Kalkanlı, a small village in Northern Cyprus (click to enlarge):
True to anticipations, I did not have time to take in conventional spots of interest on the island: Famagusta, Nicosia and Kyrenia remain the domain of postcards.
But the village of Kalkanlı holds its own beauty: as the thunder rumbled into the second consecutive day and lightening pierced the fields around, its dilapidated and forgotten buildings became ghostly set-pieces.
The air was pungent with the promise of rain and the streets deserted, save a few children peeking round trees and wild dogs frolicking in the grass.
The shop sold an enviable range of crisps, but only one bottle of olive oil.
As I returned from the village edge and awaited a pizza’s return from the oven, the heavens fulfilled their pledge and the rain pounded the road.
The owner came out, observed the rain and asked if I was English.
Then, “Do you know Doncaster?”
I replied I did, leaving out the association with flocks of train spotters.
“Are you at the University?”
Scowling at the road-turned-river, then at my canvas fleets, I nodded.
Reaching into his pocket he dug out the keys to a slack-seated Toyota.
My steed awaited and in moments I was dry and scoffing as the storm continued.
The moral of the story: hidden gems can come in all guises, be it abandoned bars, rural villages or pizza owners remniscing about Doncaster in Kalkanlı.