Wednesday, June 8, 2016
The Green Line...?
Where and what is the Green Line? I wasn't sure, but I certainly found out. I must say, I grew up with the Berlin Wall and was ecstatic when it fell. I've also seen the border walls in Israel and I understand, but I wish it didn't have to be. The same with that wall that everyone is talking about on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. From ancient times people have built walls for protection, or separation alone. The one in China should tell us just how long this practice has been going on. In the modern era, there aren't many of these areas left. There are borders, but not true divisions. However, there is a division running right down the middle of the island nation of Cyprus and it runs right through the capital, Nicosia or Lefkosia, depending on whether you're speaking Turkish or Greek.
I'm just fascinated by this concept. There is not a wall. There is a UN buffer zone or no man's land that runs 180 kilometers across the entire island. It's 7 kilometers wide in some places and covers 3% of the country. The north is Turkish. The south is Greek. There are Greek and Roman ruins all over this amazing island. Legend has it that this is the birthplace of both Adonis and Aphrodite. The coast is gorgeous. The mountains are amazing. It's just that when the island got it's independence from Britain in 1960 it was a short time of true independence. In 1963, fighting broke out between the Greeks and the Turks. It's never been solved, hence the Green Line.
I love strange borders and unusual situations. The Adventure for Anyone here is simply visiting. This is truly amazing. Nicosia/Lefkosia is the last city in the world to be divided in this manner. The Lerda Street Crossing is in the middle of the city and is the only place in the city where you can go back and forth from north to south Cyprus.
There are walled up streets in the middle of the city. There are walls with barbed wire on them. There is a Toyota dealership that sits in the no man's land that still has the cars in it from 1974. You don't get to see things like this every day. Visitors will tell you that the border is easy to cross. It's not as though your life is in danger or anything.
Nicosia/Lefkosia is a bustling city with a lot of things to see and do. They have all kinds of museums and shopping and restaurants. It's a busy city that divided between two countries that aren't that fond of each other. It's odd, but that's why visit.
For history buffs, this island country has got it all. Birthplace of Gods, and once conquered by Alexander the Great. And for modern history buffs, this island has been the hideout for more than one felled dictator. Hosni Mubarak fled to Cyprus when he left Egypt. But if that doesn't interest you, the ruins will keep you busy. They are all over the island.
It's hard to forget who owns what in Cyprus. It's blatantly obvious who owns the north, with the Turkish flag put across the side of a mountain. The best part is that it lights up at night.
But, the true Adventure for Anyone is on the west coast of Cyprus. This is the isolated and puzzling exclave of Kokkina. You can see on the map that there is a definitive partition with the Green Line. Off in the west is a little piece of land with a line drawn around it. That is Kokkina. There are no border crossings on land. You have to visit it by sea. It sits in Greek territory, but it is part of the Turkish run north. It reminds me of Kaliningrad.
There are beautiful hotels in Kokkina. It sits along sandy beaches with azure waters and beautiful views. It's a peaceful, relaxing and fun place to spend your time. You just have to take a boat to get there, because this is where the Turks came ashore to attack the Greeks during the conflict. They are cut off from the rest of the country, but this is the place to visit. You'll feel like you stepped back in time and landed at a great resort area.
Cyprus is amazing whether you visit the city or the country or the coast with the resorts. Both the Greek and Turkish people are fiercely independent. They have divided the country in two with the United Nations presiding. However, it's a great chance to get to experience both cultures in a small area. It's about the history, it's about the culture, it's about the ruins from the Greek and the Roman eras. It's an enigma in that the environment seems hostile, but the people are outgoing and friendly. The border is somewhat relaxed, but the Kokkina Exclave is still isolated. What I find amazing is that everyone seems so relaxed, even though the country is divided right down the middle by the infamous Green Line. So, take that adventurous trip that you've always dreamed of. Come to a divided country in the modern era. Come and meet the Greeks and the Turks and see their way of life on the largest island in the sea. Come and see Cyprus before they actually solve the dispute, or you won't get to see one of the strangest anomalies ever. Come and see the Green Line. Come and cross the Green Line. Come and see the isolated exclave of Kokkina and enjoy!