I really like traveling to places that are mired in contradictions. This means countries like Bangladesh
, and Israel
. These places are usually the most fun, as tension between opposites often leads to interesting cultural and philosophical compromises. Cyprus
is one of these places. Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean North of Egypt, and technically part of Asia
. But it’s part of the European Union. It’s a fully modern, very safe, country, with a high per capita GDP, a thriving tourist industry, picturesque beaches, and the world’s last divided capital. (If you want that pre-1989 Berlin
feel only a short drive to the beach, then the Cypriot capital Nicosia is the place you’ve been looking for).
Cyprus is divided between North and South by a UN buffer zone that is actually surprisingly porous. (I won’t go into the history, all you need to know is the north is Turkish, and nobody recognizes it as country besides Turkey, the south is predominantly Greek). You can travel back and forth, although the North is not really touristy, but it’s funny to find McDonalds on both sides of a cold war-esque border like that. The Southern part is where you want to be. Most people get to Cyprus by flying into Nicosia. Nicosia is a nice city, it’s in the middle of the island so the beach party scene doesn’t exist here. But it’s got some great museums and history, of which Cyprus has a lot of because of its location pretty much in the middle of all the various empires and kingdoms of antiquity. (The last of the foreign occupying powers was-surprise-the British who left in 1960. As an English speaker I always appreciate this kind of thing, because most people speak English here. Selfish, I know). Cypriot cuisine
is also effected by it’s location, as the food has a delicious mix of Greek, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern styles and tastes.
After checking out Nicosia I headed to the coast. On the Eastern point of the Island is Ayia Napa, which is the main party scene on the Island. It has several great beaches, most of which are pretty packed. The best bet to avoid the crowds is Grecian Bay. But the other two beaches, Nissi and Makronisos, are packed with beautiful people and a variety of corporate feeling beach parties. Still really fun. Be warned, in addition to teaching (forcing) the population to speak English, the British also decided to leave a contingent of the most tanned of their people here to drink as much as possible. I had alot of fun, but if you are looking for traditional Cypriot experience you might want to check out some of the other beaches on the Island. Still, Cyprus has pretty much everything you need, from history to internal conflicts to wet t-shirt contests. The best of all worlds.