We had to meet at 7:45 this morning (15 minutes earlier than usual) because we were crossing the border into the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus. We had no business meetings today which was really nice because it meant I could wear something without having to make sure it was business appropriate.
After we made it through the border, our first stop was a walk through the Varosi area. This area is a part of Famagusta (17% to be exact) that the Turkish out fence up around after they invaded and then ignored. The area is made of many hotels, houses, and shops that Turkish plunder when they first got there. After they striped everything bare and fenced it in, they did absolutely nothing with it for 40 years. Recently, they opened it back up to visitors but it is a complete ghost town. Everything is overgrown; there was construction being done on a building when they first invaded and the crane that was being used is still standing there. This area was actually where our tour guide was from so she was pointing out things that had meaning to her life when she lived there (her brothers old high school, where she worked for a summer, etc.). It was so sad to see what had happened to things that had meaning to so many people’s lives. She also told us that the Turkish actually invaded the night before she was supposed to get married which just stresses how much this invasion destroyed lives.
After this, we went to a part of the Turkish occupied territory that they actually use and upkeep called the Old City. Our tour guide showed us many Cyprian historical landmarks that now are in Turkish territory. Because the Turks do not care about the Cyprian culture, other countries, including Cyprus, have to pay for the upkeep and restoration of the landmarks that the Turks destroyed. She told us many stories about Greek and Turkish Cypriots living in peace before the invasion and how many of the Turkish Cypriots did not agree with the decision to invade.
After we ate lunch in the Turkish Old City, we went to Konnos Bay for a couple of hours on the beach. The water was absolutely beautiful and it was so refreshing. I realized I didn’t take any pictures afterwards which was very disappointing. We only had about an hour and half on the beach because we had to leave by 3:50 and we had to get changed. However, it was still a lot of fun and I am glad we got one last beach day.
Then, we went to the sea caves. They were not what I thought they were going to be because we only got to go into one cave but they were still beautiful. The first one we stopped at was an actual cave by the water. The view was so cool from inside but it was pretty slippery so I was happy I didn’t slip although two of my friends did. The other one we stopped at was a rock bridge. It was essentially rock that had a hole in it that made it look like a bridge which was a really unique formation and really interesting to see. Once our time was up, we got on the bus and I slept the entire way back (it was not the first comfortable bus we had but I think I was so tired it didn’t matter).
Back in Nicosia, our representative from the university showed us around the spots that are most important to him and to the locals. It was cool to not just see the tourist spots or the historically significant ones, but to see the ones that really matter to locals. After, we went to dinner at an Italian place because we were a little tired of Mediterranean and we stopped at our guides favorite spot for ice cream after.
Overall, it was a really fun day but it feels like the end of the trip is starting to creep up which is really sad.