Sunday, August 27, 2017

[LARNACA] Beaching in Cyprus, Part I

Philippine passport holders who have a valid multiple-entry Schengen visa can visit Cyprus using that visa as a substitute. This rule is applied to most countries in the Balkans that are not part of the Schengen agreement. However, some of them require that the visa should’ve already been used to enter the Schengen territory at least once, so it might be a better idea to simply toss Cyprus at the end of your Eurotrip itinerary, just to be sure. From here, you can also catch a one-hour flight to Tel Aviv in Israel, a visa-free country for us.

Or you can always just go back to the mainland. Ryanair flights take off from Paphos and connect you cheaply to neighboring Greece. From Athens you can catch a cheap Scoot flight back to Southeast Asia via Singapore. Anyway, let’s talk about Cyprus. What the fuck am I doing here? Well, long story short I have two one-month German summer courses to attend and I have a one-week break in between. The choice was between Cyprus or Israel. I can go to Israel anytime without a visa so I chose Cyprus.

A little research will tell you that the country has been divided into two: one controlled by the Cypriot government; the other backed by Turkey. I am not heading north so I can’t really tell you if it’s going to be easy to go to the Turkish area although I’ve heard stories that you must land in and take off from Larnaca or Paphos in order not to have problems with immigration if ever you decide to come back. My itinerary here is a simple three-day excursion divided equally among Larnaca, Limassol, and Paphos.

Nicosia is the capital, NOT Larnaca. I am under the impression, though, that most international flights use Larnaca as their base on the island. Getting out of the airport, you take Bus 425 on the second floor DEPARTURES area if you are planning to stay in the city. If you are just transiting and heading straight to other cities, then the buses you need are at the parking lot on the ground floor, ARRIVALS section. It took 30 minutes and EUR 1.50 (~PHP 90) for the bus to reach Finikoudes.

The main tourist hotbed is located at that strip of beach at Finikoudes. There you will find bars and restos, both local and international, as well as hotels directly facing the sea. If you prefer Airbnb, then you might end up somewhere more inland that will require some walking to the marina. Or you can always pay EUR 1.50 for a one-way bus ride if the heat is too much for you to bear. Once at Finikoudes, find your own spot. I’m not sure how much the reclining seats cost, nor where you can pay for them.

Airbnb host told me that August is a bad time to visit if you hate the heat. I think he missed the point as to why people come here in the first place. I’m no stranger to this tropical weather. The only difference is that in Manila it usually rains a lot during this time of the year. Here in Cyprus, rain seems scarce. It’s 2:30 PM now and it’s 35 degrees. Make sure you come prepared with all your sun block supplies. If not, you can get them at any pharmacy or convenience store here. What else is there aside from the beach?

The Church of St. Lazarus is a mere five-minute walk from Finikoudes. It is said to be one of the oldest Byzantine structures on the island. There is a museum accessible with a meager EUR 1 (~PHP 60) entrance fee. Go there before or after lunch if you want to see the museum. They have a rather lengthy lunch break. From there, you can wander around and get lost. This is still Europe, and narrow alleys which lead to somewhere interesting are still the norm. Beach. Old Town. City Center.

If you want to check out another beach, locals recommend Mackenzie. It is that beach close to the airport and Larnaca Salt Lake. I suppose bus 425 can also get you there faster, although I’m not really sure of its schedule. As for me, I think I haven’t done anything interesting here other than sit everywhere and order something iced. Those strawberry slushees that they sell at the convenience stores are heaven sent. There’s also Starbucks and Costa if you seek something more familiar. But yeah, it’s frickin’ hot here.

Another surprise to end this blog entry: FILIPINAS. I didn’t really come here with the expectation of hearing Tagalog, except that it’s now the umpteenth time that I’m hearing it. A “friend” I met said that Filipinas and Vietnamese women come here as caregivers and that Sunday is their rest day, which explains why they are in the streets. Very Hong Kong, but not quite. I didn’t know that Cyprus counts as a key destination for our OFWs here in Europe. Well, now I know! Nice to hear some Tagalog after too much Deutsch!

[LARNACA] Beaching in Cyprus, Part I

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