"Amedi" Al `Amadiyah by maykal
Al `Amadiyah Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 20 photos
Amedi (Al-Amadiyya in Arabic and on most maps) is an easy day trip from Dohuk by shared taxi, a small village that once used to be a city inside fortress walls on top of a mountain. The mountain views are spectacular, as is Amedi from below...but once you're there, it's a fairly ramshackle village with not much to see apart from a few odd bits of wall. Still, it's a good day out...
My day started off at Karaj Amedi on the outskirts of Dohuk, asking for a shared taxi up into the mountains. No other passengers turned up, so, as is often the way, the driver and I came to an agreement on price. Whenever I had to do this in Iraqi Kurdistan, it was never outrageously expensive, as usually the drivers will be making the journey whether they have any passengers or not, and often more passengers wait on the roads out of towns to flag down taxis heading in the right direction, so there's always a chance that it won't end up being a private taxi.
We agreed I'd pay the fare for two passengers instead of the full car, and we set off north from Dohuk, stopping occasionally to pick up an extra passenger for a mile or two. En route, my driver discovered I could speak Arabic, so we had quite a long discussion on Kurdistan, whhile he pointed out sights of interest. Sarsang was the first stop, a mountain "resort" as he called it, which was in fact a dusty little town with no real mountains to hand...but it did have lots of kids selling green bitter almonds, a delicacy I'd got a taste for in Syria many years ago. He bought a bag, and offered me some. I popped one in my mouth, and it was like sucking on a lemon, sour and bitter and really not that pleasant. In Syria we used to dip them in salt which tasted a lot better. "You can't drive to Amedi without bitter almonds," he said, biting into one and wincing at the bitterness. "And you can't have bitter almonds without salt!" he grinned, opening up a secret compartment by the gear stick with a little pouch of salt for dipping!
Tall evergreen trees lined the road at one point, and my driver explained that these were planted by the British when they controlled the region last century. Closer to Amedi, just before the village of Sulav, we rounded a corner and Amedi appeared towering above us on a plateau. We stopped for a photo or two, then carried on through Sulav, a straggly village of hotels and restaurants where drivers speed through the lunch crowds sending headscarves and dresses flying about all over the place as their owners try to reach the safety of the pavement.
After winding up the twisty road to the plateau, my driver then took me on a quick drive through town, pointing out the mosque and the bazar, before dropping me off at an old gate with fantastic mountain views. I handed him 20,000 dinars, not expecting change, but he handed me back 11,000, charging me for just one seat in his taxi...I protested, but he was having none of it...so I'd got a lift in a private taxi for the price of a shared one, and had bitter almonds thrown in too!
The first thing I saw in Amedi, funnily enough, was a group of tourists. Two Norwegians and an Australian, all looking at the ancient gate. round the next corner, I bumped into two Slovaks and two Germans, and later met a couple of Japanese. Amedi is on the tourist trail it seems.
The actual town of Amedi isn't so exciting...modern houses surround a tiny bazar and an oldish mosque, and there are bits and pieces of ruined gate and fortress wall around the place too, but you come for the views of the mountains really. Unfortunately, I'd chosen a day of haze and mist, so it was just about possible to pick out Sulav on the opposite hillside, but not much more. You could tell the mountains were high here, but without the hazy conditions, I would have been able to rave about Amedi a lot more.
After a couple of hours wandering around the town (I think I did two laps, and it didn't help that the bazar was pretty dead that day and the mosque was locked), I caught a taxi back to Dohuk with three women returning from a family visit.
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