It has been one hell of a winter, in every sense of the word. We have had a lot of ups and downs these past few months, not all of which I am ready to share in this space.
Spring Break was approaching, yet nothing felt like spring. We were desperate for an escape, but even traveling can be stressful at times. We were really at a loss this time around.
At the last minute (literally the morning of the start to our break), we decided to fly to Northern Cyprus, an island country (that is generally not even recognized as a country) just south of Turkey. We had heard good things about it from friends and the weather forecast showed nothing but sunshine, which was exactly what we needed. We based ourselves out of the coastal town of Girne, also known as Kyrenia.
North Cyprus is only a partially recognized state that is loosely affiliated with Turkey, and as such, I expected it to feel very familiar. While Turkish is the predominant language of the region and there are similarities in the food, I was surprised by how much North Cyprus is not like Turkey.
Really North Cyprus is like a younger, more relaxed, and more liberal version of Turkey. English is much more widely spoken, the cities are much more international and diverse, casinos (which are illegal in Turkey) are pretty much everywhere, and alcohol is very cheap. As I said, there are similarities, but North Cyprus is definitely its own thing.
We didn’t make too many plans for our trip. Instead, we opted to go with the flow and see what we felt like doing each day. Our favorite thing to do in Girne was simply walk along the picturesque marina in the sunshine and then stop for a drink or two at one of the many seaside cafes. We also indulged in a lot of good (yet reasonably priced) seafood; I was especially pleased by the abundance of delicious grilled jumbo shrimp.
We also made it out to Bellapais, a small village up the mountain from Girne and home to Bellapais Abbey. Unfortunately, the abbey was closed when we arrived, but we still managed to get a good look from outside of it.
Since we booked everything so last minute, we didn’t bother to look into car rentals, although I wish we would have. There are some amazing views along the coasts and through the mountains. Just be aware that they drive on the left side of the road like in the U.K.
Girne was a great starting point for our North Cyprus adventure, and if you ask me, April and May are the best times to visit. The weather is beautiful (~80 degrees with cloudless skies), but the crowds are still relatively small, so you can have this little slice of paradise mostly to yourself.