We left in the afternoon and drove to the Stansted Hilton. We had a really good three-course meal there and went to bed fairly early, setting the alarm call for 03.45am.
Sunday 28th December
We are going with Onur Air this time, arriving at the airport at 4.45am, only to find that they had not yet opened the check-in desk and already a long queue had formed. Added to this was the confusion that we were booked on flight OHY 918 and the board was showing 920. Eventually they started checking us in, for which flight we don’t know because they kept changing the numbers. We just figured there must only be one to Istanbul and so we just went with the flow. We had out breakfast in the airport as the shops were just starting to open and next thing we knew our flight was boarding. A miracle, our flight left on time at 07.30. Our stopover in Istanbul was cut to just half an hour so, apart from the food which is not worth mentioning (not good), all went extremely well. We arrived at the Riverside at about 16.45, having driven through all the Christmas lights along the way in Girne. Very pretty. So, we went to our villa and then decided that as Happy Hour was 6 until 7, we would go and kill 2 birds with one stone: watch the Man Utd game, whilst having our half price drinks. Well, I sat next to a guy (Pete) who was drowning his sorrows, having had an enormous argument with his partner because he took the wrong turning in Lefkosa and now they are in separate villas and he was on his third bottle of wine. Mal sat next to a woman called Sue. Her hubby Cy, was at the bar. After a few drinks we went to the restaurant and had dinner with Sue and Cy, who incidentally are here to buy a property and so want to see ours. Well, after our meal we ended up back in the bar. At some stage Dave, who is also building a house here, joined us. Well, I was drinking brandy sours and they were quite weak and so we kept telling them not to forget the brandy. They got stronger!
Monday 29th December
At 2.00 am, the five of us were chucked out of the bar because they wanted to close and I think we were the only ones left for about the last hour!! Don’t remember too much but we woke up at about 9am and realised we had to sort out a car, have breakfast etc etc. Breakfast first and then down to reception. They told us they had no Nissan Sunnys left, only an automatic or we could pay £5 more a day for a Corsa. When I said forget it, we can go to Pine Bay and hire one, they let us have the Corsa for the same price. Amazing. You have to know how to work it over here.
We were just walking back after sorting the car out and who should drive up but Pete, whose sausages we have bought over and cod roe, ham etc. We stood in the middle of the road chatting to him and said we would be round to see them later.
The first thing we wanted to do was go and look at the house.
It looks so imposing sitting up there on the top of the hill. As we drove up the drive we saw Hakan and his foreman. Obviously up there checking on progress, as he knew we were back. I walked round and noticed things like, my double sink has been converted into a single bowl, Hakan said he forgot. I know this is no bullshit as he is so busy. We could say, re-cut the granite worktop and sort it out but he has been good to us, so a single sink is remaining. Also my idea of having lots of wall lights has been rather spoilt by sticking up bog standard ceiling fittings! No dimmer switches. He has also forgotten the barbecue (this will be sorted) All these things are small and at a later date we can sort out ourselves but I am trying to see what I need to bring in the container. The electricity poles are all in position and ready to go – should be tomorrow……yeah!!!!!!!!!!! All windows are in and shutters fitted.
As you can see we had a bit of rain to day! BUT at least there were no huge puddles so we know the outside terracing is flat!
Wardrobes are complete (not the ones I wanted but I am beginning to just go along with it all and we can upgrade when we are living here.)
The kitchen cupboards are well made but pine (which I didn’t want, but that is the wood they have here) and so I think we’ll need a few cans of ESP in the container and a painting job.
We left agreeing to meet Hakan again on Friday and Mal will give him a cheque for the final stage (minus the retention). We visited the house a bit later and checked through all the little things on our own. It really is lovely, well, we think so and that is what matters. The sliding doors to the winter lounge had been fitted but Hakan didn’t like them so he sent them back to be remade.
Mal in the swimming pool!
After that, off we went to see Gwen and Peter. As usual, the time flew by and we had to leave in the end to go to Girne to get some Turkish lira and also some provisions (booze) from the supermarket. It was really nice seeing them again and we have made arrangements to go round there for lunch on Wednesday. Went into Girne and got caught up in the rush hour gridlock. Back to the villa for some wine and the pink champagne type wine we had bought, very palatable which is more than can be said about a lot of the Turkish wines, 2 out of the 3 bottles we bought were flat, so they are going back tomorrow. Very reasonable dinner in the hotel.
Tuesday 30th December
We were up early this morning as we decided to go up to the Animal Rescue with another carrier bag full of dog leads and chews etc for the dogs.
We took 3 dogs with us, Pharaoh of course, who has now been designated a kennel on his own. I panicked a bit when I saw he wasn’t tied up under his usual tree. One of the other dogs we named Spot and he kept running ahead but quickly came back to our heels and we took another dog that looked like a rug. She was lovely and every time we stopped she came running back and lay on her back so that we could rub her tummy.
Then we had another dog (I forget her name) who sleeps around the office and once again Hamish did the whole walk with us. We did a longer walk than usual, a lot of hills, and I think all of them at one time or another decided to roll in something really disgusting and stinking. Again we managed to return all 5 dogs that we set off with. We are getting good at this now. I felt so sad as Pharaoh was taken back to his solitary kennel. We were asked if we would go again tomorrow as Pasa needed a walk and he is so big very few people will take him. We said we were busy tomorrow but perhaps we will go on Thursday. He is so big. I spoke to the girl in the office and said how fond I was of Pharaoh and she is trying to persuade me to have him. The only problem being we will be backwards and forwards a lot, plus the fact that he is on his own because he doesn’t mix with the other dogs. However on the walk with us he was fine but a real Pointer, searching through all the undergrowth and evidently he is terrified of loud bangs, obviously a hunting dog that hasn’t been trained properly. After our long walk, we went to pay the deposit for the sofa bed, chairs and table we are having made. Then into Yenihan’s for lunch. They are so nice in there. I was told the ‘chicken special’ was good so I had it but couldn’t manage it all and so Mal had some as well as his!
We then went into to Stringers to see Tracy about sorting out house insurance for us. Julie has left but they have poached a fella from Ian Smiths. She is going to get the guy to meet us at the house for a quote.
After this we went back up to the house. No electricity yet! Two fellas were there cleaning and told us to shut the front door when we were finished. This is the first time we have ‘locked up’ although we don’t have a key yet. We did some measuring up. The sliding wooden doors to the winter lounge are now on and looking good.
There is a glass panel (frosted) at the side of the front door but the glazing opens up so in the summer we can get a through draft there. Brilliant idea. It seemed so funny being left on our own there, in our house.
Ate in the hotel in the evening. We asked for brandy sours and to ‘make sure they had brandy in them’. We seemed to pay extra for this but they were good! A good day.
Wednesday 31st December
Our air con/heating in the bedroom has packed up and the man is still trying to fix it. Meanwhile they have given us extra heaters.
Tracey had arranged for the insurance man to come to the Riverside at 9.00am, so we were up early and had breakfast in time for his visit. We drove him up to the house and he looked all around but it was frustrating for us not to be able to get in as we don’t have a key. BUT no electricity yet! We went back to the Riverside and he rang his office for a quote, we said fine, have all the paperwork here on Friday and we will give you the annual payment. I know Hakan should be insuring it whilst he is building but we thought may as well start now and made sure we have earthquake cover for the house and the pool. We then drove towards Girne looking for fencing places, so we can work out some costs but the places we thought would sell fencing didn’t!
Went off to Peter and Gwen’s for lunch. When we arrived Peter was out chasing a stray dog, which they managed to catch and put in the couples’ garden behind them until KAR could come and fetch him, but it seems they are pretty full. We spent a very enjoyable day there. Gwen told me that Brian and Lil (Chandlers in Cyprus website) are selling up and moving to New Zealand. Gwen filled me in on everything else that had been happening too. It was dark when we left . The Turkish Cypriots have a massive celebration on New Years Eve and we had been told that 600 Turkish were due in the Riverside Restaurant tonight. There is also a massive firework display in Girne Harbour. I think because we had such a busy Christmas and the fact that we wanted to suit ourselves when we go out and when we don’t, so we both decided we go to the Supermarket and get our own food and give the high jinks in the restaurant a miss. So, we had a rotisserie chicken and lots of other nice food and drink. Well, I think because the heating was now fixed and we were so tired and had a few drinks, we dropped off to sleep around 9.30 and didn’t wake up until 5.00am!!
We only had the car until lunchtime and so we drove to another kitchen tile shop, Gepaz. We immediately saw some tiles on the wall that were good enough. By now we know we are not going to have a huge choice and this was very near to what we wanted and, better still, they had them in stock. We gave the assistant our name and told her Hakan would be in to sort them out. She also let us have a tile and we went back to the granite shop to make sure that they went with the Granite we have chosen for the worktop. Success!! Next stop the supermarket to buy wine and a newspaper and then on to the house. They were all busy working when we arrived and this time we went and took some photos from the land behind.
I think this shows a few angles on the house
In the left picture above we have Mal trying to make decisions about landscaping and on the right is one of the enormous caverns that has been dug down the road for our electricity poles.
Well, we say goodbye to the house for this visit and hopefully on our next visit, it will no longer look like a building site but will be complete.
I rang Torin when we got back to the hotel and he was in bed not feeling at all well, not surprising having fallen all that way and landed on his back and ended up unconscious. He is very lucky. Makes you realise you have to grab every day and be thankful.
We sat on the terrace for the rest of the afternoon.
In the evening we walked down the road to Has restaurant. There were two Cypriot families in there when we arrived and watching them we discovered how you should eat lahmacun. They have a large plate of parsley in the middle of the table. They put a big handful of this in the middle of the lahmucan, squeeze lemon all over it, roll it up like a pancake and then eat it with your fingers. That was what we had to start, an Efes beer each, Mal had an enormous pide and I had chicken sis with salad and chips. We finished the meal with Turkish coffee and all of that came to less than £8. Amazing.
Went back to the hotel and threw everything in the cases, set the alarm for 4.45am and went to bed.
Sunday 2nd November
We were collected from the hotel at 5.30am to catch the 8.00 am flight. Much more civilised than the 6 .00 am one! We left on time, leaving the sunshine behind but we took some really good photos of Turkey before we hit the clouds. Very pleased with the new camera!
The next time we are back, for New Year, our house should be complete.
We were both looking forward to this holiday because since the summer we have received emails from Hakan saying how well the building is going. Of course we do know that the electricity hasn’t been sorted out yet. As it is our wedding anniversary tomorrow, Mal booked us a room at the Hilton tonight, so that we could have a bit of a celebration, as we will be travelling most of ‘the’ day.
We left mid afternoon for a leisurely drive up to Stansted, had a couple of glasses of wine in our room and later went down for a celebration meal. We had our starters and by this time I was feeling really sick and a bit dizzy. The main course came and I just picked at this, not really wanting to eat anything. Foolishly I ordered a sweet, as I thought it would pass. Well, before the sweet came, I told Mal I would have to return to the room because I felt as if I was going to pass out. He evidently missed out on his sweet too, and just paid the bill! For the rest of the night I was sick and had diarrhoea. Great, up and down all night long.
Sunday 26th October…our wedding anniversary
We had bucks fizz ready in the room to go with planned our breakfast in bed. Needless to say that didn’t happen, in fact unbeknown to me, Mal was just about to cancel the holiday and get us home. Somehow I managed to muddle through, getting to the airport and surviving the journey, even if I was full of Imodium! We did manage to buy a new, much tinier digital camera in Dixons on the way out, partly paid for with the vouchers from the TV wash down (don’t ask), the last time we were away. This holiday, CTA have improved. We left almost on time but had quite a long wait in Turkey. I was exhausted by the time we arrived at the Olive Tree. We had booked a bungalow but instead had been given a second floor room, very nice but not with as many facilities as their bungalows. Tonight I really didn’t care and just fell into bed, relieved that I had survived the journey. Wonderful anniversary! 24oC on our arrival!
Monday 27th October
I felt a lot better today and so we went in for a light breakfast at around 9.00am. Mal had his usual plate loaded high while I just had a bit of yoghurt with a little scrambled egg afterwards. Looks as though there are mostly Turkish staying in the hotel, but then this is one of the International ones as opposed to just for holidaymakers. We ordered a car from reception and waited for ages for it to come. Turns out the guy had very few cars left and so we have been given his until tomorrow. He just took the £90, for the week, and gave us his car keys, no forms nothing! He is supposedly changing it in the morning.
