A Land Divided
An island country in the eastern Mediterranean lying south of the Anatolian Peninsula, the Republic of Cyprus exercises de jure sovereignty over the entire island. But did you know Cyprus and its capital is divided in two? Controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, the southern part covers about 59% of the land. Controlled by the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, the northern part of Cyprus spans across around 36% of the landmass. And the rest, the space in between? That’s a UN buffer zone. Referred to by the locals as the “Green Line,” it splits in two Nicosia, the Capital, for both north and south. Lined with military watchtowers and flags from opposing borders, many tourists visit the Green Line to understand what such a solution looks like. Peace reigns, but tensions linger.
Cypriot life starts and ends at the beach. With 300+ days of sun each year – (who knew this was even possible!), Cyprus’ Mediterranean climate features dry, hot days from mid-May to mid-October and cooler temps from mid-December to mid-February, not to dip below ~40 F or ~4 C. Air conditioning in your flat is a must, however, unless you are keen to step into a dwelling at temps close to those of Hades! The hot weather is one of residents’ few complaints surrounding island life.
Along one of the most breathtaking stretches of the Cypriot coastline near the city of Pathos is “Petra tou Romiou” or Aphrodite’s Rock. Legend has it this imposing geologic formation of rocks is the exact location (as early as the bronze age) where the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, (Venus to the Romans) arose from the violent sea and was carried on a shell to the beach and thus was “born.” There are those who also say swimming around the rock three times will bring eternal youth and beauty. If you make it, just promise us you won’t work forever!
Veer north a bit on the coastline and you will encounter conservation and nesting sites for both Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and Green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Thought to be the most ancient species of turtle on earth, during high season in July and August hundreds of Loggerhead hatchlings emerge from their eggs, making a break for the sea in the deep of the night. If successful, they can grow to weigh as much as 450 kg and live up to 60 years. They are truly a wonder.
Next, grab a yacht charter off the coast near Limassol, the nation’s second largest city and don’t forget your scuba gear! If you’re a scuba pro, the Zenobia shipwreck is surely on your bucket list, as it’s in the top ten shipwreck diving sites in the world. You’ll need skills in order to dodge wooden shrapnel and wandering cargo, but you’ll be accompanied by barracuda, tuna, triggerfish and endless wonders along your treasure hunt. For the newbies out there, fret not! You can swim with exotic fish at Akamas Peninsula (White River), check out the crystal waters near Ayia Napa where you’ll see vivid green, red and other colored coral reef or photograph the statues and masonry around Paphos, the birthplace of the Trojan War Hero, Theseus. And this is just the beginning!
Due to its location, at the crossroads where Asia, Africa and Europe meet, Cyprus was one of the capitals of the ancient world. So off to Choirokoitia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll enter the Neolithic Period, (7th-4th Century BCE) where you’ll see circular houses with flat roofs, anthropomorphic figures in stone, bone tools, animal remains and more. We’ll let some mystery linger and you can google the other two Cypriot World Heritage sites to put on your new Must See List – Cyprus Style!
Of the Mediterranean variety, Cypriot food is exquisite. Cypriots never joke about their food! It’s one of the most important aspects of their culture and recipes go back generations. As traditional food is heavily meat-based, like souvla (meat kabob) or lamb kleftiko (stew), if you’re vegan/vegetarian you’re sure to have more than one entertaining conversation with a Cypriot when you explain to them you don’t eat meat. They may answer you something along the lines of “Oh, okay. So you only eat chicken! We’ll get you three chicken souvla. You will love it!” Clarify further at your own risk! But even vegan/vegetarians have many options and find they can’t get enough of the Cypriot delectable delights: fresh olives, olive oil, pita, kolokasi (root vegetables), and gemista (stuffed vegetables). And ohhh the koupa! When served vegan-style, this street food is made with crunchy filo pastry filled with bulgur, mushrooms, onions, and parsley. Otherwise, it’s stuffed with meat, of course! So don’t let those enticing vegan offerings fool you. Cyprus is clearly a cheese and meat lovers paradise. Fried halloumi cheese (semi-hard and made of goat and sheep milk), sheftalia (grilled sausage) and various variations of stifado (pork, rabbit or beef stew) is sure to be found in every home and restaurant alike. And what happens on a typical Cypriot sunny afternoon? On par with their food culture, the island’s coffee culture runs strong. Cafes are filled from morning until night, and Cypriots love catching up with friends over coffee or a frape. In fact, grabbing a frape should be your first and last stop upon arrival to/departure from Cyprus. If someone asks you to coffee, however, just understand that they’re on Cypriot time, which means plan to be at least 15-20 minutes late and you might only have to wait 5-10 for them to arrive!
Expats/Digital Nomad Life
For expats Cyprus is a dream come true. Diverse and cosmopolitan with a laidback charm, you will find Cyprus’ greatest asset is its people. You’re sure to meet friendly, welcoming locals and expats looking to network. Foreigners at first glance may perceive Cypriots as an argumentative people, but you’ll soon find the truth is they are just a bit loud, very expressive and always talk with their hands! You’re sure to soon find this very endearing and sometimes extremely amusing. In addition, over 22% (~180,000) of the Cypriot population is foreign nationals, and a strong infrastructure has emerged to cater to their needs. Language? Although the official languages are Greek and Turkish, English is the most common business language and most Cypriots speak English. Conducting the business of daily life in English won’t be a problem. Healthcare? Affordable, state-of-the-art private/public healthcare options are available. Education? International junior and secondary schools are accredited and taught in all major languages. Internet? It’s hi-speed and reliable. Accessibility? You have easy access to the entire world by sea out of Limassol, one of the busiest ports on the Mediterranean, or by air by way of Larnaca, their international airport. Safety? Check. It’s extremely safe. Time zone? GMT +3, which makes doing business in Europe/Middle East a sinch. You could say it’s a Caribbean lifestyle in a European time zone. What beats that?
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