This island. It will always hold a very special place in my heart. I truly love it for so many reasons. Cyprus in my heart forever.
How do I love thee? Let’s count the ways…
In March 2020 after fleeing lockdown in Israel we landed in Cyprus. Our thoughts at the time were that we would sit tight for two or three weeks and wait out this crazy Corona thing. Five days later, we went into total lockdown which I always describe as house arrest. We could only leave our house once a day with permission from local Cyprus authorities, which we obtained through an app on our phones. What initially was presented as a ten-day lockdown became two months for us…and even longer for the Cypriot people.
The airport shut down with no flights in or out, and so we hunkered down for a long stay. It was March, still cool in the Mediterranean, but dry and sunny most days. All archeological sites and museums, all beaches, trails and recreational facilities were closed. As well as all shops and restaurants except for a handful of grocery stores and pharmacies.
Lockdown 2020 on Cyprus was definitely not something we had on our travel itinerary, but it became one of the most unique and memorable experiences of our life – putting Cyprus in my heart forever.
2.)Lemon Grove Villas, Argaka
Lucky for us, we were in an Airbnb called Lemon Grove Villas in the tiny village of Argaka. Argaka is on the far northwest corner of the island, about as far as you can get from the international airport city of Larnaca.
Not only was Lemon Grove Villa comfortable and spacious, but it also had one of the absolute best hosts we have had in all of our travels. Maria and Fytos were outstanding and made such an effort to make our unexpectedly long stay, unexpectedly comfortable.
3.)We Shall Return
When we finally left Cyprus after two months, we vowed to return – and we kept that vow, returning 26 months later this past June. We only had a week this time, but we spent the entire week back at our beloved Lemon Grove Villa, getting to see our sweet hosts Maria and Fytos. And this time, thanks to fabulous weather, enjoying the beautiful pool.
4.)Sunshine and Sand
If you have been to Greece, Cyprus feels just like that. But without the crowds or the price tag. Sunny skies, turquoise water, beautiful beaches. It’s surprising Cyprus is not one of the Greek islands, but most Cypriots consider themselves Greek and you will see the Greek flag everywhere. At least on the Greek Cypriot side (south side) of this island.
5.)Ancient History, Recent History
This island is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love. The island has been occupied by many civilizations dating back as far as far as the 12th century BC. Given its strategic position in the Mediterranean it’s no wonder so many wanted a piece of it over the millennia. Throughout the 140 mile long by 60 miles wide island you will find a fascinating array of ancient ruins and archeological sites all worth a visit.
More recent history has included a civil war in 1974 when Turkey invaded northern Cyprus, occupying and taking over entire cities including property and homes. Greek Cypriots fled south and Turkish Cypriots fled north, leaving everything behind. Still today Turkey has control of the northern part of the island but it is not recognized by the United Nations. It wasn’t until 2003 that a border crossing was opened. Today you can still see the sad remains of people’s homes and businesses abandoned and bullet ridden along the UN Buffer Zone.
6.)Hiking and Running
We love to run and hike and Cyprus offered beautiful and safe places to do both. In Argaka we ran nearly every day, both during lockdown and in our recent visit. And we also enjoyed several hikes along the ocean, in the mountains and through some glorious slot canyons.
7.)Food Glorious Food
Very similar to Greek food, Cypriot food is abundant with fresh and locally grown produce. Throughout the island and especially in Argaka you will find citrus, olives, nuts, and berries growing next to wheat, barley, watermelons, zucchini and tomatoes. Honey and breads are abundant as are candies and amazing coffee. You can find local wine that is cheap and delicious and recently a surge of craft beer. It is a breadbasket of the Mediterranean. The cuisine includes a lot of fish, lamb, beef and chicken as well as yogurt, feta and amazing halloumi cheese. Oh my goodness. I was in heaven. Learn more about Cypriot foods and cooking in this post In the Cyprus Test Kitchen.
8.) Kind and Hardworking People
And then there are the quiet and kind Cypriots. Some of the hardest working people I have ever met, yet always ready with a shy smile and a welcome.
Cyprus in My Heart Forever
What more could anyone want in a destination? It’s inexpensive, beautiful, delicious and great weather. There is interesting history and architecture, nature and views. Each city offers a wide variety of accommodations and restaurants. If I compare it to Maui it is half the price or less, with fewer tourists and traffic. For Americans it’s a bit difficult to get to, but there are lots of direct flights from London, so that’s typically the best way to get here. But however you get here, just get here.
I am already working on a plan to get back to Cyprus for a long extended visit in 2024. Cyprus, in my heart forever.
Learn more about the Civil War and unrest in Cyprus through this beautiful book The Island of Missing Trees.
Read our post the Cyprus Test Kitchen here.
See last week’s blog post about our trip to Israel, Visiting Israel – We Finally Made it Back.
See this week’s top performing pin Authentic Moroccan Food Tour
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Glad to hear you got something positive out of Covid! Haven’t been to Cyprus yet, but I hear it is good for birds too.July 22, 2022 at 9:12 am
Oh yes we saw someJuly 22, 2022 at 4:03 pm
So so special xxxJuly 22, 2022 at 9:51 am
I hope to see you on your next visit xxx
Me too!July 22, 2022 at 4:03 pm
Oh I loved every bit of this from the Greek cooking class that I would do in a heartbeat, to the scenery and the beaches, to that lovely villa – and the kleftiko! Yum! What a wonderful silver lining to the Covid cloud 🙂July 22, 2022 at 2:22 pm
It truly was!July 22, 2022 at 4:02 pm
It is great that you have such a positive memory of your lockdown time in Cyprus. We certainly would have loved a place with a pool like Lemon Grove Villa when we were trapped in our condo for most to 2 years. I love that you went back and got to see all the things closed during the pandemic. We have not been so maybe this is a place we need to look at.July 22, 2022 at 4:47 pm
I remember watching your IG feed in March 2020 and wondering if you would be OK. I’m so glad you were and loved Cyprus so much that you returned. Thanks for sharing.July 23, 2022 at 1:44 am
Some destinations are worth the wait and worth returning, and sounds like Cyprus is that for you. Love the mix of things to do, and would love to follow in your footsteps one day and do this trip.July 23, 2022 at 2:15 am
It’s really interesting how you think so fondly of Cyprus despite having spent such a long lockdown there. And even returning which is clearly the bond you felt with the country & your hosts. It has certainly made me consider a return visit to Cyprus. Lots more there than I even considered.July 23, 2022 at 2:57 am
I’m a firm believer that the trip when you didn’t get your plan but got something else instead, is surprisingly likely to be better and more memorable. I feel it happens when the universe looks at your plan and goes, ‘psh this girl doesn’t know what’s what. *strikes out plan* Imma scribble this in instead’. 😀 The strike out part feels negative, but if you don’t dwell on it, the penciled in things are great.July 23, 2022 at 7:31 pm
I would fall in love with Cyprus too, so I can imagine that it must be in your heart forever, for more than just its beauty. It sounds like a delightful place to experience its people, culture, food, scenery and… oh, just about anything. So glad you have a positive take on this whole experience.July 24, 2022 at 2:41 am
What an amazing place to be locked down in.July 25, 2022 at 9:18 am
You’ve certainly captured my interest and desire to visit Cyprus. Thank youJanuary 21, 2023 at 2:03 am
I loved itJanuary 21, 2023 at 5:05 am