As the weekends vigorously knock on my door and events persist before my eyes, I draw my blinds down and re-position my thoughts. The adventurousness within me rejects my minds' attempts of a routine and seeks new ventures.
On a casual scroll on my social media, pops up an inter-communal weekend-long road trip visiting the island's ten most beautiful viewpoints I sign myself up and rest my quested spirit that escapades lay ahead.
The trip includes historical and stunning locations across Cyprus with forty other young Cypriots, all eager to explore their land's culture and landscape. Excited that nearly 8 out of the 10 of the settings planned were new to me, I boarded the bus early Saturday morning. As the coffee began to its role, we began to interact with each other and headed towards the mountains for our first stop; Teisia tis Madaris.
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I shall let the below photo essay take you on a brief journey down Cyprus' cultural and historical memory lane.
After an hour's drive, was a short stop with nothing but mountains surrounding us, we walking along the pebbly path.
People that stand in the limelight rarely get appreciated for their work. We wouldn't have gone anywhere without this man, literally. Our bus driver Nikos drove hours on end throughout the weekend, tirelessly waiting for us as we showed up late to every meeting point.
Here, Nikos rests against the rails of the Youth Center's garden at Polystipos village, where we stopped and were treated a traditional Cypriot breakfast. Eggs, homemade jams, sausages, olives and vegetables were not missed from any plate. Breakfast highlight: Kiwi jam!
Water figures assemble an image of Berengaria Hotel in Prodomos village.
As we walked towards the eerie abandoned hotel, we shared the stories we heard about this haunted mansion and rushed to explore its rusty and run-down corners.
Deserting our ghost spirits in the Prodromos forest, we dived into a completely contradictory environment full of life and nature. A soft river underneath our feet welcomed us, as we carefully stepped around the slippery stones for a photograph of Tzelefou Bridge. Staying loyal to the location's connotations, a newlywed couple arrived for their not-so-original photo by the bridge.
Running fashionably late on everything on our schedule and with the sunset quickly creeping up behind us, we left two settings behind and drove straight to our beloved Paphos for a good ol' meal of souvlakia.
Soon after, Nikos took us our home-for-the-night. After preparing our snacks for the following days, as the responsible travelers that we are, we headed towards our rooms and the music swayed the ocean waves near our balcony.
As morning came on Sunday November 20th, we found ourselves on the road again. Driving along the Paphos coastline, we crossed the checkpoint at Kato Pyrgos.
The crossing point soldiers and officers became miniatures as we drove off into a landscape painting of deep blue and rusty yellow palette.
What I remember thinking was that the setting didn't look much different from what my eyes were used to and I had hardly comprehended we crossed the checkpoint. This only re-assured me that despite the island being separated by barbed wire and army forces, it is one land. And so, whilst acknowledging its differences, I chose to momentarily leave them behind and I started searching for the similarities; in the culture, in the landscape, in the people.
One of the most incredible views of Cyprus I witnessed so far, was at Vouni Archaeological site. An endless sight of green hill tops, distant mountains and the sea on your left. A mesmerizing vision that I honestly, wasn't aware Cyprus had to offer. Worth a visit.
A man and his bus. Kyriacos, the trip organizer from youth group See Why, looks over to his member who are obliviously scattering across the archaeological site, utterly enchanted by the views.
Visiting Bellapais Abbey, was a particularly touching moment as instant memories of school books came to mind which portrayed these exact arches. And with those childhood flashbacks, the setting suddenly became a little more real, as I realized how much more history and culture of this island is left to be re-discovered.
Many hours on, the Pentadachtylos mountain range turned us into little mountain goats, as we left the path behind and climbed rocks to an unbelievably beautiful view of the north sea coast. The land lay itself out and offered its wonders freely to us.
The final stop of our two-day island re-discovery was the Kantara Castle. A short hike up the top of the castle gave us dazzling views of the sunset. With strong winds among us, we watched over a drop of the sun like no other. With Famagusta, Kyrenia and the tip of Cyprus engulfing us, we indulged into the beauty of this tiny yet troubled island.
Experiencing views I had not seen before, going to places across this country I had not yet visited or even heard of before certainly introduced me to new chapters of Cyprus that I hadn't come across.
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A dot on the map with a pointy corner and twirly tail that will not stay bound by its history, political situation or current division. There is much, much more to see, feel, taste, hear, love, and discover on all corners on this land many of us call home. And I strongly urge you, dear reader, to go explore it, not following a text book or someone else's words, but your own eyes.