December 12, 2017 – Day 65 & Dec 13

Paphos, Cyprus to Guisely, UK (air & train)

22,366 Fit Bit steps but no progress eastward!

Guisely is a small town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. When we walked out of the rain with our backpacks into the local tea shop, we knew that the proprietor was asking herself, who are these people and why are they here? After tea and scones we described our journey, but did not go into the medical reasons for the visit! We had come, by way of a 5 1/2 hour flight from Paphos and 4 trains from London, so that Paul could be seen by a shoulder specialist who happens to have his clinic here. While the spinal symptoms following the accident in May are gradually resolving, Paul is still bothered by persistent shoulder pain. We decided it would be sensible to have another consultation before heading off to Asia and beyond. We were fortunate to be able to get an appointment with Dr. Martin Spreight, a physician/chiropractor, recommended by an old friend of Paul’s from medical school, Chris Parsons.

Paul received a thorough and expert consultation from Martyn Spreight. Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) was the diagnosis, likely a result of the accident. As this condition has a natural course of about 18 months, it was good to have a definitive diagnosis but, even better, he was able to offer immediate treatment aimed at reducing symptoms and enabling rehabilitation. While Martyn was injecting fluid and steroids into Paul’s shoulder joint to “expand” the capsule, they had a delightful conversation about cycling, motorcycling, skiing and health care. Like our friend Chris, Martyn has worked within and alongside the UK National Health Service complementing what the NHS should, but may not offer.

We are spending the remainder of our time in the UK catching up with family and friends, before taking the EuroStar to France in a few days to enjoy Christmas with Chris, Shinyoung, Alice and Eliot.

We will blog again when our travels resume on New Years Eve. In the meantime, we wish all our family and friends a joyous and peaceful holiday season.

The Bramble Bakehouse, Guisely

November 24, 2017. Day 64 & Nov 25-Dec11

Thessalonika to Larnaca (Cyprus) – 1133 km (air)

&  238,684   Fit Bit steps

Our decision to come to Cyprus was an expedient one, but after 17 days here, we were reluctant to leave this fascinating friendly island, with its Byzantine monasteries and Greco-Roman ruins, wonderful wines and haloumi cheese, not to mention long sandy beaches and warm winter sun!

We arrived knowing little about Cyprus, apart from the fact of the continued Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island. Paul had grown up hearing the names of the UK military bases and the EOKA “terrorists” that, in 1960, brought an end to British rule after 88 years. While the more recent British presence is seen in the legacy of such things as left-hand traffic, Belisha beacons and Grammar schools, Cyprus’ history is a long one of invasion, occupation and exploitation. With an abundance of resources sought by visitors and invaders for millennia – copper, silk, sugar, salt, cotton, wine and timber, it is strategically placed on sea routes to the middle east and the Suez Canal, and is close to both Greece and Turkey, physically and historically. The country’s rich archaeological history shows evidence of Stone Age, Bronze Age, Mycenaean, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Frank, Venetian, and Ottoman cultures and occupations.

In 1974, in response to an attempted takeover by the Greek military, Turkey invaded the island and it has been divided ever since. Even before that, soon after independence, the capital Nicosia had a “Green Line” separating Greek and Turkish Cypriots, enforced by the UN. In 1983 the north unilaterally declared independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Turkey is the only country which recognizes the TRNC. While movement across the dividing line has become easier in recent years, the Turkish occupation resulted in a huge dislocation of Greek Cypriots from the north and the same for Turkish Cypriots in the south. We saw for ourselves abandoned houses in Larnaca, vacated by Turkish Cypriots after 1974. A guard at one of the historic sites told us that the Greek Cypriots get on well with the Turkish Cypriots but it’s Turkey they don’t like. Negotiations to reach a settlement as recently as January 2017 have not progressed. One of the conditions of Turkey’s entry into the EU is resolution of the Cyprus dispute.

We based ourselves in Lanarca, a pleasant and interesting town near the site of the ancient city-kingdom of Kition. From our modern bright apartment, which looked out on the Mediterranean and Finikoudes Beach, we spent our days searching out espresso bars – To Kafe Tis Chrysanthis, our favourite!, visiting the wonderful Pierides Museum, the Church of Agios Lazaros in Larnaca (where we were surprised to find a young devout Russian woman lying in the empty tomb of St Lazaros!), the medieval Larnaca Citidal and the architectural ruins of Kition, with evidence of the presence of Mycenaean Greeks in Larnaca in the 13th century BC and subsequently a center of Phoenician culture.

On a rainy day trip by local bus to Nicosia we did a self-guided walking tour of the capital, stopping to see Cyprus Hadjigeorgaki’s Kornesios House and Ethnographical Museum (a good example of an Ottoman ruler’s House); the Liberty Monument (depiction of freeing prisoners after independence); and the  Makarios Cultural Centre & Byzantine Museum. The latter documented stories of the rescue of stolen frescoes found in the US and Germany.

Wanting to learn more of the island, we hired a superb local tour guide, Radka Holesovska, who designed an itinerary for us over coffee in To Kafe. Originally from the Czech Republic, Radka has lived in Cyprus for 20 years, speaks fluent Greek (and Czech, Russian and English) and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the island’s history and its antiquities, as well as of the culture and politics of the island. In addition to four full day tours, Radka also threw in an afternoon tour of local points of interest, including  the Panagia Angeloktisti Church, Kiti near Larnaca, which contains one of the best preserved early Christian wall mosaics of Cyprus, likely created in the late 6th century, ostrich eggs placed above oil lamps in the Church prevented mice from eating the oil;
Hala Sultan Tekke on the west bank of Larnaca Salt Lake, a mosque and Muslim shrine which contains the tomb of the prophet Mohammed’s aunt;
– Larnaca salt lake , where flamingos which winter here had just returned. We walked back to the lake the next day to watch them feed and march along the shore.

