Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

Now imagine this. Try and remember all the wonderful images you might have about Greece and the spectacular Turkey. Now mix them up, jiggle them around in a jar and plonk them in the middle of the Mediterranean. What you get now is the sublime Cyprus.

This war-torn country has demanded a special place in the history since ages. Sadly, the militaries of Turkey, USA, UK and Greece treat it as a vantage point between the Europe and the middle-east. The result- a country torn apart into two, friends no longer in contact and red tape that inhibits progress. It’s highlighted nowhere better than the shooting of Solomos Solomou, a Greek Cypriot refugee that invited a worldwide human rights criticism.

But Cypriots are nothing if not resilient. Our driver Nikos was an example. During the British dominance of Cyprus, he was the son of a wealthy businessman. The civil war ensued and he lost many of his friends and the business went south. His Turk Cypriot friends had to cross a hastily drawn border. But talk to him for five minutes and he oozes optimism. Even while showing us the deserted Turkish/Cypriot parts of Larnaca. Now the Turkish part of Cyprus is a self-declared state, Northern Cyprus, though none other than Turkey recognize its official status.

Luckily one of the days we visited was also the Super-Moon time. It was a good time to observe the phenomenon when the moon is low on the horizon. It looks huge, way bigger than when it is high up in the sky. It’s an optical illusion, an apparent variation in the moon’s size is due to the fact that it has an elliptical, not circular orbit around the earth, unlike most other bodies roaming the sky. At its closest, it is 48,280 kilometres closer to earth than when it is furthest away. So on November 14th 2016, we were lucky to walk along the Larnaca and Promenade and stay long enough to catch the Super-moon.

Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi
Larnaca Promenade
Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi
The Super-Moon
Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi
We couldn’t get enough of the Supermoon

Must See:

  1. Agios Lazarus Church: This vividly decorated church is where St. Lazarus is buried. You can climb the stairs at the chapel and have a look at the tomb. There is an adjacent Byzantine museum as well. It’s well worth a visit.
  2. Hala Sultan Tekke: This sacred mosque honors the prophet Muhammad’s wet-nurse, Umm Haram, who is said to have died at this site after falling from her donkey, and a shrine was dedicated over her tomb in AD 645Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi
  3. Salt Lake:  The serene salt lake next to the Tekke is perfect for an evening stroll. During winter the lake is filled with Flamingoes. Flamingos are actually dull gray or white. They eat algae and crustaceans that contain pigments called carotenoids. Enzymes in their liver break down the carotenoids into the pink and orange pigment molecules that are absorbed by fats deposited in the feathers, bill, and legs of the flamingos and they turn pink. So thank the lake for the color.Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

4. Cape Greco: The famous stunning arch at Cape Greco was one of the most clicked locations of the island nation. It’s washed away now. An hour’s drive from Larnaca. Cape Greco is still famous for the limestone beaches, and beach caves. Good trekking spot as well.

Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

What I Read: This book by Lawrence Durrell depicts the struggle and accounts the Enosis (Political union) movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule. Great Read.. Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

What I Saw: As a Shakespeare fan, I couldn’t but help see once more Lawrence Fishburne in Othello (1995). The story is set in Cyprus during the Turkish invasion for relevance. Read on..Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

Practical Tips

  1. Cyprus is not fully part of the EU, bit accepts Schengen. A separate visa is needed for the Northern Cyprus (an independent state recognized only by Turkey). They also accept Schengen but a little reluctantly. However crossing the borders in Cyprus is fine if you have some visas like the US, Schengen etc on your passport. Read on..
  2. Visa for Indians: As a part of the Schengen countries; you will need a pre-approved visa to get in. I used VFS global. Takes about a week.
  3. My friend once had a Schengen Visa for Greece which was expired. However, before leaving Greece he had emailed the immigration officer at Larnaca airport that he wanted to visit Cyprus as a spur of the moment thing. They replied that they would check our documents and decide. When he landed there, it took them only ten minutes and some regular questions to stamp his passport. But, it may not work for everyone so plan ahead. Get a Schengen…
  4. In Cyprus Euro works. But in Norther n Cyprus, Turkish Lira is preferred, though you can get by Euro.
  5. You drive on the left in Cyprus, much like the Commonwealth.
  6. The political tension if any is not obvious and there is no restriction on travel anywhere. The divide between the two Cypruses is located at Morphou through Nicosia to Famagusta, physically separated by a United Nations (UN) Buffer Zone referred to as the “Green Line”.
  7. The one food that’s a Cypriot special and everyone should try is the ‘Halloumi‘. Its made of goat milk and may be grilled or fried. It has a weird salty taste. It’s a common delicacy and used in a variety of dishes. We tried the grilled Halloumi. It was sumptuous. Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi
  8. Most of their cuisine comprises of the Greek specials like the Mousakka, Keftiko, Souvlaki etc. There is also a Turkish touch, especially in the Kebabs and Kibbeh.

9. Some of the beaches are littered with the Dragonfish. So get in with water shoes on. They do give you a sting to remember

Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

10.Though the locals speak in Greek with each other, almost everyone speaks fluent English, thanks to the colonial days.

23 thoughts on “Larnaca, Cyprus: Flamingoes, Separated Friends & Halloumi

  1. Great post! I think you have it all there. A lot of historical information, Important Religious matters, great pictures for nature strolling. You really make invite the readers to visit the place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been to Cyprus, but looks like that needs to change. That salt lake looks beautiful. I had no idea about how the flamingos got their pink color. Thanks for the info!


  3. I’ve visited parts of Greece but not Cyprus. It looks like a really special place and how great to be there during the Super Moon! I love the flamingos – and, of course, all that food! It looks amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We just got back from Cyprus a couple of days ago and visited Larnaca. The Salt Lake is dry at the moment and the flamingos only arrive later but it was still an impressive sight. We also enjoyed visiting the tomb of St Lazarus

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fantastic post. I really enjoyed learning a bit about the history of Cyprus as I really did not know much about it. Cyprus looks like a great place to visit with a fantastic combination of history, food and nature. I’ll definitely add it to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I never knew all of the war-torn history. Thank you for sharing that with your readers. Cyprus looks absolutely stunning. I would love to see that arch at Cape Greco. I love rock formations. Also, great practical tips for travel as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never researched Cyrus before and I’m not sure I’ve really seen photos beyond beaches and blue water. I would not expect it to have a Middle Eastern feel, as you’ve shown with your photos. That actually intrigues me even more!

    That’s also a super interesting fact about flamingos. I suppose I just assumed they are pink. Who knew they are pink because of what they eat! I can’t say I’ve ever seen a white or gray flamingo, so I’m off to research that a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. While most of the places look great, I have my weakness for the flamingos at the Salt Lake. So at least for that reason I must go there. I knew it was close to Greece but I did not know that there was an issue of North-South and that Turkish Lira was a legal tender. The tips on Visa is quite informative , thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. While I loved all of the great things in your post, I couldn’t help but smile at the Flamingos. My husband and I first saw them in real life when we visited the Miami Zoo a few years ago. In September, when Hurrican Irma threatened to bring its wrath, the flamingos all hung out in the men’s bathroom. I kid you not, NPR even did a story about them. How in the world did they get the flamingos in there? No worries, they went on their own accord, single file, with not a care in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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