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Rudy's View: Off the Beaten Path (6/1/2001)

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It's hard to get off the beaten path in Europe. If you've done the old favorites - England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany - maybe you should hop over to Cyprus. This sun-baked island nation in the Mediterranean below Turkey and above Syria and Israel has many of those attributes Americans look for when they travel: great weather, regional cuisine, warm and friendly locals, and lots of value for your money.

Last week I checked into a resort on the southwestern tip of Cyprus right on the water - and I'll tell you, the island can hold its own with all of the great getaways of the Mediterranean. Except that it has more flowers. My hotel, the Anassa, was bedecked with bougainvillea, overflowing with oleander... I mean, it had geraniums the size of bushes! I arrived at sunset, and when I stepped onto my balcony, I was greeted by that dry, warm, pine scent I've always associated with the south of France. The limestone hills dotted with olive trees left no doubt - Cyprus is a slice of Mediterranean paradise.

Even paradise has its politics, though: just outside the airport, a sign demands the Turkish government end it's occupation of northeastern Cyprus, where it's been since the '74 war. In case I thought I could escape politics, there were machine gun-toting police near the ticket counters at London's Heathrow airports, reminding me that the "United" in the "United Kingdom" isn't quite a reality yet. And when I landed at JFK in New York, the airport TV monitors delivered the news of convictions in the case of the bombing of two US embassies in Africa. It brought me back to Cyprus. Nothing like a five-day trip away from home to remind you how difficult it can be to untangle the paradisical beauty and political tragedy in this big, wide world.

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