Of course the first place we go to is the house. We did our usual stop half way up the road and stood there with our mouths open.
The outside has been painted and we have a chimney! As we looked around, it really looked good. All the flooring has been done and the grey in the quarry tiles makes them look just right. Also the blue floor tiles in the bathroom and en suite reflect onto the wall tiles. I think in the bathroom we could have had a few more ‘random’ patterned tiles (a few more than two that is.) I cannot comment on the en suite as they were painting in there and so we didn’t want to disturb them.
We are so pleased with the place, the swimming pool is making a bit more sense now that the concrete has been filled in. There is still a lot of finishing to be done here though.
We walked round and round just looking at it all. All the wiring is complete, we just need the supply now.
This gives you some idea of the inside. We are looking at the terrace at the rear, which faces the swimming pool. Through the left archway you can see where the two patio doors will go for our bedroom. Through the right arch (this is getting a bit like Rainbow!) you can see the hall and at the end, the front door, to the right is the living room and kitchen, from the living room you go through to the winter lounge and to the left, the first archway, goes through to the master bedroom and the utility room and the second arch, through to the main bathroom and the second bedroom.
This is the living room, with a new chimney (!) looking through to the winter lounge/3rd bedroom.
We then went back to the hotel as our rep was coming and as we are only here for a week we knew we would have to have our tickets checked. We told her that we asked for a bungalow. We also said that Mal had asked this morning and they said they were full (we think not!). However, we were now shown a bungalow and we said yes, we would move, so we went back up to our room and packed all our things. Mind you the porter did come and carry them all for us!
The Olive Tree- view from our first room
We then went to the supermarket and stocked up the large fridge . The previous room only had a mini bar. I was feeling much better now., thank goodness. So, feeling better we decided to go out for a meal. The fact that this car is going back in the morning, we decided to do one of the farthest restaurants to use up the petrol we had put in. We decided to go to the Stonegrill Restaurant. We noticed it had just opened when we were here in the summer. It is supposed to be a new idea from Australia (apparently not) where your food is brought to the table with a red-hot stone and you cook the food yourself. Sounded good, particularly as Mal wanted a steak. When we arrived it looked fairly full and we thought perhaps we should have booked but they had a table for two. We sat down and they brought bread, olives and oil to the table and asked us if we wanted soup or meze. We said neither as my stomach could not take too much but when they explained it was in with the price, being a bit tight, we told them to let the mezes started coming. I just picked at them because they were so nice! Then the stones arrived with the raw food and vegetables at the side. It was very good, particularly the King Prawns I had. Mal had fillet steak. He did comment to the waiter, on the way out, that it was cooked just how he liked it but it took a while for the waiter to catch on to what he meant but when he did he was laughing hysterically.
I think you get the idea how it works from the stone in front of me, not that there is any food left on it! To the right you can see Mal pointing to the ‘healthy’ part of the sign outside!
Back to the hotel where we sat outside drinking wine until quite late.
Tuesday 28th October
Oh dear, perhaps I shouldn’t have had so much to eat last night! Back on the Imodium and today. We went to the pharmacy and bought Loperamide (same as Imodium) but this is 30 tablets for approximately 70p!
We had breakfast, well, Mal did and then we called Hakan and arranged to meet him at 3pm at the house. We then made arrangements to visit Gwen and Pete tomorrow.
We then decided to go and have a wander around some of the new shops that we noticed had opened since summer. Well, when we got out of the car, the wind had got up and all the dust was going into our eyes and mouth and eventually we gave up and headed toward the hotel. Then all of a sudden a storm broke out! Well, the traffic just seemed to come to a standstill and the rain was torrential, thunder and lightning too. the rain was so heavy that I couldn’t even see where I was driving and when we managed to get up the road to Çatalköy, we found the road totally flooded and the water was just pouring down in rivers! By the time we did get back to the hotel Hakan called to say that the roads were so bad could we meet him tomorrow instead. We readily agreed.
At about 4.30pm we decided to go up and see the house again but, because the Girne ‘bypass’ was grid locked, we didn’t get there until dark (about 5.30pm!) but we put the car headlights onto the house and wandered around anyway.
On the way back we stopped at Yenihans and had dinner. As usual, it was very good. Incidentally, the guy did not bring another car and during today we have told three different people in reception that we want the insurance documents and each time they ring him and each time he doesn’t come. Mal is getting close to telling him to collect the car and we will go elsewhere. They keep telling us the Police won’t stop us but having been stopped by them before and taking account of the erratic way in which the Turkish Cypriots drive! At least the rain all dried up. The picture on the left shows Mal chilling-out at the bungalow after his big dinner at Yenihans.
Wednesday 29th October – Turkish Republic Day
Mal managed to do an hours work first thing this morning. He has quite a lot to do while he is away as he did not have time to do it before we left. Had breakfast and then managed to get our car insurance cover from reception, at last. Headed off to Peter and Gwen’s. Lots of chatting as usual and Gwen made us some lunch. The fellas got quite engrossed in something or other!
We had arranged to meet Hakan at the house at 3pm, so we had to leave and go up the hill. We had a lot of discussion with Hakan. It seems he didn’t get the attachments that we emailed him with pictures of the wardrobes that we wanted and so was going ahead with the picture he sent us, which is not what I wanted. There is also some difference of opinion over the choice of kitchen cupboards, so we all agreed to meet up with his carpenter tomorrow afternoon. At least we can try and explain what we want and he has also seen the door handle that I took to show him and we still have to choose the kitchen wall tiles. I have also told Hakan that I want a dark worktop and he suggested that dark granite would look nice and we agreed. Once again this is more money because we want granite but we felt the additional cost was reasonable. The wood for the beams is sitting in the middle of the living room, so that is going up very soon. We have to remember that this is the last time we see it before it is complete. In theory on our next visit, New Year, it will be finished! We are therefore madly trying to think of everything. Although the temperature has dropped and it was cloudy this morning, this is how quickly the weather changes. I took the photo below while we were at the house with Hakan because it was so clear that you could actually see Turkey in the distance.
On the way back to the hotel we went into Burhan’s, a furniture shop we liked before with a really helpful owner (not when we were not happy later on). We made decisions on a really nice sofa bed that looks like a sofa and not an effort to disguise a bed. We also got him to write down details about the two chairs and the table we want for the terrace and the colour cushions we want, so we have all the information ready when we bring the deposit in December. He will then make them all by February. Another major job sorted.
In the evening we drove to Mirabelle’s and had three courses each, I had their fish of the day as I often do here and the fish was really delicious. When we had finished we were given Turkish coffees and brandies ‘on the house’. Excellent and all for 44 million TL (about £17.50)
Thursday 30th October
Mal decided today that he really must get his exam work done, so after breakfast he set to. This is in the back garden of our bungalow.
We had to meet Hakan and his carpenter at the house at 12.30pm. Well, much to our surprise, the wardrobes were already there and all the doors were lying on the floor. In other words, the wardrobes were already decided and I wasn’t going to get what I had asked for. Mal said not to worry about it and if we didn’t like them we will have to replace them later. At least we are having plain doors and not that awful standard pattern on them. I know the same thing is going to happen with the kitchen units but I have asked for one of the top cupboards to have frosted glazing. I know we have little selection here and I think we are both thinking we will leave it up to Hakan and then change it afterwards if we don’t like things. This now seems the easiest way. I did try to explain ‘beech’ kitchen units but seeing as pine is the only wood used here, you will understand why I am giving up!
The shell of the main wardrobes
Carpenter with wardrobe doors
The painters are also painting yellow around the windows, but at this stage we are definitely letting Hakan get on with it and we’ll change it later if we can’t live with it. There seem so many things that are just getting done and we are not being consulted about, so I mention the ‘local stone’ that is supposed to be covering the outside chimney and three window places. Ah, Hakan has forgotten these (after originally telling us local stone is expensive or at least the cutting of it is labour intensive). He now says that they have been so quick painting the external areas that he had forgotten the stone and then he looked at us all dewy eyed! Funnily enough on looking around at all the new houses that are going up Mal and I had already come to the conclusion that it did look a bit naff, so we agreed we would forego this and bargained for something else in its place. We are now having all the surrounding concrete area of the swimming pool finished off in brick and a storage cupboard made at the front. Seems a fair deal (we hope).
The left hand picture shows the yellow paint around the windows and the right hand picture shows two of the window areas and the chimney, which will no longer be covered in local stone!
I suppose the caption for the left hand picture should be ‘one day’ but the positive thing concerning the electricity is that poles have been delivered to the land below us and they are ours. Seeing as the cost of installing each pole is around £5-600 and there are 15 poles here………….
Discussions – Mal & Hakan
Hakan – always on his mobile!
Poor Hakan, as he talks to us his mobile is permanently ringing.
There is a man on our roof…he is fitting the solar panels!
By now we think we know all the details we have to find out before we leave and what we have to let Hakan know by email. On the way back we called into Simtaş to choose the granite we want. We have found it and have its name but unfortunately the only guy in the shop couldn’t speak any English and didn’t seem to know prices, so we didn’t get very far but at least can tell Hakan the name of it and hope it is not the most expensive one in the shop. The ‘main man’ from the shop had already met us on site earlier to measure up. The fact that it took him 20 minutes to find the house doesn’t bode too well for future visitors but Mal is going to do a map with the help of his GPS. Still looking for the ‘right’ house name. We then came back to the hotel and Mal had to continue with his work for the rest of the afternoon.
In the evening we drove along to Le Jardin restaurant and were lucky to get the last table. We were really impressed. It was a nice restaurant and the selection of food was enormous. An excellent three-course meal.
Friday 31st October
We were up really early today and into the restaurant for an early breakfast. This is dog-walking day!! The forecast said it was going to be 26 degrees but it certainly didn’t look like it to us and as we drove higher into the mountains, to get to the rescue, the cloudier it got. We didn’t really mind and thought at least it would be better than when we came in the summer. They were pleased with the dog leads I took again, only about 30 this time but they are still desperate for more.
We decided to take just three dogs this time, Pharaoh (my favourite – I am stroking him in the left picture) and two black dogs, Pansy and Pickle. Well, that is what we thought, the dogs thought differently and Hamish (the big dog in the right picture, a permanent resident in the centre!) and two of his friends including Alfie, decided to tag along with us. They really had such fun. Pharaoh doing his gun dog bit and racing up and down the mountains. Hamish, Alfie and Pickle joined forces and went everywhere together and Pansy stayed at our heels the whole time.
It really is such a nice mountain range where the dog rescue is and such a lovely walk but I have to admit, climbing up the mountains this time, I was really getting out of breath. I put it down to not being well at the beginning of the week! At least it was good exercise. This was a first too; we managed to deliver 6 dogs back. They all stayed with us all the time.
The last picture here is the worst, poor old Pharaoh, tied up again. He doesn’t seem to get on with a lot of the other dogs. There are photos of him at the rescue when he was brought in, literally skin and bone. He has made good progress.
We later drove into Girne and had our lunch in Akpinar.
We then went to look for kitchen wall tiles and discovered in the first shop that they only had four styles! I didn’t like any of them and know exactly what I want. I did find a spare tile with a colour that would be OK but, no sorry, can’t get hold of those any more. Here we go again. At this stage we gave up. We drove up to the house and took some photos from the mountain. We also went inside the house and the carpenter was there, fitting the ceiling beams. There was also a guy who told us he laid all the tiles on the floors but our conversation was not too good as he spoke no English and as usual we struggled with Turkish.
Looking much more like a house now!
The day finished quite unpleasantly with a phone call saying that Torin had an accident at work and had been air ambulanced to hospital but Rhys assured me that he was OK. I rang him straight away and he was on his way home, bruised and battered and sounds like he’s lucky to be alive having fell 6 metres. Poor thing.
I had already written 3 pages on the ‘notebook’ (I have been corrected, I called it a laptop but evidently it is not!) and all has been lost, including some really good photos of our house when we were both so excited at seeing it. We ran round taking photos of the workmen and all sorts. All lost, so I will begin the holiday again from scratch.
