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Cyprus

 

When we sailed through the Greek Islands reading the history of each place the common thread seemed to be each Greek island's change of fate when ruled by the Turks.  In particular are the stories of Turkish massacres of Greeks when the Greeks tried to throw off Ottoman Turkish rule in the early 1800's. 

Nowhere is this enmity more obvious today than on the divided island of Cyprus.  In 1974 Cyprus was partitioned with the northern third becoming the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and the predominantly Greek southern two thirds becoming  the Republic of Cyprus.  Today the border is still patrolled by UN troops.  In 2003 a cross border checkpoint was opened for the first time making tourist travel from one side to the other possible. 

After reading the pilot books we decided to make landfall in Famagusta on the northern (Turkish) side.  Coming from Israel on an overnight passage this meant we would sail past southern Cyprus.  As we approached the southern coast a Republic of Cyprus (Greek) military boat pulled alongside and asked our destination.  When we said Famagusta we were informed that the harbor there had been closed to international traffic since 1974.  For the next few minutes the military tried to pressure and intimidate us into coming to the Republic of Cyprus (Greek) side, finally informing us if we went to the Turkish side we would never EVER be allowed onto the Greek side.   Properly chastised we said OK and continued on our way to Turkish Famagusta.

We had to first tie up alongside the local boats to check in but later were allowed to go out and anchor in the outer harbor.  For the next few days we explored Famagusta and the wonderful old castles on the north coast.  Each castle was on a different hilltop just within sight of each other.  In times of war signal fires were lit passing messages from hilltop to hilltop. 

One day we took a bus to the divided capital city of Levkosa/Nicosia.  We were allowed to cross the border and did explore both sides of the split in half city.

 

         
Ventana tied alongside the local boats          Early caravanseri where travelers stopped          The mountains of northern Cyprus

          
   Lizard with a large flying insect                    The beautiful ancient harbor at Girne                   Famagusta harbor and church

         
     Castle guarding the north coast         The Romans were among the first to use the arch   Ancient coliseum that has been rebuilt

 

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Webmaster- Rob Dubin                             copyright 2003-2010   Rob  Dubin               Page Last updated 05/09/2010