“The last paradise on earth“
When the first half of September has passed, the temperatures here in North Cyprus are pleasant night and day. The sea water remains wonderfully warm and silky. If you are not lucky enough to live here in North Cyprus, this is the time of the year when you and your friends should come and visit this land.
The widely unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus used to be known as “the last paradise on earth” and as a country that was “too good to be true”. It was an eccentric, old fashioned country with good manners, rural charm and much architectural evidence of great civilisations of the past. There was much freedom and little regulation. There was almost no crime.
Now the country is less eccentric. It has been modernised. Many of the new houses are unattractive. The old groceries have been replaced by supermarkets with horrible pop music. But the modernisation makes it easier to find the food you like and the medicine that one might need and when you walk or drive around you notice that the old and the new have mixed rather nicely.
There is also a great deal left of the traditional paradise. The three crusader castles, St Hilarion, Buffavento and Kantara, are still there on mountain tops, surrounded by beautiful forests. In the major towns there are old buildings from Lusignan, Venetian and Ottoman times, also very attractive court and administrative buildings from the more recent era of the British Empire.
Where I live, in Kyrenia (in Turkish Girne), my wife and I continue to enjoy socialising and having meals at the legendary Grapevine Restaurant, a place from which novel writers and journalists have drawn stories. You can walk to it in five minutes from the town square along the Nicosia (Lefkoşa) Road. It is oddly situated beside and behind a petrol station, but it is there, and when you have found and entered it, you are in another world. It is beautiful in a rustic way. The food is good, and you might feel at home right away. It is run by Mr Kutlay Keco (pronounced Kedjo), a former military man who is also known as “Jimmy”. The same family runs the St Kathleen Restaurant at Alagadi by the turtle beach about 30 minutes by car east of Kyrenia.
A great experience is a visit to the Gardens of Irini in the beautiful and indeed legendary mountainous village of Bellapais. Spend ten minutes in Bellapais, and you will never forget the village with its ancient monastery in the centre. The grand hall inside it is the North Cyprus’s major concert hall. If something is on there during your visit, please stay on and listen.
The owner of the Gardens of Irini is Deirdre Guthrie, a charming British lady whose parents bought the property in the 1950’s. They were friends and neighbours with Lawrence Durrell who also had discovered the beauty and magic of Bellapais and had then described his Cyprus experience in his classic book, Bitter Lemons.
The house that was Durrell’s home is still there and known as – Bitter Lemons. It is near the Gardens of Irini which has several cottages. You can live and eat there and enjoy the company of Deirdre and her friends.
But is not North Cyprus a dangerous place now with the civil wars in Syria and the crises in and around Turkey? No, I do not think so. We are a small country but we have good relations in most directions and an effective defence system. When things go wrong in neighbouring countries, we normally just carry on unaffected and continue to receive nice and interesting visitors.
Come and enjoy not just good weather and interesting things to see but also to have good conversation. Now is the time to book your North Cyprus holiday.
Copyright (c) Bertil Wedin
Please see more sights and scenes of North Cyprus in the video below and for more information please click here