Blogs from West, Iran, Middle East


Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan September 29th 2015

The Persian proverb "Esfahan is half of the world" (which if Google translate has worked is what the title of this blog says in Farsi) is hyperbole but it is a spectacular place with a huge square, many mosques, palaces, bridges, and a fantastic bazaar. Where it definitely isn't half the world is in restaurants – perhaps the biggest challenge we faced during our days there was finding something local to eat, one night we even resorted to pizza and a Subway style sandwich ffs !!! True to form the people were friendly, chatty and hospitable, inviting us for tea even when they weren't trying to sell us something or when we told them we weren't going to buy anything – despite Esfahani's being known for their selling skills and fondness for money. We did though ... read more
Imam Mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Sheihk Lotfollah Mosque

Middle East » Iran » West » Esfahan June 14th 2015

Keskiviikko 10.6. Isfahan L pysyi hereillä koneeseen asti, vaikka lento lähti vasta klo 23. Nousussa kyllä tipahti ja nukkui koko matkan. J diilasi meille kaks penkkiriviä, joten lapset sai hyvin nukkumaan. Me ei silti nukuttu oikeastaan ollenkaan. Herätettiin huomiota koneessa ja portilla, ihmettelivät, että ollaan tulossa Iraniin. Yks iranilainen, Jenkeissä asuva tyttö antoi numeronsa ja sanoi, että voidaan soittaa, jos halutaan jotain apua. Juuri kellään ei ollut huivia portilla, ainoastaan joillakin vanhemmilla naisilla, vaan laittoivat ne koneen laskeuduttua. Passintarkastuksessa meitä, kuten kaikkia muitakin koneessa ollutta noin viittä länkkäriä, pyydettiin istumaan odottamaan ja meidän passit lähti jonnekin yläkertaan. Eri miehet niitä kävi heiluttelemassa ja pohdittiin, näkyykö mulla jotain liikaa tai mistä kiikastaa. Väsy painoi. Lopult... read more
TK:n lahjat kelpasivat
Raflan sisäänkäynti

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 August 15th 2014

Gahar lake, the gem of the Oshtoran-Kooh mount The Gahar lake is situated at an altitude of 2,300 meters (7,545 feet). This natural lake is 30 meters in depth; 2500 meters in length; and 600 meters in width. It is fed by melting snows of the mountain. The region of Oshtaran-Kouh is a protected region of Lorestan Province. It covers an area of 55,000 hectares, and is engulfed by the cities of Doroud, Aligoudarz, and Ozna. There is no motorway to the lakes and the best way to get there is climbing around 18 kilometers. It might be possible to hire pack-animals (usually donkeys)to assist with equipment & foods and etc. The one-way fee was around 12 euro for a donkey! For us, it took around 5 hours of non-stop hiking to reach the lake. There ... read more
practicing fishing
here is the route to reach the lake
Yea, women are also enough strong! ;-)

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

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