Cyprus is supposed to have great riding, great year-round weather, etc, etc. But- the ferry left at midnight and I really found myself unable to get excited about it. It just seemed like exactly what I had been doing on the Turkish coast, but on an island. Taking another look at the map and reading the passable (I could smell the patchouli on the writers bohemian hipster bodies from here!) Lonely Planet Middle East guide-book I saw that heading almost due East would let me hit a number of great places (Sanliurfa, Harran, and Mardin) and see what was up with Kurdish Iraq. The guide and everything I could find online indicated that it was very safe (within certain very strict limits) and something to see. How could I resist?
Here is the Kurdish region of Iraq. Within its borders things are safe and actually booming with lots of international hotels and resorts going up- a sure sign that things are looking up. Wander out of this region and things quickly become unpleasant- Mosul being a prime example of a place to avoid, but is easy to find yourself in.
I just want to stress again that I’m talking about and visited Kurdish Iraq- no other part.