Cyprus School

3 10 2008

Nicosia, Cyprus

After 11 days spent with the Erasmus students of Nicosia, Cyprus, I would now like to make it official that Gage and I are old. Nothing can leave a person more convinced of this fact than trying to keep up with a hord of university students only to find that their body is now completely incapable of the 3 hour turn-around that it once was. As Gage and I lay on the floor of Dominika’s apartment at 2pm, having just woken up, we reflected upon the distinct memories we had of staying up until 5am, only to wake up at 8am and head into class. I even remember marveling at how wonderful a person could feel after only three hours of sleep. I now marvel at the students who woke up and left the house at 9am to go sightseeing while I slept in until 2pm. Logically speaking, these people should have been complete zombies, however I could not ignore the fact that zombies have little interest in sightseeing and are certainly much less tan than these people appeared to be. And so in conclusion, these two-legged towers of bottomless energy turned out to indeed be human, just a lot younger.

Dancing at Ithaki Club

Dancing at Ithaki Club

Dominika, as you may have guessed by looking at pictures, is Monika’s younger sister. Why stay with just two sisters when you can live with all three, right? That was our logic when Dominika asked us to visit her at her new University in Cyprus. The inexpensive plane ticket was a nice incentive as well. Plus Dominika, or Doncia (pronounced Don’t-cha as in ‘don’t-cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me’) as we family members like to call her, is one of those people you meet in life who you can’t help but love to be around. She’s adorable, sweet, enthusiastic, and incredibly welcoming.

Sassy Dominika

Sassy Dominika

Now, when I say Cyprus, many of you will conjure images of beautiful beaches and palm trees. Well there certainly is plenty of that, but we were staying in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, which is located in the middle of the island. It can aptly be called ‘The Armpit of Cyprus’. To all of you Cyprus residents who are reading this and preparing to barrage me with negative comments, please understand that I believe you have a beautiful country, but Nicosia is not a contributor.


So how did we pass 11 days there? Well, in all fairness we did take a lot of day trips outside of Nicosia. However it’s hard not to have fun when you’re surrounded by 30 rocking college students who love to dance, chat, and party, even if it is in an Armpit. For more pictures, click here.
Our first day trip was up to the port city of Kyrenia on the Turkish side. History tidbit: In the 70’s there was quite a blow up between the Turks and the Greeks living in Cyprus. The end result of which was a division between the two groups with the Turkish holding the majority of the northeast portion of the island. They have their own border crossings, passports, money, and flag, even though their country is only recognized by Turkey. Luckily tensions have subsided to the point where they have opened up a border crossing in the center city. Thirty of us crossed over and took a bus to Kyrenia where we took a boat ride down the northern coastline and back. These boat rides are pretty prevalent throughout the port area and cost around 20 Euros for a 6 hour boat ride and a hearty lunch. The boats stop a few times on the journey so that people can jump out and enjoy the warm, salty water. After living so long next to the Atlantic Ocean, I had forgotten that there are places on earth where the sea water is just as warm as a bathtub. It was exhilarating. A ‘quick jump into the water’ soon turned into diving and swimming contests. I felt like a kid who doesn’t want to take a shower and then refuses to get out. For more pictures, click here.


A few days later we rented a car with Hari, a graphic design student from Finland, and Doncia and set off into the Troodos Mountains. We decided to hike up the Kaledonia trail in order to find the Kaledonia waterfalls. For all of you beginner hikers out there, I would just like to let you know that hiking is cool and all, but hiking next to a stream with a million mini waterfalls is way better. It didn’t take long before all four of us turned into kids. Gage and I scrambled over boulders as Hari balanced on precarious rocks to take pictures and Doncia climbed walls like a monkey. After hiking back to the car we started driving to the nearby village of Omodos and stopped off at a little winery called Xenon. Words cannot describe how wonderful the family at this winery was. With our free tastings of their unique and delectable wines we were given homemade cakes, locals cheeses, bread, meats, fresh watermelon, and they even gave us a bag of grapes for road food. Needless to say, we bought a lot of wine! After wandering the lovely local village of Omodos we grabbed some yummy greek dinner at a small restaurant which seemed to be inhabited by the local mafia (a ringing endorsement if ever there was one) and then headed back home. For more pictures, click here.


