Written by Lynsey Oxton
Having already been to Southern Cyprus on a few occasions, we found ourselves in the North, more by chance than choice; a friend offered us his super-swish villa for two weeks at ‘mates rates’ – so it was too good an offer to pass up.
The September weather was lovely – perhaps reaching around 25 degrees most days. However, I’m not one for just lounging around the pool (the other half is, but I’m just too restless) and so I needed to know there were places to go and see too….on the drive in, I had observed that it was quite baron in parts!
We took a drive to Girne/ Kyrenia which was about 30 minutes from where we were staying. It was a pretty little harbour town with boats, a castle, gift shops, bars, restaurants and even a Burger King (next to the rip-off Louis Vuitton bag stall).
As I say, in comparison to the South, Northern Cyprus felt quite quiet (too quiet) for me most days – however, a 2 hour drive East to the Karpaz demonstrated that quiet wilderness can actually be quite lovely too. We found stretches of beaches, entirely unoccupied….
……and drove to the end of the Peninsula, where there were more donkeys than humans – and none of them shy!
We chose to stay overnight in Villa Lembos, a sweet family-owned B&B at the start of the Karpaz and enjoyed a tin (or five) of the local Efes beer, following a long day out.
There are clear differences between the North and the South and not just the ‘buzz’ (or lack thereof); the North feels far more religious than its counterpart, with mosques everywhere you look and the daily prayers that can be heard from wherever you happen to be. It was quite strange to fly into the South and have to go through a sort of additional ‘passport control’ into the North. We visited Lefkosa/ Nicosia for the day which is the border between the two and where the North and South quite literally merge into one. You can walk into the market and pay for one item in Euros and another in Turkish Lira.
There were undoubtably some lovely places to eat in Northern Cyprus, with a strong Turkish influence; small plates of things you were not quite sure what they were, but which tasted lovely – and kebabs a plenty. But in honesty, I missed the Greek offerings of the South.
The one thing I will day for Northern Cyprus is that you won’t find a better sunset in the South.