May 2003

The Weebles Holiday

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.

Two weebles

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.

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.

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.