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Saturday 26 November 2016

[Friday 25 November 2016]

Cyprus — Famagusta
The Annabelle, Λεωφόρος Ποσειδώνoς, Paphos, Cyprus
08:00 Famagusta


Janet set the alarm clock for 6.00am, and was up at 6.15am. I shaved and showered when she vacated the bathroom. We had breakfast, went back to the room to get our things, then left the Annabelle Hotel a little before 8am; we crossed the road, and went again to wait outside the Tourist Information Centre. This time there were four or more people also waiting. I think they were staying at the Almyra Hotel, the “sister” hotel to ours, next door to it, and opposite where we now were. Soon a small coach drew up and stopped, and the driver got out. Although he was heading to Famagusta, none of our names were on his list. It became apparent that his tour was costing ca.£50, whereas both we and the others waiting had paid £59 each. They carried confirmation in the form of cards headed “Thomson”, whereas ours had been booked through the Mercury rep.; but we’d each paid the same £59. Anyway, he got back in the vehicle and drove off. After 8.15am, I decided to phone Fiona; but as we were looking for her number, a coach approached, a full-sized one, and stopped. This time, the guide (whose name I forget) did have us all listed. We were boarding, but the others who’d got on ahead of us stood immobile for several seconds. I don’t know what their problem was; most of the seats were already taken, but some were free. Anyway, the row at the back was unoccupied, and that’s where we sat, Janet in the middle seat because it gave her room to stretch her legs. After an hour we stopped at a café in a village. Shade was provided under orange trees, around each of which a table had been constructed. I asked for an Americano, and got a cup of hot water with a sachet of instant coffee. There were donkeys nearby, which we went to see.



Saturday 26 November 2016 — 09:39:18
First comfort stop: tables around orange trees


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 09:46:44
First comfort stop: donkeys


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 09:47:48
First comfort stop: donkeys

As we proceeded the guide pointed out a hilltop monastery to the left: Stavrovouni Monastery, founded by Saint Helena (Constantine’s mother) in the fourth century, and housing a relic of the True Cross. She is supposed to have discovered the three crosses on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but when trying to bring them to Constantinople she was shipwrecked in Cyprus.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 10:10:20
Stavrovouni


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 10:10:20 (detail)
Stavrovouni Monastery

Shortly after we’d left Larnaca behind, the guide announced that we were approaching the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. She followed that by similar announcements. It mystified us because it must have been at least ½-hour before we actually came to the border checkpoint. What happened, I think, was that the first announcement coincided with passing the United Nations Buffer Zone on our left. We then entered and traversed the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. We then passed the village of Achna, just to the left of us, deserted since the Turkish occupation of 1974; and the road entered a narrow British corridor, with Turkish-occupied territory punctuated by guard towers on the left, and the Republic of Cyprus on the right. A Serbian base, I think, was pointed out to us on the right side. Then we went through more of the British Sovereign Base Area, Ayios Nikolaos, before arriving at the checkpoint. Here we handed our passports over; they were taken away, then returned to us, and we continued on our way. We didn’t see any border guards or personnel; indeed, some got out, including Janet, and visited a shop. She bought a map of Famagusta. One side of the sheet, when unfolded, showed the main attractions of Famagusta — or «Фамагуста», because it was in Russian. On the other side was a street plan, in English apart from the legend.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 10:38:48
Deserted village of Achna

We went through Famagusta to the site of Salamis a few miles north of the city. (So that’s another St. Paul location I can tick off the list! To visit Salamis was my main reason for choosing this trip.) The guide pointed out the remains of the aqueduct which supplied Salamis with water. She led us into the theatre, and demonstrated the acoustics of the place by reciting, from a Greek play, in English then its Greek original, the scene of Medea cursing Jason for his desertion of her.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:37:14
Plan of Salamis showing the location of the theatre


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:38:12
Salamis: theatre


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:38:12 (detail)
Salamis: theatre


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:39:38
Salamis: theatre


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:40:28
Salamis: theatre

Then she took us past the gymnasium into the baths.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:45:48
Salamis: (far left:) gymnasium; (right:) remains of the aqueduct


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:45:48 (detail 1)
Salamis: (far left:) gymnasium


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:45:48 (detail 2)
Salamis: remains of the aqueduct


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:46:30
Salamis

Because of sunlight and shadow I could hardly get any good views in the baths.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:54:56
Salamis: hypocaust of the ?caldarium in the baths


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:55:04
Salamis: the baths (?caldarium)


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:56:28
Salamis: fresco under the arch of the entrance to the ?caldarium


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 11:56:28 (edited)
Salamis: fresco under the arch of the entrance to the ?caldarium

Going from there, we visited the semicircular public latrine.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:04:14
Salamis: drain and seat-supports in the latrine


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:04:28
Salamis: public latrine


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:04:52
Salamis: public latrine

Then she gave us a brief amount of free time. I rushed around to photograph what I’d missed before, or to get better photos.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:05:16
Salamis: gymnasium


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:06:24
Salamis: gymnasium


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:06:50
Salamis: pavement between (left:) the gymnasium and (right:) the baths

One of the slabs on the pavement between the gymnasium and the baths had an inscription on it. I could make out the first word “ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ” (“of Antiochus”).


