Friday, 19 September 2014

North Cyprus Holiday Review!!

I wasn't sure if I was going to do a post on this as I didn't actually enjoy my holiday very much. The more I thought about it the less I felt like writing about it. It was great to get away, but I felt really unhappy and depressed and I just wanted it to be over so I could come home. Here's a quick-ish recap of the good stuff I remember.

Pictures should enlarge when you click them.

After panicking that we would miss our coach, we got on it. I took this in Costa after a deluxe hot chocolate and cheese toastie.

At Stansted. They were almost an hour late getting us on the Onur Air plane, and there was no explanation or anything. I was really nervous about the plane, but as sure I was that it was going to crash I also loved the take-off!

I got a window seat =D

Look at that view...

I tried to fall asleep but couldn't, so I listened to music. Too antsy to read. I kept thinking, what if the pilot unpredictably fainted? Would we crash?

Lunch on the place - a rice meal with chickpeas, sweetcorn, peppers and chicken; grated carrot and lemon; a bun that was delicious with the butter and spreadable cheese; and a berry cake. Washing it down with coke. I would say it was about now that my plane crash thoughts ended (LOL).

This is when we landed in Turkey. I fell asleep shortly after this - but I didn't realise until I woke up at the rough landing at Ercan airport, in Cyprus. My sister told me then that they had stopped for ages in Turkey - yet another delay.

Pia Bella 2014 - Kyrenia/Girne

We stayed at Pia Bella hotel. It was a really lovely hotel and one thing I remember is how helpful the staff were. The receptionist answered pretty much all our questions and sorted out transportation whenever we want to go somewhere. On our first night we arrived close to midnight, but the hotel kept the restaurant open so we could eat. The meal on the first night was delicious.

We were upgraded to a deluxe room. It was spacious, air-conditioned, and had a lovely view. Walls were a bit thin though - wasn't too fond of hearing our neighbour cough up phlegm! Pia Bella Hotel had a lovely garden area, two pools, and every night was live music. They played a lot of songs from the 80's/ A lot of the people staying at the hotel were mature (I only saw a few kids) which gave it a relaxed atmosphere. I remember one night there was this really incredible musician I could hear from our hotel room and I was clapping from the balcony. I was on the balcony pretty much every night because it was warm and there was such a pretty view of the city, the mountains, the stars and the moon.

Breakfast had a range of fruits, cheeses, bread, a HUGE selection of jams and spreads, and the hot food would includes boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes and so on. It was great the first two days, but despite the wide range it was the same range of things every day, so as we stayed for a week it soon got a bit 'uninspiring', to use my sister's description of it.

As tap water is undrinkable in North Cyprus, we bought bottled water from the bar at the hotel restaurant. I'm not sure if it was just me, but I swear the prices went up on the fourth day. But I was buying a LOT of water because I was trying to hit 1.5l a day, and they sold 1.5l bottles for about 3.50tl (Turkish Lira) but I also needed small ones for when we went out. I put them in our room's freezer the night before, and so glad I did. It was scorching in the day. My scarf over my shoulders and sunhat kept off the worst of it.

The beautiful dove fountain in Kyrenia's town centre.

The Colony Hotel in Kyrenia's town centre.

Kyrenia Holiday 2014 (Girne)

I like the atmosphere in Kyrenia, though we were stared at a lot. We got beeped at once. I wasn't sure if it was because my sundress was bright yellow, or because I was black. Or because of my dreadlocks. Or just because we were women. Hard to tell. But besides that we got beeped at my minibuses, which is the public transport in Kyrenia. You just flag down a bus from anywhere and they takes you somewhere in town for only a few lira.

Turkish culture is predominant in North Cyprus, and Greek culture in the South. Cyprus has a long and illustrious history, which I'm not going to go into now, but I was fascinated. Turkish and English are widely spoken in North Cyprus, and turkish food and traditional music are can also be experienced there. When I came back I kept forgetting and saying "When I was in Turkey..." To be clear, I went to CYPRUS, not Turkey!

