Journal 1: Aussie Adventures 1
Journal 2: Aussie Adventures 2
Journal 3: Indonesian Escapades
Journal 4: Singapore & Malaysia
Journal 5: Langkawi, Malaysia
Journal 6: Thailand Trekking 1
Journal 7: Thailand Trekking 2
Journal 8: Indian Ocean, Maldives, & Oman
Journal 9: Oman & Yemen
Journal 10: Pirates, Eritrea, & Sudan
Journal 11: Egyptian Adventures 1

Journal 12: Egyptian Adventures 2
Journal 13: Egypt to Israel
Journal 14: Cyprus Crossings
Journal 15: Turkish Tales 1
Journal 16: Turkish Tales 2
Journal 17: Greek Odyssey

Journal 18: Italy & Spain
Journal 19: Why Go Cruising?
Journal 20: Airplanes are Faster
Journal 21: Barbados


June 11-22, 2005

We had a lovely two day sail from Ashkelon, Israel to Larnaca, Cyprus. On the way, we celebrated David’s birthday with homemade pizza that could compete with anything that Domino’s makes! We had been planning on arriving in Famagusta, Cyprus which is on the eastern end of the island. One of our acquaintances in Israel had told us that this was a great place to stop and check-in, far away from all the tourists that swamp Cyprus. Cyprus rose up out of turquoise Mediterranean waters with a very developed waterfront and large mountains off in the distance. We were excited about getting close to our destination when the Cyprus Coast Guard came up on the radio to tell us we could not proceed to Famagusta. We were informed that this small coastal town was off limits to cruisers and was not a port of entry. Well, that meant doing a 180 degree turn and heading 40 miles (or an 8 hour sail) to the west to the touristy town of Larnaca. We grumbled a little bit at the coast guard, threatened to skip Cyprus altogether, and then sailed for Larnaca. We got into Larnaca Marina just as the sun was beginning to set. Since Customs and Immigration had already finished for the day, we anchored just outside the marina. The next morning, we made our formal entry into Cyprus.

Now for a little history about Cyprus … there have been people living in Cyprus since the Neolithic Age. Since then, they have been controlled by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Ottomans, …. In more recent history, the Brits have had a real presence here with 2 military bases. So most of the tourists seem to come from the UK, This had definitely worked to our advantage … English speaking Cypriots, English literature, and British breakfasts with bacon and sausage. This has been the first place to have pork since Thailand!! Let’s just say that we had quite a few sausage sizzles with our friends from New Zealand!

Asides from sausages, I discovered that Cyprus is a divided country. Cyprus has been occupied by Turkey in the north since 1974 when there was an attempted coup. In the south are the Greek Cypriots who would like to be united with Greece. Although the EU has been working towards a unified Cyprus, animosity stills rides high. Currently it does not look like a resolution will happen anytime soon. Famagusta was in the northern section of Cyprus and this might explain why we were not allowed entry into this port.

Cyprus is a beautiful country! Rocky hillsides are covered with olive trees and vineyards. There is so much history here to discover. In our week long stay in Larnaca, we visited Crusader castles, Greek ruins, Neolithic sites, carnivals, mountain villages, Byzantine churches … and so much more. I think that some of my favorite sites were up in the mountains. We drove up narrow and winding roads lined by small stone houses overgrown with geraniums and roses and set against the backdrop of rocky mountains. Absolutely gorgeous! Much of the hillsides were terraced to make every use of arable land. There were orchards of apricots, oranges, lemons, and cherries everywhere! We got lost a few times up in those hills, but found our way to a small Byzantine church called The Church of the 12 Frescos. It may not have looked like much on the outside with wood lattices and a small bell tower, but inside the walls of the nave were covered with vivid frescos of Jesus, the apostles, Mary, and other religious figures. Frescos are paintings that have been painted right into wet plaster. Amazing! Another place we visited was a monastery built on the top of a high mountain. Here Benedictine monks seek solace and silence far away from the crowds.

Another very cool site we visited was a Crusader castle in the city of Limassol. Again, this old structure did not look like much from the outside, basically it was just a square box with no windows, but once you got inside the whole fortress opened up. The curator told us that the windows and doors were filled in when the castle was under attack from the Ottoman Empire. They have preserved centuries of history with pottery, tombstones, weapons, coins, and much more. We visited dank dungeons and secret passageways. Up on the roof, there was an incredible view of the entire bay. Supposedly, this is place where Richard the Lionheart had his wedding! As we came out, they were actually setting up tables to have a wedding and reception. David, Donna, and Dave visited another Crusader castle in Limassol called Colossi which was built by the Knights Templar in the 15th century.

Larnaca was a cool little town. We arrived just in time for their “Cataclysmos” festival which remembers the Biblical flood. If you go to the little mountain villages, the kids celebrate the holiday by throwing buckets all over your car as you drive by! So make sure to keep those windows rolled up. Cyprus happens to be one of the more deeply religious countries in Europe. We saw churches everywhere and when I went out walking on Sunday, I could hear many joyful services in progress. For the festival, the entire waterfront was closed off to traffic and a large carnival was set up with ferris wheels and bumper cars. They had the most amazing local cuisine -- honey balls (think donut holes drenched in sweet syrup), Turkish delight type candies, hot buttered corn on the cob, a sweet made from locally grown grapes (it looked like brown candle wax hanging from a string), dried fruits, ice cream … Yum! Every night they had traditional dancing and singing which was lovely. We really enjoyed the festival and exploring the town which had its own castle, a historic mosque, the tomb of Saint Lazarus … Ancient Christian legend says that Lazarus became the 1st Christian bishop in Cyprus. He was buried in Larnaca and a church was built over his tomb. Unfortunately, the saints bones were taken by the Byzantine Emperor to Constantinople and then by the Knights Templar to France. Lazarus sure knows how to get around!

Another cool site we visited was from the Neolithic period (circa 8000 BC). By this time, people had actually made it to the island of Cyprus. I have to wonder how they got here. Perhaps they were already skilled seamen and made their way to Cyprus by boat, or maybe they walked across a bridge created during the last Ice Age. What archeologists have discovered shows a developed society with walled villages filled with huts, developing agriculture and animal husbandry, and much more. This society buried the dead under their homes. Archeologists have found up to eight generations buried with pottery, beads, and shells. Donna went a little wild at the site since she loves finding artifacts. Every few steps had her “Ooo-ing” and “Aaahing” at grindstones and axe heads.

So all in all, Cyprus was a wonderful success. Even though my wallet feels significantly lighter, it was a great adventure and we met loads of friendly people. To read about more adventures about Cyprus, check out David’s Journal Page. He visited the Tombs of the Kings (royals tombs built between 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD), Temple of Dionysus which had amazing mosaics, and more Crusader castles.

Beautiful Cyprus Coastline

Colossi Castle in Limassol

Tunnels at the Paphos castle built by the
Knights Templar

Keeping a sharp lookout for ships
at the Crusader castle in Limassol

Monastery perched on top of a lonely mountain

Picturesque hillside town of Chandria

10th century Church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca
Supposedly Lazarus' tomb is under the church

Calming view from top of Mt. Olympus

Church of the 12 Frescos
Painted in the 12th century

Beautiful painted nave in the Church
of the 12 Frescos

Donna checks out the starter huts for the
Neolithic period (8000 BC)

Sweets, sweets, and more sweets
Traditional Cypriot candies at the Fair

David samples some of the local cuisine

Amazingly intact mosaic at the house of the Roman
governor for Cyprus, circa 2 AD

Colorful and detailed mosaic from
the Temple of Dionysus

This web site is a companion web site to Outback and Beyond.com.