Having visited southern Cyprus many times and covered the area from top to bottom I was lucky enough to be invited to northern Cyprus last year. A very dear friend of mine who had lived in Portugal at the same time as me bought a house there. As soon as the invitation came by e-mail, I spent two seconds thinking about it and within 30 minutes I had scoured the net and booked a flight to Ercan airport. I remember being very excited and jumping up and down and sitting on my packed rucksack thinking of all the culinary delicacies I would sample and glasses of ice cold, amber beer, I would savour whilst sitting under the shade in some taverna listening to old men play dominoes, just passing the day away. I was so happy that day and ecstatic when I saw the town where she lived.
Here is some info I found out about Kyrenia from one of the many family members........
The idyllic harbour set against the steeply rising Besparmak (Five Finger) mountain range makes Girne, called Kyrenia by the Greeks, into one of the most attractive resorts on the islands. In the bay, shaped like a horseshoe and dominated on the eastern side by a fine, sturdy castle, fishing boats rock gently alongside fashionable yachts whose owners, at least during the summer season, probably prefer this sleepy but attractive little town to the busy marinas of the Aegean. In days gone by, the warehouses around the harbour were used to store locally-produced carob and olive oil. Only a few have been converted into hotels and holiday apartments, while behind lie the ordinary homes of the local people. The promenade belongs to pedestrians - no cars disturb the peaceful atmosphere of souvenir shops, cafe terraces and tavernas.
My friend is a cockney now living on the south coast of England but he has a long relationship with this part of Cyprus. His sister married a Cypriot from Kyrenia who set up a car business in London and after making his fortune returned to his hometown where he lives now with the rest of his huge Cypriot family. During my vacation I met all members of his jovial family and picked up quite a few snippets of history which I recorded in my dilapidated travel book from which I will now relate to you.
It is thought that Kyrenia was first settled in the 10th century BC by Greek Achaeans, but little is known about the town until it came under the control of King Nikokreon of Salamis (312BC). Although a castle and walls were built in the 8th or 9th century, the town was attacked and plundered by Arabs and pirates on a number of occasions. In 1192 the town and the family of the last Byzantine ruler fell into the hands of the Crusaders. Four centuries later, in 1570, the town and castle were captured by the Ottomans without a struggle. At the beginning of this century many British officers, enticed by the mild climate, came to Kyrenia either as tourists or to retire. To give you an idea of the atmosphere in northern Cyprus during the unsettled 1950's I suggest you read Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons. The English writer lived for several years in Bellapais which I will mention later in my journal.
There are many wonderful sights to see in Kyrenia and I will tell you about some in my journal. However, I found the harbour area so beautifiul I could have spent the whole holiday just sat watching the world go by. This sun baked town really is lazy and sleepy and you will struggle to tear yourself away from the tavernas and cafes but if you do find the energy to move out of the shade then read the rest of my reviews regarding Kyrenia.
My friend is very fortunate to have a house in such a beautiful part of Cyprus, She doesn't stay there all the time but at least a few months of the year including May and June which is when I will be boarding that plane to Ercan airport once again.