18 – 24 July Discovering Iran

I’m now in Tabriz on my way to Turkey. I aim to cross into Turkey on 25th. I enjoyed my “side trip” but it’s good to be back on Azulo!

Now, as you know, I have not enjoyed the food anywhere on this trip and Iran is no different.

I’m pleased to say, however that my Guide, in Shiraz, Sanaz took me to a restaurant that was excellent….so good infact that we went there three times for lunch to get out of the heat. The coffee was excellent also.

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Sanaz and me enjoying lunch. Note the Aussie Flag!

The waiters had flair and as you see they brought the Aussie Flag to our table!

My last day in Shiraz we visited a ruin on top of the mountain….Sanaz made me climb to the top in 40 degree heat!

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My next stop was ISFAHAN some 500 kilometers North of Shiraz and probably Iran’s most famous City outside Tehran.

I flew to Isfahan from Shiraz but almost missed my flight. The Airport information was absolutely hopeless and I sat in the departure lounge completely confused. The flight was was 2 hours late. I presume they announced that but I couldn’t understand the announcements anyway. .

It was just luck that i caught the flight at all since the Departure Gate said “TEHRANNOT “ISFAHAN”  Luckily I asked whether the flight that was boarding to Tehran was actually going to Isfahan….It was!

My guide in Isfahan was Mr Hooshang. He is a retired English teacher. Very nice but lacks a certain something that Sanaz brought to the sights!

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Mr Hoosang, my Guide in Isfahan

He showed me the sights. The Palaces, Mosques and Gardens are all so beautiful but they all become a blur when you see so MANY beautiful Mosques and Palaces.

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The following photo is the MUSIC ROOM in the Palace. Look at the way they have decorated the wall so that the acoustics are perfect

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The main square in Isfahan is HUGE. According to Mr Hoosang it is second only in size to Tienanmen Square in Beijing. In the evening when it cools down everybody heads for the square where they kick footballs and have picnics.

It’s interesting because it’s Ramadan. Nobody eats or drinks between sunrise and sunset, whether or not they are religious.

I went to the square just before sunset and was amazed how disciplined they are. People were there with their Picnic baskets and plates etc but NOBODY was eating or drinking …Then, as the sun went down they all tucked in and had a right old feast!

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Main square just before sunset

There are several beautiful 400 year old bridges over the “River”….The river does have water in in during late autumn, winter and spring but is absolutely dry now.

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In the evening, in the centre of the bridge, underneath the arches, the men gather and laze about and take it in turns to sing local folk songs. It really is a terrible racket to my ears but special to hear them.

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I met my new Guide,  who will drive me tomorrow to Tehran.…He invited me to join him for dinner which I thought was nice. He took me to a very strange Hotel owned by an ex teacher of handicrafts.( He told me he had been offered a job at Melbourne University but declined!

He has painted all the doors and walls of the Hotel. It’s actually very beautiful

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We had dinner on the rooftop overlooking the Mosque which was beautiful.

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The next day we drove to Tehran. We visited a lovely little mountain village.called Abyanch

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The “supermarket”

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We reached Tehran and the next morning, I was reunited with Azulo the next day and he started without any problems, so off we went!.

En route I visited a huge Mosque which has the third largest brick Dome in the world.

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The countryside is fairly barren and dry but I  detoured off the main highway to Tabriz and  crossed the mountains. They are impressive and rugged.

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I visited a Castle which was sacked by the Romans! It sits on an extinct volcano and surrounds a beautiful  lake.that is fed from underground springs. It is incredibly blue.

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I also visited an amazing cave complex that must have housed hundreds of people. It literally has about six levels (I’ll add the name later!)

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I passed through many little villages with simple mud brick houses. Many had hay stacked on the roof!

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Pleasant Countryside

I’m leaving Iran soon so here are some of my thoughts about Iran

As already said the people are incredibly hospitable and friendly. They really seem to enjoy helping out. Assisting a stranger is a pleasure not a chore or duty!

One amusing example of this happened when my guide got lost and needed directions. He simply stopped in the MIDDLE of a BUSY INTERSECTION and asked directions from the POLICEMAN on Point Duty! The traffic came to a standstill whilst the Policeman gave him directions. I couldn’t believe it! 

Iran certainly stands out because of it’s lovely people.

I regret to say i give the food a big thumbs down! I appreciate my restaurants haven’t been the most expensive but I’ve had a good sample now. Kebabs and stews and fairly ordinary salad’s and rice seem to be the staple foods…Obviously the lack of booze isn’t a big hit with me!

The sights are magnificent of course and Iran is a TREASURE HOUSE! 

The countryside I’ve seen has  been mostly desert and some rugged mountains. I’ve only seen a fraction of the country though.

The country is of course VERY religious. That can be a little irritating at times if you’re neither Muslim or religious…for example when you have to wait for your Guide whilst he says his prayers!

As for safety…I’ve felt 100% safe here

Overall I think Iran is a terrific destination!. 

 

 

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