|Stood by the infamous I <3 Ayia Napa statue at Ayia Napa Square|
Writing this post with the sun glaring through the window and clear blue skies above me makes it a lot easier – this UK heatwave is definitely helping my holiday blues! For those of you who don’t know, last week I headed off to sunnier climates for a week of sun and relaxation with my boyfriend, Dan. Cyprus was our chosen destination and as I hadn’t been to the country before I was very much looking forward to exploring and seeing what the country had to offer! A week in the sun was so needed after the last few months of stress due to university work and I couldn’t wait to put my feet up for a week! After some technical hitches at Cardiff Airport resulting in a two hour check in queue and a slight flight delay we were finally on the plane and on our way.
|The beautiful Cypriot sunset|
We stayed at the Tasia Maris Beach Hotel in Ayia Napa which is on Nissi Avenue and placed in between Nissi Beach and Ayia Napa’s central town. I’ll admit I was a little worried about staying in Ayia Napa as I had always thought that it was a place like Magaluf, filled with people who are ready to party, and we wanted a relaxing week. However, I needn’t have worried as Ayia Napa is a beautiful town that is rich with culture and history and the strip is hidden away at the top of the town.
Day 1 & 2 – Nissi Beach and Ayia Napa
The first two days were spent relaxing by the pool and getting to know our surroundings. The hotel was absolutely fabulous, with a large swimming pool and pool bar and delicious food (we were all inclusive so didn’t stop eating!). Across the road from the rear of the hotel was a small beach called Sandy Bay. From here you could walk along the beach path for about ten to fifteen minutes to the neighbouring Nissi Beach, which had beautiful clear waters and bright white sands – it really was stunning.
|Pretty umbrellas at Nissi Beach|
|Ready for a night out in Ayia Napa|
Day 3 – Ayia Napa Monastery and Protaras
On our third day we decided to venture out of the hotel and explore the East coast. While it is lovely to relax and catch some rays, Dan and I love adventuring and visiting new places so I was really excited. We got an all day bus pass for five euros and headed in the direction of Protaras, a fishing town on the East coast which has become a tourist hot spot in recent years. On the way we stopped at Ayia Napa Monastery. It was a really beautiful building surrounded by a high wall with a peaceful court yard filled with flowers and lots of trees and ponds with ducks. We lit candles inside the church and walked around the court yard reading about the monastery’s history.
|Inside the courtyard of the monastery|
From there the next destination was Protaras. We actually got off at the wrong stop so ended up in a little village just outside Protaras. It was really pretty there with lots of seaside restaurants and beautiful blue skies. We sat down for some yummy pizza before walking along the shoreline to the town. Cyprus is such a breathtaking country. Everywhere you look there is a piece of beauty, whether it’s the pretty buildings, the rolling waves or the indigo sky.
|Pretty views on our walk to Protaras|
|Such a beautiful country|
|Nom nom – this pizza was to die for|
|A little boardwalk into the sea|
Day 4 – Cape Greco and the Sea Caves
On the way to Protaras we passed a stop for the national park of Cape Greco and the sea caves, so the next day we decided to head back on the bus to explore this exciting part of the island. Something I didn’t know before I headed to Cyprus was that it is ‘the island of love’ and is the mythical birth place of Aphrodite. Legend has it that Aphrodite was born in Cape Greco at the sea caves so we were really keen to see what the place had to offer.
|My lavish hiking gear included a bikini and a top with some sandals that broke after 2km.|
We were dropped at the bus stop at the top of the mountain and followed a footpath down to the sea caves. Stupidly we picked the wrong route and headed around the mountain instead of over the top of it, which resulted in a 5km hike in blazing heat, but the views were absolutely worth it. We finally arrived at the sea caves which were incredible. It’s amazing to think that these beautiful cliffs and caves were carved by mother nature and the crashing sea waves.
|The stunning caves by the turquoise sea|
|Aphrodite’s Birth Place|
Day 5 was spent at Ayia Napa’s Waterworld Water Park, which is the largest themed water park in Europe. It’s set up as a mythical Greek world with crazy slides all based on a different Greek god. We got our thrills on crazy drop slides and relaxed on rubber tubes around the lazy river. It was a really fabulous day.
Day 6 – Famagusta
Our last full day in Cyprus was spent on a coach trip heading to the northern part of Cyprus which is ruled by the Turkish military after the Turkish invasion of Famagusta in 1974. We had to pass through border control to head into the Northern part of Cyprus and it was quite a strange feeling. Honestly, I felt quite uneasy as it was run by the military and we were warned not to take photos if there were any soldiers nearby and that we were not allowed to buy certain products. In 1974 local Greek Cypriots fled from Famagusta as Turkish air strikes bombed the coastal part of the city which was flourishing thanks to tourism and British investments, and Famagusta is now inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and run by the Turkish military. Those Greek Cypriots are not allowed to enter into Famagusta and into northern part of the island.
|Ruins in the centre of Famagusta|
There is a walled part of the city in the North of Famagusta which is occupied by Turkish Cypriots today and our first stop was there. It was really stunning with a beautiful cathedral which has been turned into a mosque and lots of pretty ruins surrounding the central square. There were many little shops and lots of restaurants to eat at. We wandered around for an hour or so taking in the uniqueness of this walled part of the city.
|Stood outside Saint Nicholas Cathedral|
|Absolutely stunning architecture|
From there we got on the bus to head to the “ghost town” of Famagusta. During the Turkish invasion the locals fled the area to nearby fields for safety in hope that they would be able to return after the bombing was over. However, sadly they could never go back. The ghost town is bordered off by a high barbed fence and stands heartbreakingly at the edge of the beautiful coastline. The shells of apartment blocks and houses are still there, but with everything inside completely gone. The ghost town is left to break down as nature slowly takes over.
It’s safe to say we had the most amazing week in Cyprus. We spent our days either exploring the stunning island and learning about its incredible history or sunning ourselves and relaxing by the pool with cocktails in hand. Our nights were spent looking in the little shops and bars, and one night we rented some motorised scooters and travelled up and down Nissi Avenue – myself at the speed of a snail with Dan whizzing past laughing hysterically at me. The island is so pretty and has so much to offer – my heart is definitely still there.
Cyprus, it’s been a pleasure.
Lots of love,