So the light readings of despair provided by previous posts now turns to a different mood. While I could also write about the extreme heat and challenging physical side of Cyprus, instead I'll report on the time we have off. What I should probably also add is that I haven't personally found anything and so I suppose I should leave it to the cool kids.
This weekend just past a wolf pack of archaeologists went exploring to the Northern side of Cyprus. As we were briefed in week one with a quick background of Modern Cypriot issues it was invaluable to go with the honorary pack leader Paul, who turned out to be a human encyclopedia on Cypriot history and landmarks.
On the first day in Nicosia we caught a roller coaster ride of a taxi from Nicosia up to Kyrenia, a seaside town with an amazing castle, picturesque views and a brilliant museum. The castle itself has had a troubled past with occupation and repurposing by almost all leadership groups found in Cypriot history. Perhaps most interesting and the physical phase which remains today is the evidence of Medieval use and in particular the Crusaders. Upon entering we saw deep gouges in the wall corners at the drawbridge which some believe to be sword marks in the soft limestone. From the top corner of the castle we could see both the harbour-front and straight out to sea, the perfect opportunity for a group photo!
The museum inside the castle itself houses one of the most breathtaking items I have ever seen. The shipwreck museum inside a hall within the castle walls contains the "Kyrenia Ship", a Greek merchant ship from the 4th century BC. This date makes it the oldest intact ship in the world and walking into the room with preservation humidifiers was an amazing experience.
That afternoon we then sped off to Saint Hilarion castle on our way back to Nicosia and saw the sprawling Medieval structure which lies high on the mountain above Kyrenia. Despite the grueling climb to the top on itty bitty stairs made for small medieval folk, the view at the top was amazing and simply getting there was rewarding enough. At the lookout on the top we were also rewarded with a paper airplane competition with was both embarrassing and brilliant for different team members.
The second day has much less to report. It involved shopping and beer, a great combination. Due to time restraints for the bus trip back to Paphos we stayed within the centre of the city. The highlight for the day was either a 2.5 litre tower of beer or an amazing jeweller who's creations are designed on archaeological finds and are made in silver and gold in limited numbers. Lots of present for people at home or just themselves were bought. We also found a great bookshop in the Turkish side of Nicosia which had floor to ceiling shelves and was packed with amazing books from the 50s and 60s (thankfully in English)
In conclusion the time off over here is an amazing opportunity to see what is basically two different cultures in the same place. While there is caution to be had with crossing the border, exploring Nicosia was a brilliant experience and a great break.