We have to begin three days before, which was when our tickets finally arrived directly from CTA after we had made a fuss. Our luggage labels arrived in time too, from Cyprus Direct whom we made the original booking with in March. At that time, our confirmation came through giving us a morning flight of 9.30am. We had been pleased with this because it meant very little traffic on the motorways to Stansted and also we will now get an evening meal on arrival.
However our tickets now say 11.00am. This is still OK
Two days before we are due to leave we are told by Cyprus Direct that we are no longer getting the flight at this time but instead it will be at 21:45!! We are not happy but there is little we can do at this stage because whatever CTA does, we have to obey. Because Cyprus Direct say there is nothing they can do, we contact Barclaycard who put the holiday cost in dispute. So, all our travel arrangements have to be altered and we end up spending the hottest day recorded in the UK, sitting around Stansted airport. At least they let us check in early, so we didn’t have our cases in tow but we begin to wonder what their next surprise is – loh and behold, the flight is delayed until 1.45 the next day. We are now grossly ‘fed up’ but we are given a £5 food voucher each. Have they tried buying food for £5 at the airport lately?
By the end of the night our plane’s passengers were the only people left in the lounge, all the shops were shut and it was really quite eerie. Our eventual take off was 1.30 am. It appears that one of CTA’s planes is out of service and so they had to rent another which still hadn’t arrived. Cyprus Direct told us this situation has been happening for the past 5 weeks.
Of course by now we have lost all hope of dinner at the hotel and probably breakfast .
Monday 11th August We arrive at the Sempati Hotel at 10.30am, 13 hours later than our original time. I think the guy on reception took pity on us and took us straight out to have breakfast on the terrace. How nice of him. When we had eaten, he had our bags taken up to our room. The hotel is nice and the staff surprisingly helpful and friendly. We had a wander round the hotel, met with our rep in the afternoon. His name is Ertan and really nice so we ended up having about an hour and a half chat about the politics of the island, the points system used to ‘swap’ Turkish Cypriot properties for properties in the North (its a one sided swap as the Greek Cypriots do not recognise it), and many other things. We booked a car with him, £19 a day including collision damage waiver, which isn’t too bad for peak season. We ate in the hotel that evening, as we have half board, but we will eat out some nights. We were both itching to get the car tomorrow and go to the land to see the progress. We have brought our own travel kettle, following the incident in May when they tried to charge us a rental fee. So, when we wanted a cup of tea, Mal went down to the hotel shop to buy a carton of milk. They charged us 6 million TL!! That is 6 times the price it is in the shops, so we have decided to shop at the supermarkets from now on.
Tuesday 12th August We got up early, had breakfast and waited for our car to arrive. Of course the first thing we did was drive to Alsancak. Well, as we drove up the hill I couldn’t believe it, there was our house facing us. It had walls and a roof. I shrieked to Mal who hadn’t noticed it yet. We were completely gob smacked. Here it is, the one with the arches.
It has moved on so much since we were last here. We drove up and walked all round the site. There were quite a few workmen there and we took pictures of them and the walls and roof and all sorts. We were just so excited and really couldn’t believe it. The swimming pool has not been dug out of the ground but instead is a cement structure above ground and now it falls into place why Hakan suggested the additional paving. It is all making sense now (In the light of future events the decision to raise the pool turned out to be extremely fortuitous).
We went back to the hotel and phoned Hakan to say how pleased we were and discuss when to meet. He said he could meet us at 3.15pm today which we agreed to do.
He arrived with his foreman and carpenter. We wandered around and he explained a lot of what had gone on since we were last here, including the additional paving which would run from the terrace down to the swimming pool and to the side of the pool. He also told us that we should meet him at Gepaz in Girne on Monday to chose the tiles for the bathroom, the en suite and the flooring.
Eventually, back to the hotel, we were like a couple of kids. It really is so exciting, all this time imagining what it is going to be like and never quite sure whether we have planned it right. The only certain thing we knew was the fantastic position of the land we had bought. Mal took all the photos off the camera, put them on the computer and deleted them from the camera. We ate in the hotel and for a first, the waiter filleted my delicious fish for me!
Wednesday 13th August
We decided to go into Girne and start looking at tiles prior to Monday and also to go to the Internet café and mail some pictures of the house to interested parties. Lo and behold Mal discovers that the last three days usage of the notebook is all lost. I was so disappointed as I had taken some really good photos. He was none too happy either as it shouldn’t have happened. He is now going to have to back up every day. He then spent a lot of time trying to sort the computer out. I said I would do it all on paper, far safer but he reminded me that it would never get on the website that way!
We went into Girne and checked out the traditional Turkish tiles they sell in the Bazaar gift shop but in the end decided they were a bit garish. We bought a couple of presents and had a mint tea and sandwich in Akpinar’s and then went off to see more tiles.
We decided on the floor tiles for most of the house straight away but the bathroom and en suite tiles are a different matter. This is not helped by the fact that the selection in Gepaz is not exactly extensive, in fact not even up to the standard of your pokiest B&Q! We managed to find another tile shop and there were one or two designs that we may want but nothing jumped out at us as being fantastic. In fact this managed to cause a bit of an argument because I wasn’t prepared to compromise and just go for the first one that seemed OK.
Around 6.30pm we decided to drive up to the house and take photos to replace the ones previously lost and also to have another good look around. I think we were so excited on Tuesday that neither of us could actually remember too much about it, for example the size of things and where things would go, especially now that the walls were up. The ceilings are nice and high and as we stood on the terrace, the view is unbelievable. We really are so very lucky.
The view from the terrace, showing the pool
The view from the winter lounge
The house from the edge of the swimming pool (rear of house)
These pictures are not as good as my original ones (the ones that got away are always better), it was evening and the sun was going down as I was taking them.
The King of all he surveys!
Making the interior archways
As an aside, the weather is very hot and the hotel has so far has been very good. The staff are very nice and helpful. Our only complaint is that buying a carton of milk in the hotel shop for 6 times the price it would be in any other shop. We have since been to the supermarket and stocked up! Pity, if there hadn’t been such a huge difference we would have spent far more money in the hotel. Apart from that we are very pleased.
Thursday 14th August
Up early today in search of more tiles. We found good tile shops on the way to Çatalköy and found some lovely tiles that we both loved. At last we found something we both liked and so we asked the assistant how much they were. She said they were Italian and they can’t get hold of them any more! She proceeded to replace the display board with the non obtainable tiles, back where she got it from, obviously so that some other poor soul could stand there deciding and then she could tell them that they couldn’t have them either! We have the option of driving to Lefkosa and looking for tile shops there but we decided against this, probably only to be told that they couldn’t get hold of them either but they did look pretty in the shop window. I think we have now decided on a darkish blue floor and then white tiles with a blue-ish border and the same pattern as the border in random tiles. I realise I will have to explain ‘random’ tiles (we failed) to the builders as I explained this when we installed our kitchen in Sevenscore and then discovered the builder’s idea of random tiling and our’s were very different. At least now we think we have agreed that we are having the en suite and bathroom just slightly different, with Mal choosing the en-suite and me choosing the bathroom tiles. I think that will be enough thinking about tiles unless when we go with Hakan on Monday they tell us we can’t have those either!
We popped in to see Tracy in Stringers and asked about insurances.
Lunch back at the hotel.
Stayed around the hotel and ate there in the evening. We did have good intentions of looking for local beaches but we both ‘got into’ books and that was it.
The hotel has seemed quite empty up until now but today another family of six arrived (the Bellamy family). We think it is dad who looks remarkably like David the TV botanist and the rest of the family are total hippies. Grey haired mother has the most remarkable dress sense (heavily flowered long dress for during the day accompanied by a multi coloured enormous ‘head scarf’ draped so that none of her face is visible to ultra violet rays.). She managed to throw a real wobbler whilst we were all eating dinner last night and stormed off from the table. One of the waiters was smirking at us saying ‘she should not be angry on holiday.’ I am think they are not quite sure what to make of the family. I hasten to add that her daughter followed shortly afterwards to wash 2 lines of washing and string them from their balcony – despite having only arrived today! (We later discovered about travel delays worse than ours).
Friday 15th August
We were up early today and decided to try the beach at the end of the path ‘the hotel is just 200 yards from the beach’. We are in the sea having a swim by 7.00am and it is so warm its just like swimming in bath water. There are a couple of fishing boats a little way out but just them and us. We had to walk through the Sunny Beach resort to reach the beach but there were no notices up saying it was private. So, we swam and then lay on the rusty, hard wooden sun beds. It was not too comfortable and the beach was all shingle and hurt your feet and also there were a lot of rocks to avoid while you were swimming. We were down there quite a while but found it strange that no one else came down there. Eventually we decided this beach was not really our idea of fun and so walked back to the hotel for a late breakfast. As we were coming out of the Sunny Beach resort a guy hung out of an upstairs window and asked us what we were doing. We told him we had been swimming in the sea and he told us we had to pay for that! Mal had a few words with him and we didn’t, nor would we be going back. It was pretty unpleasant, even had it been free, without being told we would have to pay.
The Bellamy family were out in full force. I just find them so amusing and it is difficult to suss out the ages of any of them as they are all hair and clothes and walk like they are searching for undiscovered species.
Today, Mal and I read a book each. We decided against the pool as a lot of Turkish have arrived (as they do for the weekend) and it is packed. But it is nice to spend so long reading uninterrupted, apart from the booze and food of course. How often do you get the chance to finish a whole book in one day?
Saturday 16th August Up with the sun again today, well, almost, having our first cuppa at 6.00am. We were down by the pool by 7.30,having positioned our umbrellas, tables and sun beds! Later we wandered up to the terrace, for our breakfast, and then back to the pool. The main topic of conversation today is the lack of CTA flights. We thought we had problems, a family arrived today, setting off from Manchester on Wednesday! They were kept in a hotel in Manchester and when they finally caught the flight, half way through the flight the pilot announced that they would not be going to Dalaman but were landing in Ankara instead. What could they do? So, when they get off the plane in Ankara, they are then put on a bus for a 6-hour journey. Of course everyone is now wondering when they will get home. We really don’t care, if they want to give us more holiday then so be it. It is gorgeous weather, hot but a really nice breeze around the pool. We managed to watch the Portsmouth V Aston Villa game. Nothing sensational but you begin to have cravings for an English football game. I am sure we will be getting a large satellite with all channels when we move here (hasn’t happened because terrestrial TV shows lots of football for free). By the way, we bought the boys a Galatasaray football this week and it wasn’t until we got back to the hotel that we thought about the problem of carrying it home. Mind you, we will be about 90 dogs leads lighter on the way home. That is because we will be taking them to Kyrenia Animal Rescue.
Our evening meal was so funny. For some reason it looked as though 45 people wanted to sit down at once at 8.00pm. It may have been something to do with the Manchester United match starting at 9.00pm. Well, it was chaos and the waiters got very confused. We ended up with what we wanted and didn’t have to wait too long. They forgot the bread, but never mind, a meze was on offer for a starter so we did well to miss out on the bread. This is another bargain half board, booked through the brochure for £3, and the food is good. If we paid for it at the hotel it would cost 18mill TL (about £7). We thought that if it was rubbish we would just eat out, but so far it has been good and you get a really good choice. Needless to say we watched the Man Utd game (4-0). This was followed by the Arsenal game which means you get to see three full premier games here on a Saturday!!
Sunday 17th August
Up early again and by the pool by 7.00am, later we sauntered up to the terrace for breakfast and spent the rest of the day swimming and reading by the pool and also chatting to a family who should have gone home yesterday but there isn’t a flight to Manchester, so they have been told they have to stay until Tuesday. Of course CTA will be footing the bill for the hotel and full board for them. They are a party of seven and this is a small hotel, and we are wondering how many others are just sitting here with no flight home and are expecting to stay in their rooms at peak season. We have another two weeks yet, so if the backlog is just getting bigger and bigger will we be forced to stay – what a terrible prospect. I feel sure any other airline would be renting aircraft to keep their tourists happy, but not CTA. Mal feels this is all a conspiracy to destroy the North Cyprus economy (perhaps Greek Cypriots have infiltrated the company – JOKE!) and has drafted a letter for the Cyprus Today but isn’t going to send it in case they ban us from the country! Enough said. Dinner on the terrace of the hotel.
