Esfahan - truly "half the world"

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November 19th 2017
Published: December 13th 2017
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Wednesday 1 November

We arrived in time to relax for a while before going out to start exploring this amazing city. For a start we walked down to the Se-o-e Pol (33 arch bridge), a fabulous sight and popular with tourists and locals alike. We realised that we were going to start seeing other European tourist groups for the first time. Luckily the city is big enough and the numbers small enough so that this is not a problem. After this some of us went to the Shahrzad restaurant and had possibly the best ever plate of lamb chops followed by a shared dish of the local speciality, khoresht-e mast (google it). At the end of the dinner the waiters plied us with local nougat (gaz).

Thursday 2 November Esfahan

A day of sightseeing in this magnificent place. We left the hotel after breakfast and walked over to the Hasht Behesht palace and then to the massive square (Maydan-e Imam) . After taking in its grandeur we made to the Women's mosque (Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfallah). The tileworked dome of this mosque is simply stunning inside and out.

After this we walked to the southern side of the square dodging the postcard and souvenir sellers. Except for Mick who indulged in some bargaining for a pack of postcards....a chastening experience. Our next stop was the Masjad-e Imam, another impressive sight. Here we also visited the attached madrasa and met a mullah - a man very at peace with himself. One of his roles was to speak with Spanish tourists (in Spanish) about Islam and to answer their questions. We exchanged a few words and had photos with him. At this mosque we had seen another tour group's guide being taken aside for a chat by the guardians - apparently he had sung an inappropriate song at the echo point....Vahid read us a poem.

Next stop was off the square at a carpet shop. Out of the sun and an opportunity for a sit with tea. Felt more like a demonstration of the quality of their products than a hard sell. They showed us some of the production process and a number of carpets increasing in quality. Lovely items. Sheila and Gilroy bought a nice rug and Diane a small piece.

After this rest stop we returned to the Maydan and visited the Qapi Ali palace. This has marvellous views over the square and a music room section - with nice acoustics. Vahid demonstrated these by singing a Persian love song - he has a good voice, judging by the number of Iranian women who stopped to listen and applauded at the end! We then split up for lunch. Susan, Jools and I went with Vahid to a lively café off the square. I tried the local Beryani - nothing like the Indian dish - and it was great. Susan and I then went for a wander in the bazaar and meandered back to the hotel for a rest before the evening outing: we went south into the Armenian district to visit the newish music museum where we saw lots of instruments before enjoying a concert by local musicians. We all had dinner in a converted hamman.

Friday 3 November

Another busy day in Esfahan. First visit today was to the Masjad-e Jame, another UNESCO listed mosque. Some of this dates to the 10th century - and we saw where Iraqi bombs had damaged parts. Another impressive site/sight with great exterior tilework and somewhat simpler/plainer interiors. We then moved on to see the 40 column
Masjad e ImamMasjad e ImamMasjad e Imam

from the Ali Qapu palace
palace, then the pigeon tower, the Kajhar bridge and then into the Armenian area to see the Vank cathedral and museum. Some of us then had a snack before visiting the massively impressive Bethlehem church and then walking back to the hotel. As we walked along the riverbank it was lovely to see local families picnicking and playing games in the late afternoon - and inviting us to join them.

In the evening we decided to go to a recommended Beryani restaurant, this proved to be a long walk to a closed place (on holidays). We ended up at a restaurant next to the Women's mosque (hence the night time photos) where we sat on a carpet to eat. We talked to a family sitting next to us whose two, young, children were fascinated by Susan's painted fingernails. This had been a 27,000 steps day so we slept well.

Saturday 4 November

This was a bus day travelling about 500km to Shiraz.....see next instalment.

Additional photos below
Photos: 41, Displayed: 25


Masjad-e ImamMasjad-e Imam
Masjad-e Imam

from the Women's mosque
Andrew and MullahAndrew and Mullah
Andrew and Mullah

Spanish speaking "brother"

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