Further afield, our day tours took us from the birthplace of Aphrodite in the sea, to the remains of Greek baths and Roman mosaics on the coast, to temples overlooking the Mediterranean, mountain villages, mosques, monasteries and Byzantine churches. We now know more about Greek Orthodox symbolism than we thought possible!
A summary of sights visited:
– Stavrovouni Monastery – fine position on a mountain 750M above sea level, one of the oldest in the world, from 4thC AD. Men only allowed inside – Paul had a quick look inside;
– Amathus – ancient royal city until 300BC – destroyed by Arab invaders in  the 7thC AD – remains of Greek baths and Aphrodite’s temple with a great stone urn of 7thC BC, made from a single stone and weighing 13,000 kg. The original is in the Louvre and was taken away in 1865 by a French archaeologist, Count Melchior de Vogue with the assistance of an architect Ed. Duthoit and an epigrapher W. Waddington. The notorious Italian diplomat and amateur archaeologist, Cesnola, was also in Amathus and took away a stone sarcophagus from the 5th or 6thC BC which is still displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
-Kolossi Castle – former crusader stronghold. The original dated from 1210 and was rebuilt by the Franks. Remains of a medieval sugar factory are next door.
– Panagia Forviotissa/ Asinou & Agios Nicholas Tis Stegis in Troodos Mountains. Beautiful settings in the wooded hills. They contain frescoes from 11-15thC, Similar frescoes are found in eight other churches,. The ten are UNESCO designated;
– Kykkos Monastery – icon reputedly painted by St Luke of Mary and baby Jesus in person. Venerated by Orthodox devotees, if cannot be seen as it is deemed too powerful for the naked eye;
– Choirokoitia  – UNESCO World Heritage site of reconstructed Neolithic buildings
– Lemesos Castle – present building from 14th C, site of marriage of Richard the Lionheart in 1191;
– Kourion & Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates – theatre has great position overlooking the coast; pre-Christian settlement that thrived under the Ptolemies and Romans. Fine mosaic of Achilles meeting with Odysseus. Sanctuary of Apollo is close by with remains of Roman buildings destroyed by the earthquake of 365AD;
– Aphrodite’s birthplace marked by a rock in the sea – patron goddess of Cyprus;
– Palaipaphos – temple to Aphrodite, where visitors can wander freely across pre- Christian and Christian ruins;
– Paphos archaeological park with multiple fine Roman mosaics depicting Greek legends;
– St Paul’s pillar where he was allegedly tied and lashed 39 times before converting his tormentor, the Roman Governor, to Christianity;
– Tombs of the Kings (Kato Paphos Necropolis) 3rdC BC to 3rdC AD. Groups of burial chambers carved deep into rocks near the seashore;
– Agios Neophytos and Monastery founded in the 12thC. The founder Neophytos painted frescoes on the roof of his first cell which remain remarkably intact.

Parkinson’s Disease Notes: We were not able to talk to anyone involved with PD although we did make contact with one of the neurologists of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics. He had been interviewed in 2014 and noted that there are around 1400 people with PD in Cyprus but emphasized drug therapy and surgery. We could find there no publications from Cyprus on rehabilitation programs.

Wildlife note: European Stonechat

Cyprus Photo Album

Eastern Europe Actual Route
Lisbon to Auckland Actual Route

November 22&23, 2017. Day 63

Sofia to Thessalonika – 310 km (train/bus/train)

& 20131 Fit Bit steps

It took 4 1/2 hours by train from Sofia to the border. We could see the snow covered mountains that surround the city and watched the sun set over the hills bordering Serbia. At Kulata, we were ushered off the train to a bus, passed through the Bulgarian frontier and on to the border with Greece. There, we all gave up our passports and waited. “Canada!” was called out and we were asked to get off the bus to speak with a customs officer, who pleasantly observed that we had travelled a lot in Europe and reminded us that we could only stay in the Schengen area for 90 days. He then took away our passports again and we returned to the bus where we quickly updated ourselves on the Schengen rules. By the time we were called out again, we had learned that, as Canadians, we were entitled to stay 90 days out of the previous 180 days, the latter qualification being something we had obviously overlooked! Counting backwards from now, the 180 day period included the month with our grandchildren in Paris in August. We were dismayed but not really surprised then when the officer told us that we could only stay in Greece (and the Schengen area) for 9 days!

Arriving in Thessaloniki, we had to decide what to do. As we plan to spend Christmas in France with our son and family, we could not waste any more precious days in the Schengen area. Lois eventually suggested that we go to Cyprus – Greek (partially- more on that later) and an EU country, but not in the Schengen. We reserved flights for the next day.

Making the most of our day in Thessaloniki, we walked in the warmth of the sunshine and visted the sights. A major part of the city was destroyed by fire in 1917, but several antiquities remain. The Roman Arch of Galerius (AD 306), The Rotunda of Galerius (AD 303) which has been a mausoleum, temple, church and Mosque, the Agia Dimitrios (5th C) with some remaining 8th C frescoes and the White Tower which was part of the city wall and now houses a very interesting display of the history of the city. Again, we had to try to come to grips with a history from the Greeks to Romans, the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and 20th C Greece! One floor was devoted to a description of the treatment of Thessaloniki’s Jews who were deported to concentration camps during the WWII Nazi occupation. A power vacuum resulting from the end of German-Italian occupation (1941–1945) during World War II, led to a highly polarized struggle between left and right ideologies. The Greek Civil War was the first example of Cold War power postwar involvement in the internal politics of a foreign country.

Eastern Europe Actual Route
Lisbon to Auckland Actual Route