LG... Life's Good
Cyprus sits at the crossroads of three continents, attracting over two million vacationers a year. A tender division exists between the Greeks and Turkish populations, making for an intriguing drive across the border where you notice the distinct division from the Turkish north and Greek south. The international airport is in Larnaka in the south, and the drive from there to the north takes just over an hour through the mostly baron inland, but once you reach the coast, the sights are incredible.
The long-standing host of the World Poker Tour is the spectacular Merit Crystal Cove, an all-inclusive, beachside resort (see images below). A day at Merit Crystal Cove consists of a buffet breakfast by the pool, snorkel session in the ocean, followed by sunbathing on the beach with free cocktails, buffet lunch by the beach, more swimming and sunbathing, buffet dinner with more free drinks, a stop by the casino with even more complimentary buffets and beverages, sleep, and repeat. Tough, huh? Throw in a world-class poker tournament, and you’ve created a poker player’s haven.
The food at Merit Crystal Cove is fantastic, The resort is in the Turkish region so expect to sample many traditional breads and deserts. The buffet includes everything you could want: fish, chicken, kebabs and pasta. Live music accompanies dinner every night, and you might even have an appearance by a belly dancer or a stray cat.
- Language: English is widely spoken across the island, but Turkish is the main language in the northern Turkish-Cypriot community where the WPT is held.
- Currency: Turkish Lira is used in the north of the island.
- Tipping: While tipping is always appreciated, a 10 percent service charge is automatically applied in all hotels and restaurants on Cyprus, so you won’t be chased out the door if you forget to tip.
- Weather: Cyprus is in its heart of summer right now, so prepare for dry Mediterranean heat. The average sea temperature climbs to around 27° C -- bliss.
- Electricity: The power across the entire island is 230 volts, so beware North Americans, save the appliance disaster by leaving your hair dryer at home.
The town of Kyrenia, a 20-minute drive from the Merit Crystal Cove resort, is surrounded by the calm Mediterranean Sea to the north and green Besparmak Mountain Range to the south, offering some of the best scenery on the island.
In town, you'll find a small harbor framed by the Kyrenia Castle, a museum holding 6,000 years of history, fantastic waterside restaurants and plenty of souvenir shops. At night, a market along the harbor sells locally arts and crafts -- perfect gift to take home.
I’ve had quite a lot of Chinese meals in my day, having such a strong Asian influence in Australia, but I can still easily claim that one of the best Chinese feasts I’ve ever had was in Cyprus at Dragon at the Rocks Hotel & Casino in central Kyrenia.
For some traditional food, try Niazi’s, one of the most popular restaurants in Kyrenia. It’s situated right by the water and offers all sorts of food, but you’d be missing out if you don't order its trademark “Full Kebab” with charcoal-grilled kebabs and Meze, a traditional Middle Eastern cuisine full of dipping sauces and breads.
To aid after-dinner digestion, walk along the Kyrenia harbor through the stunning night markets I mentioned. I purchased some of my favorite jewelry there and then stopped by one of the harborside bars for a nightcap and Hookahs.
Season XI of the World Poker Tour kicks off with the Merit Cyprus Classic from August 4 through 9 and PokerNews will be there bringing you all of the action from the felt.
There is a wide range of travel companion applications out there, and while I haven't tried them all, TripIt has stumped me with its brilliance so much, that I've lost any desire to use any other. For the first time in my life, I have felt the ease of what it must be like to have a personal assistant.
Gone are the days of sifting through emails in search for confirmation numbers on your way to the airport, or for your frequent flyer program details when midway through a purchase. TripIt keeps all of your travel information in one, incredibly easy-to-use location.
Simply forward your travel-related confirmation emails (flights, hotel bookings, car rentals) to firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will instantly (and I mean, instantly) load your day-by-day itinerary to your account, recognised by the email address you forwarded the itinerary from. Not only will TripIt record your flight times and destinations, it will even supply gates, flight duration, aircraft, destination weather conditions, and even driving directions from the airport to your hotel. Everything you provide for your trip, will be saved in one folder, which will then be closed by the recognisation of your return flight. A new folder will then be automatically created for the dates of your next trip. This feature is king for those needing to keep track of trip histories.
If George Clooney had you constantly saying "yes, that's me!" while watching Up in the Air, then this app is 100% for you. Almost all frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs allow TripIt to store your account number, status, balance, expiry date, and even recent activity on one single page... All of them, on one page. You can then click on any account to see the full activity log. Amazing!
The most important tool is the iPhone/iPad app which stores all of this information for you to refer to on the go in the simplest form. Need your gate number? Got it. How long can you spend in Duty Free during your layover? Got it. Flight delay? It'll tell you before the airline does. Need an alternate flight? It will tell you what's available for that too. It will even connect with your flight's exact aircraft on SeatExpert to show you seat reviews for when making that crucial selection.
It's literally like having a personal travel assistant in your hand. If only it could carry your luggage for you too. One day, I'm sure.
FYI - I am in no way associated with this company, nor am I receiving any kickbacks for writing this blog. I simply love sharing things that I love, and this is most definitely one of them!
My favourite video that comes out of any event, is always the bloopers & highlights. I love looking back on all the good, and embarrassing times! Here's a compilation of myself, Kristy Arnett and Sarah Grant's finest moments.
For now, it's adios Las Vegas. Thanks for another AWESOME World Series of Poker. Next up, it's some well-needed Mexican beach time! to chillax!
One million dollars... I cannot comprehend having so much money that a lazy million is easily dropped on a seat in a poker tournament!
The Big One for One Drop is the biggest buy-in poker tournament in all of poker's history. Forty-eight players EACH paid $1,000,000 to play in the tournament, forming the biggest first place prize we've ever seen - $18,346,673!
Most importantly, the purpose of the entire event is that 11.1% of each buy-in goes to One Drop, a charitable organisation created by the founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, who is also the genius behind this entire event. Guy's incredible contacts in the ballin' business world is what lured so many of the amateur players, and in turn, lured so many poker pros.
Here's a video we made for the launch of the event, where the 43rd Annual World Series of Poker literally turned into a circus...