When Opportunity Comes “Larnaka’n” On Your Door

by | Jun 8, 2021 | Cyprus, June 2021: Cyprus | 0 comments

 

The country of Cyprus has been open to tourism since April, requiring a negative PCR test within 72 hours for the most at risk countries for COVID-19 and another negative test upon arrival.

Then as of May 10, 2021, Cyprus opened up even more by only allowing fully vaccinated travelers via its Cyprus Flight Pass travel portal. Minimizing any chances for rejection, we corralled a fully vaccinated group as Cyprus has remained my last EU country to visit and made sure even with our vaccination cards, we’d get a negative PCR test within 48 hours of travel.

 

 

The only hiccup are the layovers: At the time of posting, only one stopover in an EU city is allowed between the USA and a non-Schengen country destination like Cyprus (even though it’s part of the EU, EU ≠ Schengen); two EU stopovers in between requires an official entry into the Schengen area and therefore compels you to their entry rules regarding COVID. Therefore if you are not on the exemption list for entry into the Schengen area, even if the reason was “transit,” you will be denied boarding.

One of us who wanted to fly out 3 days earlier took one for the team and found out the hard way for us…keep in mind these messages are HERS and HER experience only at the time.

 

 

Looks like this potty mouth wasn’t taking any chances once she reached Serbia:

 

 

After her messages, I quickly scrambled to change my bookings from NYC-BRU-VIE-LCA to NYC-FRA-LCA and got a rapid PCR test within an hour’s turnaround at the closest ER I work at. It helps to have put in your time somewhere.

 

 

There’s no way they can deny me…or can they?

 

 

But in terms of my own personal experience at EWR with Lufthansa, it was a breeze!

 

 

No PPE? No problem.

 

 

At the time of posting, Lufthansa does not allow mobile tickets, and therefore I had to get through via the check-in desk (where they check all your documents before boarding). On the upside, TSA Pre-Check still is in business.

 

 

If you’re looking for a respite at a lounge, don’t expect much in terms of food.

 

 

Boarding began at 5:35pm for a 6:10pm departure. Thanks to all the unused miles the past 16 months staying on this side of the world, I was able to upgrade for free:

 

 

First time trying vegetarian for business class, at least for dinner.

 

 

Also quickly got in a breakfast after a 4 hour nap:

 

 

Landing into Frankfurt promptly at 7:10am, I relaxed in the spacious Lufthansa Senator Lounge at their headquarter airport. Although they have more food and drink than their satellite lounge back at Newark (in forms of lunch bags, you can only eat and drink outside the lounge.

 

 

Then joining Mihaela who had arrived into Larnaca 2 hours earlier, Deenah and I met at Frankfurt airport before arriving at 4pm into Larnaca: a port city on the south coast of Cyprus that claims to be the oldest in Cyprus, given evidence of habitation up to 6 millennia ago.

 

 

When we arrived into Larnaca, security met us directly at the sky bridge to check if we had Cyprus flight passes:

 

 

Then the rest was pretty straightforward as if you were getting your passports stamped in normally pre-pandemic, except for the ubiquitous mask wearing.

 

 

And not even 10 minutes disembarking we were entered Cyprus and my LAST country in Europe!

 

 

Who needs to check into an office when a car rental service brings the registration desk to YOU:

 

 

Since we arrived one night earlier than planned we settled in at Juliana Apartments, and then having our first dinner with an incredible mezze spread at To Arxontikon / Το Αρχοντικόν:

 

 

…and already on day one, cutting through the small talk and getting to know one another really well at Habibi Café:

 

 

BTW, 1.5 euros for a water jug bigger than your face.

 

 

Although our stay on the first official night of the trip was supposed to be at SIX Apartments, I got this message in the middle of the day:

 

 

Welp, after scrambling again for alternative lodgings at literally the last freaking minute for 12 people, I was fortunate enough to find something even better at Krasas Beach Apartments which confirmed our stay within seconds:

 

 

Right outside less than a minute’s stroll we got our bearings at Finikoudes Beach, a sandy strip in the city center and palm-lined seaside promenade.

 

 

It’s literally right there. A beach as a city center lined by outdoor beach bars and restaurants. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect reintroduction to travel.

 

 

After a lazy next day waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, we kicked off the official beginning of the trip on the Finikoudes Beach right outside our lodgings.

 

 

We then made it to our last minute dinner reservations along the street lined tables at Stou Roushia:

 

 

…then rounded it out with deep deep conversations usually expected on the last night of a trip instead of the first:

 

 

The next morning after everyone’s arrival into Cyprus, we began with a casual walking tour around Larnaca at 10am:

 

 

We first stopped at the medieval Larnaca Fort:

 

 

Then from there and the old Turkish quarters, we turned the corner for the Church of Saint Lazarus, a 9th century recently restored Byzantine church.

 

 

It contains the tomb of Lazarus, the very saint said to have risen from the dead.

 

 

Then about a 10 minute walk west outside of old town led us to Panagia Faneromeni, featuring a mashup of various architectural styles.

 

 

If you’re looking for a little getaway, drive 15 minutes southwest just outside the city to the adjacent salt lake, although it’s more of a salt flat now:

 

 

There’s a historic lakefront mosque called Hala Sultan Tekke and is now a pilgrimage site for many Muslims around the world. Make sure you’re respectfully covered as they don’t supply shawls to cover exposed skin if you want to go inside and visit.

 

 

For an even farther day trip 30 minutes away, we found an atmospheric and authentic Cypriot village to the west called Pano Lefkara for a quiet place to stroll to ourselves and take some photos.

 

 

We then returned back to Larnaca in the evening to welcome Jeanette to the group, before having dinner at the atmospheric Ithaki Garden restaurant.

 

 

And did we mention how much we love having brunch every morning at Café Mingle?

 

 

- At time of posting in Lanarca, it was n/a - Humidity: n/a | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: n/a

 

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