Today we experienced a new side of Cyprus, Famagusta and the Turkish occupied north. As we rode the bus towards the border, our tour guide Georgina explained to us all of the details of the Turkish invasion, an invasion that she personally experienced. Georgina lived in Famagusta in her adolescence. She explained to us how the day before she was going to get married, bombs started dropping and she was forced to evacuate. These stories made this visit very real to us. Crossing the boarder was an interesting experience as we had to park our bus and have a guard check all of our passports before being granted access.
Our first stop in the city of Famagusta was a ghost town that was just reopened to the public recently. After Famagusta was taken over, 17 percent of the city became unusable due to an agreement between Turkey and the UN. The atmosphere was surreal, as it felt like we entered a Time Capsule because the town had not been touched since the invasion in 1974. One of the craziest things we saw was a former 5-star hotel that was halfway blown-up.
After the ghost town, we visited the old city of Famagusta. Highlights of the city included visiting Othello’s Castle (from Shakespeare’s infamous play), a gothic church, and drinking Turkish coffee.
After this we stopped at a beach near Famagusta that was back on the Greek side. This was easily the best beach I had ever been to. The waters were crystal clear, and we were at a miniature bay area that made for a beautiful landscape. After enjoying our time at the beach, we got to see some more of the most beautiful landscapes in Cyprus. First up was the sea caves. These caves are frequently advertised when you look at Cypriot tourism websites and brochures, but pictures do not do the caves justice. Our final stop was a sea bridge, which elegantly arched over the beautiful waters.