CONTRIBUTED BY MATTHEW & MARZENA KESTI
Looking to escape the friendly confines of the Adana area? Given current conditions, the quickest, cheapest, and most convenient way is to head down to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Since 1974 the island of Cyprus has been divided by a UN buffer zone. The southern portion of the island is populated by Greek Cypriots and their internationally recognized government that joined the European Union in 2004. The TRNC was created following a Turkish military invasion in response to a coup attempt by the Greek Cypriots. Governed semi-autonomously, the TNRC is home to approximately 17,500 members of the Turkish Armed Forces. Since the TNRC is recognized only by Turkey, all flights arriving at Ercan International Airport must originate in Turkey. For us, that means inexpensive direct flights daily from the Adana Airport.
The flight to Ercan Airport is so short that you’ll spend more time at the airports dealing with ticketing, baggage, and customs than you will in the air. We flew Atlas Airlines, but Pegasus, SunExpress, and BoraJet all offer fares for less than $100 per seat roundtrip. Though a bit cut off from the rest of the international community, we found Ercan Airport to be wholly modern and easily navigable.
Once you arrive at Ercan you’ll want your ground transportation to be pre-arranged. In our case, our hotel arranged a driver with a seven seater van. We paid 280TL round trip for an hour long drive to our destination. Smaller families and closer destinations should expect to pay even less.
Most of the lodging in the TNRC consists of resort hotels in the vicinity of Girne and along the north coast. However, we wanted something a bit more remote and stumbled into a perfect setting along with west coast on Morphou Bay. The Aphrodite Beachfront Resort consists primarily of vacation condos, but several units are available on booking.com for short-term stays. The assistant manager, Bayram Ishankuliyev, even offers an additional discount of 10% off booking.com prices for those that contact him before booking at either 0392-444-4343 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Apartment sizes vary along with price, but we paid approximately $600 for three nights in a fully furnished three-bedroom apartment. We also incurred a fee of 84TL for exceeding the electricity usage policy by running our air conditioning at all times.
Despite its relative isolation, we were definitely satisfied with the amenities Aphrodite offered. For a longer stay you might want to explore more, but if you rent a vehicle, beware that as a former British colony Cyprus’s vehicles and roads are right-hand drive.
The primary attraction at Aphrodite was its literal beachfront location. Positioned beside an 100m wide sandy beachfront we spent each evening splashing in the surf as the sun dipped into the waves. On our final evening we even witnessed an impressive event. In memorial of a young kite-surfer that had succumb to the dangers of the sport a month earlier, over twenty boarders cut their way across the open bay and concluded their journey to the cheers of dozens at Aphrodite’s welcoming cove.
In addition to Mediterranean waters, Aphrodite offers three beachfront pools. The primary pool has a shallow end appropriate for young children and is build adjacent to a toddler pool. About 30 meters away there is an indoor pool that we found very refreshing during peak sunlight hours. With a few doorways open it functioned as a covered pool and offered some respite from potential sunburn.
Additional amenities included massage services, game rooms with ping-pong and a pool table, and even a nine-hole mini-golf course that we didn’t find the time to try out.
Located poolside, the Joya Restaurant met all our needs (menu link). The primarily Pakistani staff were extremely helpful and easily understood our English language requests. Opening at 0900 and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we were more than satisfied with the offerings. Matthew enjoyed the sundried tomato and cheese garnished Joya Special Steak some much that he ordered it two nights in a row. If your children are early risers it might be advisable to bring along some snacks to keep them sane until you can make it to a table poolside. Lastly, both the restaurant and the beachfront bar serve a full range of regional beer, wine, and liquor.
When we selected Aphrodite for our most recent vacation destination, we wanted to find somewhere that wasn’t overcrowded. We felt we found just the right balance in that the place was by no means deserted, but we didn’t have to fight for elbow room as is so often the same in other regional locations. Most of the guests were fellow English-speakers hailing from Israel, Germany, England or Eastern Europe. All ages were represented and in addition to a few couples there were several other young families.
Before you head down to Cyprus make sure your sponsor gets the latest OSI brief. While we felt perfectly safe this is a prerequisite because despite its close ties to Turkey, the TNRC is still considered a foreign country.