Exploring Erbil

​After arriving so late we didn’t get up until 0830. We are staying at a place called Madera Hotel which has breakfast included, so we piled our plates high with cucumber, melon, banana, bread and eggs accompanied by coffee. Not a bad way to start the day.

Immediately as we walked out of the hotel we were hit by the temperature, already at 0915 it was 38 degrees and got hotter throughout the day.  Unsurprisingly most people were travelling in air conditioned cars but we walked the 20 minutes into the centre of Erbil. The top sight in Erbil is the Citadel which has been continually inhabited for 8000 years making it the longest continuously inhabited settlement on earth.

In the Citadel there are a number of interesting things too see, our first stop was the textile museum which had dozens of different types of rugs hung on the walls with information on each, on the top floor there was an authentic cafe where we had a drink and enjoyed the AC to cool down from the now 40+ degree heat. There was a mosque and a few other interesting buildings as well as a small shop we went into. From the Northern Entrance there are good views across the rest of the city.

We then went for some lunch and found a small little local cafe which served falafel wraps, we were asked if we wanted potatoes with it, Emily said no but I quite fancied some chips so accepted. About 5 minutes later we received two falafel wraps and a chip wrap, a new experience but rather tasty nonetheless. We followed this culinary delight by exploring the nearby bazaar where you could buy virtually anything you could ever dream of.
One of the top 20 experiences in the Middle East, according to Lonely Planet, is the Iraqi parks at the weekend, not wanting to put off such a great opportunity we hastily made our way to one of the two main parks in the city. Despite it being a Saturday the park was all but deserted with just 3 other people in there, we thought it might be to do with the heat and time of year but it does seem like Lonely Planet was off the mark with this one. 

After this exhilarating post lunch experience we found a small shop with AC and had two bottles of water each before walking back across the city to our hotel to shower and chill for a few ours before dinner.

For dinner we again walked to the city centre and sat on the side of the main square and had a couple of glasses of (very sugary) Arabic tea whilst watching the world go by and discussing travel plans for the next few days. Again we had kebabs for dinner with yet more water in a constant struggle to try and keep hydrated.  We walked back just after it had got dark but we both agreed that it felt like one of the safest cities either of us had walked though at night. 

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