Cyprus! The name conjures fond memories for many Brits who may be familiar with its sunny beach towns and Mediterranean charm. However, although Cyprus may be on the beaten path for others, visiting this island will be a new experience for us. This summer, we are heading out to Cyprus as part of the James Villas blogger ambassador programme. In this article, we share five experiences which new visitors like us can expect when visiting Cyprus.

 

Cyprus – Steeped in a history still so fresh

Cyprus is one of those island destinations with multiple personas. It is at once Mediterranean, European and Middle Eastern – Larnaca on the south coast is only a 45-minute flight to Beirut, Lebanon!

Its cultural influences form a mixed bag of juicy historical morsels which include Greek, Turkish, ancient Roman, Byzantine, British and a few more. Like fine wine, all of these layers present rich notes for our travel taste buds to sample. 

Travel to Cyprus

Image by: dimitrisvetsikas1969

When speaking about travelling to Cyprus, the question often asked is, “Well…which Cyprus?” There is a duality of identity that must be considered and acknowledged. 

A dispute between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities has left Cyprus divided since 1974, one half – the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – is recognised only by Turkey.  

That troublesome conflict is responsible for anomalies like Nicosia (Europe’s last divided capital city) and Varosha, an abandoned southern quarter in the city of Famagusta which was once a thriving tourist destination but now stands as an empty shell. 

Travel to Cyprus

Image by: dimitrisvetsikas1969

Relations between both halves may have only recently begun to thaw. However, the island’s popularity as a destination for sun, sea and gastronomy remains undiminished.

 

Five Cyprus experiences to look forward to

How do you write about a destination you haven’t visited before or describe a culture you have only experienced from afar?

Well, according to fellow travel writer Lola Méndez, if you’re the late great traveller and storyteller Anthony Bourdain, instead of looking at a culture from the outside and trying to interpret it through your own lens, you find the voices from within that culture, listen, learn and elevate them. 

So our approach for planning this trip has been to find inspiration from the images and stories of people who call Cyprus home and rely on THEM to show us their country. To do this, we reached out across social media to crowdsource inspiration from locals for things to see and do during our trip. 

Here are five experiences we anticipate on Cyprus and the Instagram accounts that inspired them.

 

#1: Travelling back in time

Like many islands in the Mediterranean, Cyprus has changed hands many times throughout recorded history. Every major civilisation in the region appears to have laid claim to the island at some point in time. 

Only in 2016, a 4th-century Roman era mosaic was unearthed in a small village near Nicosia. Archaeologist Fryni Hadjichristofi believes that the mosaic, depicting a chariot race in a hippodrome may have been part of a wealthy person’s home, and provides further confirmation of the island’s prosperity in that period. 

From ancient Greek mythology to three centuries of Ottoman rule and from Roman to Venetian to Greek Orthodox architecture, we look forward to learning more about the island’s history.

 

#2: Going off the beaten path

One person’s beaten path is usually another’s untrodden road to discovery.Click To Tweet

Although we may spend more time on the island’s west side, we intend to roam as wide and as far as our time and resources will allow. 

A post shared by Cyprus By Drone (@cyprusdrone) on

Given the island’s relatively compact size, access to a rental car during our visit will help with covering more ground in the time we have. Thankfully, from living in the UK, driving on the left as Cypriots do, should come naturally. In addition, most road signs are also in English which should make navigation a lot easier. 

A post shared by Cyprus By Drone (@cyprusdrone) on

A few off-the-beaten-path ideas we sourced from locals include the Troodos Mountains, sulphur springs in Kalopanayiotis, wine growing villages in Limassol, a medieval Venetian bridge hidden deep in Paphos Forest and even a shipwreck trail

Early morning starts notwithstanding, our Instagram Stories promise to be exciting!

 

#3: Enjoying multi-layered gastronomy

Anyone who has followed us over the last three years knows that we love a good food story.

A sailing trip along the south-west coast of Turkey and sampling Albanian cuisine in a London suburb are just some recent experiences which have cemented our love for Eastern Mediterranean cuisine.

We fully expect the local gastronomy to reflect the island’s multicultural tapestry; Greek, Turkish and rich blends of everything Mediterranean. We are keen to try traditional Cypriot dishes and hope to dip our taste buds into a selection of hot and cold mezes, souvlas (thinly sliced meats), moussakas and koupepia (stuffed vine leaves). 

Every good meal comes with a story and so more importantly, we hope to meet the people behind the food and keep our ears open for those insightful stories that only the locals can tell.

 

#4: Revelling in golden sunsets

In a world where chaos thrives, beautiful sunsets provide us with a momentary oasis of calm. Click To Tweet

One beautiful thing about sunsets is that they are the same in every language…Greek, Turkish or other. They may last for only a brief period but they convey a universal yearning for new beginnings. 

As most photographers know, the beach is always a good place to capture a good sunset image. Fortunately, Cyprus has loads to choose from.

Since we’ll be staying on the west side of the island in Paphos, we look forward to capturing some great sunset shots and time lapses.

 

#5: Enjoying a digital detox

A stunning holiday villa in Paphos, on the island’s western coast, part of the James Villas collection, will be our home away from home as we embark on a week of adventure. 

Cyprus | James Villas, Paphos

We are naturally curious and often feel like we should be maximising our time at a destination by satisfying that curiosity. However, in Cyprus, we will try to avoid giving into the usual pressure to fill all of our time with activity. 

We are learning to be still and to simply immerse ourselves ‘in the moment’. 

Author L.M Browning talks about ‘the pace of this modern age not being conducive to maintaining one’s consciousness, leaving us too exhausted to think and too hurried to feel’.

Cyprus | James Villas, Paphos

In Cyprus, we want to feel. We want to put aside our devices for a moment and feel the sand beneath our feet, the wind in our faces, the sun on our backs. We look forward to doing nothing but enjoying our private villa, looking up at the stars and revelling in our folly of trying to count them.

 

New experiences await us in Cyprus. Come with us!

In a 2016 interview with Turkish-Cypriot author and poet Mehmet Yaşin, speaking to journalist Christina Linardaki, he was asked: 

“So if I ask you what is your homeland, what will you say? The whole world?” 

He replied, “No, that wouldn’t be true. ‘The whole world’ is abstract. Home is everywhere there is a Turkish and Greek element…this is my world.”

Cyprus may be divided but as we look through the eyes of Cypriots, Turkish or Greek, we see the undivided promise of experiencing something new. We can’t wait to dip our toes in!

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see Cyprus through our eyes.

 

Disclosure: We are super excited to have been selected to join the 2018 James Villas Blogger Ambassador Programme. James Villas are the UK’s leading villa holiday specialist and have won the gold award in the British Travel Award category for the Best Large Villa/Self Catering Company. For more information and to see a selection of James Villas properties, visit their website.

 

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Travel to Cyprus | James Villas accommodation

 


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