We landed late at night on the eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. A country still split in two between the independent Greek Cypriot south (thus the Greek flag everywhere) and the Turkish-occupied north, we knew that the next few days would be an experience of mixing cultures, food, geographies and histories. While technically within western Asia, Cyprus is also a member of the European Union due to its cultural ties to southeast Europe.
Our first couple nights were spent in Larnaca, which was a very cute town. We walked around at night and marveled at the architecture and plazas, and we got some Lebanese food and incredible wine. The next day we explored town, including a castle, and walked past the mosques and churches.
On the seaside boardwalk stood a memorial to Ukraine, in place since 2014 after the invasion of Crimea. It has added significance now with painted stones (some red with “blood”) with the names of the cities occupied by Russia, and some that have been subsequently liberated. It was a powerful reminder of the impact of the war in Ukraine, especially here in this non-NATO country.
For the afternoon, we drove up the coast to Nissi Beach, which was quite popular, but we found a quiet area to get some sun. I went swimming but the water we much colder than I expected! We drove through bases operated by the United Kingdom, the former colonial power that controlled Cyprus for decades. The UK maintains several bases that we can drive through, and the United Nations maintains a buffer zone between the north and south factions.
Back in Larnaca that evening, we had a late lunch, accidentally ordered a whole carafe of wine (when we only wanted 1 glass!) and then a wonderful walk along the sea as the sun was setting.