Teachers’ Day is Lebanon is a National Holiday (what a novel idea!), and since it came on a Friday this year, we took the opportunity to get out of town and hop the 30 minute flight to Cyprus for a long weekend break.
When we booked our car on line we did not realize that Cypriots, having been British colonial subjects at one point in their history, drive on the left side of the road, in cars with driving wheels on the right. This was the first adventure of the trip. Wisely, the roads leading out of the airport are populated by signs reminding visitors like us to drive on the left. Sharon assisted as well, always reminding me which side of the road to drive on as I pulled back onto the road. Fortunately, we were able to rent an automatic. Fortunately, I didn’t kill us or anyone else.
One of the highlights of the visit was our stop in Lefkara, a traditional village known for its lace and silverwork, located in the southern foothills. It is a beautiful little town, with narrow streets and traditional stone houses. We stopped in several lace shops where we learned how this traditional craft is slowly dying as the young people are not taking up the craft and are moving away on a rapid basis.
We spent our two nights in the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia. As a result of the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, this island is divided, with the northern half being Turkish and the southern half being Greek. The “Green Line” that divides the country also runs through the middle of Nicosia, making it the world’s sole divided capital. We stayed on the Greek side, except for a 5 minute stroll over the line into Turkish Nicosia. Old Nicosia is enclosed by The Venetian walls, built in the mid 16thcentury and still in excellent shape. Unfortunately, the old city has little of its old charm left and does not offer much to the foreign tourist.
The countryside was beautiful during our visit, with the verdant hues of early spring brightening the fields and hills. Our drive back to Larnaca on Sunday took us over Mt. Olympus, where Cypriots were enjoying the deep snow. The highlight of our Sunday drive was our trek up the coast to see Petra to Romiou or Aphrodite’s Rock, the legendary “birthplace” of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Cyprus is a Mediterranean island after all, and driving along its coastline on a sunny spring day is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
It was great to get out of Beirut for a few days after a long stretch of school. One more country visited. One more flag to hang in my office. We enjoyed the trip but don’t see it as a place we will ever choose to visit again.