Monday, May 19, 2008

Turkish North Cyprus; Girne

The quiet and ancient portof Girne in North Cyprus was invaded by pirates aboard the 80 yachts of the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally. Last night was a big pirate party with all the crews parading around the town dressed in their stripes and skulls.

We had a day tour to a monastery and a castle in the hills; this morning when we got in a taxi to come to the old town and Rupe said 'to the castle' the taxi driver said "Which one?"!

We saw a shipwreck museum inside the castle; the ship had been carrying millstones, almonds, amphorae of olive oil and wine, and had sunk off the coast in shallow water. Rupe was a little sobered to see that the wreck was almost exactly the same length and beam as Rumpus!

A day of perfect weather; after exploring Girne old town and castle we ate a kebab in the square. Shopping highlights: fake designer shoes and handbags – such indiscriminate knockoffs – one shoe of a pair would be ‘Gucci’ and the other ‘Fendi’!

I was ill during the bus tour on Sunday – I had been fading out during lunch and the restaurant manager Rose, who’d lived in London and spoke perfect English, made me a pot of wonderful fresh mint and cinnamon tea. She then drove Rupe to the urgent pharmacy where he bought all manner of remedies for a sore throat including ‘gargara’ (gargle). The Turkish have a well-deserved reputation for consideration and kindness.

While Rupe and the rest of the group explored the town, I took time out in the Caravanserai - a four walled two storied courtyard lined with shops, stalls and cafes. I found a bench, lay down and went to sleep – Rupe had to call my name so that it echoed off the walls before he could find me. It was surreal to open my eyes and see the vaulted arches of sandstone above me and realize that I was here, resting in a place where over the centuries so many had done the same.

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