(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) I got the chance to be in North Cyprus for its National Day “ November 15 - a day the country's entire population of around 300,000 feels proud of.
It's a day when history comes back to life, bringing a stronger hope for the end to decades of international isolation.
Though the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), or simply North Cyprus, is not officially recognised by the international community, it is a one-of-a-kind place for many who go there to get away from the busy routine of their lives.
And according to officials, tourism is crucial to the economy. ''Our main revenues come from tourism and education but the isolation makes it difficult to show the world what the unspoilt jewel of the Mediterranean has to offer,'' an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
As a result of international isolation, one cannot fly directly to Northern Cyprus. The only way to reach this beautiful land is via Istanbul, Turkey which is the only country that recognises Northern Cyprus as a state. However, the rewards upon arrival outweigh the troubles of a slightly longer journey.
And in my case, I had nothing to be late for, except the sunset, which I got to watch for the five days that I was there.
The number of tourists who flock to the south of the island is larger.
The north remains less developed and consequently, less crowded, making it quiet and peaceful, allowing one to take in the breathtaking natural beauty.
Cyprus was a British colony until it was granted independence in 1960. It was split in a Turkish intervention in 1974, triggered by a Greek-inspired military coup, and a green line', which runs in an east-west direction and is patrolled by United Nations troops, now divides the two regions.
UN-led peace talks, which have been on and off to find a negotiated settlement to reunify the country, have led to nowhere so far. Northern Cyprus, as I agree with many, is a land of sun and sea, and this time of the year, the weather is especially good for those who want to escape to a cooler region.
During my visit, I stayed at Nicosia, also known as Lefkosa.
The capital of the island too was divided into Turkish and Greek sides due the Turkish peace operation. There are many things to do in Nicosia.
There is a fascinating and priceless collection of Cypriot antiques and art treasures as well as handicraft workshops where traditional arts are practised today much the same way as they were in the past. As I was able to discern, Nicosia is for history lovers.
Down the coast lies Famagusta. Its old centre, encased in colossal ramparts, is hugely atmospheric. Famagusta's once-fashionable suburb was seized by the Turkish army in 1974, and was then an off-limits military zone. One of the things I enjoyed in Famagusta was shopping.
Small shops lining the streets offer much to those who are looking for both traditional and modern souvenirs. As for luxury lovers, Kyrenia is the place to be.
Most holidaymakers base themselves on the northern coast in or near Kyrenia. The town's focal point is a deep harbour, with lots of cafs and restaurants lining it.
My visit to Kyrenia, just over half an hour's drive from Nicosia, was for half a day. It is one of the main centres for tourism and bears the unmistakable characteristics of a Mediterranean city.
And finally, one of the most interesting locations in North Cyprus is Karpaz. While aspects of development “ hotels and apartments “ can be see on parts of the coast, the Karpaz peninsula, is still largely unspoilt.
It's a couple of hours' drive from Nicosia to the peninsula, but the journey is well worth it. Though I had to wake up early that day, the view of the sea and mountains made me forget the great morning sleep I had to forfeit. The drive along the coast is truly amazing as one passes by shepherds on donkeys herding their goats and sheep.
Above all, a good number of restaurants here treat you to great TRNC cuisine against the breathtaking view of blue seas and green mountains. North Cyprus has a lot to offer to tourists. Although not being able to come to a solution with the southern part is a big frustration for the local people, from a tourist's point of view, North Cyprus is a de