Monday 18th August
Had a lay in today – until about 7.30. Down to breakfast and we booked a car again. This time we have a Vitara. We gave one of the waiters a lift into Girne. Looked in Homebase at furniture again and then met Hakan in the tile shop. We showed him the floor tiles we want and the woman in there said they don’t have them in stock and offered us some other sort. No, they are the ones we want. So, they have ordered them. She did say they had smaller ones but they were twice the price. This didn’t make sense to Hakan or us. We explained the bathroom tile saga and it transpires that the border is more expensive per minute tile than the huge patterned tile that we want placed at random. It doesn’t make sense and Hakan couldn’t explain that one either, so we agreed to go without the border but have the patterned tile. That was for the en suite and then for the bathroom we wanted the pattern tile from the other tile shop but when we got there the white tiles that go with them are not the same. I said we wanted both the same and Hakan (who was very patient!) said he knew another tile shop that imported tiles from Spain, so we drove there but before that I asked about a sink and a half for the kitchen and for ‘fashion’ reasons a double sink is cheaper than this, so we are having the double (oh no we didn’t). I couldn’t see anything I liked in the other shop without changing the floor and all sorts so decided to stick to what we have. We then went with Hakan to the gardening place to choose the paving for around the pool. We chose a light colour, knowing that we will have balustrades (which ended up as black metal) at the end (well, we know what we are doing……we think!) We also showed Hakan the water feature they had there, but I explained I didn’t like the yellow brick they had but would like natural stone to blend with the stone he is putting on parts of the outside of the house. That comes later along with the landscaping of part of the garden (but later they would not replace a £40 faulty sun-lounger and lost out on the garden landscaping work). Then Hakan left, arranging to meet us at the house tomorrow to meet his electrician and discuss where the electrics would be going – in theory that is, as we have no idea when the supply arrive but it will be nice to have sockets and things anyway!
From here we drove to Bellapais and we bought some cushion covers in one of the shops, next to Abbey Estates. In between the two shops were Lil and Brian (www.thechandlersincyprus.com – now defunct as they had problems with the locals and ended up moving to New Zealand). They were looking after both shops. We chatted to them and saw a gorgeous puppy that they had ‘acquired’ today. She had been abandoned and was only a few weeks old. So, we will have to watch their website for progress of the puppy. Brian invited us for a drink next time we are here, his son is arriving tomorrow, so we said next time.
We then went to Kybele restaurant and had lunch. I still can’t believe that place, here we are peak season, the most pleasant setting in the grounds of the Abbey, classical music in the background and we are the only ones there!! We weren’t complaining, it was lovely.
In the evening we decided to go and eat at Mirabelles. We stopped in Girne on the way to get some cash out of the machine. To save walking down to the bank we usually go to, we decided to use the machine outside Ko op Bank. I put my card in for the joint Nationwide account and it displayed that our bank was calling back my card and with that it swallowed it. We just stood there amazed. Gone! This was a new one to us. So, we walked to the usual bank and put the Abbey National card in, and Turkish Lire came out no problem. We couldn’t use Mals Nationwide card, as he couldn’t remember the number!
On to Mirabelle’s where we had a really lovely three course meal for 13 million lira. We sat outside on the terrace but it was very humid. I had fish but I didn’t get it filleted for me this time and it was difficult to see it to do it myself by candlelight.
The drive back to the hotel was nice because at least we got a bit of breeze into the jeep but as soon as we stopped it was really hot again.
Tuesday 19th August
Up early again today and had a quick cup of tea and then headed off for the Kyrenia Animal Rescue. We figured that if there was any walking to be done, it would have to be before the sun got too fierce. We managed to get there for 9.00am and yes, we could walk some dogs if we used the lower path (they are still concerned about snakes on the higher ones). So, we set off with Pharaoh, a pointer type dog and three other smaller dogs. One of the smaller dogs kept right at Mal’s heals the whole walk, poor thing, obviously wanted someone to take him home. Pharaoh employed his hunting skills and it was nose down and darting around everywhere. In fact we had a job to keep up with him. At the end of the walk, we got the other three back on leads but Pharaoh made a run for it back to the kennels! He was sitting waiting for us when we got back. It is a little disconcerting when you think they may make a run for the road but no, he knew where he is well off. He was evidently very very thin when he was bought in, another dumped dog. I think the dogs drank more of the water than we did on the walk.
We stopped in Girne on the way back to have words with the bank whose machine had eaten my card the night before (oh no it hadn’t). Well, we couldn’t believe it, from behind the counter he brought out a whole pile (about 50) of assorted bankcards. However he said mine wasn’t there and they had checked the machine today. He did offer me a Barclaycard with a name on it that looked remotely like Daniel, but I declined. Yes, honestly he did! Mal and I really can’t believe this and were so bothered about all this that we ended up coming back to the hotel and calling Nationwide. They have cancelled the card and told me the balance and so far nothing has been taken from the account. That is a relief and as you may have guessed, my bank did not ask for my card back!
The headline in the Cyprus Today this week is ‘Ultimatum to Airline’. They are saying that CTA have ten days to clean up their act or the travel agents say they are going to boycott them! They also say ‘they should employ people who are qualified to do the job rather than are politically correct’, I feel they should carry this through to the banks too!!!
So, to continue, in the afternoon we met Hakan and his electrician. We went round the whole house deciding where we wanted lights and plug points. Hakan and his Sparky kept laughing because I kept saying that I wanted double sockets everywhere. They were speaking in Turkish so they were probably thinking ‘stupid English woman, does she really believe she is going to use any of these.’ I then asked if they could fit dimmer switches and did they have them here. Well, that was their turn to get one back on Mal and they pretended they had never heard of them – yes of course they have them (but they never fitted them). Mal is always joking with Hakan.
One thing we found out is that we slipped up in the contract as far as the air conditioning is concerned and the cost of the unit is down to us when we thought we had included that (but it was only £180). C’est la vie. What with the extra cost of the paving around the now raised pool and other bits and pieces, Mal is thinking of working an additional term. I think not.
At least now I think the electrics are sorted out. Hakan said he would get the flooring done before we left but obviously this is no longer possible because the tiles are on order.
We then drove up into the mountain above the house to take some photos. The hardened track made me realise that we do need a four-wheel drive vehicle.
This was just on the way to Malatya; our house is just by the open passenger door
This is from the mountain above
The second picture was taken from from the mountain above and shows a little more clearly the raised pool (edge facing the cliff) and the need now to raise all the area between this and the patio. This is all at the rear of the house facing down to the sea. I think I have told you about the view!!!!!!!!!!!
Dinner in the hotel and once again Ferdi (the waiter) filleted my fish for me. You cannot fault the waiters, the cleaners are a different matter and we ended buying a bottle of disinfectant which should tell you something.
Wednesday 20th August
Drove into Girne and went to the market which is up by the Police station. Lots of fruit, veg, spices and clothes. I bought some saffron at 1 million TL a bag, ridiculously cheap but perhaps when I get I home I will find as with a lot of things here, it is not an ‘original’!
Pete & Gwen
After the market we decided to go and visit Peter and Gwen. Gwen was so pleased to see us and went and fetched Peter who was helping with a house just down the lane. We sat on their terrace and all of us talked non-stop. A lot of the talk was about CTA and people who were coming into Larnaca (in the South) and then holidaying in the North. We shall have to investigate this as the Riverside are already organising this. Also we hear that Denktas is furious about the state of the airline and also rumours that a major company may be moving in on them. Peter is so much like Mal and he was saying the same thing, Brits complain but never do anything, so I can see them in May at the border together demanding their rights as European citizens (it wasn’t necessary).
Three hours later (!) with an invite to return next Wednesday, we left. Peter ‘s passing comment was that Gwen had an appointment at the doctors the following day and when we asked, feeling concerned why, he replied ‘for her 50,000 word service.’ Cheeky devil, he didn’t do too badly on the talking front either.
Tonight is barbecue night at the hotel along with the customary belly dancer. I think Mal has stuffed more than enough Turkish lire down belly dancer’s knickers to last a life time and he really wasn’t keen on another one draping herself all over him, so the decision was made to eat out. We drove to the ‘Roadhouse’. Had a good meze followed by chicken and then realised that Kathleen and John, a couple from the hotel were also there. We had bumped into them in the market in the morning and chatted for ages and then discovered that they live not far from Canterbury. When we finished our meal we noticed a rat coming out from the undergrowth by the side of the tables Mal has renamed the restaurant ‘The Rathouse’. Discovering that it was John’s birthday we returned to the hotel with them (the two women were the sober drivers) and had celebration drinks. As we arrived, about 11.00pm the belly dancer was still strutting her stuff and all the waiters were up and dancing so we sat by the pool and watched and chatted and drank. Well, somehow the conversation got around to the Bellamy family and Mal was explaining our names for them. Kath was shouting out about ‘Q’s T-shirt, which he has had on for 4 days and goodness knows what else we were saying about them. The T-shirt incidentally said ‘Mad, bad and extremely dangerous’. Never had we seen a more unlikely candidate to wear this. Suddenly Kath glanced to her left and guess who was just next to us, hidden by a huge umbrella – yes you guessed it, Dippy Hippy and Q!! Did we feel bad? Serves us right – too much alcohol and I start getting gobby. I’ll never learn.
It was about 2am when we came to bed and that was only because the waiters turned out the lights all around the pool.
Thursday 21st August
Up late today. Bumped into Kath and John who had been up early, had breakfast (as the Bellamys usually had late breakfast) and they were escaping to Gazimagusa for the day – cowards. I did pass Dippy Hippy on the stairs and said good morning, but I didn’t get a reply. I really should photograph the Bellamy clan so you could see what I am talking about but it seems a bit obvious now!!
We stayed around the hotel all day and did more reading. All the finished books we will take to Gwen next week and they can sell them in the KAR shop. Seems a bit breezier today, must have dropped below 40oC. Dinner in hotel.
Friday 22nd August
I think our brains are beginning to turn to jelly through lack of use. As one other teacher by the pool said this morning ‘it takes so much effort to get up from your sun bed and into the pool doesn’t it?’ We agreed. That is what we did most of the day and ate on the terrace in the evening. Most disappointed, Ferdi was on bar duty and the other waiters didn’t offer to fillet my sea bream! Still, the cats enjoyed the head of it!
Saturday 23rd August
We decided to drive in to Girne after breakfast and have another go at sending an email and photos. It just takes so long and then just when you think it has all been sent, the whole connection just drops. It is so boring. I did manage to connect to NTL once and to delete 200 emails while we were just sitting there waiting and then lost NTL altogether! This is so frustrating. I think it was sent, well it told me that it was.
From there we walked past Korinia Estate agents. We have been doing this nearly every day on some of our previous holidays. We had bought a present for the nice lady in there, the one who actually walked round to the land office and collected our papers personally, way back in April. Each time we went to take it in, she appeared not to be there and we wanted to give it to her personally. We caught her today and said it was just a small thank you and she kissed me and thanked me. At last we don’t have to carry it backwards and forwards again.
We called in to Astro supermarket and I found some really nice shorts. Seeing as I had ripped a pair on the scaffolding pole up at the house, I thought I’d treat myself to them. Well, when we got to the till she tried to find the price and couldn’t and then walked away and came back with a matching pair of trousers and top and she said 15 million, well no, not for a pair of shorts when the two items together were 15 million. We tried to find someone who spoke English but we think they were all hiding. We suggested prices in Turkish but she wasn’t having any of it as she didn’t have a bar code! We were getting nowhere and so we paid for the rest of our shopping and left.
Once again the Premier matches are on NTV, so we watched the Man Utd game. So what if the commentary is in Turkish.
We sat and read today’s copy of ‘Cyprus Today’ to catch up on the latest scandal of CTA. The big news is that Rankin (one of the ‘top’ British criminals here) has been shot dead. Peter had already told us this on Wednesday and said the Police don’t seem too concerned about finding the killer.
Before dinner we drove up to the house and passed all the workers on the way up there who were obviously walking down to the main road. They have filled in a lot more of the internal walls. Somehow we have discovered that the main bathroom has shrunk a bit but the en suite seems to have grown. I am sure it will all come out in the wash. It was lovely just standing there and listening to nothing. I can’t get over the view from my kitchen window, that will get the washing up done quicker. Hakan had left space and was going to do the plumbing for a dishwasher but we have both agreed we don’t want one over here as we rarely use the one we have now and it seems such a waste of water. It is so cool in the house especially on the terrace. It will be lovely in the summer. We took more photos. You can now see where they are chipping out a ridge to put wiring in.
