This morning I'd intended to be up early, visit a few small museums in Larnaca, and then catch the 10:00 bus to Limassol. The intercity bus costs €4 and it's a 90 minute trip, which would have left me a bit of time to explore the city before boarding the ferry for Haifa.
So much for my intentions. This morning I slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, uploaded a few more photos, and didn't check out of my furnished flat until shortly after 10:00. Incidentally, while there is no shortage of accommodation in Larnaca (at least in late March), I found a wonderful place which is worth a look for anyone planning a stay here. (Well, maybe not anyone. If you're looking for five star spa recommendations, you're reading the wrong blog.) The €10 per night hostels I stayed at in Bulgaria were fantastic and offered great value for the money, but I think the Petalmo City Apartments is the best place I've stayed in the past six months. It's not the fanciest, but for €20 I got a furnished apartment: WiFi, full kitchen facilities, separate bedroom, bathroom with a tub, and even a washing machine! It's 350 m to the beach, and about 600 m to the church of St Lazarus. My flat didn't have a balcony, but several of the others do. Bookings can be made online, or they can be contacted directly:
Lordou Vyronos Str. No 50
+357 99 627170 or
+357 99 923926
I was amused when I discovered that "Lord Byron" intersects with "Gladstone." The British legacy in Cyprus is still very much a reality. My first clue came as soon as I left the terminal at the airport and saw the traffic driving on the left, and when I ordered chips (aka french fries), the malt vinegar was brought to the table as a matter of course. More annoyingly, the power outlets also use the British three-prong system. Although my power adapter can handle it, I had left that plug at home in Canada, not thinking I'd need it. For €2.50, I bought one at a convenience store. I'm unlikely to use it again in Cyprus, but I have a three hour stopover in London on the way home. Could be useful there, I suppose.
Another aspect of the British legacy in Cyprus is the widespread use of English by the Cypriots I've met, more so than anywhere else I've been on this pilgrimage. The accent is a charming mixture of Greek and Oxford, although I've heard American accents on the street. In addition to Greek, I've also heard people speaking Arabic, French, Russian, and languages I couldn't identify, at least one of which originated from the Indian subcontinent.
This morning I did make it to the small Byzantine Museum beside St Lazarus. Admission was only €1, which was about right for looking at liturgical artifacts dating mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. The last two of the five rooms contained a collection of icons, and a few of the 16th century works were stunning. (I found the 18th and 19th century pieces to be much less inspiring.)
Around noon I made my way towards the bus stop at the beachfront promenade. I was unsuccessful in my attempt to exchange currency. I still had some US dollars left from my sojourn in Lebanon, so when I spotted a convenience store that boasted "No Commisions" on their "Great Rates" I headed in to buy some Israeli shekels. As it turns out, they only exchange currencies in one direction. A sudden cloudburst drove me under shelter at a café, where I bought an overpriced coffee and used their WiFi.
The bus ride to Limassol passed quickly. The last stop was the New Port, where I hopped off. The shipping company doesn't have an office at the port, but it didn't take long to locate. The one email I received from them while I was still in Lebanon included the assertion that "Our sailing is scheduled for every Monday (subject to alterations without notification.)" -- except that this week, the ship sails on Tuesday. I was rather shocked when I learned the price -- €235 is more than double what I paid for the ride from Turkey to Lebanon. They told me that since it's a cargo vessel, insurance for a foot passenger is very high. Perhaps the discrepancy in prices is due to EU regulations which didn't apply for the Turkey-Lebanon route. It would have been much cheaper to fly to Tel Aviv!
Once I tucked my ticket away, I kept walking towards the city centre on the lookout for a place to spend the night. One woman saw me walking and pulled over to offer me a ride since "the city is very far." I thanked her, but declined. Eventually I found a decent hostel 5 km from the port. The sign advertising free WiFi wasn't taken down when the hostel changed hands, but there are cafés in abundance. I'm to be at the port by 10:00 tomorrow morning. This seems excessively early, as the info on the shipping company's website indicates it's a fifteen hour journey and we arrive in Haifa at 8:00 Wednesday morning. At least I've got a good book to help pass the time.
And now I'll pay for my coffee and go find some dinner. I probably won't be online again until Wednesday evening, and perhaps not even then. I'm still not sure if I'll take the Israel National Trail through the wilderness or stick to the roads. My GPS track on Wednesday will show anyone who cares to check which way I've gone.