Thursday, September 8, 2011

Another anniversary

Celebrating 42 years of married life
Bill and I celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary on 6 September 2011.  It has been a long time since that hot Saturday on a Labor Day Weekend in 1969, that momentous day in St. Ann's Catholic Church when we stood and kneeled before Father Pucar and exchanged vows.  We have such an easy anniversary date to remember, whether using American style of dates or the style used by the rest of the world.  9-6-69 in America and 6-9-69 everywhere else.

We hired a rental car for 3 days, not just to celebrate our anniversary but also to see a tiny bit of this island and to find where we will be shopping for the next 8 or 9 months.  The first day it was just the 2 of us exploring; the second day another yachtie couple joined us.  

Today is the 3rd day of having the car and we haven't decided exactly where or what today's adventure might be.  As yet the only thing we have planned for today is to take a couple of jerry jugs to replenish diesel used to run the generator for charging batteries, making water and operating the washing machine.  The main tank should be left as full as possible in order to prevent condensation causing moisture inside the fuel tank.  We had bought 2 jerry jugs in Girne to re-fill the main tank for diesel used to get from Girne to Karpaz.  We were not prepared to run the generator 2 - 3 hours daily because of the electrical problem in the marina, so we now need a few more jerry jugs so that we can continue to top-up the main fuel tank and prevent that dreaded condensation inside the tank.

St.Peter & St. Paul Cathedral; Old Venetian Walled Town
The receptionist in the marina office delivered the rental car to us Tuesday morning.  She lives in the same village where the rental car company is located, so she kindly offered to deliver the car to us when she drove to work this day.  Another yachtie had provided us with maps of the major cities in Northern Cyprus and a tourist brochure.  We pulled out of the marina and turned right -- with no idea of where we were going.  Because of insurance requirements of the 2 countries, this rental car is not allowed to enter Southern Cyprus, so any exploring we did would have to remain on the Northern side.

Rear side St.Peter & St. Paul's

The nearest village west of the marina is called Erenkoy.  It is also called Yenierenkoy.  All the villages and towns in Northern Cyprus have at least 2 names -- their old Greek names and their newer Turkish names.  This really makes reading maps and road signs challenging when driving as the 2 often use the different names interchangeably.  By the time one figures out what a sign means, you have made the wrong turn or passed the turn you should have made.  Getting around is easy though; there aren't a lot of roads and it is an island after all.  Hard to really get lost on an island.

According to the tourist brochure, civilization in Cyprus dates back 9,000 years.  The island has been occupied by a succession of peoples from Europe and Asia.  In the 8th century B.C. it was part of the Assyrian empire, then the Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian empires.  In 58 B.C. the island was seized by the Romans.  Richard the Lionheart settled on the island in 1191 A.D. during the third Crusade.

typical street in Old Venetian Walled Town
Then, after selling the island to the Knights Templar, he permitted Guy de Lusignan to buy the island.  (Richard sold it twice?)  Cyprus remained in Lusignan possession until captured by the Venetians in 1489.  From 1571 to 1878 the island was ruled by the Ottomans until they leased its administration to Britain.  Britain annexed Cyprus in 1914.  British colonial policies promoted ethnic polarization, as citizens identified themselves as either ethnic Greek or ethnic Turkey, with both groups identifying even more strongly with their own island of Cyprus rather than either Greece of Turkey. The British applied the principle of "divide and rule", setting the two groups against each other to prevent combined action against colonial rule. Independence was granted in 1960.  But after Greek Cypriot and Greek military coup in 1974, Turkey was 'forced' to intervene to safeguard the interests of the Turkish Cypriots.  The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1983.

Remains of St. Nikolas Cathedral in Old Town
The TRNC continues to be the country that does not officially exist.  Turkey is the only country that recognizes the TRNC.  NATO and the EU continue to insist that Northern Cyprus does not exist and that the entire island belongs to Greece after the Greek military coup in 1974.  There is a Green Line separating North and South.  No shots have been fired in Cyprus in decades.  Tourists are allowed to freely cross the Green Line and travel both North and South sides of the island; but citizens of the 2 countries are not allowed such free movement between South and North.  We have met several UK citizens who are residents in South Cyprus.  They are allowed free movement between North and South because they are citizens of the UK and merely residents on this island.  However, Greek citizens and Turkish citizens of the respective South and North are not allowed this free movement.  And yachts that visit Northern Cyprus are prohibited from then visiting Southern Cyprus -- the authorities in Southern Cyprus claim they will seize your boat if this is attempted.

