Wednesday 1November

We had great Turkish breakfast at Slimz Cafe (which on the main road and a couple of miles west of Esentepe) that is run by a Turkish guy who (by his accent – and as we confirmed with him on a later visit) had clearly spent a lot of time in London. His Turkish breakfast was excellent – though I was quite shocked to find he did not serve Turkish tea. There’s no demand he said which gives you some idea of his regular clientele. 

We took a day off from hillwalking today –  though still managed to cover around 7 miles on our walks on and along the historic city walls of Famagusta and a tour around the ancient ruins of Salamís. These are both high recommended trips if you’ve even only a passing interest in the history of the island. 

Walks around Salamís and Famagusta

On the Martinego Bastion (of the Famagusta wall) we had a very  interesting and informative chat with Maria who was born in the USA but has Cypriot parents. She was doing a survey of the resoration works that were underway and have been funded (surprisingly to us at first) by the EU. The resorations are actually done as part of a reconciliation process and aim to improve relations between those in the north and south of the island who were obviously badly affected by the hostilities during the sixties and seventies. Though Famagusta is in Northern Cyprus (which is de facto administered by Turkey)  it is still seen legally (de juro) as being in the EU as its status has never formally been changed since the declaration of independence. 

Famagusta Walls 

The fortifications of Famagusta were built by the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus in the 14th century, and redesigned by Republic of Venice in 15th and 16th centuries before the siege of Ottoman Empire in 1571. The fortifications withstood an 11-month siege before the city capitulated to the Ottoman Empire in August 1571.

Famagusta Walls 

The local cafe (Nar Mutfağı) we went into in Famagusta (just off the main tourist street from the Sea Port to the Ravelia and Venetian Fortifications) was run by two very friendly sisters. They only had a very simple menu but were happy to run out and bring us baklava to have with out tea and ayran which was very accommodating of them. 

 14th Century Ay Nicholas Church, Famagusta

14th Century Ay Nicholas Church, Famagusta

In the larger amphitheater at Salamis three men, who were part of a larger party, spontaneously broke out into song and gave a brief but really high quality impromptu performance to their friends and the other tourists. They were singing some sort of hymns but we couldn’t make out their language though I had a guess it could have been Georgian which turned out to be right. We spoke to one of them (David) who said they were archaeologists on a tour and then he gave us a brief history of the ancient Georgian community on Cyprus which had had no idea about.
Salamis (image copyright of Beyefendi Baba Şah Roka) 

The ancient city of Salamis stood on the eastern shore of Cyprus, at the mouth of the Pediaios River. It was the island’s most important port city, with ships stopping here from the Middle East and from Europe (particularly the Aegean) in antiquity. During the Roman period, Salamis was the largest city on the island, surpassing even Paphos, the administrative capital of Cyprus. The city ran along the shore for about a mile (2 km) and reached about half a mile inland (1 km). At its peak a population of around 100,000 existed. 

Salamis (image copyright of Beyefendi Baba Şah Roka) 

Salamis was founded around 1100 BC by the inhabitants of Enkomi, a Late Bronze Age city on Cyprus, though in Homeric tradition, the city was established by Teucer, one of the Greek princes who fought in the Trojan War. After the Jewish revolt in Judea in AD 66-70, the Jewish population of Salamis increased. In AD 115, however, the Jews of Cyprus revolted against the Romans, leading to severe consequences at the hand of the Roman army under Trajan in 117. Many of the Greek inhabitants were killed (as many as 250,000), and Jews were no longer allowed on the island (Dio Cassius 68.32.2).

Salamis (image copyright of Beyefendi Kılıf Simit) 

Salamis (image copyright of Beyefendi Metin Cengiz)  

The culinary highlight today though was found a tiny cafe in Kaplacı (just beyond and to the right of the mosque when approaching on the road up from the coast ) when Bob noticed a neon light in the distance whilst we were just about to leave the village. This was being used by some local guys to play backgammon whilst watching a TV at full volume, which was considerately turned down for us a little after sitting down. There we enjoyed köfte, pirzola (lamb chops), şiş kebabı, salad and pickled vegetables, served with bread and the richest tasting butter I’ve ever had. It was home-made from organic milk according to the owner (who’s name I ashamedly forgot to ask for).


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