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:07:08
Salamis: slab of the pavement


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:07:48
Salamis: ante-room of the baths


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:08:08
Salamis: ante-room of the baths


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:08:34
Salamis: ?caldarium


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:08:52
Salamis: part of the aqueduct


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:09:38
Salamis


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:10:04
Salamis


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:10:56
Salamis: part of the aqueduct

Looking through the photos I took of the theatre, I realised that I’d not got one of a feature that the guide had pointed out when we were there: the θυμέλη (altar) in the centre of the όρχήστρα (“orchēstra”, dancing space). Trouble was, I was out of time; so I didn’t go into the theatre, I took the shot from a distance; and there were people milling around and getting in the way.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:13:24
Salamis: theatre, showing the θυμέλη (altar) in the centre of the όρχήστρα


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:13:24 (detail)
Salamis: (left:) θυμέλη (altar)


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:14:08
Salamis


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:14:08 (detail 1)
Salamis


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:14:08 (detail 2)
Salamis

We reboarded the coach and were taken back into Famagusta, to a parking place near the Othello Castle, which we visited. Again, there was an “instant” of free time given (see the timings on the photos!) to go up on the battlements and look around. The Othello Castle, though modified by the Venetians, indeed named after a 16th century Venetian governor, was originally built in the 14th century by the French royal house of Lusignan, which ruled much of Europe and the Levant.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:49:24
“Othello Castle”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:50:26
Othello Castle: ditch and south-west tower


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:51:00
Othello Castle: entrance and south-east tower


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:51:00 (detail)
Othello Castle: entrance, with double-leaf door


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:51:16
Othello Castle: Lion of St. Mark, symbol of the Republic of Venice


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:53:02
Othello Castle: open right door-leaf with wicket


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:53:12
Othello Castle


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:54:34
Othello Castle


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:54:52
Othello Castle: courtyard


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:55:12
Othello Castle: steps from the courtyard to the battlements


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:56:28
Othello Castle: south-east tower, looking along the curtain wall to Porta del Mare Bastion


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:56:50
Views from Othello Castle: Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, originally the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:57:08
Views from Othello Castle: (left:) Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque; (right:) Church of St. George of the Latins


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:57:34
Othello Castle: courtyard


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:59:00
Othello Castle: looking over the north-east tower to the “Forbidden Zone”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:59:20
“Forbidden Zone”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 12:59:52
Turkish military vessel in Famagusta harbour

Just by the Othello Castle ticket office were some toilets, and while Janet was in there, the guide buggered off with the rest of the party! I was as mad as hell! Someone else from the party, whose friend was in the same situation as Janet, knew where they were headed, and came back. They’d gone as far as the square in front of the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (originally the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, dating, like the Othello Castle, from the Lusignan period). We were given free time. After I’d photographed the façade of the mosque and the structures to the left of it, we took off our shoes at the door, and entered its carpeted interior.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:15:16
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:15:28
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:15:38
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:16:48
“St. Nicholas Cathedral
“Lala Moustapha Pasha Mosque”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:19:52
“Mehmet Ömer Efendi Şam Müftüsü Türbesi” — “Tomb of Mehmet Omer Efendi, Mufti of Damascus”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:20:46
“Mehmet Ömer Efendi Şam Müftüsü Türbesi” — “Tomb of Mehmet Omer Efendi, Mufti of Damascus”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:21:16
“Mustafa Zühtü Efendi Türbesi” — “Tomb of Mustafa Zühtü Efendi”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:21:26
“Mustafa Zühtü Efendi Türbesi” — “Tomb of Mustafa Zühtü Efendi”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:22:16
Sycomore fig tree


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:24:42
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: central aisle


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:25:26
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: right aisle and minbar


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:27:40
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: minbar, with Turkish flag (left) and the flag of the de facto Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (right). To its left is the mihrab.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:28:30
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: mihrab.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:29:18
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: stained-glass window at the façade end of the building


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:30:38
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:30:38 (detail 1)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: depiction of the Kaaba in the Great Mosque of Mecca


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:30:38 (detail 2)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: calligraphy


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:31:42
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: Qur’an presented by the (then) Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit on 19 July 2006


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:31:42 (detail 1)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: Qur’an presented by the (then) Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit on 19 July 2006


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:31:42 (detail 2)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: Qur’an


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:31:42 (detail 3)
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: Qur’an


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 13:31:56
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque: calligraphy in the form of a pouring vessel

