Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Cyprus chapter Larnaca & The South has to say about the Salt Lake outside of Larnaca:
“During winter this protected reserve fills with rainwater, creating an important migratory habitat for flamingos, wild ducks and waterfowl. As summer approaches the waters slowly dry up and the birds leave. They are replaced by a crusty layer of salt, and heat waves bounce and shimmer off its white surface.
A nature trail that threads along the eastern bank is great for bird watching in spring. Archaeologists have determined that in prehistoric times the central lake (known to locals as Aliki) was a natural port that facilitated important trade to the island. It serviced a sizeable late–Bronze Age town that stood near where the Hala Sultan Tekkesi mosque stands now.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We had a terrific two weeks with Donna and Duncan exploring Cyprus for the first time. We’d met up in Athens and then we flew together to Larnaca. We had booked our flight home in January 2017 and when the McColls found our about our plans when we were travelling together in Colombia in the spring, they decided to join us in Cyprus.
Our itinerary had us flying out of Larnaca with Vienna as our first stop on the way home. They had to make their way to Madrid to pick up their flight home, but they were able to make plans to leave the same day we were. However, they had to leave the apartment early in the morning and our flight, didn’t go till late afternoon.
We hadn’t seen any rain during our entire two weeks in Cyprus, but it rained heavily for about an hour at 4:00am. Anil was wide-awake, but I only woke when I heard the rain hammering against the patio doors. Fortunately, the rain stopped long before it was time to walk the McColls to the airport bus, and the streets were almost dry.
We decided to try and take a decent selfie of the four of us while we waited for the bus to arrive. Donna took a couple and then I tried too, as I have little experience at taking selfies. Another passenger must have been watching our antics, because he stepped forward and offered to take a couple of shots for us. Normally, I wouldn’t hand my phone to a complete stranger, but I sensed he was honest and threw caution to the wind.
He took some great shots and then we learned that he was from Venice and we talked about the time we visited in the month of November. He felt it was the best time to visit, he liked the fact there are evenings when fog rolls in and the water seems to just disappear. I told him we experienced that ourselves, and that is one of my favourite memories of the city.
We said our goodbyes to Donna and Duncan, and to the Venetian as well. Donna sent me a text a half hour later to let us know that she spotted a flock of flamingos at the Salt Lake when they passed it on the way to the airport. She didn’t have a chance to take a photo, but I told her I would try to take one when we passed by later that afternoon.
Anil and I finished our packing and then we set off to pick up some delicious Lebanese food from the small eatery near the St Lazarus Church. While we waited for the women to prepare our food, I started chatting with the owner. We had been at the take-away several times, but I had usually talked to her husband.
When I asked if she was Lebanese, she surprised me by saying that though her husband came from Lebanon, she was from Romania. I had a laugh, and just had to tell her that we had visited Romania two weeks earlier. Then I asked if the young woman working with her was Romanian as well, and learned that she is from Bulgaria. What a coincidence! We had just finished visiting both countries before coming to travel around Cyprus.
When we returned to the apartment, I sent Anil upstairs and I decided I would use the little time we had left before checking out to have a second look at an interesting item I’d seen at a nearby travel shop. I thought I knew exactly where it was located, within two blocks of the apartment. However, the streets of Larnaca and rather higgly-piggly, and I clearly hadn’t taken careful enough note of where it was.
I tried around one corner and then another, and yet another with no success. Just as I was approaching a little bookshop, the skies opened up and it started to rain. It had rained heavily in the night, but the threatening storm clouds had been blocked from our view because our windows looked out to the sea, not to the mountains behind us. I noticed a young man run out of the shop to grab the some of the magazines that were piled for display on the doorstep.
Quite instinctively, I grabbed an armload myself, hoping to help rescue them from the pounding rain. As I set them down inside, I said aloud, “Books and magazines shouldn’t get ruined by water”. The owner of the shop took note of my comment and thanked me with a big smile. I had planned to be back at the apartment by this time, but there was no going outside into the deluge. I asked if the shop had Wifi, and sent a quick message to Anil.
We were due to meet the AirBnB host at noon for the check out, and time was running out. I thought if I waited a few minutes, the rain might let up and I could dash back. No such luck. The owner of the store offered me an umbrella, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to return it to him, and told him so. He said it was no matter to him and that I didn’t have to worry about it. I decided to accept his offer, and dashed out into the pouring rain, jumping over puddles and trying to avoid the surging water flowing by the curbs.
I made it back in time to explain what had happened to our host, and I told her about the loan of the umbrella. She said it was quite customary for Cypriots to do favours for others, and that umbrellas seem to never leave the island, but just get passed around from one resident to another, so I shouldn’t worry that I had inconvenienced the bookshop owner.
It was time for us to leave the apartment and make our way to the airport. We could have taken a taxi, as it was still raining a little, but we decided to walk the two short blocks to the waterfront and take the airport bus, just as Donna and Duncan had a few hours earlier. As we were walking, the thought came to me that yet again, after two weeks of very pleasant weather, it was raining for our departure.
I cannot tell you how many times this has happened in the past. The sun seems to favour us until it’s time to leave, and then the rain appears to hasten our departure. We took out the umbrellas that had travelled with us for the past eight weeks, opened them up for the first time and walked to the bus stop. I was hoping to get some photos of the flamingos when the bus passed the salt lake, but the windows were coated with raindrops making it very difficult to see out.
I left the luggage at the seat with Anil and made my way to the front of the bus, and explained to the driver why I was hovering over his shoulder. The huge windshield wipers were clearing away the rain, and I did manage to snap a shot when I spotted the flock of birds standing near the shore of the lake.
A young woman standing beside me was getting off the bus in order to walk over to take photos of the flamingos and offered to send me some of her shots, if I gave her my email address. I couldn’t believe my luck! I hurriedly typed the beginning of my email address into her phone, but the driver was waiting for her to step down, so I just shouted to her that the latter part of my email address was yahoo.com.
I’m sorry to say I never received any photos from her. There are a few possible explanations: she didn’t hear me as the bus pulled away, the rain returned in full force while she was walking to the lake, the flamingos flew away as she approached them along the shore or perhaps she didn’t get any shots she felt were worth sharing. I’ll never know.
The Larnaca Tourism Board’s official website uses as its slogan ‘They’ll Always Come Back’….and so will you. There are very few places we’ve visited in the world that we feel compelled to pay a second visit. Cyprus is one of them…too bad it’s so very far away from Canada. I’d love to come back and take some photos of those faithful flamingos for myself. Perhaps that slogan will hold true in the end.