As we made our way north across the island, John and Adrian had yet another vigorous debate over what defines a country. North Cyprus is not recognised by the UN as separate from Cyprus, yet we needed our passports to cross the Green Line in Nicosia, the last divided capital in the world. Once on the other side, most prices were quoted in new Turkish lira, the mobile phone provider was Turkcell, menus were in Turkish rather than Greek, and the Turkish flag was proudly flown alongside the North Cyprus flag.
Our first stop was Salamis, the ruins of an old Roman city kingdom first mentioned in 709 BCE. There were few other people around, and it was eerie to be able to walk down an old Roman road, carefully constructed over 2500 years ago and still in reasonable condition, considering its age.
At the centre of the town there are crumbling ruins of once-majestic 13th C Lusignan Gothic structures, surrounded by dusty corridors and corroded sandstone walls. We waited out a brief rainfall while enjoying a satisfying lunch, then Adrian was brave enough to try the salepi dondurma (fox testicle ice-cream).
Adjacent to old Famagusta is the area of Maras (Varosia in Greek). It was a popular tourist resort town with spectacular beaches and bright tower blocks in the 1960s up until the conflict between the Greek Cypriot Army and the Turkish Army, and subsequent division of the island. In 1974 the Turkish advances panicked the Greek population, and its inhabitants quickly fled their homes. What they thought would be an exile of a few days turned into several decades, and this suburb remains abandoned today, filled with weeds and with warning signs and barbed wire to keep out the curious