Nicosia is the divided capital of Cyprus; the southern half is Greek and the northern half is Turkish. On our drive into Nicosia, we could see the Turkish flag across the mountains in the North, and having heard so much about the conflict from Greeks, I was expecting tall fences with UN border guards with guns. But instead we were surprised to see people easily walking across the border with just a quick look at the passport. Despite the apparent ease we could’ve crossed the border, we decided to just stick it out in the southern part.
We spent most of our day in Nicosia just wandering around within the city walls that were built by the Venetians. Nicosia is compact mix of graffiti-ed walls, 19th Century buildings and modern shops.
I’m so happy when I visit houses that have been well-preserved over centuries; it gives such an interesting insight into a country’s history and culture. Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios mansion belonged to a famous dogoman who acted as a liaison between the Greeks and Ottoman people in the 18th Century. The house is beautiful in itself (complete with its own Turkish baths), but there is a special blue room with beautiful cushions, fabrics and shisha. Not to be missed in Nicosia!
Souvlaki and mbougiournti
Goudouranaki Express is a spin-off branch of a popular Nicosia restaurant, which serves traditional Cypriot fare in a trendy three-floor restaurant. We were super impressed by their friendly customer service (actually, everyone in Cyprus is super super friendly), souvlaki and dips. Our highlight though was their mbougiournti with mboukovo; roasted vegetables in tomato sauce with a dollop of spicy cheese sauce on the top. I first need to find out how to make this at home and secondly, how to say it!
Nutella hot chocolate
We stopped off in a cafe to write some postcards and I was just over the moon to find Nutella hot chocolate on the menu! They spread it all around the mug; I happily paid nearly €5 for it! Also the cafe had a super hipster, plant-loving vibe (but they get away with it much better than Shoreditch).
Syrian Arab Friendship Club
This has ended up being quite a foodie post! Our last stop in the evening was a Syrian restaurant with just the best name. I felt slightly sad thinking about the situation in Syria and wondered if the staff had any affected family members. The food was a large selection of traditional mezes, including falafel and my favourite salad. We actually asked for the mixed grill not to be served and we still ended up being stuffed! I don’t know how people do it!