It has been 18 months we live in this beautiful island of Cyprus. We live in Nicosia, the capital city situated in the heart of the island. There are lots of stories we would like to share about our living experience here, but we’ll start with some highlights on what we most enjoy and some of the challenges we’re facing.
What we most enjoy living in Cyprus:
It is a (relatively) safe place
In general Nicosia and most places in the island are safe. In Nicosia, although some Cypriots friends said that in the past – before the economic crisis – it was much safer as people may left their house unlocked, left their cars’ door unlock and window open and when you left your stuffs in public area no one will take it. But even now, compared to other cities that we have visited, we feel Nicosia is by far the safest city. There were times we forgot to lock our car, to close our apartment’s doors, but it was OK, and we also feel OK to not watching our daughter all the time when she plays in the public parks or toys stores in the mall.
In some places where there are more tourists (Ayia Napa or Paphos), while they are relatively safe, it is advised to exercise more precautions.
Having lived in Jakarta and Bangkok, we know what traffic means. In Jakarta, we lived 30 kms from the city and it was normal to drive 1-2 hours one way from home to our office in Central Jakarta. But here in Nicosia, the Cypriots said if there are five to six cars in the traffic lights it is a traffic 🙂 . Whenever you live in Nicosia, it’s easy to go to different part of the city with no more than half an hour drive or even few markets, cafes, bakeries and convenience store are only walking distance from our apartment.
Also, Cyprus has very good roads hence very convenience driving across the island.
Beautiful beaches and mountain
Cyprus has so many beautiful beaches. It’s only taken less than half an hour drive to the nearest beaches in Larnaca and maximum 2 hours to beaches in other parts of the island. Generally It is very cheap to enjoy most beaches as they are open for public. You may need to pay 3-5 euros for an umbrella and a beach chair but it is ok if you bring your own as many locals do.
There are few places where we share the beaches with foreign tourists, but there are so many others that only locals know – especially beaches in the Northern part of the island – so it’s not been commercial even you can feel that you in the private beach
Our favourite beach so far are Konnos Bay in Ayia Napa and Turtles beach in the Karpas Peninsula (we’ll have separate section on beaches).
While beaches are always busy during summer, we can go anytime to Trodos Mountain. For cooling down from the heat on Summer or for skiing on winter. Trodos is located in the centre of island and it took only one hour from NIcosia.
Troodos Mountain during winter
In Nicosia and other cities, there are plenty of beautiful and natural parks/forests that are open to public and perfect for outdoor activities such as jogging, biking, picnic, ect, and most of them have playgrounds for the children.
Picnic in the park
Fantastic Historical sites
If you like historical site, you better visit Cyprus, Cyprus has plenty of historical sites. Cyprus has been influenced by so many cultures throughout its histories. Its prehistoric age inhabitants were joined by the Mycenaean Greeks 3500 years ago, who introduced and established their civilisation, thus permanently instilling the island’s Greek roots. Many other cultures followed since then, including Phoenicians, Assyrians, Franks, Venetians, Ottoman, British, all leaving behind visible traces of their passage.
Kurion Ampthiteathre in Southern Cyprus
Salamis ancient city
As of Nicosia, it remains the only divided capital city in the world where the southern and northern portions divided by a ‘Green line’. It goes back to the 1974 where the northern part of the island was occupied by the Turkish and years later it declared itself as an independent country which until now only being recognised by Turkey. We live in the southern part of the island, the Republic of Cyprus. It is now free to move in between the north and southern part of the city, and other ‘borders’ across the island.
Ledra Street in the old city
Venetian walls surrounding the old city
Northern part of the city overlooking Kyrenia mountains of Northern Cyprus
Nicosia is a relatively small city after all 🙂
Nicosia is inhabited by around 300,000 people. While there are plenty of parks and nice places to chill out, you know, when you have been living in the city more than 3 months, there are not much left to see :). There are limited options for shopping or (international) restaurants. There is one mall, with two-storey floor and 1/5 of it is occupied by Carrefour :). So yeah…we kind of miss the big and varied malls like in Bangkok and Jakarta:). Sometime we ran out of ideas where to go in the weekend as we feel we have ‘swept’ many sites in Nicosia as well as across the island :)…
Unreliable public transport
There are few buses operating within the city (Nicosia) and there are regular inter-city buses from Nicosia to Larnaca, Paphos and Limassol. We never ride a bus as we often confuse on the routes and no reliable schedule (in English) available.
Taxi is expensive and you can only book taxi or get taxi in the taxi pool. As an illustration, it is cost around 8-10 Euros for 4-5 kms ride (note, without traffic).
Coming from Bangkok, where the drivers rarely honing, it took us a while to drive in Cyprus. Yellow light means you need to start press the gas or otherwise in less than 2 seconds you got honing from the car in your back. Funny, people seems rushing while after-all, no traffic and the Cypriots can spend hours in the coffee shops :). But what still good is people still respect the traffic lights 🙂
And talking about parking, the Cypriots always compete to park closest to the doors of the building/parks. Parking on the sidewalk is also generally permissible. It is incredible to see the Cypriot’s ‘skills’ to park in the sidewalk 🙂
Very hot weather in the Summer
Even though we used to live in a hot climate 33-35 degree Celsius in Indonesia and Thailand, it took us a surprise when we first arrived in late June and experienced Cyprus’ summer heat. Last year we experienced 42-45 degree Celsius, yes it was HOT. Especially in the last two weeks of August, the summer reached the peak. Hence during that time, most Cypriots take holiday either going to the beach and or to the mountains, or stay in-doors.
But yeah…the good side is, Cyprus has lots of beaches to chill out 🙂
‘The Island mentality’
We experience, and many foreign friends shared the same feeling, that the locals are not so welcoming different culture from their own – dubbed sometime as having ‘the island mentality’. Good that our local friends at the office or churches most of them are very nice and kind, and yes, most of them have lived, worked, or studied abroad before hence they had been exposed with other cultures. So we guess that makes a different. We’ll share about this topic later.
So yeah, there have been some challenges, but overall, we are very grateful and proud to call Cyprus home. There are many good things here: good air quality, very fast internet connection (at home), good school for our daughter, etc etc. All in all, we have a good life here.