Finally a trip alone again. It’s only a few days trip to visit my friends in Paphos but I’m trying to get as much out of these days as possible.
There are not that many flights from Germany to Cyprus. At least not directly. And if so, then only to Larnaka, a town at the other end of the island. It doesn’t matter, I have the opportunity to see this city as well.
There are three international airports in the Greek part of the island, namely Larnaka, Paphos and Nicosia. There are very good long-distance bus connections between the cities.
As in the good old days, I don’t care much for luxurious accommodation and instead stay in a classic backpacker hostel. The “Past or Tail” promises no miracles, but a simple bed in a sea bed room, a tidy kitchen with tea and a good location in the middle of the old town at low cost.
Be young and backpacker again
I arrive at Larnaka airport at 11pm and a bus drops me off in the old town. It’s not far to the hostel. While it’s still raining and cold in Germany this May, I can feel the Mediterranean warmth directly here. I check in and disappear under the thin blanket of my bunk.
The night was fine, nobody snored or tried to steal my things.
Only one other guest turned the air conditioner to Greenland mode at night, so when I wake up at 7am my teeth are a bit chattering from the cold. Twenty minutes later I’ve brushed my teeth, had some tea and am standing in front of the hostel door, armed with my camera, ready for the day.
I don’t need a special plan. The city is not very big and there is not that much to see. I turn in the direction that looks out for Altstadt. One church tower stands out in particular, so I head in that direction. The city is still very sleepy. I hardly see people. The first cafes are just opening.
First, I sit down in one of those empty cafés and drink a Cypriot coffee and eat a halloumi sandwich. The coffee looks and tastes like Turkish coffee, also I suspect I could be stoned for saying that here. I see Greek flags hanging everywhere. No Cypriots.
The origins of this conflict date back to the late 19th century when Cyprus came under British colonial rule. The Greek and Turkish populations on the island had different visions for the future of Cyprus, leading to growing tensions.
After Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, a constitution was introduced that provided for power-sharing government between the Greek and Turkish communities. However, this system proved unstable and relations between the two communities increasingly deteriorated. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup supported by the military junta in Greece led to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. In response, the island split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north.
Despite numerous peace efforts and mediation attempts, no final solution to the conflict has yet been found.
The United Nations has conducted various peacekeeping missions on the island since the 1960s, including the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), to monitor tensions and encourage dialogue between the parties.
The Cyprus conflict has had a serious impact on the daily lives of people on the island. There remains a division between the two communities, marked by political divisions, ethnic prejudice and territorial disputes. There is also the question of property rights and the return of refugees. The conflict has had a major impact on economic development and coexistence in Cyprus.
Despite the challenges, there is hope for a lasting solution to the conflict. Recent efforts to revive negotiations between leaders of the two communities have shown some progress. (as of 2023)
The church tower turns out to be part of the Lazarus Church, the most important building in the city. After Lazarus was brought back to life by Jesus, he seems to have died at some point and it is said that he was then buried here. Entry to the church is free, as is visiting the crypt. But you only see empty sarcophagi. Where the bones of Lazarus are supposed to be is a mystery to me.
The church was built in the 9th century and is dedicated to the biblical Lazarus who, according to the New Testament, was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ. It is an important pilgrimage destination for believers and tourists alike.
The Lazarus Church impresses with its impressive Byzantine architecture. It has an impressive dome and a richly decorated facade. Inside the church are beautiful frescoes, icons and mosaics depicting biblical stories and religious scenes.
A special feature of the Lazarus Church is the tomb of St. Lazarus, which is located under the church.
His remains are believed to rest there to this day. The tomb is a place of intense spiritual worship and draws many believers asking for blessings and healing.
Lazarus Church has undergone various restoration and expansion works over the centuries to maintain its architectural and religious value. It is a living testament to Cyprus’ rich religious history and an important site of faith and spirituality. Visitors can experience the serene atmosphere of the church and step into the past while exploring the beauty and importance of this historic site.
The tomb looks empty – maybe Lazarus has already been brought back to life and is drinking a Cypriot coffee…
More people are bustling in the streets and the first school classes are being forced into church. A smell of mold in the crypt is paired with the scent of coffee and sunscreen. That’s what Cyprus smells like, sticks in my head.
At least Cyprus has been in the European Union since 2004 and you pay with the euro.
I hear a lot of British English on the streets. Long a British colony, Cyprus is still home to a massive RAF base today.
Traffic flows on the left-hand side and the sockets are also in line with UK standards.
Of course I didn’t think of an adapter. My power bank saves me.
No wonder British tourists feel so comfortable here. It’s practically like your own island, only with sun.
The smell of coffee and sunscreen…
ToDo’s in Larnaka
- Walk through the old town (free)
- Visit to Lazarus Church and Crypt (free)
- Swimming at Finikoudes or Mackenzie Beach (free)
- Visit to Larnaca Fortress and its museum (€2.50)
- Visit to the salt lake where you can sometimes see flamingos (free)
- Visit the Escaping People artwork (free)
- Enjoy Cypriot food & wine – it’s very good! (€€)
In the middle of the day it gets very hot and there is a strong wind. After the small part of the old town follow the typical white concrete cubes, for which there seems to be only one architect in the Mediterranean. In Antalya, too, I was able to admire these chic examples of the simplest geometry, complete with old air conditioning systems.
A few meters from the Church of the Risen and Dead Lazarus I am already on the promenade and the beach of Finikoudes.
Sun loungers and parasols are available there for all bathing enthusiasts. The water on the sandy beach is incredibly shallow and I can see people standing waist-deep in water far away. Larnaka has one of the only sandy beaches on the Greek side of the island. Most other towns have to make do with cliffs and pebbly beaches.
Djami Kebir Mosque
I can simply follow the promenade in both directions. While going north to Marina Bay and the Intercity Bus Stop, I can walk south to Mackenzie Beach. The sea is calm as a bathtub.
At the promenade there is time for an espresso and a stop for waterfront art. The work “Escape People” is a representation of human nature and the search for freedom and individuality. It consists of a group of life-size figures seemingly trying to break out of a confined space.
Each figure has an individual pose and form of expression that expresses their personality and longing for freedom. The artists have used different materials and colors to represent the complexity and diversity of human experience.
I just put my feet in the sea for a moment and start my way back. At least I want to take the bus to Paphos in the afternoon.
I look at the fortress. She is very small and never really seems able to withstand significant attacks in the story. A few cannons pose in front of bricked-up walls and the fortress courtyard now serves as a backdrop for events.
Just a few decades ago, such “events” were still executions.
From the battlements of the walls there is a good view of the beaches and the city. It is well laid out and I have the good feeling that I have visited everything worth seeing for me, apart from the flamingos on the salt lake.
In every city there is a bus stop from which buses to the other cities depart regularly. From Larnaca to Paphos there are (as of 2023) three connections in the morning and three connections in the afternoon. The price is just 7 euros. There are also private companies that offer the ride, but they are much more expensive.
You can pay for your trip directly to the bus driver on site and, in my experience, you don’t have to worry about not getting a seat.
All roads lead to Nicosia. Most connections go to and from the capital, sometimes every 15 minutes.