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Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan
May 21st 2012
Published: June 14th 2017
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Geo: 32.68, 51.68

Esfahan, was the next port of call on our trip into the unknown, Mohammad's home town. He was clearly very passionate about it, and on arrival, offered to show us around that afternoon and the following day! Free tour… we were not going to complain. Our hostel was about a 15 min walk from the main square of the city where everything happens. The hostel itself was not great, especially after the apartments we had just been treated to, but there was a bed! The pillows, were most definitely not filled with feather… our guess was flour or concrete as if you had a pillow fight with them, someone would definitely be knocked out, if not die!

Mo's tour was cancelled that afternoon, as Polly required his translation skills to find water purification for the truck water as the supply we had, had solidified in the heat and become unusable. So into the centre we all went with Adam, to meet Syed, the owner of a magnificent carpet shop. He was lovely, had amazing Persian, light green eyes and offered us endless cups of tea. Of course as a carpet seller, he was out for a sale, but not in a pushy way, that the majority of Turkish sellers had been. It worked, as over the next 2 days, over half the group bought more than one carpet. I restrained myself, and only bought a carpet bag, as $300 will get me a long way in Nepal, and I have nowhere to put a carpet!!! Maybe next time I am in Iran, with a rich man, I can splash out! They were beautiful though, especially the nomadic ones from the old caravans of the Silk Road.

The following day, it was time for Mo's tour….. it was really interesting to here all of the hstory of all of the buildings around the city, from such a passionate guide. We went to an old palace, where the roof was held up by 20 cedar columns, however it was called the 40 column palace because that was a magic number at the time, and the 20 real columns were reflected in the pool of water in front of the building. Clever!! Inside was decorated with elaborate wall paintings, embellished by gold to catch the light at various stages of the day. They were beautiful. We also went to another palace on the square, which had a watchtower similar to that of St Paul's cathedral back home, where sound is transferred up across the roof and back down the other side. The view from the top (6th floor) was spectacular, and as it was the music room, was designed for the best acoustic sounds, with designed holes in the wall to rebound the sound in a positive manor. From the balcony, you could see both mosques, decorated in blues, yellows and greens, slightly off centre as they had to be orientated towards Mecca. The largest, was out next visit. With the great dome echoing the sounds made from the central spot up to 10 times clearly. We had great fun with that one, although not sure the locals quite appreciated it. It was then time for another carpet shop, where there was a lady actually weaving. She was so fast, although she had been doing it since she was 9 yrs old, for 8 hrs a day! When the others went to be 'shown' yet more carpets, I stayed to watch her, she motioned me forward to let me have a go! I spoke no Farsi and of course she had had no need for English, but we managed. She also showed me all the natural substances they use to make all the different colours. It can take one person, a year to make once carpet 1.5x2m! Crazyness!! The last stop on our tour was one of the 999 (again magic number) caravan stops along the Silk and Spice routes across the middle east. It is now one of the most expensive hotels in the whole of Iran. It was designed in a square shape, with a courtyard in the middle for all of the animals, surrounded by 2 levels of building. The first for all of the merchandise carried on the camels and the second for the people to sleep. It must have been quite a site to see, and I am so glad I have a vivid imagination to see how it might have been! By this time it was definitely lunch, or even mid afternoon tea, so on the return to the hostel, we all had falafels, YUMMY!

The next day was shopping day! I had spent to long waiting around for people, the previous day, and it was time to do what a girl does best! It was myself and Jay who headed out to the bazaar early doors, into the crazy hustle and bustle of the locals and tourists (mainly Iranian tourists) Around the square was your typical tourist things, carpet bags, carpet purses, camel bone paintings, ceramics, metal work, all of which were stunning. I only fell into a few tourist souvenirs but it had to be done for future tales sake. The actual bazaar was full of household wares and beautiful gold. Far out of my price range, but the light reflections from it all was almost breathtaking. They practically sold everything you could think of in there, it was awesome…. We need some bazaars in the UK!

After a much needed coffee frapachinno, we headed to the river for a leisurely stroll past all of the ancient and beautiful bridges and gardens. The gardens were full of picnickers and couples obviously hiding out from the prejudice of their society. It was beautiful to see, even in a head scarf!!!
That evening, as if we hadn't had enough of wandering, we returned to the square to see the lights, as each monument was glorified with differing coloured lights. It was certainly a sight to be seen. We of course went to the bazaar for another quick wander, I may have purchased as scarf… a beautiful scarf that will be exceptionally useful on my journey!!! And we went for a last visit to Syed and his shop, for some tea and to meet his gorgeous family, including 5mnth old Fatima. She is adorable. Everyone pretty much ended up there at that evening, and as we all left, there were a few teary eyes, to be saying goodbye to a beautiful city and such friendly people.

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