Most of my friends and readers know I’m on a pretty distinct mission: to travel to all 193 countries on the planet. While 193 is the number of UN member nations, there are, however, many other “lists” besides that most-common “193.” The Travelers Century Club counts 329 countries. Their list includes many territories, disputed areas and breakaway republics. Cyprus, for example, counts for a whopping three countries on the TCC list. There’s the Greek Cypriot-controlled “regular” Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and then you have the two sovereign British military areas on the island: Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
>>>RELATED: My Mission – Explained.
Go West Young Man
I landed in Larnaka (“regular” Cyprus) on a Tuesday afternoon and would only have three nights on the island to see all three parts. I hadn’t planned too well and quickly had to make a decision on arrival. My hotel for the night was in Larnaka (the same city where I landed) but I’d still need to see Akrotiri and Dhekelia (two separate places) before moving on to Northern Cyprus in two days. Glancing at my GPS, I discovered Akrotiri was all the way to the west – about an hour’s drive from the airport. I reckoned I had a couple more hours of daylight and didn’t want them to go to waste, so I high-tailed it over to check-off Akrotiri.
Lucy, I’m Home
My arrival was a little unceremonious. No fence, no gate, no passport checks. There was a “Welcome” sign, which I instinctively pulled over to take a photo in front of. The main part of the village was up the hill. The sun was setting on this quiet collection of old, low-key Mediterranean-style homes on narrow streets, as a few kids passed by on bikes and cats scurried under cars as I rolled by. I felt a meal was in order to consummate my visit and I saw only two restaurants. I chose the one with the sign that said “traditional food” and enjoyed a great plate, definitely local – which included chicken skewers, sausages and a couple other local items whose names escape me. The waiter’s accent almost sounded Cuban to me, but he was indeed a local. When I told him to give my compliments to the chef, he informed me that “the chef” was his mom. I loved that!
After dinner, I roamed the neighborhood on foot for just a few minutes. It would be nightfall soon and I really wanted to be stationary by dark. I headed back to Larnaka with a full belly and enjoyed listening to local radio on the way. When I arrived at the hotel I was too tired to do anything but go to bed. It was an eventful first quarter of a day in Cyprus, with so much more to do in the coming days.
The next morning, I’d head east to a beach resort, still in “regular” Cyprus, but not before rolling through Dhekelia, the other half of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. I crossed in just before 11AM. There was a lot more military signage than Akrotiri (or maybe I just missed it in Akrotiri.) I wandered the small neighborhood outside the base, which was eerily quiet in a Twilight Zone sort of way. Then I rolled into the base area, whose gates were wide open. I was in and out in 40 minutes. I was tempted to take a dip at the beach, but wanted to get going. I was happy I could now check off both Akrotiri and Dhekelia this time!
Short But Sweet
I still had a lot of ground to cover and a short time to do it all, so I bid farewell to Dhekelia and continued east. I really liked both Akrotiri and Dhekelia and was happy to add them to my list. Don’t forget to check out my main Cyprus article HERE.
This entry was posted in Europe