My sister and I went to Best Foreign Exchange in Hammersmith to change our money to Euros. They do a really good rate - even Martin's Money Saving Expert says so. We were under the impression that in Kyrenia both euros and liras were okay. As it turned out, Turkish Lira was actually more widely accepted so we had to change our money AGAIN *sigh* I think lira is about 3 to 1 british pound, so things there were pretty cheap.

The town centre in Kyrenia has lots of place to buy holiday gifts and we saw two Turkish delight specialty places - one was holiday Turkish Delight, the other was Sweety.

I don't normally like Turkish Delight. I've had it in Britain and the taste and texture is weird. In Cyprus, though it was nothing like what I'd had before. Turkish delight was extremely soft and gooey, bursting with fruity flavour. I loved pretty much every flavour there was.

Sweety had more varieties of turkish delight than I had ever seen. It said on their bag that they sold; delight, baklava, apple tea, spice sets, honey nuts, helva, sweets. The apple tea was delicious at the hotel so I bought a box of it here, along with a mixture of turkish delights. They let us sample a new flavour called Double-Fried Pistachio and it was to DIE for. We didn't get a box of it, by me and my sister have been regretting it ever since! I've had DREAMS about that double-fried pistachio! WHY OH WHY DIDN'T I BUY?!

Other than that, we went to Bellapais Monastry and St. Hilarion. It was so cool, I climbed to the top of the mountain! Of course I was afraid of falling all the way, but I did it ^.^ However... I also saw a snake. It was only like three inches but my heart stopped.

One thing I'd come to learn in Kyrenia, or Girne, was how incredible the lemonade is there. Apparently lemons grow in abundance there. So if you're ever in Girne, order a lemonade! I ordered it at least five times; at the Pia Bella hotel, at a cafe, at Niazi's, Ikimiz restaurant - no matter where I tried it, it was refreshingly delicious.

Restaurants In Kyrenia (Girne)

One restaurant we went to was called Niazi's. Niazi's did the most DELICIOUS food, I just can't do it justice with words. We both got the platter, so they brought a wide selection of dips and breads to start, then vegetables and salads, and then the meat - which had just come off the grill - a variety of succulent chicken, lamb, and beef kebob (kebab) pieces. We were FULL to the brim at the end of the meal, I just couldn't manage desert... of course I waited five minutes and 'managed' it anyway :3 I highly, highly recommend Niazi's. To our embarrassment though, when we got back to the hotel we calculated it and realised we had been thinking in pounds, not liras, so we'd accidentally given a pretty lousy tip. Whoops. Don't make our mistake!

The second place tried was Ikimiz restaurant, was was also incredible. I can't tell if Ikimiz or Niazi's was better.

Niazi's was fine dining, but Ikimiz was more homely and rustic. It was a mother and daughter-run resturant - I think their names were latife and fatima - and we were served by the daughter. She was really friendly and explained all of the dishes on the menu. When she was done, my sister and I wanted to order EVERYTHING. They had a beautiful, beautiful garden and we dined there when it was night and the stars were out. They had paper lanterns and everything, it was so pretty.

Naturally I order fresh-made lemonade and a plate of warm flatbread with butter and olives was brought out while we waited. Then we had starter - Ikimiz pastry for me, delicious and crunchy with a sour yoghurt, and a tasty ravioli for my sister (I tried a bit). For the main meal, my sister had the 'beef with mushrooms', a beef patty with mushrooms in the middle. I had the Ikimiz Special, which was sliced meatball (90% beef, 10% lamb) deep fried in pastry topped with fresh tomato sauce and almonds. Both dishes came with a side of vegetables, batter-coated potatoes, and that yummy rice that looked like it's got tiny spaghetti pieces in it.

On our last day there, we went to Avanti, which was right next to Pia Bella hotel. It was a bakery with enchanting outside seats; couches and plush chairs with large straw umbrellas overhead. My sister got a brownie while I got this lovely honey cake. But then I had to go and ruin it by ordering hot chocolate as well and felt sick. And it was so hot outside! I think I ACTUALLY went crazy for five minutes.

