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Due to a last minute mess-up by Thomsons (again), resulting in a cancellation of a long term holiday booking, we found ourselves struggling to find a holiday, during the busiest period of the holiday season, Whitsun Bank Holiday. The travel agent found us a last minute deal with JMC to Cyprus staying at the Tropical Dream apartments. The price was excellent at £169 per person. (normal price - family of 4 £1300)
Our arrival at Larnaca Airport was disappointing, resembling something more of a building site than a major international airport. However, our disappointment was short lived. The apartments were based in a quiet side road about 100 yards from the main resort. The area was quiet, yet central, and about 150 yards from the beach. The apartments were simply furnished, but clean, with a reasonable size swimming pool, cafe bar and restaurant. In addition, we could use the facilities of two sister hotels across the road. The resort itself was bustling with activity, and offered a wide range of eating places providing, good, value for money meals. I would say that the beer is not up to the standards of Spain.
The island itself was magical. It is steeped in culture, offering lots of historical sites at low prices/free. The effects of the North/South divide are evident everywhere, and there is major animosity towards the Turkish, which is nowhere more evident that in Nicosia, a cosmopolitan city with stores that the British will recognise, Woolworths is definitely worth a visit. At first I found the whole experience of Cyprus difficult to comprehend, it was like a little piece of Britain that was hot. They drive on the same side of the road as us, have three pin square plugs, and the natives speak English. If you can tolerate the heat, beware, the wind in the afternoons makes it feel cooler than it actually is, then you may not want to return home. There is a growing british community on the island, and some schools follow our education system.
At the top of the tower building housing Woolworths, is a viewing room, graphically illustrating the history of the Island, and renting out binoculars which help you see into the Turkish sector. You can also walk up to the green line, and see the uninhabited section of the city, and hear the Turks praying in the Mosques. The tension is obvious through the guards parading the green line, and the ever evident presence of the British Army.
There is a viewpoint you can visit, where, for a small fee, you can see the town of Famagusta, uninhabited, and no mans land since the Turkish invasion. You can also watch films here and find out a little more about the tragic stories which have affected the Greek Cypriots over the years.
Paphos, Aphrodites rock, Limassol, to name a few are well worth a visit. Something as simple as the colour of the sea around the island, and especially Aphrodites rock, alone, make the island worth a visit. The main water park is the most impressive I have ever seen, although not cheap (about £20 per person).
If you have enough time, you can also take a cruise to the Holy Land and Egypt.
I could talk about this island for ever, but I am sure I would bore you all, if you get the chance, take a visit and find out for yourself.