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Published: October 21st 2017
Travelling further south we are aiming for Shiraz, but we have a lot of Persian history to learn about, and see, on the journey. Initially we head into the mountains, passing through remote rural villages - the going is slow. We stop, for an enjoyable picnic lunch, and eventually reach our destination for the night, at a home stay in the small village of Faraghe. We stroll around the village, sampling hot breads straight from the wood-fired ovens, and later sample figs and pomegranates picked from the orchard trees. We enjoy a simple but tasty home-cooked meal around a blazing brazier. The following morning the history commences when we visit the Tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, a high stone tiered edifice. Iranians are forever drinking tea, lightly spiced with mint, cinnamon, cardamom and other herbs and so we join in with a refreshing cup under the shade of large trees, before setting off for one of the highlights of the tour - the Ruins of Persepolis. A truly memorable afternoon is spent between immense stone columns, gateways and surrounded by stone carvings of bulls, eagles and warriors, extending over this vast site demonstrating the glory
and grandeur of the former Persian Empire.
Shiraz is an attractive bustling city with busy boulevards, trees, parks and gardens, mingling with old forts and large Mosques and minarets covered by multicoloured tiles glittering in the bright sunshine. The Bazaar is immense, with a central ancient Caravanserai now converted into a traditional teahouse. We wander between the great mounds of Persian carpets, traditional colourful gowns and headscarves, spices and herbs. In the evening we go for dinner to a well respected traditional Iranian Restaurant, and sit, somewhat uncomfortably, on soft Persian carpets surrounding great platters of lamb and chicken kebabs, lamb shoulders, and piles of rice covered with ‘Tahdig’ the delicious crusty base from the bottom of the rice pan!
Approximately halfway through the tour, we now turn North and drive uphill to the provincial non-descript town of Yasuj. We all need some exercise after the many long coach journeys and we will be challenged as we go on a 5 mile trek through the Zagros Mountains within the Dena National Park. We all enjoy the walk with stunning mountain scenery and rocky dusty footpaths. Our treat is a stop at an ice-cream shop on the way back
to the hotel, with unusually flavoured delicious ice cream such as vanilla and pistachio, huckleberry, barberry and even butter & walnut, and a bargain at a cost of 3000 rials (20p) per scoop!
On our last leg of the trip driving to the famous Silk Road city of Esfahan, through a delightful dusty, arid, biscuit-coloured valley with surrounding high mountain peaks we suddenly pull off the road and then walk into the valley to visit a nomad shepherd encampment of the Bakhtiari tribe. Four tents, housing four families with surrounding wire corrals containing sheep and goats are camped for several days, on their journey to the lowlands prior to the oncoming winter. We learn about their hard lives, with our guide acting as interpreter, and they allow us to take photographs!
We arrive in Esfahan in the early evening, and after depositing our luggage at the splendid and extravagant Abbasi hotel, where we will be staying for the next three nights, we set off to see a 30 arch bridge spanning the dry river.
We spend the next two days marvelling at the wondrous Mosques surrounding the massive Imam Square, which is even more spectacular at night,
with the colours sparkling and reflecting in the central pond.
We have been wowed by the amazing buildings and Mosques with immense entrances and towering minarets covered in bright blue tiles shimmering in the sun against the deep azure skies. The food has been tasty, with juicy kebabs & flavoursome stews - although we feel we have had enough rice for a while!! All the locals have been friendly and interested in our lives and we’re always ready for a chat! We have never felt unsafe, although the rules and regulations were strict, we had no problems. All-in-all a wonderful, interesting and exciting Wandering destination which we have both enjoyed.
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