Blogs from Esfahan, West, Iran, Middle East


Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan October 13th 2014

It's a Shia Islamic holiday today called Eid-al Ghadir- "the day in which the Holy Prophet of Islam, by divine command in his last sermon, designated Imam Ali, the first Shia Imam, as his immediate successor"- couldn't have said it any better than that- thank you Wikipedia. The concert of last night and fireworks of the last few nights have been part of the celebrations. Today Esfehan is going to be very quiet- no bazaar, no banks, no shops etc. It is a day for celebrations with family at home. Perfect day for me to spend in the Armenian Quarter (Jolfa)! According to some sources, back in 1607 Shah Abbas I was responsible for driving 150 0000 Armenian Christians from Jolfa in Armenia to Esfahan to establish New Jolfa, according to others he rescued them from ... read more
Vank Cathedral
Vank Cathedral
Vank Cathedral

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan October 12th 2014

You meet some very interesting people on your travels. Travel creates a level playing field for these encounters. This morning I had breakfast with the Austrian Ambassador to Doha and her partner. We sat out in the courtyard and swapped stories; a potted history over coffee, flat bread and Persian feta in a blue courtyard. It's kind of like speed dating (well, I think it would be like speed dating); you tell a story, listen to a story and maybe spend more time with them if the inclination and opportunity arises, or if not it's still a part of the overall travel experience. They are here for a few more nights, I think we'll spend some more time together. So, the day begins with a plan to visit the Masjed-e Shah and the Masjed-e Lotfollah during ... read more
Buildings around Dibai
Buildings around Dibai
Friendly printing guy

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan October 11th 2014

Q: How can you see Esfehan in 2 Days? A: You Can't Sooooo... this morning over breakfast at the 'Divine Dibai' I made a decision. I decided to stay a total of 4 nights in Esfehan instead of 2. The original plan was to move on to Kashan and then have 3 nights in the Caspian Sea area to the north of Tehran before flying home. I had booked at a place called Khoone Geli, an Eco resort at the foot of the Alborz Mountains to do some more hiking. It sounded perfect- my last few nights in Iran hiking amongst forest, and 4000m peaks. In reality though it would mean 2 days of bus and taxi trips for 2 days of hiking, I thought to myself, "if Soufi has 2 extra nights available that will ... read more
Courtyard by Daylight
Another of the rooms
Sign Pic

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan October 10th 2014

David from Spain snores. David from Spain snores loudly. David from Spain snores loudly, nearly all night long. Chilly night and a cloudy sky this morning without a fully visible sunrise. I do like contrasts though... Serenity v Snoring, Sleep v No Sleep, Orange Sunrise v Grey Sky... So today after a final campfire breaky and a farewell to Hashem and David from Spain I am picked up by Ali in his super fast jeep. He has his constant companion, his little boy, with him who loves tearing around the sand dunes as much as his he does. I would bet he will be driving like his Dad in a few years. Arrive back at Barandaz where I get picked up by a taxi driver to go back to Garmeh. If I'd thought this through it ... read more
David from Spain
On the Road Again

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan October 8th 2014

Shiraz is a centre of Persian culture and literature, we visited two poets tombs, very impressive gardens and buildings for both, Saadi is major Persian poet from middle ages, his writtings still relavent today 700 years later. Persoplolis is archeological site some 2500 years old in time of Persian empire of Darius, I, II & III. They built a huge terrace, with 3..4 palaces much of which remains. How much manpower to fetch stone from many miles away, then erect it into a100 coloumns for a big reception room, murials depict parties bearing gifts from 28 nations in Persian empire. Cuneiform is text engravings on stones lasts 2500years to this day, any of my program code written into machines has a working life of maybe 20 years. Drive from Shiraz to Eshafan 380km, fill up with ... read more
Long roads, 450km to Shiraz
Tourist bus
Saadi mauselum

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan May 8th 2014

Today we were going to go to church. In Iran. Go figure. And no, we weren't going to go in a discreet car into a discreet building to meet with discreet people to do discrete worship. Today we were off to the Armenian quarter, home of displaced Armenians and a christian part of Iran for centuries. The Armenians have had a long history with then Persia and now Iran. However in the 1600s, their presence became more defined when the Shah setup a dedicated area called New Julfa for the Armenians. The Armenians were shrewd businessmen and became influencial in Iran. Today 5 seats in the Iranian parliament are reserved for Armenians - a minority group that has remained Christian though in many other ways has assimilated with Persian culture. Armenians supposedly enjoy a lot of ... read more
Inside Vank Church
Nothing like Pistachio juice and other nutty juices to bring friends together
Friends at a random bakery

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan May 7th 2014

Esfahani rulers had too much money. That's my conclusion. How many palaces and fancy mosques do you really need. And how many gardens is too many. To the Safavid dynasty who ruled in the 1600s, it seems enough was never enough. We started our morning at Chehel Sotoun, which is easy to confuse with Vidal Sassoon but has nothing to do with hair products. This was the palace used by Shah Abbas II for entertaining his guests and thus was designed to impress the pants off guests when they first arrived. However, its not opulence alone that impresses an Iranian dignitary, but rather careful and intellectual design. Chehel Sotoun means forty pillars literally, and when you walk in you see a long Taj-Mahal-esque pool terminated by a large pavillion with twenty pillars. Twenty, not forty. So ... read more
Imam Mosque - Naqsh-e Jahan Square
Chehel Sotoun
Ali Qapu - a view of the square from the 3rd floor

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan May 6th 2014

Another day and another early start tromping across the countryside in our van, this time from Yazd to Esfahan. By now the kids had acclimatized to our driver and guide and rather than the shy-head-down-whispered good mornings, they were now greeting our friends with big cheery "Hello Amu!" (which means uncle in Farsi). Enroute we stopped at Nain, famed for its unique carpet styles and Iran's oldest mosque (8th century). There was also a supposedly interesting citadel though it really was more of a pile of lumpy mud with sporadic outcrops that looked like towers. Perhaps the most memorable part of Nain was when we spied our arch nemeses - a French family that was also travelling with kids. We liked being the only foreigners daring enough to bring small kids to Iran (because its sooooo ... read more
Families around Naqsh-e Jahan square
Naqsh-e Jahan square
Naqsh-e Jahan square

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan October 6th 2013

Yazd to Esfahan Saturday 5th October Today was one of those days that was to be laid back – a simple 330 km trip to Esfahan with one stop to view the Jame Mosque in Naein at about the halfway point. The trip was across desert and it was hot. The truck traffic was heavy. A quick look at the map showed that we were on the main north-south road between Tehran and Bandar-e Bas. The later place is on the Straits of Hormuz and is the major port for Iran. The truck traffic consisted of a wide assortment of cargoes. Not much happened on the first part of the trip, but as we neared Naein, at a small spot on the map called Noganbad, I spotted an old caravanserai, in fact ... read more
Yazd to Esfahan
Yazd to Esfahan

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan November 5th 2011

A picture is worth 1,000 words Which means: (a) I have written a lot, or (b) I'm just getting lazy...... read more
Supervisor at work
Our neighbours at Kas...
Ride in the hills

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