Introduction to Erbil
Erbil is both a young and ancient city. The old citadel dominates the centre of town and is worth exploring. The citadel has a small textile museum and gift shop. Inside the citadel there is a warren of abandoned old houses from which to view the bustling city centre, ancient minaret and local ‘bazaar’.
An archaeological museum stands right on top of earth mounds from another city ruin, as old as the citadel. These ruins are yet unexcavated and in danger of being lost under new urban buildings.
Much of Erbil is still being constructed. New projects, shops and restaurants are springing up all the time. There are different areas where you can find shops or services providing similar things e.g. there is Doctors Street for pharmacies, a street for electronics and computers, areas to buy plants and stationery and many sprawling bazaars for clothing and material. It can be hard at first to know where to go to purchase specific things but the taxi drivers are helpful and know where you can find most things.
Teachers and other expats enjoy visiting nearby Ainkawa village. Populated by Christian Assyrians, it has churches, restaurants and even a chocolate shop. You can buy alcholic beverages here and check out the pricey but delicious beer at Deutscher Hof Garden. You can even meet new people on quiz night in the Sports Bar.
The Erbil city centre is about a 20-minute drive away from the school. The busiest time of the day is between 5 pm and 8 pm, when you can encounter some traffic.
There are modern shopping malls – Family Mall and Majidi Mall – with excellent supermarket and designer shops including Mango, LC Waikiki and Levis. Many supermarkets are well stocked with local and imported items. Fresh produce is available. Much of it is imported from Turkey.
You can pay in most places with dollars or dinars. Some stores in Majidi Mall accept credit cards. You can get pay-as-you-go phone cards. In and around Erbil some people speak English and will help you if possible.