Another great day sightseeing. We knew it was going to be very hot today – 39C – so we set off early on our trip to the east coast of the island, around Famagusta. We left at about 815 and we were at St Barnabus’ Monastery, our first stop, by 915. This is a lovely golden stone monastery set in the countryside near Salamis. The monastery as visible dates to the 1700s but it is on the site of much earlier churches, and probably before that, a temple. The Church itself now holds an icon collection from all over the north of the island.
We were very fortunate to arrive before the coach parties – it is a very popular spot for visitors from the southern part of Cyprus, and large touring groups come up from Ayia Napa and that area. We saw the church entirely empty and enjoyed that, and then had refreshments in the lovely cloister café. The cacti were in bloom and they were spectacular.
After that we wandered through the archaeological museum housed in the cloisters. It is absolutely amazing. A wonderful collection of artifacts dating from around 2500 BC through to Byzantine times. Mainly pottery, glassware and sculpture. It has to be seen to be believed. The British Museum would be proud to have some of these items.
Our next stop was Salamis itself. Salamis is a truly huge archaeological site. Easily as big as Pompeii but largely unexcavated except for some very important areas. There are several amazing bath houses, a large square surrounded by statuary and columns, a theatre, circus, two forums, a huge basilica, colonnaded pavements…. it’s gorgeous and of course right by the sea still. The heat was brutal by now though so we didn’t linger as long as we might have. Well worth a visit.
We headed into Famagusta itself, along and around the wonderful thick walls of the old city, in through a sea gate and we parked right near the main Sea Gate through the walls. There is a fabulous patisserie, Patek, right there and that was our first stop. We had superb slices of gateaux, light as a feather and flavoured with creams and liqueur. Mine was blackberry. It was fantastic. Washed down with great coffee and tea. Then we walked up into the old city and looked at the historic buildings and mosques, most of which were cathedrals at one time. Took a stroll up the main shopping street, looking at bags, jewellery and shoes. Some very good products.
At the end we went back to Patek and Susan bought a whole load of fabulous Turkish Delight to take home. The man stuffed us full of free tasters — “you must taste this one, madam”…. all fabulous and ten worlds away from the sweet glutinous stuff we get at home.
Got back to our area by 2pm and called in at Amphora Diving to book a dive for the weekend. Unfortunately they are going to the Karpaz for diving all weekend. Normally that would have been a great opportunity but we couldn’t make that work with our plans, so we drove on to the dive school at the Manolya Hotel in Lapta and booked oto go out with them on Sunday morning. They were very welcoming.
Came home and wallowed for a few hours. Bob set off for the airport to pick up Stuart and Fi at 630. John, Susan and I had a lovely bbq of sweet red peppers, sheftali lamb sausages, pita bread and salad. So succulent.
Bob, Stuart and Fi got back at about 930 and we all sat on the terrace for late drinks and a catch up. All well…..