Easter Holiday 2003
Saturday 12th April
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