A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Girne... Again

sunny 25 °C
View Girne '18 on IainT's travel map.

Sunset, Girne Harbour

Sunset, Girne Harbour

Well, on Saturday (28th April) I came to the end of my 7 nights in KKTC. It was my second visit to the country, the first being in September ’17.

It was good, again. I did some of the things I didn’t have time for the last time. Karpaşa, Bellapais, St Hilarion, Buffavento... I tried to get a blend of the familiar and the new, so I had 5 nights in Girne (where I stayed in 2017, and even in the same apartment) and 2 nights in Kumyalı.

St Hilarion and Buffavento lived up to expectations.

Buffavento

Buffavento

Both are spectacular. Both gave me some brisk exercise as well. Bellapais was the opposite. An anticlimax and a tourist trap.

St Hilarion

St Hilarion

On the food and drink side of life - important on a holiday - I learned last time to avoid the harbourside restaurants in Girne. They are overpriced and yes, you get a lovely view of the harbour, but you can get that any time you want.

I enjoyed several more “local” places, mostly relying on experience from my last visit. As far as something classier is concerned, my lunch at Beşparmak Bufavento was spectacular in terms of the quality and quantity of the food, plus a fabulous view.

Wonderful

Wonderful

The other place I went to a couple of times which isn’t local - but is - was Gloria Jean's for coffee and cake. It’s a foreign chain and foreign when it comes to pricing, but it is attractive for locals aspiring to a certain lifestyle. Locals drink Turkish tea or coffee as a rule, and Nescafe is often the only alternative to Turkish coffee.

Turkish

Turkish

I enjoy the local tea and coffee, but sometimes an Americano or a cappuccino becomes a craving!

Gloria Jean's

Gloria Jean's

So far as I can tell, the likes of Starbucks hasn’t yet ventured into KKTC, so it’s something comparable.

I had a rented car this time and I needed it to get to some of the places I wanted to see. I got it from Sun Rent a Car - picked up and dropped off at the airport. The cost was £134 (€152) for 7 days including CDW. It was a basic Hyundai i20, so it got a bit out of breath going up some of the steep hills, but we made it. Great value for money.

Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20

In Girne I stayed at the same Airbnb apartment as last time. Clean, quiet and comfortable. £41 (€46.50) per night.

Living Room

Living Room

Again, great value for money.

Posted by IainT 14:05 Archived in Cyprus Tagged restaurants cyprus kibris islandlife girne Comments (0)

Granite City

sunny 10 °C
View Aberdeen on IainT's travel map.

Marischal College

Marischal College

I had an overnight trip to Aberdeen at the start of April. For me, that’s hardly a glamorous event worth blogging about... and then I remembered it might be more interesting for others.

My mum was born and raised in Aberdeen. My grandparents lived there when I was a child. We visited frequently. They lived across the street from King’s College - the main Aberdeen University campus back then.

Family Home

Family Home

When it came to be my time for higher education, Aberdeen had the right course for me (I thought) and it was a place I knew and loved (although my grandparents were both dead by then). So off I went.

King's College Sports Pavilion

King's College Sports Pavilion

I lived in the city for 7 years, all told. After that, and being mid 20s, I was keen to widen my horizons and moved on. So, I always enjoy going back.

Old Haunt

Old Haunt

For this last trip I stayed overnight as I knew the event I’d be attending would finish between 9 and 10pm. I got a great deal at the Park Inn by Radisson - £45 for the night. Breakfast wasn’t included but I’d be on the road too early for that anyway. I suspect it’s a special Sunday night rate - no business travellers and no weekenders either. It was quiet.

Park Inn by Radisson

Park Inn by Radisson

Anyway, it was fine for what I needed.

The city has quite a few sights which make it worth a visit from the purely tourist perspective - King’s College, Old Aberdeen and Provost Skene’s House come to mind.

King's College

King's College

It is the UK’s oil and gas epicentre, and that makes it an affluent and relatively expensive destination - although the sector is so cyclical you’ll find plenty of good hotel deals if it’s going through one of its occasional downturns.

Posted by IainT 21:32 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland aberdeen Comments (0)

Karpaşa

sunny 24 °C
View Girne '18 on IainT's travel map.

Meditation

Meditation

Part of the plan for my spring trip to KKTC was to explore the Karpas Peninsula (Karpaşa in Turkish). It’s the most easterly and remote part of KKTC, and relatively undeveloped.

According to my trusty Bradt Guide, it’s not a day trip from the likes of Girne. It is right, and certainly not for the first time.

I booked two nights at one of the accommodation places they list - the Nikovlita Garden Hotel in Kumyalı. The village is about an hour by car from Ercan Airport, and suited me as I reckoned I could get there before dark from a flight arriving at 15:20 - building in a bit of contingency for possible delays.

