“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, June 08, 2009

Iran - Esfahan May 2009

On Thursday I arrived from Baku at about 1pm and took an expensive taxi to Esfahan. We drove through raw brown landscapes, with truly sweeping vistas--flat plains and salt flats split by jagged uplifts of rock and canyon. I checked into my shabby room way at the back of the Abbasi hotel then went for a walk to the Si-oh Seh bridge and then to Imam Square. I have to say that I love this square! The second biggest in the world after Tian'anmen, and the contrast couldn't be greater. While Tian'anmen is enormous, it's cold, rigid and uninspiring. On the other hand, Imam Square is lived in and loved by all! I love the fact the people can sit on the grass here. All sorts were blazing around, playing soccer or hacky sack. I wished I had a frisbee. The fountains were delightful and you are allowed to put your feet in them! If that's not enough, the square is surrounded by shops and has delightful horse carriages making the rounds. One of the best things about Esfahan are its squares and gardens. I sat for a while on the grass and nibbled at the delicious fresh strawberries and cherries I'd bought.

Friday morning, after moving to a far more superior room, I went on Lonely Planet's walking trail. Unfortunately a lot of the bazaar was closed due to it being Friday, but it was still a lovely day. To see the layers of civilization and the continued existence was super! The light filtering in through the covered arches was amazing. I then watched the sun set over the bazaar before heading back to my hotel. I wandered into the new city on the other side of the river for dinner -- what a chic modern place.

Mum and Dad certainly had adventures to get to Esfahan from Dubai: they lost a passport in the airport, and the plane was delayed (believe all the bad stuff you hear about Iran Air!) because the pilot's seat wasn't right. It didn't matter that their seats either didn't recline or only reclined. Finally after several painful hours in Dubai airport, the pilot came on and said he was "fully operational if you know what I mean". There were no safety guideline announcements, no barriers in the plane (so you could see the full length right up to the pilot's door), no seatbelt signs, and it seem some seats were held together with masking tape. However, they thought the biggest irony was that in their wait for the delay, IranAir supported American capitalism by issuing food vouchers for McDonalds!

After a few hours sleep, the Architectural Society of Dubai got us all up and out of bed for a quick run around the city sights. They're restoring many of the old areas of Esfahan and we visited the planning office of one just behind the Great Mosque. Everyone collapsed at around 1pm, and then more exploring in the evening.

The last day was spend driving back to Tehran airport for me -- just a quick trip!