It was time to get me some lunch, so we left the mosque and retraced our earlier steps somewhat, across the square to where there were tables under large umbrellas. There were restaurateurs trying to attract business, so we asked one if we could sit under cover. He indicated the restaurant across the street. We didn’t realise that he didn’t belong to the outdoor café where we then were standing, whose proprietor came up and tried to attract us to his side. There began almost a tug of war; it reminded us of an old Fleischer Brothers Popeye cartoon, with Popeye and Bluto owning rival diners. We did enter the first guy’s premises, but when he didn’t have diet soda we left. We ended up back at the other end of the square in a large café opposite the mosque. They didn’t have diet soda either, but Janet had freshly squeezed orange juice; we could have continued for ever searching and not finding any. I had a large (something like 660ml) glass of draught beer; and I chose “Kuzu Şiş” (“lamb skewer”) from the menu. The beer was slightly cloudy, and I asked if it was wheat beer. The young man said it was, though I’m not sure he understood my question. The beer tap had “Efes Şok” on it, but subsequent researches suggest that that just means it is served so cold it gives you a “shock”. (Efes do manufacture a wheat beer, branded “Gusta”, I subsequently found out.) Knife, fork and paper napkin came sealed in a long envelope (a familiar phenomenon from eating out in Turkey). I was expecting a light lunch, but the fairly substantial portion of lamb chunks were served with flatbread, rice, chips and salad. “Ketçap”, “mayonez” and a Tabasco-type sauce were also provided, but I didn’t make use of them.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:02:48
Lunch

We made our way back to where the coach was parked, to be in time for the stated “3pm”.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:42:06
The mosque and one of the eating establishments that vied for our patronage


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:42:22
Ruins of the Palazzo del Provveditore (“Superintendent’s palace”), the Venetian palace of the governor, in the opposite direction to “14:42:06”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:42:54
Ruins: Venetian palace (left); and Franciscan church and monastery (right)


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:47:24
Porta del Mare (cf. “12:56:28”)

The guy in the ticket office kindly let us use the toilets again within the Othello Castle compound. We were just in time, because he closed the gate after we entered. The bus was parked just beyond the nearby ruin of the Church of St. George of the Latins. We arrived at the coach on time, though we were tempted to arrive late to piss off the guide as much as she’d pissed us off.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:57:34
“Church of St. George of the Latins”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:57:34 (detail)
“Church of St. George of the Latins”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:58:12
“Church of St. George of the Latins”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 14:58:30
“Church of St. George of the Latins”

We didn’t immediately return south-westwards to go through the military checkpoint; we first went southwards to see the “ghost town” of Varosha, the abandoned southern quarter of Famagusta. This diversion was initially unwelcome to me; although I’d “been”, just before boarding the coach, I could feel my bladder beginning to fill again, so I was keen to get on our way to the first “comfort” stop. Before the Turkish invasion of 1974, Varosha was the tourist area of the city, the playground of the rich and famous; but its inhabitants fled as the Turkish troops approached. The Turkish military fenced it off, and it has remained unoccupied ever since, except by Turkish army patrols with orders to shoot on sight. Entry to it, and even taking photographs of it, are forbidden to the public. The coach parked; Janet stayed aboard; but the rest of us walked to the beach to see the derelict multi-storey apartments and hotels. There were red “Forbidden Zone” notices, like the one seen from Othello Castle, attached to the chain-link fence surrounding the district, and others commanding “No photo”. From the beach I did surreptitiously point the camera and click the shutter, though. Because I couldn’t see where I was pointing the camera, the image didn’t capture completely the utter dereliction of the place.


Map from BBC News


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:22:30
Varosha “ghost town”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:22:30 (detail)
Varosha “ghost town”

After we all returned to the coach we were stuck in a bit of a traffic jam initially—


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:39:06
Views from the coach: Turkish flag (right), and flag of the de facto Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (right)


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:39:42
Views from the coach

—before we resumed our way.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:48:56
Views from the coach: locomotive of the former Cyprus railway


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:48:56 (detail)
Views from the coach: locomotive of the former Cyprus railway

Our route back to the checkpoint took us past more of the ruins of Varosha.


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:55:22
Views from the coach: Varosha “ghost town”


Saturday 26 November 2016 — 15:55:54
Views from the coach: Varosha “ghost town”

Again our passports were collected and taken away, then returned and distributed to us shortly afterwards. I was pleased that the bladder discomfort didn’t get any worse till our refreshment stop en route. Janet had started to feel motion sickness and sciatica before we arrived at the hotel ca.7pm. We returned to the room briefly, then went down for dinner. Back in the room again, I checked e-mail accounts (20:03).… Transferred 77 photos from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (20:32–20:36). Looked at them with Windows Photo Viewer and rotated 17 photos that needed it (20:37–20:42). We went to bed, ca.9.30pm.

[Sunday 27 November 2016]


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