Nikovlita Garden Hotel

Nikovlita Garden Hotel

The Bradt Guide touts it as “flying the flag for eco/agro-tourism”, and this had a distinct appeal too. More about it another time (if I remember).
Hotel owner Zekai planned an itinerary for my main day there. First stop was Panagia Kanakaria at nearby Boltaşlı - a disused Greek Orthodox monastery church. Leaving aside all political issues, it is poignant to see a religious building almost abandoned.

It is cared for - lovingly to be honest - by Mr Erol who lives next door. He’s a feisty 80 something veteran of the Cyprus Police from colonial times (pre 1960). A warm and charming man with excellent English and a wonderful accent. He reckons he attended 150 terrorist murders in his time.

Panagia Kanakaria

Panagia Kanakaria

Next stop was the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, right out almost at the most easterly tip of the peninsula. It is being restored as a collaborative project between the two governments of the island.

Apostolos Andreas Monastery

Apostolos Andreas Monastery

Then, Zafer Burnu. The cape at the eastern end of the island, reached along 5km of unmade road.

Zafer Burnu

Zafer Burnu

I headed back to Kumyalı along the north coast road, and stopped at Ayios Thyrsos as suggested by Zekai. It’s another Greek Orthodox church, now falling into disrepair.

Ayios Thyrsos

Ayios Thyrsos

My last stop of the day was at Ayia Trias. I was the only person there. I enjoyed sitting among some 5th century ruins to contemplate the tranquility in the mid-afternoon sun. I think it’s called mindfulness these days.

Ayia Trias

Ayia Trias

The peninsula lived up to its reputation. The landscape is beautiful, as are the beaches - although I didn’t stop at any.

Beautiful

Beautiful


The beaches could be a good reason to go back.

Posted by IainT 11:52 Archived in Cyprus Tagged landscapes churches cyprus kibris islandlife Comments (0)

Vapur

Plain Sailing

semi-overcast 18 °C

Love at Eminönü

Love at Eminönü

So what do you do when you have a day in Istanbul, but in the past you’ve already had many days sightseeing in the city?

When I made my travel bookings so as to have a day in Istanbul, I had no real plan for what to do. Of course I knew it would be easy to fill a day in the city. In the end, I decided against any real sightseeing. I’d just relax and take it easy. Hang out. Chill out.

Coffee at Galata

Coffee at Galata

I enjoyed my Turkish breakfast, followed by a gossip with friend and guesthouse owner Doǧan. Then I walked from the guesthouse in Sultanahmet (very close to the Blue Mosque) to Taksim Square via the Galata Bridge and Istaklal Cadessi, stopping for a very welcome coffee and cake about halfway.

Galata

Galata

It’s a 2.7 mile (4.3 km) walk and I enjoyed it after a day on my travels. I walked all the way back too!

Taksim

Taksim

For the afternoon I decided on a short ferry trip up the Bosphorus. Şehir Hatları - one of the ferry companies - offers a 6 hour trip (almost as far as the Black Sea) or a 2 hour one - as far as Istinye. The short one sets you back a whopping 12TL (just over £2).

Vapur

Vapur

Of course you can pay much more on a tourist boat.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d done the longer version many years ago, so I half remembered what to expect. Going out on the water really is a good way to see the city especially when you’ve had enough of walking.

Ortaköy

Ortaköy

The ship has comfortable seating inside, and plenty of open deck area too. It has a snack bar, but if you want more than crisps, chocolate or simit, bring it with you.

Posted by IainT 12:46 Archived in Turkey Tagged boats ferries turkey istanbul transport Comments (0)

Escaping

sunny 15 °C
View Girne '18 on IainT's travel map.

Ready

Ready

My spring break finally arrived.

With it came another Turkish Airlines flight, this time mid afternoon from Edinburgh to Istanbul. I had 4 flights with them in the autumn.

It all started - like so often - dropping the car at the local park and ride, before jumping on the airport bus. It was on time, comfortable and relaxing. Well done Stagecoach.

Relaxed

Relaxed

Check-in at the airport took about a minute, and security less than five. I was left with plenty time for a burger and a stroll around to help digest it. Boarding was quick and smooth too. Full marks to Edinburgh Airport and Turkish Airlines.

Calm

Calm

The flight left a few minutes early and arrived 20 minutes early. In between, we all got a good dinner (köfte with rice and a chickpea stew was the main course) and full inflight entertainment on a modern Boeing 737-800. More top marks to Turkish Airlines.

Perfect News

Perfect News


Passport control was very quick at Atatürk - no queue at all. I waited 5 minutes for my suitcase - probably because I got through passport control so quickly! My guesthouse in Istanbul had arranged a car to meet me at the airport, and so it was virtually right out of arrivals and into the transport. Well done Atatürk Airport.

20 minutes later I was in Sultanahmet being welcomed back to the Terrace Guesthouse. Then all I had to do was relax and get ready for bed - easier said than done with my body clock giving me 9pm signals and the local time being 2 hours ahead.

Balcony View

Balcony View

All in all it was a great way to start my wee break.

Posted by IainT 12:01 Archived in Turkey Tagged planes scotland edinburgh istanbul transport flights airlines Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]