The electrician spray painted marks where the plugs and lights were going. The left picture shows a bit of the winter lounge on the right and the right archway through to the bathroom and second bedroom and the left archway to the utility room and main bedroom. The right picture shows the kitchen/dining area.
This is looking out from our front door
After about an hour, we left and returned to the hotel and had dinner.
Sunday 24th August
Today we decide to go for a leisurely drive perhaps past Guzelyurt to see how close to the border we can get.
The first place we came to was Vouni Palace. This, as usual, is up a steep winding road and of course we have a Renault 9 today, the jeep has gone back because we thought we had done all the mountain climbing we were going to do. Today we tested out our poor old Renault and it did remarkably well, as you will hear later. Vouni Palace was built in approx 400BC but there are some good ruins there and the views above the sea spectacular.
One old ruin’s husband! (that’s not what it originally said)
We think this says “Welcome to the minefield”
From there we drove until we came across our first border and were forced to turn back by a jeep full of Turkish soldiers – but the sign said nothing in English!!
We found our way back and went to Soli. Another marvellous place with some incredible mosaics. I took loads of photos and this time the site was a little better organised but, as you will see, there are obviously still loads buried under the soil and yes those are foot prints you can see in the soil!
I told him to be careful!
The origins of Soli are traced back to the Assyrians in 700 BC. The pictures are from the Basilica. We also went to the Roman Theatre but found this disappointing because we had seen the play and it sounds as though most of the original stones were carted off elsewhere – last surviving seats were carried to Pot Said in the 19th century and used to rebuild the quayside. We felt the theatre was a bit of a sham.
From there we drove to Lefke but most of it was shut. We did, however, manage to drive into another army barracks and had to turn back again. There was a little shop open so we bought dondermalar (ice creams) and replenished our supply of water. I told Mal that I could do with a snack but he wanted to go to a little village and have a proper Turkish something or other.
So Mal looked at the map and decided he would navigate me to Yayla. For those of you who don’t know Mal, let us merely say that his navigation is not too good, but as I am driving he has to do something! Well done Mal! We get to Yayla but then he decides we will go along past one of the turtle beaches and on to Akdeniz. Somewhere here we should cross a river but of course the river isn’t there as its dried up long ago. Anyone who has been to North Cyprus will know that all the maps are a good 30 years out of date. Arriving at a dirt track we see a Turkish Cypriot granddad and his grandson. He says hello to us and we say Merhaba to him. That is about the gist of the part of the conversation that we both understood. But he kept insisting that Akdeniz was straight ahead and taking his hand and pushing it up the map and saying ‘whoosh’!! So as not to disappoint them we followed the direction he told us. Of course we have a GPS and compass – both at home No problem, he knew where he was sending us, Mal says, and so we drive amongst the beautiful orange groves and masses of very high bamboo.
The stony dirt track turns into deep sand tracks and each time we come to a junction, we have a choice of 3 directions to go, back where we came from is not a choice that Mal considers. This is not looking too good but we keep our spirits up and just keep on going. I am now watching the temperature gauge on the car going up and the petrol gauge going down. Not only this but we are now in what seems like a maze. The bamboo is too high to see where we are going, but eventually we see some electricity wires that Mal insists that if we follow will lead us to civilization. Excellent in theory but where the hell are we? As we come across a red sign again and are facing either the Greek or the Turkish army. At this stage I am ready to surrender and say just lead me to a main road. But we didn’t we backed up and tried again. We start to remember the film ‘Deliverance’, staring Burt Reynolds – if you haven’t seen it, don’t.
Meanwhile as we are driving round we are admiring the ‘October harvest’ of oranges.
This was the last photo of the day before panic set in!! We were both pretending we were fine but after 2 hours this was getting frightening. Eventually I spotted a car in the distance and insisted we should just try and drive the Renault directly over the field, ditches and all, Mal knew I had lost it and that I was beginning to panic. So near and yet so far away -it was tempting. We are doing all this driving in the heat of the afternoon and are now down to an egg cupful of petrol and a half of a pint of water between us. It is also a question with this car whether we should risk bashing the underneath on the rocks and pot holey road or skid along in the deep sand, risking getting stuck. At this stage we manage to follow the right track and I have never been so pleased to reach a ‘proper’ road. As I drove onto the road Mal said ‘If I ever suggest we go off road again, please don’t listen to me’. All I can say is the Renault performed really well and that we did make it to a garage before it started to cough and splutter. But this reconfirms that we need a 4-wheel drive to go the places we want to go. It was surprising really that neither of us swore at each other or got cross, I think we were both planning where to spend the night away from the snakes! I did have the mobile phone with me but how could we tell anyone where we were when we didn’t have a clue ourselves and were unable to see any landmarks??! What a day. By the time we got back to the hotel we were covered in dirt from driving down all the tracks and all the sand billowing over us.
Shower and then dinner!
Monday 25th August
Up early and we drove up to the animal rescue to do some more dog walking. Hamish met us as usual
Pharaoh is the dog we walked last week, who ran back on his own.
Although we got there early it was exceptionally hot today. We had gone better prepared, water for us and a bowl and water for the dogs. When we arrived one of the dogs had been attacked during the night presumably by some of the other dogs so they had to carry him out into the room behind the office. They phoned Margaret to get the vet but it seems the vet has gone away for a few days so goodness what was going to happen to him.
So, they chose 4 dogs for us, really lively ones this time.
Mal got in a bit of a tangle!
He then decided this was a far better solution!!
Off we went. By the way this is the first time in 2 weeks we have seen any clouds in the sky. After a while we decided to give them all a drink from the bowl we’d cleverly brought, as it was so hot. Well, they all came racing back but one decided he was pack leader and went for one of the other black ones and caught his lip so his mouth was bleeding! Chaos. We did manage to get him to drink in the end. It was so hot though that every time we walked past a tree, the dogs were hiding in the shade. We took them back to the kennels and Mal and I were just dripping. I think October temperatures for dog walking will be far better than mid-August and I am sure we will all appreciate it more. Some people were up there bathing dogs and trying to get the ticks off them. They said it was a better option than walking the dogs but I am not sure.
On the way back we called into the Design Studio to look at a bed settee. There was a nice one in there for about £600 but the owner was out so we said we would go back another time. We also stopped at the Green Jacket Bookshop and Mal bought ‘Disaccord on Cyprus – the UN plan and after’. We did all this in our filthy clothes, where the dogs had jumped up and slobbered all over us. Never mind.
In the evening we decided to go for a really nice meal out, as by our reckoning this was to be ‘rice’ night. at the hotel. As we have always had good meals at Yelken’s Fish Restaurant that was where we decided to go. As soon as we sat down at the table a bottle of water arrived. These always used to be free of charge. We asked what there was and we were told, not shown a menu and so we chose fish meze and grouper kebab to follow. I had a brandy sour and Mal had an Efes. The brandy sour was not brilliant and the fish meze was not that plentiful and took quite a long time to finish. This was not all their fault as there was a power cut at the restaurant at the start but as this was early on in the meal, it was OK. It was nice having candlelight and looking down below to the sea. Then the lights came back on and then about 10 minutes later the lights went out again. I can imagine how difficult it must have been for them in the kitchen, perhaps that was why we only got one kebab each, with about four pieces of grouper on it. When we had finished that, we were given a plate of fresh fruit. Mal got a bit irritable all through the meal saying he had a feeling they were going to charge us far too much and unfortunately on this visit the service nor the food were particularly that good. We were brought a second bottle of water, which we didn’t drink, and they charged us for both bottles. Admittedly the ambiance was good.
He was right. They charged us 85 million TL. (About £40) This is the most we have ever been charged, anywhere, we were well and truly ripped off. It is obviously silly season for the tourists!! Well, Yelken has done it for us now because we will not be returning. Mal spent the entire drive home saying how we had been conned and as we have been warned, as it is tourist season, some of the restaurants are hiking the prices.
Tuesday 26th August
Spent another lazy day by the pool. Oh it was so much effort dragging ourselves in to the pool and having a swim etc etc. Ate in the hotel in the evening.
Wednesday 27th August
We arranged to go and see Peter and Gwen. As usual we sat and chatted and chatted. They said that if we wanted to buy anything and leave it with them then we could, which may be very handy. I also asked if they wanted anything bringing back in October and so now we have a small list for tea bags and cod roe and porridge! Before we knew it we had well and truly outstayed our welcome. It was 4.45pm. We had been there all day.
Wednesday night is belly dancer night and so to avoid that again, we drove out to Mirabelle’s in the evening and had a fantastic three-course meal for 15 million TL each (about £7.50!!) We couldn’t fault a thing.
Thursday 28th August
At last we had a lie in and a bit of a lazy day. Drove into Girne and looked at another furniture shop. We still can’t find the bed settee that we really want and we will have to buy one here as we will need it prior to our furniture arriving.
We went to Yenihan’s Restaurant on the way back and had lamacun (very tasty mince on a thin dough base …delicious) and that was 1 million TL (about 50p!) followed by their very tasty pide (pizza but nothing like English pizza) Yenihan’s is well worth a visit, good wholesome Turkish food where the prices don’t change.
In the early evening we visited the house again. We have windowsills and wood around the doors.
Wood around the front door!
I think there is going to be quite a lot of landscape gardening going to be needed!
This picture gives you some idea of the height the pool has been built at the front of the land
We ate in the hotel, or rather out on the terrace again and had another excellent meal.
Friday 29th August
We decided that we are really getting no nearer in our quest for a bed settee that we like and thought we may have better luck in Lefkoşa. We found quite a few furniture shops and this time got a lot nearer what we wanted. In fact we eventually got to a road that is full of car show rooms which will be handy for when we want to buy a car here (Brits call it Arthur Daley Road). Of course the last place that we decided to go to had the best selection, where we were spoilt for choice and now we can’t decide which one we like best, still we have until October to decide. The best one was Cyprus Craft and it is on the corner of the Gazimagusa Road and Dr Küçük Cadessi, Kavşağı.
We drove back and on the way to the hotel we stopped at the Pegasus Friday market. We bought more things from the Animal Rescue, a cookery book and a next year’s calendar. We also found out that unfortunately the poor dog who had been attacked had to be put to sleep. Maureen Hutchinson, the lady who does the orchid walks and has Yenidűnya Farm, had a stall there so we bought medlar jelly, goat’s cheese and some of her hand made, pressed flower greetings cards.
When we returned to the hotel, we had a note left from our rep saying that they are collecting us at 1.30pm in the afternoon for our flight on Sunday. That is far better than the 3.30 in the morning which it should have been. They haven’t told us what time the flight is due though. Perhaps that is guesswork. We did text Ertan and received a text saying the collection was 2.30am, so we ended up ringing their office after all, as Ertan obviously was not up to speed! So, now we have info that the flight is 16.15, so we can tell Rhys when to pick us up.
Early evening, we drove up to the house for our last look until October. It looked as though the sparky had been up there doing his bit with the electrics.
It looks as though to install the wiring, half the wall is chipped away! Note Mal’s finger in the gaping hole! We didn’t quite realise how high the terrace roof is (as shown by Mal stretching up in the right hand picture) and what you can see is the lowest part.
Said goodbye to the house until October, returned to the hotel and had dinner on the terrace. Tonight, we had a ‘new’ couple of fellas, Vince and Pal. Pal asks Vince to show us his gold medallion (yes, he did have one and white shoes – getting the picture yet?) I think they are both in their 70’s but real ‘goers’. We sat with them a while and realised the reason why Vince was quite considerably inebriated. They left Gatwick last night and somehow he had lost £450 worth of American Express traveller’s cheques. No problem, as the advert says, so he used his ‘free phone’ number to call them. Well, its free phone except from here. So, nice of Erkan, the owner, to help out a visitor in distress. He gave him a £43 bill for the call. It was no wonder he was drowning his sorrows. He then said he wanted to dance (sorry, slightly egged on by me) so I asked Ferdi to put on some belly dancing music and he proceeded to give all and sundry a lengthy John Travolta-ish display. He did invite me to join him but I declined. Unfortunately or fortunately for you, I didn’t have the camera with me, so you cannot see the floor show.
We later managed to sneak away.
Saturday 30th August
Up early and drove to buy a Cyprus Today paper. Front-page news this week was the ‘cash machine scam’. Are we surprised?! Then down to the pool.
