A divided city and island

Lady of the House, and I have had holidays several times in Cyprus, and have just returned from a New Year break there….and very nice it was, thank you, with sun, warm wind, and blue sky!

We had always been in the southern, Greek part, and on a previous visit we had driven northwards to the town of Nicosia, to see the Green line. This is simply a barricade in the centre of the town. As the only divided capital in Europe, it kept apart the Greek and Turkish inhabitants.  It was not possible to travel across the border a  few years ago, but this time, the restrictions had been lifted somewhat, and we were able to cross at a specified area. Visas had to be filled out, and a wait endured, whilst a young, (not un-attractive) lady joined us, presumably to supervise us.

And so we crossed into no-man’s land, to be confronted on the hillside facing us, by a massive Turkish flag….I believe it actually appears in the Guiness Book of Records! It’s also quite a good question for pub quizzes!

We visited the hillside town of Bellapais, with a magnificent Monastery, along with a little Greek Orthodox Church. This is not now active, as the Turkish Cypriots forbade its use as anything more than a museum. It was here that one of our party caused a slight diplomatic incident, as the count of people back onto the coach was one fewer than had seemed to get off! 

After a debate between our guide and our Turkish supervisor, and a hurried look in the area by both of them, it was eventually decided that perhaps such a person had not existed, and so the agreement was reached to move on! A pity all such disputes cannot be decided so amicably. However we were all left with the query…..’What if….?’

We descended into the port of Kyrenia. This was a bit of a pilgrimage for us, as an uncle of the Lady of the House had been a sculptor, and had always said we must go to see Kyrenia. Unfortunately there was little atmosphere about the place, as it was very quiet…so much so that as we found seats at one of a number of  harbour restaurants, we could easily have had 20 seats each!

Our return over the border was uneventful (but did our supervisor get a reprimand for ‘losing’ one of us?) And so we returned to the more ‘normal’ Cyprus that we know.

Perhaps if the EU can pressurise Turkey to allow the re-union of this small island it might be a move in the right direction. Any resulting legislative assembly or workable political framework might not be exactly what each side would want, but perhaps some more peaceful and positive compromise might be reached. Such a situation now obtains in the country where I was born, even with a sense of fragility.

So perhaps we might yet see the two flags flying together, proudly side by side instead of  in an antagonistic way….it’s only a small island, after all!


5 thoughts on “A divided city and island

  1. Very interesting description of the situation there. I have often wondered about the place, though I haven’t visited since it was divided. I have friends who have visited Turkey in recent years, and were quite enthusiastic about tourism there. I haven’t gone myself. I wonder though, if there resorts, restaurants and hotels are as charming as they are in Turkey. As for the enmity between the Turks and Greeks… I doubt that an outsider can understand something like that. I’m sure I don’t.

  2. ShimonZ…..I don’t think it is unique in any way, just an example of how people on a personal level are affected from whichever direction they view the situation.
    I can’t say that one side is correct and the other wrong, or one is specifically an aggressor and the other is the suppresssed…because I do not know…all I can say that people as individuals are affected in their very short life-span, in a way that demoralises and ruins their lives.
    No area of the world is free from aggression of some sort as you are all too aware, but I only wish for people the opportunity to live out their life in love and with as little hatred as possible.

  3. What an interesting travelogue! Sounds like you & Lady had a lovely trip. I’ve never been to Greece or Turkey, and unfortunately do not fly, so it’s particularly enjoyable hearing about others trips. That flag is immense! Perhaps the flag equivalent of a dog marking its turf? It’s a shame when people living in one place refuse to or simply cannot get along. So much wasted grief and (often) blood shed. I too hope for peaceful resolution, world wide.

  4. DD……your description of the dog marking its territory is excellent. It all seems remarkably stupid, as I grew up in Northern Ireland where such nonsense was endemic. This week I was chatting with a Jew from Israel and we spoke of the West Bank and the Palestinian problem….so it’s not just in one part of the (civilised!) world where the problems occur.

  5. Sis-in-law was at school on the dividing line when the fighting flared up. The school building can still be seen a bit pock marked, as can the the hotel that her parents stayed in when they visited their daughter. That is in no-man’s land, a faded glory of colonial architecture, when we visited, again it was pock marked, particularly at one end. We crossed into Northern Cyprus with our young child. Getting agitated with the sudden change from ‘Europe’ into ‘Turkey’, I felt it best for hubby and our child if we moved on. We found a Mercedes taxi, the clock of which, had been round itself at least once, and we headed for Kyrenia, the taxi driver giving us a bit of commentary on the way. We had a good meal there.

    From what you say, not much has changed since our visit about eighteen years ago.

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