St Hilarion Castle sits atop a rocky crag in the Kyrenia Mountains in Northern Cyprus. As you approach this magnificent landmark, it’s difficult to pick out the crumbling buildings from the craggy landscape. Look up from the foot of the castle, however, and you’ll see the mighty stone walls and half-ruined buildings with their elegant turrets, tumbledown towers and graceful arching windows. It’s said this crusader castle was the inspiration behind the fairytale castle in Walt Disney’s Snow White. Whether this is true or not, it’s the sort of castle I used to dream of as a kid, and I couldn’t wait to climb to its lofty summit and drink in those glorious views.
Birthplace of Aphrodite, UNESCO World Heritage Site… The pretty port town of Paphos in Cyprus has many accolades to its name. In 2017, it adds one more: European Capital of Culture.
I lived in Paphos for a few weeks last November and December. Despite the fact that the entire old town was a ginormous building site in preparation for its European Capital of Culture status, I loved my time there. I mean, my Masters degree is in Greek archaeology, so give me a pile of old ruins to scramble around and I’m happy!
One of my favourite places in Paphos is the Tombs of the Kings, just north of Kato Paphos. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, these monumental underground tombs date back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and they’re carved out of solid rock. I went twice. Once with a friend, but I had to go back on my own to satisfy my inner Lara Craft and really spend time getting to know the site. I visited in the early afternoon, when the sun turned the tombs the colour of fresh honeycomb. Eventually, I’ll write a longer post about my time in Cyprus. Until then, here are a few of my favourite pictures from that trip for this week’s mini photo essay.
Phew! Sometimes it felt as though 2016 would never end. With a stream of celebrity deaths and some seismic shocks in both political and geographic landscapes, there’s a danger of remembering last year for all the wrong reasons.
Personally I struggled a little last year too, mostly in the latter half of the year as I fought to understand my government’s determination to rob me of my rights as a European citizen thanks to a busload of lies and misinformation. This had a knock-on effect on my finances, where the drop in value of the GBP meant my rent and everyday living expenses increased dramatically. And it coincided with me trying to reshape my business, which meant a drop in income as I tried to build up my reputation in a different area. Messy!
In her annual workbook, Unravel Your Year, Susannah Conway asks the question ‘what you would call your year if it were a book or album?’ The difficult second album syndrome immediately popped into my head!
However while I found some areas of my life a challenge, I had another fantastic year of travel. 2016 was my fourth year in business and my second year as a digital nomad. I slept in twenty beds in fifteen cities, visited nine different countries (including the UK), three of which were new for me. I took ten flights, four train journeys (I’ve only counted long train journeys, not short trips to and from airports), and two ferry trips.
My highlights included finding a place to call home in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for five and a half months, returning to the Worldwide Festival in Sète for another memorable week of dancing in the sunshine to my favourite bands and DJs, getting my travel blogging head on in Stockholm, discovering the wine and wildlife of Slovenia, now one of my favourite countries, and connecting with my inner Lara Croft exploring the archaeological sites of Cyprus.
Here’s my review of 2016.