This was an eight-day bus tour in April and May, 2015, of North and South Cyprus run by Voyages Jules Verne, a British tour company that I have traveled with several times—I like and recommend this company. The tour was well-organized and flawlessly covered all the important sites on the small island from just two hotels. Very well-informed guides gave us extensive detail at each place and left time to explore on our own. And the food, especially in the Greek south, was very good.
Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, lies at a historical crossroads of civilizations. Human settlement extends back some 12,000 years with several Neolithic hunter-gatherer and village sites—the arrival of the first humans correlates with the extinction of the dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants on the island. The Myceneans, Minoans, and Phoenicians found copper in the mountains, and Cyprus became an valued trading partner to Assyria, Egypt, and Persia. It was important to Greek and Roman mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite/Venus and her consort, Adonis. The island stayed under Byzantine rule until 1191, when Richard the Lion Heart captured it during the First Crusade; it passed to the Republic of Venice in 1473 and was finally conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1570. It remained under Ottoman control until 1878 when Britain assumed ownership, though not sovereignty, of the island. In 1914, Britain annexed the island when the Ottoman Empire joined Germany in World War I; after the war, Cyprus became a British crown colony and achieved independence in 1960, but events in 1983 split the island between Turkish and Greek inhabitants. Since then, there has been a tortuous and complicated history of Turkish invasions and occupation, intercommunal violence, evictions, and failed attempts at unification. Though quiet now, there still exists a division between the Greek and Turkish halves of the island and Britain still has a military presence.
With a subtropical climate and lovely beaches, Cyprus has become a prime tourist destination, particularly for residents of the former Soviet countries. The southern, Greek half seems to have taken the lead in development of enormous beach hotels and resorts. Cyprus is a safe and interesting destination and I very much enjoyed my time there.
26 April..........Chicago ORD — London Heathrow LHR
27 April..........London Heathrow LHR — Larnaca, Cyprus LCA
28 April..........Kyrenia: St. Hilarion Castle; Bellapais Abbey
29 April..........Famagusta, Salamis and St. Barnabas Icon Museum
30 April..........North Nicosia
1 May............South Nicosia; Choirokoitia
2 May............Troodos Mountain: Kykkos Monastery and St. Nicholas of the Roof
3 May............Palaepaphos, Paphos, and Kourion
4-6 May..........Limassol and environs
7 May............Larnaca LCA — Malta MLA
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