A Travellerspoint blog

October 2017

Nuts & Bolts

sunny 28 °C
View Girne on IainT's travel map.

With it being a relatively unusual destination, but one worth visiting, I thought I’d do a post about the cost and logistics of my trip to North Cyprus (which I’ll call KKTC, as they do).

As I mentioned in another post, because KKTC isn’t recognised internationally, incoming flights have to touch down in Turkey on the way. I believe 45 minutes is normal. Passengers just stay on the plane.

With that in mind and taking account of the flight times of Turkish Airlines’ Edinburgh/Istanbul service, I decided to stay a night in Istanbul on each journey. Check if you need a visa for Turkey. I did. You can buy it online in 5 minutes for £17.

My return flight between Edinburgh/Istanbul cost £206.

4 Hour Flight

4 Hour Flight

I stayed at the Terrace Guesthouse on both my nights in Istanbul. It’s about 20 minutes from Atatürk Airport by taxi. The accommodation cost me £65 per night - inclusive of a big Turkish breakfast. The Terrace arranged for me to be collected at the airport by a “taxi” - in fact a limo would be a better description. The cost was £25.

If you have a suitcase and in the late evening especially, it is reassuring to be met by someone with your name on a board who will guide you through the pandemonium of the scene outside arrivals.

Atatürk Arrivals

Atatürk Arrivals

The taxi (and it was a taxi) was much cheaper in the other direction - about £10.

You can get the metro and tram to The Terrace quite easily, but I’d only do it that way if I only have hand luggage.

I also used Turkish Airlines to fly on to Ercan (KKTC’s airport) from Atatürk Airport. It cost £115 return. AtlasGlobal and Pegasus also have services on the route. However, be careful which Istanbul airport your flight leaves from. Some fly from Sabiha Gökcen (SAW). I’ve never used it, but I know it’s a long way from the city centre on the Asian Side.

I took a taxi from Ercan Airport to Girne - about 40 minutes in normal traffic. It cost TL150. On the way back I pre-booked a local one - TL120. Both were big, modern, comfortable Mercedes.

In Girne I had an apartment organised through Airbnb. It cost £265 for 7 nights plus TL12 for electricity. I didn’t use the air conditioning (it was the end of September) but no doubt that would have put the electricity cost up a bit.

Pleasant

Pleasant

The apartment was fantastic, and not being in a holiday apartment complex, it was more like living local than as a tourist.

Living Room

Living Room

There’s a good mini market 2 minutes walk away and Girne centre is a pleasant 10 minute walk. So are the sea and the harbour. I found a couple of restaurants and a pastry place close by, so paying extra to join the tourists eating by the harbour was optional.

Börek

Börek

I thought of renting a car, but for my two “excursions” using a dolmuṣ worked out fine. I would have needed one for some of the other wee trips I looked into. Prices looked very reasonable, but a dolmuṣ is really cheap. It cost TL12 (Just over £2) each way for the 48 mile (75 km) trip between Girne and Gazimaǧusa.

Dolmuṣ to Lefkoṣa

Dolmuṣ to Lefkoṣa

Eating out was very reasonable - but I didn’t drink any alcohol, and that bumps up restaurant bills wherever you are.

Delicious

Delicious

I did have a few meals in the apartment just for variety.

So there you have it. If you plan a trip and have a question, just leave a comment.

Posted by IainT 02:58 Archived in Cyprus Tagged planes island istanbul cyprus kibris famagusta gazimaǧusa girne Comments (0)

Maǧusa

sunny 29 °C
View Girne on IainT's travel map.

The Right Idea

The Right Idea

Yesterday I caught the 10am dolmuș from Girne to Gazimaǧusa (formerly Famagusta, and no doubt still Famagusta to Greek speakers). I got a sense of achievement just from that, as I’d managed to find where those dolmuș leave from at the first attempt (I had 3 choices) and figured out that the one with “Maǧusa” on the front was what I wanted. Nothing about that in the guide book...

It’s just over an hour away from Girne across the Kyrenia Mountains and at the other side of the Mesarya Plain. The plain is like semi-desert at this time of year.

I’m definitely glad I went. Gazimaǧusa’s character is quite different to Girne and Lefkoșa. I had 3 hours there - enough time to explore the centre and have a good lunch.

From the Walls

From the Walls

Lala Mustafa Pașa Mosque was one of the places I spent time on. It was built between 1298 and about 1400 and was St Nicholas Cathedral until 1571, when the Ottomans captured the city. It’s named in honour of Lala Mustafa Pasha, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire (from Bosnia) who led the Ottoman forces against the Venetians in Cyprus.

The Mosque

The Mosque

It is a fascinating to be in a building so obviously intended as a Christian church, but which is a functioning mosque. I’ve visited Aya Sofya in Istanbul and it has a similar history, but the architecture is totally different and Aya Sofya is now a museum.

The fig tree in front of the mosque is supposed to have been planted about 1250... still fruiting.

The Fig Tree

The Fig Tree

My other stop was Othello’s Tower - part of the Venetian walled fortification surrounding the old town. The EU has funded a lot of preservation work around on the Tower and the walls nearby. It’s all looking very good. The theory is it’s the unnamed castle in Cyprus referred to in Shakespeare’s play.

Tower Entrance

Tower Entrance

I would have liked to visit Salamis as well - the ruins of the island’s first city during classical Greek times. It’s 6km north of the town, but it was really too hot to take that on as well as the town itself. My guide book reckons on 2-3 hours minimum.

Way In

Way In

I thought about having a look at Varosha. It’s the southern suburb of Gazimaǧusa, and has been abandoned since the 1974 coup d’etat and invasion. It isn’t part of the Green Line, but has been occupied and fenced off by the Turkish military. I didn’t really have time, nor did I have the morbid interest.

Between that, the Green Line and the two enclaves which Britain retained after independence - for military bases (Akrotiri and Dhekelia covering 98 square miles (254 km² ) between them - this island doesn’t have its troubles to seek.

The dolmuș service I used to get to and from Gazimaǧusa was excellent. 12TL each way, and on the return journey the (modern) bus even had airconditioning! That company - Göcmen - produces a timetable and has a Facebook page!

The road to Gazimaǧusa is dual carriageway on the plain. On the way back our bus driver had a race with another from the same company - one in each lane and neck and neck for a few kilometres. It kept the passengers interested. Well, me I suppose. The locals hardly noticed.

Posted by IainT 05:33 Archived in Cyprus Tagged churches cyprus kibris famagusta gazimaǧusa girne Comments (0)

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