Liverpool and Everton are playing this afternoon and so everyone decided to wind ‘scouser’ up. He believes there is only one team in the world and that is Liverpool.
So, during the morning Everton signs were found all over the hotel. I am not sure whether you can see them on the umbrellas but you get the idea!
Liverpool won 3-0. We will never hear the end of it tonight.
Gwen and Peter arrived about 11.00 and we sat and had a drink with them. We gave them all the bottles of spirits that we had some left in and some more books for the Animal Rescue shop. We took some letters to post in England for Gwen. It was quite sad to say goodbye to them but we will see them again in October (CTA willing!) Back to the pool, another tiring afternoon. Then our last dinner in the hotel.
Sunday 31st August
We were up early to enjoy the last morning by the pool. We went and packed to get ready for our 13.30 pick up. We were still sitting there at 14.00! Eventually we asked Erkan if he would mind ringing the Cyprus Direct office to see what had happened to our lift to the airport. Well, you guessed it, they had forgotten us. So, a mini bus came and we were fairly late checking in at the airport, which meant we did not get seats together. This ‘rental’ plane that CTA had obtained was Inter Air, evidently another Turkish company, who were working together with the CTA flight staff – and I thought CTA flight staff took some beating. I ended up in the aisle seat at the very back of the plane. Firstly one of the airhostesses climbed on my seat to get something from the overhead locker, a box fell out and hit me in the face. It was only when Mal saw my face and commented on it that she came and apologised and we heard her say that she was looking for the First Aid box, but it appears it was lost so she never came back. I made a guess that there would be no such thing as an accident book. The next thing was when another trolley-dolly shoved a trolley into my arm and then another one dropped a case on the head of the chap in front of Mal. We had a stop in Turkey and a change of staff, thank goodness. We had our meal and sat there patiently with our coffee cups, but none came. Instead they just collected the unused cups. I was sat next to 2 ‘London’ Turkish Cypriot boys, one 7 and the other around 13, so they kept me amused on the journey home. We eventually landed in Stansted around 23.00. Our bags were about the first off and Rhys was waiting for us. AND was it cold!!
Footnote, on our return we checked our bank account with the missing cash card. All our money has been removed and the cheeky b***ers have taken us into an overdraft we never knew we had arranged. Very obliging of Nationwide to allow them to do that. It will be interesting to discover where it has been used, Turkey or on the island. We have now sent the requested explanatory letter and Nationwide said that they will refund the money (and did). Then of course we had to complete the form to put the holiday money in dispute with Visa as it was ‘not as described’, i.e. we did not book a night flight etc etc. (6 months later we received £60 compensation)
For those of you who haven’t seen us lately, before the holiday we were all feeling fat and decided we would spend the holiday looking like 3 weebles!!
Sunday 25th May 2003
We had Kay, our daughter-in-law staying with us from Friday and she kindly offered to stay until Sunday morning and drive us to Stansted. We arrived at Stansted about 8.30am, met up with our friend Paula and then checked in. Mal had his usual visit to Dixons but couldn’t find any new toys. The flight took off almost on time (midday). I dozed off and then woke up not feeling at all well and felt as if I was going to pass out! Not pleasant and in the midst of all this I was sick and I seem to remember Mal and Paula putting the air conditioning blowers on full pelt above me and sticking wet towels and things on my forehead and back of my neck. Quite an eventful journey. I forgot to say that prior to this, when Paula and I decided to go to the loo, I squashed past the drinks trolley which they had parked outside one of the loos and knocked off and smashed three bottles of wine! My jeans and sandals reeked of wine. More followed, let’s just to say that involved wet jeans and Paula tearing off aeroplane seat bottoms attached with Velcro and swapping them round during the stop at Dalaman. (More details can be obtained privately if so required!) At long last we arrived at Geçitkale where we were met by the CTA rep. As usual we were the last drop off which means that we will be the first pick up on the return. We were staying in the Denizkizi Royal Hotel and I had emailed ahead asking for our rooms to be next to each other. Yes, the way things were going, you guessed it, we were not next door to each other and some poor unfortunate had the room in between ours. THEN we discovered we had no kettles! Which meant that we weren’t able to have a cup of much needed tea. After complaining to reception about the location of rooms and no kettle (housekeeping is shut and so we had to ‘wait until the morning’!), we decided to leave our cases and go across the road and see Maggie and Bob at Henson’s. We each had a terrific Brandy Sour, which made up for all the problems. Maggie told us that in spite of the weather changing on the day we left last time, (30oC+) it was now due to rain; a sure sign we were back.
Back to the hotel and Paula went to bed, after a while Mal and I set to (no, not that!), blowing up balloons and getting the banner to decorate outside Paula‘s room in preparation for her 50th. All was going well until the unlucky Turkish guy from the room in between came past and glared at us, we signalled to him to ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhh’. He walked past, wondering what we were up to, and then unfortunately Mal burst one of the balloons which startled him and made him run back, probably thinking we had assassinated someone. Paula came bursting out of the room, in her nightie, and the guy left quickly wondering how the British ever managed to set up an Empire which included Cyprus. I have to say this rather spoilt Paula’s surprise but Mal just told her to go back to bed!! (amidst fits of giggles from Paula and I.) Best laid plans as they say!
Monday 26th May (Paula’s big 5-0)
We woke up early with the sun belting through the patio doors (so much for the change in weather). Paula opened her presents and then we went down to breakfast. We booked a car through the hotel and set off to the land. They have completed the foundations and it really is coming on. Took more pictures and clambered up the mountain above to get some aerial shots (scratched legs as we had gone up there in our shorts, stupid or what?!)
we are now satisfied that Hakan is doing what he is supposed to do (oh, no he’s not). We then drove up to Bellapais and went through the Abbey into Kybele Restaurant where we planned to give Paula a long relaxing birthday lunch. It was lovely, down to the orange liquor, compliments of the restaurant. In fact, us three weebles had a job to get out of our seats, but eventually we did and then looked around the Abbey and the Bellapais shops.
The weather was a little cloudy but really lovely and warm. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the supermarket and stocked up on water, gin, wine, raki and other essentials.
In the evening we walked to the bar at the end of the road and spent a very enjoyable, and slightly intoxicating, evening there. We rolled back to the hotel around 12.30am, only to be told by the hotel night porters to be quiet!! I ask you, how are they ever going to compete with Aiya Napa. We ended up on our room balcony where Paula managed to miss her mouth and slopped red wine all down her white top. I decided that white wine would neutralise it and so I helpfully tipped white wine down her front. We went to bed around 3.30am. We remember going to bed but Paula doesn’t, and she had to walk down the hall! I think she had a good time though!
A wobbly weeble
Tuesday 27th May 2003
Went down for a fairly late (!) breakfast and decided to take ours onto the terrace and got told off by the restaurant manager who thought we should eat it in the restaurant. We reminded him, politely of course, that we were the customers and were therefore always right. Well, we already have a reputation for being noisy and not having proper pillows and not having kettles etc etc, so by this time we didn’t care what anyone thought!
We walked to the hotel beach and spent a nice couple of hours there, swimming and dossing. At lunchtime we had a kebab at the pool bar. We then went into ‘Homebase’ a furniture shop, just on the outskirts of Girne, and saw some furniture that we really liked.
We had called Hakan and arranged to meet him on site at 3.15pm. Well, we got there and it was all go. There was a bulldozer filling in the foundations and a few other workmen standing around watching.
Hakan’s foreman, Hakan, Mal and I
Hakan and his foreman arrived and we agreed on the position for the swimming pool. We also asked him as the dozer was there if they could clear some of the land the other side of the pool as once the pool was dug, we wouldn’t be able to get anything large and mechanical round there. So, we watched them doing that.
Work in progress
Now it is getting really, really exciting. Chatted to Hakan, then went back to the hotel. Mal decided it would be nice to eat at one of the restaurants in Girne harbour. So, off we went and ate at the Harbour club. This would have been idyllic, had the wind not decided to start blowing around the harbour. Typical. Starters were good but my swordfish was dry. We wandered round to the town and ended up going into Akpinar coffee shop and having Turkish coffees and pastries. That was good.
Wednesday 28th May 2003
Up early. My unofficial birthday! My choice for the morning was going to Kyrenia Animal Rescue to walk some dogs in the mountains. Of course I also had to take all the leads that I managed to get from various sources. They were really pleased with the leads, collars and other stuff BUT they told us that we couldn’t walk dogs as one of the dog walkers was in a really bad way as he had been bitten by a snake, a bull nosed viper, and was now in hospital. He went straight to the doctors but as one of the fangs had gone into his boot, it was incorrectly diagnosed as an insect bite. Also a dog had been bitten. Whilst trimming the grass the KAR lads had also found a lot of shed snake skins and so walks have been suspended until the snakes quieten down in a couple of months. As we were up that way by Bespamark, we decided to go to the Herbarium. That was a real disappointment, when we finally made it down the rickety road we found just two rooms with hundreds of mangy specimens in. Still at least Mal found a good book, on Cypriot wild flowers, in there that we will try and buy, we took the name and author. We sat and had a coffee next door and just listened to the mountains. It was really peaceful there. Then we took the better road back down towards the sea and the views were stunning. There are a lot of picnic places around here. We will have to remember these when we move. The Turkish Cypriots just drive up there at weekends and fire up the barby and dance and do all sorts of Turkish things. This is the life!
Once back in Girne, we stopped off at the Green Jacket bookshop to see if we could get the flower book. He didn’t have that one so we will wait until we get home but he did have another good one that Mal bought. We then went on to the Bamboo shop looking at furniture but found nothing we really wanted. Then we went into Yenihans restaurant to sample their delicious pide. I managed to knock my glass of fresh orange over the table-cloth. The waiter brought another free of charge! Mal then spilt his orange all over his T-shirt and then I dropped a load of chicken and tomato off my pide all down my top. I think they were glad to see the back of us, it was the only clean thing in the restaurant.
On the way back we went up to the site and they were delivering hardcore. Gets even more real every time we visit. I am a bit more wary about snakes on the land now.
After all that driving around the mountains we went back to our rooms for a rest.
As it is my unofficial birthday, I had the choice of restaurant, so I chose Yelkens, an excellent fish restaurant. We were not disappointed. An excellent meal of mixed fish meze and then a selection of fish to follow and then fresh fruit and Turkish coffees. Very attentive service and great food (unlike the next time we visited). Back to the hotel and sat on the balcony and had a drink….or two.
Thursday 29th May 2003
Up early, even before breakfast and headed off for Salamis, the ruins (2000BC). We went via Lefkosa and Gazimagusa, on the new dual carriageway. A great improvement. Unfortunately the map they give you doesn’t quite tie up with the ruins so somehow we missed the tomb of Zeus, but he was away on holiday anyway. On our last visit we were able to drive round but this time we had to walk it all. I had my legs all covered with red itchy blotches, but it didn’t suit me, either from the heat or maybe the grasses. I ended up having to keep tipping cold water over them. Salamis
Whilst we were in the amphitheatre, there was a group of girls and their teacher practising some National dancing.
After Salamis we decided to drive to Bogaz. It used to be a sleepy fishing village but the Brits have descended there. They are also catering for the Greek Cypriots with menus in Greek. Bogaz
It is really weird to experience these changes happening so quickly. While we had lunch we listened to two Greek Cypriots at the table next to ours and eventually we started talking to them. It was a really interesting conversation. They were doing ‘the grand tour’ of the whole of the North in one day. They said this was the second time they had come since the border opened and that the first time it took them 5 hours to cross the border!
After lunch we drove up to Kantara Castle, when I say ‘up’, I mean up. It was 3,000 feet up and from the top of the castle you could see both sides of the island. The views really were sensational. They certainly knew how to build castles in those days! In 1228 it was occupied by Emperor Frederick II while he was attempting his takeover of the island. It is said that this castle has 101 rooms but I have to say we didn’t find them all.
. The view from Kantara
After our climb to the top of the castle, we decided to take the coast road back, 78 kilometres along bumpy and very high roads. As we were coming down the mountain, village kids were running after the car trying to sell us herbs they had picked. It was a very dusty, hot and sticky drive back.
