Summer Holiday 2003
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)