The following day was our excursion to The Tip. We call it the tip because if you look at a map of Cyprus you notice that the island is kind of an oval but in the northeast corner is this long arm that reaches toward Turkey. We knew that it was pretty much desolate and that no one ever visited it, and that was all the incentive Hari and I needed. So after trying to find the vehicle border crossing for an hour, we made the two hour journey out to The Tip. Now the most difficult part of this journey is that there are about 40 idyllic beaches along the way as well as picturesque landscapes to distract you from your mission. This becomes even more difficult when you have someone like Dominika in the back seat who implores you to pull over for just a minute to take a picture. At this point I would like to mention that Dominika does not own a camera. Gajewska’s just don’t sit still very well. So after a quick side trip, we drove into the Wild Donkey Preserve (not kidding) and out to the very tip of the island which is made up of cliff-like craggy shores and a big hill with the flag of North Cyprus and Turkey.

We stayed for long enough to get some pictures and explore, but quickly headed back to the most magnificent beach any of us had ever seen, Turtle Beach. This place was basically empty with the exception of the wild donkeys roaming the hills. For the first time in my life I walked onto fresh sand that had not a single footprint. Doncia float in the waves as Hari snorkeled and Gage and I tossed our Frisbee. We later picnicked on local breads, hummus, Turkish salsa, and baklava. After a couple of hours we watched the sun set over the mountains. Another one of those, ‘I can’t believe this is my life’ moments. For more pictures, click here.


Thanks to all the amazing students we met in Nicosia. You are all wonderful people and I’m so glad that we had a chance to become friends. We hope to see you again very soon. Thanks to Hari for always being the man with the plan, being willing to drive the rental car on the left side of the road, and for giving Gage someone to talk to about design. And thanks especially to our little sister, Dominika, for inviting us out, putting us up, introducing us to all of her friends, and never making fun of how lazy we both were. We miss you already.

Cyprus Suggestions:
– If you have to stay in Nicosia, try to get a hotel as close to Lidras St. in the center city as possible. It’s pretty much the nicest part of town.
– Cyprus has a little something for everyone. If you want to party, head to Ayia Napa where you can club non-stop. If you want something romantic, go to Pafos where Aphrodite and Adonis were said to run around. If you are looking for cooler weather and greener surroundings, go to the Troodos mountains and make sure to stop by the Xenon Winery.
– Meze is the traditional dinner of Cyprus. It’s basically a 10+ course dinner of tapas. It’s probably more food than you can take, so pace yourself. If you want the best tapas around, consult a Time Out magazine, available in most books stores and car rental shops. Just call in advance because a lot of restaurants go out of business fast.
– If you want to try a Cyprus traditional dessert, look in local market shops for long tan sausage-like cases called shoushouko. These are candies made by threading nuts on a string and then dipping them in grape juice like a candle until they are completely covered. Delicious and not too sweet. Locals also eat carob syrup, either in coffee or spread on toast. They consider it a vitamin supplement (and also a natural viagra).

Shoushouko & Carob Syrup

Shoushouko & Carob Syrup

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2 responses

6 10 2008
OnThisIsland.com | A fresh look at going to University in Cyprus

[…] It makes an interesting read and provides a fresh outlook on what ‘outsiders’ think of our lovely island and all it has to offer. This is their report from being on the island for 11 days : After 11 days spent with the Erasmus students of Nicosia, Cyprus, I would now like to make it official that Gage and I are old. Nothing can leave a person more convinced of this fact than trying to keep up with a hord of university students only to find that their body is now completely incapable of the 3 hour turn-around that it once was. As Gage and I lay on the floor of Dominika’s apartment at 2pm, having just woken up, we reflected upon the distinct memories we had of staying up until 5am, only to wake up at 8am and head into class. I even remember marveling at how wonderful a person could feel after only three hours of sleep. I now marvel at the students who woke up and left the house at 9am to go sightseeing while I slept in… Read the full article. […]

25 12 2008
Kyle T. Webster

Hey, you two – so fun to read the blog and sorry to only NOW be commenting on something, but I had to mention that I went to ISC (International School of Cyprus) for my ninth grade year! This post brought back memories.
-Kyle

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