I managed to not get my visa extended, mostly due to my own lazyness. So instead of going further south I’ll head up towards the northwest and the Turkish border tomorrow.
Hawler/Arbil looks like a cool city (about 1.3 million inhabitants), even though I haven’t seen much of it.
It is actually one of the oldest cities on earth. The center, the Citadel, has been continuously inhabited for more than 8000 years. A couple of years ago the government kicked everyone out of the Citadel, due to the poor living standards there, I believe, except for one family to keep the line of inhabitance uninterrupted. The Citadel is now being renovated – revitalized, as the government calls it.