Cyprus

My plane arrived into Paphos pretty close to on time at 10.00 PM. Immigration was easy – fully digitised and the machine managed to recognise me from my passport. I wandered over to to the oversized luggage area and didn’t have to wait long for my bike to arrive. It had survived the flight unharmed – always good news – and I soon had it packed up and ready to go.

It was several hours past sunset at this point and I’m no great fan of riding in the dark. Luckily, there was a small area of woodland nearby, with a picnic area marked on my map. After less than a kilometre on the road I turned off into the woods. The picnic area itself was flooded but I found a dry patch nearby, set up my tent and was soon asleep.

After waking with the sun I packed up my tent, adjusted a few things on my bike (I’d set my saddle too high last night, for one) and set off cycling. After leaving the airport road, and crossing the main road toward the city of Paphos, I was cycling in nature. As in most places, Cyprus’ population is mostly concentrated on the coast, with the exception of Nicosia, the capital. Therefore as I made my way toward the mountains of the island’s interior there were no buildings to be seen.

Though the road passed few buildings, there were some large rocks and collections of stones on the grassland beside the road that seemed to be ruins of older buildings, though I’ve no idea how old.

The route I’d selected across Cyprus took me on small roads climbing gradually upwards, with the scenery changing as I climbed. Grassland was replaced by pine forests. As the road climbed above 1000 metres I could see far into the distance across many great valleys, all covered in forest.

Shortly before reaching the mountain pass at a little over 1200m, I passed a small hut. It seemed set up for anyone to use, with an unlocked door and windows. Complete with fireplace, it seemed like it might have been a nice place to camp if it weren’t for the loud buzzing from the flies who call it home.

I was pleased to make it to the top of the pass without too much difficulty after three months off the bike. I didn’t have to ride much further before I could see the sea far below.

I made my descent slowly, as the narrow road twisted and turned constantly. Frequent rockfalls had strewn rocks across the road, which gave me no desire to race down the slope. As I turned one of the many sharp corners, I saw a car parked at the side of the road and offered to help. They had a flat tyre and gratefully accepted. We chatted while I swapped out their wheel for the spare. Luke and Chris, from Belgium, had rented a car for their holiday in Cyprus and were on their way back to Paphos to fly home later today.

Once that was sorted, I continued the descent, reaching the coast at the village of Kato Pyrgos.

Just past this village was the “green line,” a physical representation of the island’s complex history and political situation. After independence, the Republic of Cyprus controlled the entire island, apart from the British military areas. Tensions between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot populations resulted in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus being formed, propped up by the Turkish military whose presence there is very visible. Internationally this is held to be an illegal Turkish occupation of Cyprus’ territory, although it has acted independently from Cyprus for over 40 years. The green line is a demilitarised buffer zone that bisects the island and which is patrolled by UN forces.

My passport was briefly inspected on the Cyprus side and I was allowed through. The road climbed for a while before I reached Northern Cyprus’ customs.

I was again allowed through after a quick passport inspection. I stopped to top up on water in the next village then set up camp a short distance from the road.

The transition to the Turkish side of the island was made clear as I was woken by the sound of the Islamic call to prayer at dawn the next day.

I was slow to pack up as I knew I had only a short day ahead of me. I chatted briefly to another cycle tourist, Graham, whose bike I had seen parked outside a cafe yesterday. He and a friend were touring around the island for a week.

I made quick, uneventful progress along the flat coastal road. There was only one notable hill that day, rising to about 300m. On the way down I passed the impressive Gecitkoy reservoir. Interestingly, this lake is only partially formed by local rivers. Some of the water comes via an underground pipeline from mainland Turkey.

I continued onward to the city of Girne. For the last 20km or so the traffic picked up noticeably. I cycled in what may have been a bike lane. At any rate, there was a narrow blue line that all the cars ignored, which seems like most bike lanes I’ve ridden.

I made my way to the port and enquired about the ferry to Turkey. There wasn’t going to be one until the next day, so I rode to a nearby hostel. Run by a guy named Maxim (and therefore imaginatively named Hostel Maxim) it was a nice, quiet place. For 80 lira it seemed a good deal, as I was told I could hang out there during the day as I waited for the ferry. Maxim also kindly cooked dinner for us, and lunch the next day.

24/04/2019: 106 km.

25/04/2019: 75 km.

4 thoughts on “Cyprus

  1. Hi, Sam! Great to know your on the bike again and even better, writing about your tour 🙂 I’ve been following Jacob’s blog after your stay, probably you’ve heard about his unfortunate situation forcing him to have a break, but at least I’ll now be able to follow your riding for a change :D. I also had a short 3-week bikepacking trip on my Christmas holiday on the gravel roads of southern Spain, here are some pictures if you’re interested ( http://imgur.com/a/xnsPy8r ). Did it on my cyclocross bike which I currently use for triathlon racing. Will have another (short) trip within a month in Lapland and northern Norway. Still weekly day dreaming about a tour from Alaska to Argentina and after that, Nord Cape (Norway) to Sydney, Australia. However, I have swapped my leisure bike to a rigid MTB with plus-size tyres as I have discovered I enjoy singletrack and dirt roads more than the traditional bike touring on tarmac. 2.8″ tyres will get me through almost any terrain. I still have the cyclocross bike if I ever feel like having more speed for my trips, though :). I’m extremely grateful for your recommendations about bikepacking setup, it served me well in Spain and after that, too. I like the philosophy of bikepacking as a means of enjoying riding a bicycle in the great outdoors. Indeed, you will make memories for life so enjoy!
    Cheers,
    Alex

    Like

    1. Hey Alex, good to hear from you. Yeah I know about Jacob, poor guy :(. Glad to hear you’ve made a start with bikepacking. I can’t look at the pictures right now (Imgur is blocked in Turkey). If you do go to South America, I’ve heard very good things about Andesbybike.com for off-road stuff. I can’t reach their website at the moment, but that might just be Turkey…
      Thanks again for hosting me,
      Sam

      Like

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