June 3, 2017
I am headed north from the Republic of Cyprus to North Cyprus. A few years ago, crossing by land into the Turkish controlled area of Cyprus was impossible. Nowadays, you can catch an inter-city bus from Ayia Napa to Nicosia, jump off in the old town and stroll a couple hundred metres down one of the capital's vibrant cafe and shopping streets to the check points between south and north.
My passport is checked by the Greek Cypriots, I walk a few metres, and then it is checked again by the Turkish Cypriots. In the south of the city, the vibe is very much Saturday night is coming, while in the north it feels more like a quiet Sunday morning in Europe with most places seemingly closed.
I decide to walk the 6 kilometres to the Atuturk Stadium where rehearsals are taking place for tomorrow night's opening ceremony and match of the 2017 CONIFA Euros.
Orcun meets me. He has clearly been working extremely hard to ensure this is a successful tournament.
After an hour, we drive to Ercan International Airport where we pick up CONIFA President Per Anders Blind, before driving over the stunning Kyrenia mountain range to the Acapulco Hotel, near Kyrenia. This 800-room luxury hotel will be home for the CONIFA officials and the eight teams competing at the tournament for the next eight nights.
There is time for dinner just before the Champions League Final begins. Some of the other teams are arriving as well as the other directors of the CONIFA Executive Committee. Real Madrid are too good for Juve. After one night in Vilnius Airport and yesterday in Ayia Napa, I am ready to crash after a couple of beers, ready for the tournament to begin tomorrow