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mistybleu Larnaca - A travel report by Amanda
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Larnaca,  Cyprus - flag Cyprus
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mistybleu's travel reports

I'm loving Larnaca

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Cyprus is a great place to get some late summer sun. With temperatures 30 and above and only 4 hours from the UK with only a 2 hour time difference. It is a perfect place for a little R&R.

Larnaca by the sea
Larnaca by the sea
Cyprus is a wonderful country to visit. With near enough year round sunshine it is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. The four largest towns are 1. Nicosia, 2. Limassol, 3. Strovolos, and 4. Larnaca.

Larnaca is a modern vibrant holiday town which is very popular with Russians and Brits, and a perfect place from which to see the rest of the island.

But to be fair, this is an island where you want to hit the beaches, kick back and relax. Whilst the idea is to relax there are many beaches around the island explore, sometimes within an hour drive. To do something different and take a morning out to do some shopping the the capital.

Nicosia, also known locally as lefkosa, now remains the only capital city that is divided (after the reunification of Berlin Germany), following the violence which occurred between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots in the 1960s and 70s. You can be walking down a street only to find a huge wall in front of you, which ensured you don’t just wonder across. A bit of a reprieve occurred in 2008, when the wall at Ledra Street which divided the two communities was opened and a new order crossing now exists. Life seems so different on either side of this border. But it is well worth visiting both sides to appreciate the differences but to also wish for unification.

Nicosia is around 21 miles from Larnaca and there is a good bus network which serves the city. But after a day in the city it is a refreshing to head back to the coast and enjoy the beach life. And the beach is wonderful.

Favourite spots:
Whilst I enjoyed being in Larnaca, one of my favourite parts of the trip was heading out of town, especially to Nicosia, which remains the only capital city that was divided. During the 1970s Turkey invaded the island and it remains split to today, so as you would suspect going across the border was the highlight.

It was a bit strange walking through the streets of Nicosia only to turn down a street which was blocked off, seeing abandoned properties with broken windows in the buffer zone which was patrolled by UN peace keeping forces. I’m told that at one point the border crossing into Northern Cyprus was quite difficult but this has improved. I just needed to complete the day entry visa and was happily waved on through to enjoy the day. I was taken aback with how different the two parts of the city are, even the people.

What's really great:
Ayia Napa
Ayia Napa
From Athens Avenue, you can get a bus to a few town across Cyprus. Buses run hourly at peak times and then intermittently during the day depending the time of the year and this makes it so easy to travel around to different towns and different beaches.

Larnaca International Airport – (3 miles) just outside the airport are the 4 salt lakes, a picturesque spot where you can enjoy a nature trail and maybe catch a glimpse of some flamingos.

Limassol - (60 miles) offers another great day out. Things to see are the castle of Limassol, the old market, Amathounta archaeological ruins and of course enjoy the beach.

Nicosia – (22 miles) locally known as Lefkosia.

Ayia Napa – (21 miles) This is area has been famed for its unruly club scene and British tourist. But outside the main season there are lots to do including watersports and there are so many beaches to visit.

Paphos (70 miles) is renowned as the birthplace of Greek goddess Aphrodite.

St Lazarus Church
St Lazarus Church
There aren’t many sites in Larnaca, my favourite are:

1. St Lazarus Byzantine Church – I was thrilled to hear this story. It was built on the resting place of Lazarus the famed friend of Jesus Christ whom he resurrected from the dead. Lazarus is said to have arrived in ancient village of Kition in 33 AD (remains of the settlement can be seen just outside of the town) and became the first bishop and patron saint.

The area of Athens Avenue (aka Palm Tree Promenade) was developed in the 1990s and punctured with Europe Square and the Castle at the other.

2. The promenade is a wonderful area which caters for the tourists with many restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels on a picturesque seafront.

3. Europe Square has the first British colonial buildings built in Cyprus (1881), now used as museums. 4. Larnaka Medieval Castle founded during the Byzantine era and is a wonderful fortified 12th century castle. Up until 1948 it was used as a prison.

Parasailing - Agia Napa
Parasailing - Agia Napa
Travelling to Larnaca was only the second time that I’ve stayed in a serviced apartment. I think the main disadvantage is that I had to cook all the meals unless I chose to eat out. Sometimes when on holiday this can be quite tedious however it does reduce the costs. I believe there are many apartments available there and in Cyprus as a whole owing to the nature of their tourism industry.

However when planning an apartment holiday, it is sensible to pack carefully and bring a few essentials, so once there you’re not buying silly quantities of for example salt and pepper. It is also wise to plan menus with how many times you will eat in or dine around – that way you have little wastage and it becomes more cost effective.

Old market in Limassol
Old market in Limassol
Along the esplanade there are many restaurants and it is fun to hang out there during the evening. I chose to eat in Alexander’s towards the end of this picturesque waterfront. My waiter informed me that the doner kebab was a typical Cypriot dish and I hadn’t had one in years so I tried one. In the UK traditionally they have lamb doner kebabs, but here I only found beef and chicken available on menus, with chicken being the more expensive dish. It had great flavour and the amount was more than enough for two people.

For desert I had the milk cake or galatopoureko, similar to custard tart. It has a pastry bottom with flaky filo pastry on top drenched in orange and lemon syrup, and a sweet milky substance in the middle - fabulous!

Other recommendations:
The old walled city of Jerusalem
The old walled city of Jerusalem
Cyprus is wonderful to explore for the beach life as well as the history; however sometimes it is also interesting to see what else the region has to offer.

I had two options either taking a flight (to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel) or a cruise.

I found a company that offered two cruises: Pharaohs & the Promised Land, and the Holy Land; both leaving for the Israel, Egypt and taking in Turkey, and sometimes Syria. Although Damascus isn't on the cards right now. Cruises depart from Limassol, the second largest city in Cyprus or Larnaca.

I also came across a three day cruise also departing from Limassol but sailed to Hafia which allows you to have a day trip to Israel and explore the Holy City.

Published on Tuesday August 6th, 2013

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Tue, Aug 13 2013 - 04:01 PM rating by krisek

Thanks a million for this interesting report, Amanda. When I was writing my reports on Cyprus, I was uncertain about the 'last divided European capital' statement. For there is Rome and Vatican. And, although not in Europe, there is also Jerusalem... Great perspective on Cuprus in your report, though.

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