They also did main meals so we came back for burgers that would give GBK some serious competition. While we waited, they brought up flatbread with a tomato, olive oil and vinegar dip selection - I think serving it first is part of the culture. I was so stuffed, I didn't want to leave food on my plate but I had to. Then I waddled back to the hotel to deflate and take in a last night on the balcony. Then I decided not to sleep and instead stay up until 4am, when our coach came to get us (late).

Palm beach! Did I take one of the water? Couldn't find one...

Beaches in Kyrenia

My sister had planned to get us a hotel close to the beach. Somehow she hadn't realised Pia Bella wasn't actually within walking distance of one, which she was really pissed about. Regardless, we went to two.

The first was Escape Beach Club, which I don't have any good picture of. We got the air-con'd minibus there, and I quite liked it but my sister pointed out that the sand was dirty, and the sunbeds all squished together. The water was warm after you'd been in it a while and shallow for a surprisingly long way out. I can't swim, so that was fine for me.

The second was called 'Palm Beach', because it was directly behind Palm Beach Hotel. Palm Beach was actually in famagusta - the home of our tour guide, which is why he recommended it. But it was far - at least an hour's drive, so we knew it would be a day trip. We had to get a shared cab over there, and then it was a half an hour or so walk, where we had to ask directions a few times. We found it eventually, and that beach was just beautiful. The sand was a golden yellow and really fine so we sank as we walked. And it BURNED! Damn! Palm Beach charged for sunbeds, while at Escape they charged you to get into the club. The water was sparkling and clear, but it also stayed cold, it never really got warm when you were in it. You had to bob around until you found a warm patch and then try and stay in it as it drifted away!

Anyway, I'd recommend Palm beach.

Breakfast on the plane. That delicious bun again (though it was less solid this time) with cheeses, veg, butter, jam, cake, and coca cola. (I don't eat meat from pigs.)

And so ended my first 'proper' holiday. Didn't really enjoy it, but *shrug* it was better than no holiday at all, and I learnt some valuable lessons.

Star xx

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

This Blog Is Back In Business!

AHHHHH!! It's sooo nice to actually get up at 8am, while the day is young, fresh and bright.

I am finally back.

It's been a while, huh? At first it was really hard not to post, and I was really itching to. But after a while it was easy to forget about the blog, especially when I had stuff on my mind, which I anticipated I would!

Now the suspension on this blog is finally lifted, I'm going to renew my efforts to post on this blog at least once a week. Stay tuned for a post about all the posts I wanted to make!

What Happened While I Was Away?

- Well... I was away, as in abroad, on holiday :3
- Had two more ideas for novels that got stuck in my head... trying to keep the ideas alive, but not get distracted by my first novel!
- Been working REALLY, really hard on my author blog. So pleased with both my effort and my progress.
`-- > (I can't believe I set out on that journey in February!! Just can't BELIEVE how that time just soared by!)
- Went to about half a dozen fantasy events and conventions!
- Really wanted to post on this blog... held back the urge in pursuit of greater things! Although I did post about The Fault In Our Stars for Zoe. :)
- Went to Birmingham... quite a lot of times
- Became even more addicted to my music
- Read over 10 books this summer! And I stayed true to the fantasy-only goal. YES
- Had my self-esteem entirely shattered.
- Enjoying the nice stuff I bought on holiday, including a new rucksack, a watch, a bowl, a clock, the list goes on! but I'll talk about THAT on Pink Sov.
- Lots of physical and mental health issues =( I'm trying not to call them 'problems'
- Weird weather in London. =/
- Time flew!

One thing I realised was how much I talk about my struggles on this blog without also addressing coping methods. That's usually because I don't actually HAVE any coping techniques, but I'm going to do some research and try and write about it.

All that's left to do now is be positive. =]

Star xx
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