Hawler (Erbil, Iraq)

I arrived this afternoon in Erbil. All is well. The flight was a quick A320 ride from Manama. Arriving into Erbil International Airport is a strange experience. The airport is beautiful! It’s just empty. Even the advertising space has not been filled. Imagine only using 10% of San Francisco International Airport, and leaving the rest empty. As far as infrastructure is concerned, it’s ready for business. The presence of security is everywhere. The taxi ride from the airport was 3 minutes, until we got to a parking lot/checkpoint, where I had to switch cabs from a Filipino driver, to a Kurdish one, and he took me the rest of the way to the hotel. Police stand at every intersection and watch traffic, but I haven’t encountered any checkpoints within Erbil itself. The citadel looms large over the city and is lit up beautifully at night. Tomorrow is Eid Al Fitr and there will hopefully be celebrations going on everywhere. There are plenty of foreigners walking around, but may either live here or are visiting on oil related work. So far, I’m enjoying myself, and reading the Lonely Planet to see what I want to check out tomorrow…

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