We had a quick change and after a debate of how we could possibly go out for a small meal (doesn’t seem to be any such thing in North Cyprus but we had already eaten chicken sis lunchtime), we decided on Seveners in Alsancak. Paula ordered chicken on a tile, I had moussaka, Mal had mixed grill. How he ever thought that was going to be small, was beyond me but still, bless him. The meals arrived and they were huge and of course with rice, chips and salad in bowls as well. After all this and Turkish coffees we retired for the night, too full to do much else but burp.
Friday 30th May 2003
Woke up to cloudy skies and at around 9am, the heavens opened. Yes, we know it is lovely weather over there (Rhys rang and told us last night!) However we are optimistic that this will all clear away as quick as it came. We are thankful however that we did the Salamis trip yesterday.
A point of interest here. There are around 200,000 residents in the TRNC. This is made up of 20% Turkish Cypriots, 10% other (Marionites etc), 50% Turkish mainland and 20% British. (apparently) So, there are a lot of Brits here now they still keep coming. We did pop in to see Phil and Tracey in Stringers Estate Agency but they were very busy and so we left.
By the time we had finished breakfast, the sun was out and the clouds had gone. We drove into Girne so that Paula could buy presents. We also bought the DVD of Matrix Reloaded, I know it has Turkish sub titles but it was 4 million (under £2!) We had our lunch in Akpinar Restaurant and then drove up to the land. They were putting in the uprights and there were 4 men working there. It seems they are really going for it.
My ‘prickly heat’ thing started on my legs again and so, as my legs were getting so hot in the front, Paula said she would drive. We all shifted round and I sat in the back. Well, the car wouldn’t start and the battery light kept flashing on and off anyway. So, she managed to roll it (the benefit of living on a hill) but a couple of hundred yards down the hill the engine still hadn’t engaged. So, there we sat, me with itchy legs, having already thrown a bottle of water over them and Mal and Paula deciding what to do. After a while Mal pushed it and Paula got it going but then didn’t want to ease off the accelerator too much so Mal got quite a bit of exercise chasing after us. At least it was downhill. We got back to the hotel and told them we had been sat up the mountain for an hour. So, she said she would get the mechanic. We didn’t need the car for about 3 hours, until we went to eat. The cars are really well maintained here, NOT!
Back up to the room and Mal played us the video he had recorded on Paula’s 50th birthday night. Well, we laughed until we cried. It was so funny. Paula seems to think we went to bed at 12.30am, not the 3.30am that we did and it seems a lot was very vague at the time and she couldn’t remember much of it. We know she wouldn’t have believed us had it not been on film!! Then we got the blame for ‘letting her get like that’.
The three Weebles
As it was Mal’s unofficial ‘birthday’ and he had the choice of restaurant. He chose Mirabelle’s. So, off we went and had a really good three-course meal there plus wine, Turkish coffees, brandies etc. On the way out, there was a Labrador puppy that Mal started playing with while I was trying to take a photo of Mal and Paula outside the restaurant. Well, the puppy sunk his teeth into my leg. playing I might add but it did hurt and then he decided to hang from my top, ripping it…great. Of course I got teased all the way ‘well, we thought you loved dogs’. Back to the hotel and a drink on the balcony for a change.
Saturday 31st May 2003
We decided this was our lazy day. Paula, unable to sleep, got up at 5.30am and photographed the eclipse of the sun and then walked along the beach (chatting to the guy who looked after the sun beds) and finally had breakfast and was back asleep by the time we got up. We had breakfast and then the three of us went to the beach and found the sun bed fella very attentive. He was chatting up Paula and she told us he had asked her out. But she wouldn’t go. Paula’s eclipse picture
I ended up sitting in the sea most of the time because of the prickly heat thing on my legs!
Did a bit of packing in the afternoon. As we didn’t have the car, we decided to eat at Henson’s Restaurant just over the road, run by Maggie and Bob. Once again we had excellent intentions of having a small meal and ended up absolutely ‘stuffed’ followed by Turkish coffee, liqueurs and brandies. Maggie and Bob.
I hasten to add Maggie had been in the kitchen doing the cooking and was not in her usual attire so was not happy about us taking this picture with her in her chef’s gear!
Back to the hotel and booked our 2.30am call. Bed at 12am and the phone went at 1.00am and again at 2.00am and eventually at 2.30am so we got a lot of sleep!!! Told the guy on reception to get their phone system checked out and left the hotel. (This was happening to Paula too! This had not been the first time we had middle of the night anonymous calls – us and many others in the hotel.)
We won’t be returning to this hotel. All the staff are too miserable, everything has deteriorated since our last stay over a year ago. To crown it all when we left they told us that we had to pay a kettle hire charge – oh no we don’t and didn’t!! Needless to say our ‘comments’ sheet was rather full and we haven’t mentioned half of it here.
As usual the plane took off an hour late and as usual it was chaos at the airport as all 5 flights for the day take off within an hour and a half of each other. We queued at one check-in desk and when we were half way down the queue, they changed it to a different flight and so when we got to the check in desk we were told by the check-in woman that we were in the wrong queue, but as our flight had disappeared we tried the Turkish way and shouted at her, saying we were going to check in with her and it worked. (I was tired having had about 15 minutes sleep!
Why do we keep coming back amid all this chaos? Because we love it and can’t wait for 10 weeks time when hopefully our house will not only have walls but a roof and (hopefully) electricity. This holiday, visiting places around the island, reminded us of why we are going to live there.
We drove up to Stansted and stayed the night at the Hilton. Had a really nice meal there in the evening.
Sunday 13th April
Up early and got the Hilton bus to the airport. We checked in at 8.45 am as our flight was due to leave at 11 am. Had some breakfast, did some duty free shopping which included us taking back the JVC camcorder we’d bought in February and changing it for a Sony one which seemed much easier to use and to be much better yet with the same picture quality. We will try it out this holiday and see how it goes. The guy in Dixons seemed a bit perturbed that we hadn’t returned it to our local branch (it comes off his takings!)
So, we wander through to the gate at about 10.45am and board the plane. We then proceed to sit on the plane for another hour and it transpires that someone hasn’t turned up so they have to offload his luggage. I think they made up some of the time during the flight and we only stopped in Antalya for a record half hour. We arrive in Geçitkale airport (Ercan is still not ready, in spite of the ‘three months’ quoted about 9 months ago!!) at about 7pm (local time). We are lucky this time as we were the first drop off!! This meant we were in our villa by about 9pm. We are staying at the Olive Tree and have a really nice 2-room place, right by the pool but away from the casino – its so quiet! We unpacked, had a drink, went for a wander around. They have built an indoor swimming pool since the last time we were here (about 6 years ago!) We were both very impressed.
Monday 14th April
Awake about 7am, in spite of the time difference. We discovered we can’t lock patio door. At breakfast we discovered that we had masses of choice and, unlike Riverside, if you wanted ’full English Breakfast’ you did not have to pay an extra £1.50. They had everything there, including stewed fruit and a selection of about 6 different breads.
After breakfast, we saw Pat (Cyprus Paradise rep) who welcomed us back again! We scrounged a new map off her and booked a car with for three days this week and decided to see how it goes for the rest of the holiday. We also booked a Lefkosa shopping trip on Friday. We told her about the patio door and Mr Fixit was at our villa by the time we got back and had fixed it. Not much ‘yarin, yarin’ here! Having said that, there don’t seem to be many people around, probably the war has put them off coming to the Middle East, but we have seen no scuds yet.
Then it poured down with rain, we were a little disappointed when we watched BBC world weather and discovered it is 21oC at home. However, the rain only lasted about ½ hour and then it cleared away. Mal played with his new camcorder and was very impressed. The sun came out by midday but its still a bit cloudy over the mountains but just when we thought it might get brighter the rain returned. It was a pretty gloomy day. In the evening we decided to walk down to Both Worlds restaurant, where they do Thai, Turkish and English food. We have been there before, a few years ago but we have to say that we were both unimpressed.
Tuesday 15th April
We hired a car through Pat and it arrived about 9.30am, so we drove straight into Girne. Still pretty rainy weather. We went into Korinia’s office and saw Gurays secretary. She informed us that the kocan was ready and she only had to collect it from the land registry and then it would be ours but Steve was out of the office and so could we come back later. We wandered around Girne and returned about an hour later……………there it was after all this time and we couldn’t quite believe it, it was a bit of an anti-climax, Mal had psyched himself up for an argument. We thanked them very very very much and then drove to Stringers to tell them the good news, but neither Tracy nor Phil were in, so we just called Hakan to let him know. He said he would come to the hotel at 2.30pm today and so we went for a drive up to the land and was pleased it is was still there despite enormous waterfalls in the surrounding areas because of all the rain. Hakan had tried to send his workmen to the land on Monday but it was raining too much!!
So, at 2.30pm we handed over the Kocan to Hakan so he can apply for planning permission (having already photocopied the document, it has taken us long enough to get it!!) On Thursday they are going to start something, so we will be up there on Thursday afternoon. I don’t think either of us can explain the relief of now holding the kocan in our hands. It still doesn’t seem real. We have heard all sorts of stories about recent restrictions and also that there is a 3,000 backlog of applications! Hopefully we have made it just in time. Hakan now projects that the bungalow will be complete by the end of the year. He has been really good throughout all this.
In the evening we went out for a celebration meal and chose Mirabelle’s and quite honestly we couldn’t have chosen a better place. The food was excellent and so cheap, that we left a big tip. Three courses finishing with Turkish coffee for the princely sum of 15 million each (about £6). I had sea bream and it really was so tasty and obviously very fresh.
A momentous day….now undoubtedly the real troubles will start! We envisaged problems with the build itself but we never thought we would take so long to get the kocan (everyone says it must be the longest in history.)
Wednesday 16th April
Up early and at last the sun is out. Had breakfast and then we drove to Kyrenia Animal Rescue. It is along the Famagusta road about 6 miles from Çatalköy, past the two turn offs to Arapköy. As Mal wanted do some filming we only took two dogs for a walk, Peggy and Iris, lovely little shaggy mutts, one brown and one white. They loved their walk. With there being about 160 dogs in the rescue, I doubt their turn comes around very frequently. The only problem was that there seems a shortage of leads and so they had very short ones, which meant that we were bending over most of the walk, discovering later that we should have let them off. The scenery was spectacular and so we all benefited. We were given these two who obviously hadn’t been out for a while, otherwise how on earth do you choose from so many dogs. When we returned Jill showed us round and we saw all the other dogs, very tempting but we have to be sensible here!! I have to say I fell in love with a little dark brown bitch with bloodhound ears that had just been spayed. We will come again next week!
Back to villa and lunch and then we spent the afternoon in the garden at the rear of the villa. In the evening we decided to eat fish and so we drove to Gülers fish restaurant. We then realised that it was just across the road from Yelkens, where he had a fantastic meal once before. However we decided to be adventurous, more is the pity. The food was not that good, definitely NOT ‘the best fish in Cyprus’ as they advertise! You win some and you lose some.
Thursday 17th April
We drove to Kyrenia in the morning and withdrew more money from the cash machine (in preparation for Lefkoşa shopping tomorrow). Lunch and then we drove up to the land. True to his word, Hakan and co. had been up there. We now have 2 drives into the property. Great as they both seem to have captured more government land (wrong!). We are not complaining (yet). The bungalow is staked out. Mal took the long tape measure and checked it was all the right size. Yes, Hakan had done a good job of it and also within the wooden perimeter of the house markings, holes had been dug for the foundations. In fact it all looked a bit like an archaeological dig and I got really excited. At last, after all the discussion I now know what I will be looking at from my kitchen window and where the sun terrace will be and where our bedroom is. The front door (looking to the mountains) seems mighty near the boundary but I am sure Hakan knows what he is doing (mostly!). No one can overlook the pool side of the house (only just as it turned out), perfect. I think we got so carried away that Mal left the tape measure up there!
So, we are very happy and decided to eat out at the Laughing Buddha tonight as there’s always good food there and it was. Ange and Rhys rang when we got back and told us it is 27oC at home (hotter than here!)