A building in Old Venetian Walled Town at Famagusta -- note holes from artillery in 1974 civil war

St. Nickolas down the street
It takes about an hour to drive to Famagusta on the southern coast of Northern Cyprus.  The city's new Turkish name is Gazimagusa, but everyone still calls it Famagusta and it is considered the historical capital.  In the center of the city near the seaside stands the old walled town.

The town of Famigusta was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Arsenoe, which itself was built to replace the ancient city of Salamis after being sacked by Arab raiders in 648 A.D. Arsenoe eventually grew into a small fishing port.  In 1291 A.D., after the fall of Acre, Crusaders began to settle in the town; bringing with them the vast wealth they had accumulated during their conquests of the Holy Lands. 
Remains of Old Venetian Royal Palace
This resulted in creating Famagusta into the richest city in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time.  To proclaim the superiority of Christianity and to appease God for their sins, the inhabitants built churches all over the city.  At one time there were 365 churches in Famagusta; one for each day of the year.  Later, conflicts between the Venetians and the Genoese in the city, coupled with the increasing amount of resources and energy spent on defense against a probable Ottoman invasion, seriously hampered trade and the further development of the city.

St. Nickolas Cathedral

In 1571 the Ottomans took the city and Famagusta, no longer having any strategic or economic importance, reverted to the insignificant port town that it had been in the past.   During the British rule from 1878 to 1960 much of the architectural heritage of Famagusta was lost when stone was taken from many historical sites to build the Suez Canal.

Claire, Peter & Bill in Old Town Famagusta
Yesterday we returned to Famagusta accompanied by Claire and Peter, fellow yachties berthed in Karpaz Gate Marina and also former residents of Southern Cyprus for 5 years.  Claire and Peter showed us where the bus departs from Famagusta for our future use to/from the marina.  Then we drove into the old Venetian walled town area.  This reminded me somewhat of the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia; but not nearly as economically vibrant and with only a fraction of the number of tourists that fill Cartagena.  (LOVED Cartagena; gotta go back one day)

We walked around only a short distance; then settled at a sidewalk cafe for lunch.  I had a fabulous halloumi cheese salad.  Previously I have only eaten haloumi cheese brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and black pepper and fried.  It does not melt and this traditional Cypriot cheese is very distinctive.  The salad was simply shredded lettuce with chopped tomatoes and onion, topped with finely shredded halloumi cheese with a few olives sprinkled around the edge.  It had no dressing and none was needed.  It was delicious.  Now I know a new use for halloumi cheese.

We then walked a short distance around the interior of the walled city.  The hot afternoon temperature was not conducive for a longer exploration.  Soon we were back in the car and back to the marina.

Grilled entrecote
Last evening almost all the yachties gathered in the marina bar for drinks.  It was fun and enjoyable to meet more of the other folks planning to spend the winter here.  BTW, we ate dinner in the marina restaurant on our anniversary Tuesday.  Bill enjoyed a steak and grilled vegetables.  It was delicious, perfectly prepared and more than he could eat.

Fish Stew???

I opted for "crispy calamari and fish stew" -- mainly because I love calamari and had no idea what this dish might be.  I usually try the unfamiliar in restaurants.  When the waiter delivered my meal, Bill and I looked quizzically at one another.  Bill said, "The menu said fish stew."  The waiter smiled and pointed to the 2 fried prawns nestled in the center of the fried calamari rings.  He nodded and said, "Yes -- fish stew."  I think something is lost in the translation of the word stew between English and Turkish.  It was served with a lemony olive oil filled with herbs for dipping which was very delicious.

Some of the other yachties had complained to us that the marina restaurant is expensive.  I beg to differ.  By rolling the 2 for 1 happy hour into an early dinner, we enjoyed 3 large glasses of excellent red wine, 2 large beers, an appetizer of mixed olives and various breads, a salad for 2, Bill's steak and grilled vegetables and my calamari and "fish stew" -- all for a grand total of 101TL or $56.90 USD.  All beautifully presented and delicious.  A bargain in my opinion.  Sure, there are less expensive meals to be found locally; but not as nice as this.  Chalk off another cruiser rumor.  This marina restaurant is not at all over-priced for what they serve.


  1. Happy Anniversary! 42 years is a real accomplishment nowadays. Great picture of the two of you! We agree that drinks and a delicious dinner for less than 60 bucks sounds like a deal! Happy Hour is a great thing! Sounds like a great evening .. congrats! I'd imagine that making life together the adventure that you have must help! Challenging but good!

  2. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary!
    It looks good on you :-)

    I'm enjoying the blog, as always.
    Keep having fun1
    Liz (from Caps and Ads, ages ago)


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