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Wojciech's Travel log

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You can lose everything, but nobody will take away what you saw and what you experienced...

Log entries 1 - 10 of 2502 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sep 22, 2021 12:00 AM What I found in the bazaar...

What I found in the bazaar... Suleimaniya is more westernised than Erbil. Along the main Salim street you will see high, fancy hotels. There are also more ladies in the European dressing. I had enough time to walk around the centre, visit Azadi Park with the modest Love Monument., talk with many locals. Local bazaar is very crowded and noisy. Smells in some areas not so nice, but is very authentic. I found there the quarter where they sell Kurdish traditional costumes. I had there a chance to try the headdressing of the Kurds. It consists of two parts: little round hat to put on the top of your head and the cloth - to be wrapped around the hat. Look at the picture - I and the sellers from nearby shops we had a lot of fun... What a nice souvenir from Kurdistan. It is necessaryto to bargain, but you can buy both parts for just 10 - 12 dollars :)

Sep 21, 2021 12:00 AM By bus to Al - Suleimajiya

By bus to Al - Suleimajiya Receptionist from the hotel helped me to stop and to negotiate taxi ride to the bus station (3000 - two dollars). The minibus (they don't have big buses) was waiting there. Departure time? When it will be full!
No tickets. The driver just collected 10000 IQD from everybody. Fortunanely there was English-speaking Ali aboard. He took care of me. I got front seat for photography and we departed at 10 am.
Nice mountain and desert landscape on the route. Half way to the destination we stopped in chaikhana for the meal. Ali hosted me. There is artificial lake on the route, but sorry - it is nof visible from the road.
We rached Slemani (locals use this nickname) after 3 hours. The bus stotion is again on the outskirts of the town - taxi to the hotel cost me less than 3 dollars. I found Al - Suleimaniya more westernized than Erbil. It has interesting bazaar and long main street with many new, high buildings. A lot of people is crawling the streets around the bazaar. I have been invited to drink a tea with the locals - Kurds are very hospitable!

Sep 20, 2021 12:00 AM Akre - the most picturesque township of Kurdistan?

Akre -  the most picturesque township of Kurdistan? The road from Amadiya to Dohuk is very picturesque, passing many green pine forests. I stopped in Sarsang to ask about possibility to drive up to the former summer house of Saddam Hussain located on the slope above the village. No way! The police occupy the house and they say you have to bring special kitab (paper) from Baghdad to dive up.
Then I enjoyed the views of Duhok - the third city in Kurdistan. Especially nice panorama opens from the Mustafa Barzani Park - where the monument of this Kurdish patriot stands.
Finally I drove to the little town of Akre, located in the little valleys between the mountains. The location is excellent. The city should be painted by the artists. I believe that Akre should be the most picturesque town in Kurdistan...

Sep 19, 2021 12:00 AM North - to the Turkish border

North - to the Turkish border There are many checking points on the roads in Kurdistan. Before the young soldiers newer asked for my ID. Go, go, go... Today we (I and Ali) we were driving through the real outback where apart from soldiers I saw little tanks. On the one of many posts they asked to show document. I hope for the last time....
Wo used mountain roads first to reach village Barzan - the birthplace of Mustafa Barzani - well known leader of Kurds. There i a lot of green in this region (not so common in the rest of the country) there are wide rivers and nice panoramic views. Roads are all paved but rather narrow. At 4 pm we reached legendary Amedija (Amedi, Amadi) - the settlement established on the flat mountain by the Asyrians. Many civilizations passed through later...Old city gate built of stone is the main landmark here. Some city walls are also wort h to see. There is old mosque recognized by the high minaret. Because there is no hostel in Amadija the backpackers are welcome to sleep for free in the mosque. What a hospitality! They say it is only 10 kms from here to the Turkish border....

Sep 18, 2021 12:00 AM Waterfalls, canyons, strong sun...

Waterfalls, canyons, strong sun... I found the driver to take me to the northeast region of Soran. Soran it self is nothing special, but around it there are mountains with many view points - public transport will not take you there...
Some 100 kms from Erbil we entered yellow/brown mountains dotted by many green, lonely trees. The road was climbing the slopes over the river opening great panoramas. Traffic is weak here allowing many stops to enjoy the views. Gali Ali Beg Waterfall is a sensation in this dry landscape, no wonder that many locals are coming to wade in the shallow water below the fall. Some 15 m high fall is still impressive even if surrounded by the little restaurants and chaikhanas. They charge 1000 dinars (less than a dollar) for entry.
Number two attraction of the day was Ravanduz Canyon - nice, some 100 m deep but undeveloped. The place is nice but there is lack of information, markers, viewpoints... Who in this hot country is ready to climb upstream from the bridge at the canyon entry, carrying in the heat the supply of water and food? Locals prefere to sit in the shade near the cascade (there are two more in the area: Bekhol and Jundian).
For me it was the day of great panoramic views!