Friday 18th April
Up early as we had decided to go on the trip to Lefkoşa. We had done it before by car but there is always the problem of parking and then finding the car again! We thought this was an easier way to do it. It was worthwhile because Clive, the rep, gave us a lot of history and facts on our journey there. We were then left to our own devices – we had chosen not to go on the organised march around Lefkoşa. We managed to find Büyük Khan. It is an old Inn that has been refurbished to house a craft market. Muzaffer Pasha, the first Ottoman Governor General of Cyprus, originally built it in 1572. We found a really nice material shop in there, the woman who owns it has invited us for drinks next week (until she realised we were common). Amazing materials, original Turkish designs from years ago. Then disaster, we found an artist and all his paintings. We had to buy one but really couldn’t decide, as they were all so good including the original painting that had been used on a TRNC stamp. We were really very tempted to buy that one but it was so big, we would have had problems getting it home. Maybe if it is still there next time. We did choose one though as Mal said he would buy it for my birthday. Next stop was Envers Jewellers, where I found a really unusual pendant, so Mal bought that too for my birthday (holidays are the only time Mal ever has to shop for my birthday!) We seem to have spent so long chatting to people that we just had time for a glass of fresh orange and then back on the coach. The huge glasses of orange incidentally were 40p each. Much cheaper than touristy Kyrenia despite Lefkoşa being the capital!
On the way back the driver took us past ‘check point Charlie’ – the gate between the south and the north. If you visit from the south you have to return by 5pm the same day and (apparently) any goods you have bought in the north will be confiscated! We drove a little way along the Green Line and saw some of the devastation left from the 1974 war. We also drove past the barbarism museum, where a family were killed in their homes (by the Greeks of course) and evidently they even left the blood on the walls up until last year! Interesting!
The weather was very dull with low cloud and it was raining when we got off the coach. It seems more like British weather!!
In the evening we decided to go to Erol’s in Ozanköy. Every night there have been taxis by the hotel entrance but of course tonight there were none. The receptionist in the casino ordered us one and we felt we were ripped off a bit with the price, as it is only the next village but too far to walk. It was a nice meal but Ozanköy seems to have a surplus of Brits moving in and the prices have risen since last time we went there. After the meal Mal said there would be taxis at the mosque as there always was. I seem to remember last time was peak summer and not this time of year and I was right, no taxis around, in fact the village was very quiet. So, we went back into Erols and one of the customers ended up giving us a lift.
Saturday 19th April
A fairly dull day, so we sat in the back garden of the villa and lazed most of the day, reading books and Mal perfecting his animation on the laptop. This is all very well, all the techniques he is using but he won’t have time to do anything once we get home! We couldn’t decide where to eat and so we decided to try Has restaurant which is just down the road. It was like walking into his living room. There were 5 tables around the outside of the room. We managed to get the last table. I had chicken şiş and Mal had lamb şiş , both with salad and chips. Wine and water and then Turkish coffees to finish and all this for the grand total of £6.40! This is more like it, good Turkish food at Turkish prices.
Sunday 20th April
Much brighter today and in fact the sun, when it is not hiding behind a cloud is really hot. Had breakfast and then sat in the back garden. We thought it would be a good idea to go down to the Harbour in Girne for lunch. It used to be very expensive down there but I suppose the lack of tourists because of the war, has brought their prices down. So, we had a very cosmopolitan Easter Sunday lunch. It is so nice down there, very relaxed and I think if you wanted to you could just sit at the waterside at the tables all day. We decided to eat Cypriot and so we both had moussaka with a Brandy Sour each. At least it was shaded from the wind in the harbour, which by now had got quite brisk. It also rained a bit but the sort that is gone in 5 minutes. We just sat and reflected how nice it will be when we live here, to come down to the harbour restaurants for lunch and watch the world go by and see the boats going in and out. At least now it all seems a bit more real now work has started on the house.
Monday 21st April
Another lazy day when we just wandered into Girne and had our lunch at Chimera Restaurant, right next to the harbour and we had delicious sword fish. Brandy sours were good too. Sat there for quite a while in the sun and then went to the jewellers and bought a chain for my pendant and some other bits.
Tuesday 22nd April
Sunny and hot today, typical now that we have a car again. Drove up to the land and there were two workmen up there. This is when it starts getting really exciting and really real. We said ‘merhaba’ to them and they carried on cutting the metal support rods.
Took some photos and also Mal used the camcorder to get some really good footage, on the site (see, don’t call it the land anymore, overnight it has turned into the site!!)
The ‘site’ is the flat bit straight up from the hut, at the bend of the road. We then climbed up the mountain to the side and managed to get almost aerial shots. Why didn’t we think of this before, puts it all much more into perspective?
After we had got over all the excitement we drove down to Peter and Gwen’s. Gwen was doing a stint at the Kyrenia Animal Rescue shop but Peter asked us in for coffee. Mal had done some genealogy for him, for the Cassell family. He was really pleased with progress Mal had made and gave him more information to extend it further. Must have stayed there for about 2 hours.
We also stopped in the furniture shop, the Bamboo Shop and priced up a three-piece suite and an additional bed settee of the same quality and the same fabric, hand built and got a quote for about £1,200. A very good price we thought. Of course he tried to sell us it there and then but we explained that the house isn’t built yet and so said we would return in August if we decide to order it.
On the way back we stopped at Vusay Estate agency. We have been looking for a new restaurant that Tanner was opening but couldn’t find it but we know he told us that his daughter had opened up the estate agency. She was really nice and got her dad on the phone for us. We couldn’t find the restaurant because it hasn’t been finished being built yet! However we now know where it is going to be, just down the road from Cesme and nearer the beach. Should be finished about June so we said that we would go and see him then.
Went into the Green jacket bookshop and bought some books and they were all talking about the ‘Wish You Were Here’ programme at home on North Cyprus. It is on tonight and evidently the Greeks are up in arms about it, saying that it shouldn’t be shown as the TRNC is not recognised. We also had a discussion abut the relaxation of the crossing of the Green line once the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ is in the EC. How can they stop us from going? The Greeks’ line at the moment is that you have entered the country illegally when you land at Erçan airport. That will be interesting in 2004. Peter sounds as stubborn about it as Mal and I have visions of the pair of them standing at Ledra Palace (the crossing point) and insisting that as they are members of the EC they want free passage to another EC country. It will be interesting to say the least.
In the evening we went to Henson’s Restaurant and saw Maggie and Bob and as usual had an excellent meal, Mal’s of course being a T- bone steak.
Wednesday 23rd April
Drove off to Kyrenia Animal Rescue, where I put in my subscription and application form for Life membership. We asked for 2 dogs to walk and they gave us Olivia and Nessie. Olivia seemed quite nervous but they both loved their walk, even though Nessie started galloping when we got near to the kennels. Mal went running off after her!
We returned the two dogs after a very long walk and then I asked if could see Nutmeg, a dog I took a fancy to last week. I had asked to walk her but she’d had one recently. So, they got her out of kennels for me and she really was a bit of a crazy dog, only a pup but she had been spayed last week. A bit sad leaving all those dogs behind. As Mal said if we were living here already, some would be living with us!!
In the evening we returned to Mirabelles Restaurant. Quite busy in there tonight and the food again was excellent especially the fish. Mal was a bit disappointed that they had run out of Kleftico. Came back to the hotel and watched the Man Utd – Real Madrid match. Boo Hoo!
Thursday 24th April
Drove into Girne and returned Mals computer discs that we bought last time (copies), they changed them straight away, no problem. We then went into to a couple of furniture shops to get prices and then on up to the site. It was so funny, we didn’t think anyone was there and then presumed that they were having ‘lunch’. When they saw us, they went into action, including waking up the third member of the gang. There seems to be more progress even over the last couple of days.
There you are, three men working! The progress may not seem obvious by this picture but we could see it.
Mal enjoying his steak! Well, we must have sat there a lot of the afternoon and then went for a wander around the Abbey.
We then went up to Bellapais Abbey (the abbey of peace) and that is just what it is. We had decided to eat in Kybele Restaurant as the ambiance and the classical music playing is really lovely.
We did comment that we remembered coming here in the height of summer a couple of years ago and there was about two other couples here. Quite a few more people here today but it is still not what you would call crowded. So there we sat for a couple of hours eating excellent food and listening to the music. It has a special sort of magic to the place.
Mal spent the rest of the day capturing the video he has made and incidentally, I have given up taking the digital camera with me as all these pictures we are taking off the camcorder (mainly because we forgot to bring the other wire with us!!) It has been overcast all day and it felt really stormy but was still warm. About 9 in the evening, the wind started up and the heavens opened!
I forgot to say on Wednesday, the border was open at the green line and now the Turkish Cypriots are allowed to cross into the South, as long as they return by midnight. We believe this to be a cunning ploy to get the Turkish Cypriots to spend their money over there and then of course, in the south of Nicosia (Lefkoşa), they could employ cheap labour from the north as long as they return by midnight!! The more people we speak to, the more we are convinced that this will continue for a very long time to be a divided island.
Friday 25th April
Well, it seems to have rained for most of the night and amazingly we didn’t surface until 9.30am and it seemed everyone was into late breakfast, not just us. Just let them say that there is a drought when we come in the summer! Raining again this morning and we don’t feel too bad as we received a text from Ange saying it is raining at home too. A good thing we brought so many books with us, even if our baggage was labelled ‘heavy’ and that was before we filled it for the return journey with all the extras we have bought. A good thing that CTA aren’t too fussy about the extra weight. They say 25kg each but ours were 55kg combined. Hopefully they just turn a blind eye on the way back too. Having said that if you saw the mounds that the Turkish Cypriots take back and forth. At least it looks promising that we can stuff our suitcases with bedding etc when we do want to bring some things when the villa is complete.
We have been trying to think of a name to call the homestead. Originally it was going to be Çisme, as the land was shaped like a boot. We have since learnt that with the government land (some of which we have acquired and some of ours they seem to have taken when they widened the road), it seems to have taken on the appearance of a boomerang. We are thinking now of the Halfway House, halfway between Incesu village and Malatya, or even halfway between this life and the next (well, it is our idea of heaven anyway!) But then we have to get the correct Turkish translation. Yarim is half and house is ev but with a lot of their dual meaning translations perhaps we ought to seek Turkish advice first. It’s all a bit irrelevant anyway as they don’t use addresses here.
Mal has spent the whole morning editing his filming, taking the best clips and doing all sorts of fancy things with them so when we get home he will have a 20 minute CD to show instead of the usual lengthy boring films!!
By the afternoon the sun was out again.
In the evening as neither of us could be very bothered to go far, we decided to go back to Has restaurant, just down the road. This time we decided to have a light meal and ordered lahmacun (Arab style pizza with mince). Well, the conversation got so confusing with the owner that we ended up with a large lahmacun each to start and then came an enormous pide with salad and chips. We had been trying to decide between one or the other and ended up with one as a starter and one as a main course. So much for the small meal. This happens every time. We just order a main course and suddenly a couple of dozen mezes appear, that are included with the main course. Well, I got the giggles and told Mal he would have to eat most of it as we didn’t want to offend him and they do get offended. Well, that is Mal’s excuse for stuffing himself silly anyway. We also had a coke each, as I’m a bit wined out, still having three bottles in the fridge and only one day left. We finished with Turkish coffees and the whole lot came to 15 million (roughly translated £6!!!) At this rate we will be eating out very night when we move here!
Saturday 26th April
Lazy day in fact quite a lazy holiday. We tried to get hold of a Cyprus Today to get the low down on the border opening but didn’t get one. We will have to wait until it is delivered to home.
We went back to Has’s restaurant in the evening and had chicken sis, Turkish coffees etc, as usual spending very little money. Went to bed around 11pm as we have to get up at 2.30am!! They are collecting us at 3.15am. The plane is leaving at 6.00am
Sunny – we woke up and handed our car key in, had breakfast and decided we would sit by the pool in the sun, but by the time we had finished breakfast, the clouds appeared so instead we opted for a walk. Having said that, we still went out in T-shirts. We walked through Riverside and up towards Old Milos. This is a restaurant we went to about 5 years ago and later, when we were looking for land, we were taken up there and found that Old Milos had been flooded and ruined. Although the land we looked at then was in a lovely position we really didn’t like the road up to it (very narrow and even then it was crumbling). A wise decision, more of the road had dropped away and we really don’t know how we would have got furniture up there – on the back of a donkey perhaps. We continued our walk back through Alsancak village and onto Riverside. Mal was completely lost by now. A good thing I have a good sense of direction. It was quite chilly by the time we got back to the villa, so all heaters went back on again. The weather may not have been marvellous but at least we feel as though we have achieved something this holiday.