How to get to the Iraqi Kurdistan
The region always caught my eye. A place whose people is distributed in several countries. People who have no mainland, but a nation, which is spread in these countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. This time, I went to the Kurdish part of Iraq. And It took me by surprise. The people were super kind, a prosperous place nowadays affected by the wars that have taken place over the past few years, from which they can’t help but feel a part of, since they happened few kilometers away from their territory. However, I found a place I fell in love with, one that I’d recommend time and time again. But wait, how did I get here?
The hardest part is moving around because of the extensive security checks. Just to paint you a picture, figure that Erbil, capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan, is right next to Mosul, an Iraqi city taken over by ISIS that got his freedom back little over a year ago. So, there are a lot of security checks. You can either take cabs from Erbil to the other cities, or you can rely on tours, which is what I did.
In Erbil, I checked out the bazar, the main square and the Citadel, a fort down in the oldest part of the city. Then I went to Lalish, the most sacred place for the Yezidi faith and saw soldiers from the Peshmerga —Kurdish army.
Right next to Mosul, Alqosh is located, whose ancient churches I got to visit.
Later, I had time to do the tourism that I like, the “non-conventional” one. I went to Amadiya and visited one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.
However, the place that blew me away was the city of Sulaymaniyah, or more precisely the hotel I stayed at: Azadi Park. It was this huge hotel that even had an amusement park in it. And I even had the chance to ride its attractions!
In addition, I went to Halabja, where a chemical attack was launched on the Kurdish people in 1988, during the war between Iran and Iraq. They have a museum today, which is really interesting! I went by plane from Istanbul with my European passport, hence no need for the visa —USA, Canada and the EU don’t need visa if you have it. Nonetheless, some countries do require a visa, with prices that range from USD 300 to USD 800, but they can be very random: depending on your nationality, you might pay less than that. There isn’t much tourism. The visitors are generally American, European, Canadian and Australian, though the number of Latinos is slowly picking up.
Saddam Summer Palace