April is not usually the month I travel to Cyprus, but I have to say not only was I pleasantly surprised with the weather, but even braved the sea on a few occasions! You can expect an average 9 hours of sunshine each day. Additionally, April has an average high temperature of 22°C. With water sports in mind – the sea is a pleasant 18°C on average.
On this trip I had set myself a mini little mission. I really wanted to dig deep into the roots of North Cyprus and visit the smaller local villages that are far away from the usual cosmopolitan areas that one normally visits. I wanted to walk away from this trip having got a real feel of everyday Cypriot village life, and, to experience and taste the local cuisine made from the heart of those that created them!
One of the first places I visited was Guzelyurt, otherwise known as Morphou. With a slight obsession with lemons {practically on the table with every food} this place was like a mini little haven for me on entrance. Totally besotted with the abundance of citrus groves and lemon trees that surrounded me, the beautiful fragrance of orange blossoms will be an unforgettable aroma in my travel memoirs. I was told by the locals that this area is an ideal picnic spot for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of Kyrenia city life, sounded just like what I wanted to do!
Citrus Groves of Guzelyurt
So off I went with my guide book at hand, to get lost in this small but intriguing little town. Passing so many churches, I began to wonder if there was more to this town than meets the eye. Apparently, nearly all of them were dedicated to St Mamas, popularly believed to have lived as a hermit in a cave near the area. To cut a long short, at the time local authorities wanted to tax this hermit, but he evaded them. Soldiers finally captured him, but on the way back to Guzelyurt he saw a lion attacking a lamb, and managed to escape the soldiers, saved the lamb, jumped on the lions back and made his way back to the town. It was his bravery that earn him exception from tax. This is exactly the stories I wanted to find on my journey…plenty more to find I’m sure.
From here I drove to my final destination for the day, Lefke, but along route visited the ancient city of Soli which dates back to 16th century BC, and the Persian-style palace of Vouni built in 5th century. Lefke is a mixture of coastline and vast mountains, passing through the town I saw the massive dams and understood more why agriculture is so important to this region. It was recommended that I have my final meal at one of the fisheries along the coast overlooking the sea and watching the sunset, and must I say this was probably one of the best fish I have eaten with a truly magical view…another one to add to the journal. I said I wasn’t going to put recommendations as I wanted to keep all my best founds a ‘secret’, but this one is a must…visit a small restaurant called Asbaba and take a full mezze for starter and choose from one the local caught fish of the day… you can’t go wrong!
Freshly Grilled Cyprus Fish
During this trip I was very fortunate to have met some wonderful people just in passing conversations just sitting and chatting at a local cafeteria, and on doing so, they were so very kind to offer me the opportunity to experience how Cypriots make cheese. I couldn’t believe my luck; this was exactly what I was looking for. So off I went to meet the ‘aunties’ at their home village of Alaykoy, a short drive from Nicosia. I arrived at their house early at around 09.00 am, after going round and round the streets of this yet interesting but unknown little village. Greeted with such warm and hospitality, the first thing we did was sit down for a traditional breakfast which included fresh warm bread just out the oven called ‘corek’ {which came in a loaf form moulded into its cut off pieces smothered with sesame seeds, was so yummy I had two notches}. Alongside the bread was olives, cheese {of course} honey, local home-made jams (known as ‘macun’} in a variety of flavours and colours which made the table look more pretty than it already was. After a scrumptious breakfast, we then moved onto the cheese making process.
Freshly made Hellim (Halloumi) Cheese
A knock at the door came right about this point, with the friendly local farmer holding a huge pot of what was sheep’s milk. The lady of the house immediately proceeded to add yeast to set the first part of cheese. After an hour, I was handed the first trial – a smooth milky texture almost tasted very much like fresh mozzarella. The next stage involved a steady but moderate boil of this form for at least 45 minutes, mixing endlessly with a long wooden stick until finally reaching the satisfied texture. Once this mixture was warm, big balls of cheese were formed into the normal shapes with added mint for extra taste, making what we may all know a little better Hellim (Halloumi) cheese. Now trust me when I say this, I have eaten these out the packets from many supermarkets, but tasting them at that point right out the pot…nothing would even come close! The next stage was ricotta cheese, this time I was given the chance to make my very own, yes and a good job I did! Moving the remainder crumble like pieces in the weeded baskets to take their smooth shape, i flipped and tossed from one basket to another, even the ‘unties’ were impressed.
After such an amazing day, perhaps with a slight dairy overdose, nothing will beat this experience by far. I even took away my own home-made Hellim (Halloumi) & ricotta cheese!
This is definitely the start to my discoveries in North Cyprus…such an amazing place to explore, this is just the beginning…
By Rasme Ozdemir – Sales & Operations Director
Have you been to villages in North Cyprus or any other destination? Tell me what do you think of my village life experience…
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April is not usually the month I travel to Cyprus, but I have to say not only was I pleasantly surprised with the weather, but even braved the sea on a few occasions! You can expect an average 9 hours of sunshine each day. Additionally, April has an average...