By Margaret Sheard…..
The Yesilirmak Strawberry Festival was held this year from 29th April to 1st May and having never been to this festival before we made a point of visiting on Saturday 30th April. Although it is rather a long journey, it is a pleasure to visit the western side of North Cyprus which is so rich in agriculture and of course when you reach Yesilirmak there are the huge number of strawberry beds which can be seen.
We made our way first to Vouni King Restaurant to meet up with our friend Havva and to see her parents and brother who run the restaurant. Everyone was very busy with so many visitors to the festival as we had seen as we approached the village with the number of people and coaches lining the road making their way to the village for the festival.
It was a lovely sunny day so we wandered around by the sea shore and noted how busy everywhere was, a good sign that people really enjoy festivals and with a further day on the Sunday we would expect this day to be even busier.
When we got back to the restaurant, people had started arriving to have a meal and we were pleased to meet up with another friend – Aytul who had come to Yesilirmak with her parents, they too had a long journey from their village which is east of Lefkoşa. We also had the pleasure of meeting up again with Hasan Karlitas who was with a large group headed by Kudret Özersay who we had previously met at a talk he gave for the Foreign Residents in the TRNC (TFR) in February 2015. After saying hello, we didn’t have another chance to speak to him as he seemed to be forever on the telephone and his group were settling down for their meal, so we decided to move on and go to the village to see what was happening with the festival.
There were plenty of parking spaces with the now dry river bed being used as a car park and only a short walk to where the festival was being held. There were many stalls selling a variety of items such as jewellery, handbags, shoes, clothes, toys, household goods and of course fruit including the famous strawberries.
The air was full of the scent of BBQ smoke where kebabs were being prepared and in the background there was music from the stage which had been set up. We had missed the entertainment and folk dancing which had been performed earlier in the day so while the stage was free the children were having a whale of a time dancing and thoroughly enjoying themselves and later a group started to play music. It was a wonderful atmosphere.
While walking around we met Tom and Billie Roche of Living Magazine who had also made the journey from Girne to Yesilirmak. I always say it doesn’t matter where you go in North Cyprus you always seem to meet someone you know. That is the nice thing about living in a relatively small community. Tom had just treated himself to a seftali kebab and said it was one of the best ever, so Chris decided to follow suit and really enjoyed his as well.
Time was getting on so we decided to start making our way home with a stop on the main road at one of the many stalls to buy some strawberries.
As we were nearing Çamlibel we pulled over for a few minutes and noticed a young man waving to us, he needed a lift to Girne so we were pleased to help him out. During the rest of the journey we discovered that Alex was from France and had been in Cyprus for a month doing a study of the Maronites. He was due to fly home to France the following day and needed to get back to Nicosia where he had been staying to prepare for his journey which involved 4 separate flights. A very interesting young man who has enjoyed his time in Cyprus carrying out his studies. We dropped him off at the main car park in Girne where there was a line of buses and hope he didn’t have to wait too long for a bus to Nicosia.
So we were nearly home and had done a good deed for the day in helping Alex out, we were feeling very exhilarated but a little tired after a very interesting day at the Yesilirmak Strawberry Festival.
To also see the photos that Billie and Tom of Living Magazine had taken at the festival, please click here to visit their Facebook page.