Sep 17, 2021 12:00 AM Never on Friday?

Never on Friday? It is Friday today - the holy day in Muslim Kurdistan. Shops except groceries and all institutions are locked. What to do?
Imagine that for me it was great day! In the morning I stroll around animal market opened just for few hours in my street - just 200 m from Janet Bludan. Goats, sheep, ducks, chicken and other birds were on sale. Men only in the lively crowd... Great photo opportunities...
Then I walked about half an hour in the heat to the main mosque of Kurdistan - Jalil Khayat Mosque. The mosque is huge, has ornate decoration inside. And it was nice to see sitting in tha back how they pray (men only).
Then friendly Kurd gave me a lift to the biggest park in Erbil with shaddy alleys and artificial ponds - Sami Abdul Rahman Park, where the locals families are coming for picknics. Sorry - you are not allowe to photograph their ladies. :)
Coming back home I passed again the citadel and enjoyed the fountains on the square below. The view was excellent - especially from the tereace of the famous Machko Chai khana. Coffee wendors in red dressing operate on the square like in Marrakesh - see picture... What a Friday!

Sep 16, 2021 12:00 AM Erbil - capital of Kurdistan

Erbil - capital of Kurdistan It is very hot even in the morning. After very basic breakfast served in my little hotel (flat Arab bread, pea soup, yoghurt, boiled eggs) I took the walk to the old part of Erbil. Just round the corner I found myself in the large oriental bazaar. Very authentic! Such institutions in Turkey or Egypt are tourist- oriented. The tourist is non-stop bothered there to buy something. Nothing like that happens here - because no tourists in this country... The most interesting part of Elbil's bazaar (at least for me) is exchange alley where bricks of the banknotes are on display and nobody steals them. Very impressive scenes! Only once in my lifetime, in northern Somali I saw similar views.
The ancient citadel from BC era, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List occupied the hill in the centre of the town. Today it was closed because the ongoing production of the movie. But even from outside it is impressive. I took the walk to the nice, green Minara Park where the remains of the minaret from 2nd century stands. In the middle of the day the park was almost empty... Kurds are nice to me, I like this country from the first day. Tomorrow I will try to organize my trip to the province...

Sep 16, 2021 12:00 AM The front of the Erbil's citadel

The front of the Erbil's  citadel In the citadel there is old textile museum, but not much more...

Sep 15, 2021 12:00 AM Van from the air

Van from the air Nobody is perfect. Turks too. In Antalya airport they do not respect boarding passes from on-line check-in. They sent me back to check- in counter for the regular one. OK. Our plane to Erbil started at 2.15 pm. Boeing 737 was full of Kurds going to homeland. No foreigners aboard at all. SunExpress have an inflight service, but you have to pay even for the water. Instead we had some great views like the legendary Lake Van - see the picture.. We were descending over the desert at 4 pm. Welcome to Kurdistan!
Erbil airport has a modern terminal. On arrival they are kindly ask you if you are covid-vaccinated. Yes. But nobody check the certificates :) Then before immigrations you go to the little kiosk opposite (situated back to front) to pay 70 USD for your visa. They will give you the change in Iraqi Dinars - it seems to be a good private deal! :)
Then you are free to go out. Surprise! No transport at the entrance except hefty Airport taxi. You have to board free shuttle bus to go some one km away to the "station" where other taxis and private cars are allowed... Locals helped me to find the shared ride for 10 USD pp. We were riding the crowded streets. I was surprised by the big number of the new, modern buildings. The driver didn't speak any English - he used Google to find little known Janet Bludan Hotel. Here I am - in the blind but clean room. Good night from Kurdistan!

Sep 14, 2021 12:00 AM Give your HES code, otherwise....

Give your HES code, otherwise.... Nowadays before you will fly to Turkey the airline will ask you to fill online the covid form to receive special personal code. Do that! They will ask for this code at the hotel check-in. But also when you buy a transport card for trams and buses the card will be not active until you will give the code. Those Turks!
I have been to Antalya in 1973, returning overland from Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. But this was the time of black & white photography... It was nice to walk around and refresh the memories. The old city with the minarets and medresas is nicely restored. On the cliff you will find many lookout points. The picturesque old port is full of small excursion boats. They have also interesting retro-tram-line to use. At the "museum" final stop there is great panorama of the beaches with the mountains in the background.
In the morning, when I was there it was cloudy, I got even some warm rain... Nothing like that will be tomorrow in the hot and dry Kurdistan!

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