17 June 2012

Sorry if this insult thousands of years of epic Cypriot history (and no offense intended to Paul and Barnabas) but the highlight of my days in Cyprus has been zipping around old town Nicosia on a Segway. It's my first time and it's been exhilarating to ride.

I am hooked. Standing on the Segway and creating your own breeze, you coast coolly past sweating tourists trudging along in the heat. Yesterday it was 103° in Nicosia.

As my Segway guide and I cruised around, we stopped at historical sites and took a few (unapproved) pics of the checkpoints between the Turkish occupied northern third of the island and the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus, a member of the EU.
Only Turkey recognizes the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” Since 2003 people can cross between the two areas at several check points. Greek Cypriots do not like to call them “border crossings” since that suggests recognition of the occupation regime. I crossed back and forth three times easily.

Along the dividing "green zone" there are lots of unrepaired bullet holes in buildings.

A UN guard yelled at me for taking this photo as I rode off on my Segway.

Many walking streets in Old Town Nicosia were filled with sidewalk cafes.

After weeks in visiting mosques in Central Asia, it was culture shock to see so many churches, especially the ornate Greek Orthodox interiors that still seem radical compared to the plain Protestant esthetic.

On one of the highest mountains in Cyprus stands the Kykkos monastery, first built in the 11th century, repeatedly destroyed by the Ottoman and Turks over the years but always rebuilt with lavish gold and mosaic elements.

Photography was prohibited inside the church but these icons in outside corridors illustrate the rich artwork.

Most travelers to Cyprus head for the beach. Maybe next time.