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Beatrice in Wonderland

My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | Views [186] | Scholarship Entry

After crossing the Ledra Street checkpoint you suddenly find yourself into another world. The same Nicosia, that only a few steps before was full of stores, with clean and tidy streets, now becomes a big open air Oriental styled bazaar. Furthermore, the street signs, that used to be written in Greek and English now are in Turkish. The coffee is called Turkish coffee or Cypriot coffee, depending on the part of town. It is prepared in their tradition, requiring the drinker to wait until the grounds have settled.
Passed the buffer zone of the last divided capital of the world, looks like going back fifty years and finding yourself in an old picture of that very place that only few meters before appeared to be in-line with other European cities. The neighborhood’s commercial activities guide you through the small roads: the small hookah bars, the shops full of fragrant spices and culinary delights of every color and antique shops next to makeshift boutiques offering cheap counterfeits of international designer brands. The alleys converge onto the Selimiye Mosque, a beautiful Gothic cathedral once known as St. Sophia. The side street are deserted, and if you look through the half-opened doors and windows you can see the real life of the people preparing lunch or carrying out daily activities. After the short tour I cross back over the checkpoint, this time next to Ledra Palace, the former luxury hotel in the middle of the buffer zone, today a UN headquarter. On the way back there are still traces of barbed wire and faded posters, reminders of the hate and the violence between the ethnic groups. I return back to southern Nicosia, the skyline changes again with the new skyscraper designed by the famous French architect Jean Nouvel. The traffic and the bustle of the workers bring me back to reality. I look for a café far from the commotion, sit and have a Cypriot coffee, which requires me to wait until the grounds have settled before drink it. That give me time to think.

Tags: cyprus, nicosia, travel writing scholarship 2012

 

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