus are, with the exception of the main roads, not the best. This is partly because road repairs in Cyprus take twice as long as most other places in Europe. The reason for this is every time the road workers dig up a road for repair or replacement, something of archaeological value appears and has to be extracted before the road repairs continue.

If you can visit Cyprus, do.

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