Apart of sightseeing we met locals from Tehran. Interesting discussions with them gave us more insight about the contry and its people. One evening we spent with Leila and her family. We met Leila and her husband Nasser some time ago while waiting at the boarder to enter Iran. Spontaneously Leila invited us for dinner in Teheran. It was a very nice evening with an excellent dinner.
The next days we have been on tour with Shahdeh, whom we already had met in Tabriz. She had offered us to join her and her friend Felix for a trip to the South of Iran. What a great opportunity for us. Within these 5 days we have seen and learnt much more about the history and culture of Iran than we would have thought of.
To get to to Shiraz we took the plane. We had a beautiful view on desert landscapes and salt lakes. We arrived before lunch and could start our sightseeing program already in the afternoon. In 11/2 days we visited: Hamam, Nasin al-Mulk mosque, garden Bagh-e Eram, Zitadelle, Zinat al Moluk house, shrine of Hafez, Vakil Bazar and some other places. Most of the time we have been accompanied by a tourguide, so we got an introduction to the cultural and historical background as well. It was very interesting and exciting.
The first evening we enjoyed the Iranian kitchen accompied by music and dancing presentation. After dinner of the 2nd evening we went to the Quran Gate the entrance to Shiraz if arriving by car or bus. We were surprised how many people were on the road playing music, dancing and smoking Shishah. It is very seldom even for the Iranians that inhabitants enjoy life in public.
The Citizien of Shiraz are known for being lazy, they work only as much as needed. They even make jokes about themselves, like to lough a lot and entertain others. Completely different are people from Esfahan. They always try to make a good business, lamenting and looking for disputes. Shahdeh who always was dealing with the taxi drivers can tell many stories about it. After two days in Esfahan and the drive back to Tehran she was fed up with these guys and also their insults. Fortunately she did not translate all she got told and we were lucky to have her with us.
The visit of Perseopolis an UNESCO world heritage and Naqsh-e-Rostam (Rock graves) were a must.
Perseopolis goes back to 518 BCH and was built by Darius I. It was one of the Principle towns of the antique Persian Empire. The town was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BCH. After being rebuilt it was used only twice a year for festival activities. The size is impressive, we have spent some hours with a tour guide strolling around and getting all infos about history. Even it was much smaller the rock graves have impressed us more then Perseopolis.
Another highlight was Esfahn, especially the Naqsch-e Dschahan at sunset and in the evening when the whole place was illuminated.
Esfahan reflects half of the world according to an Iranian saying. The impressions are incredible, best is to look at it yourself. Another landmark of the town are the illuminated bridges in the night. Unfortunately the river didin’t have any water. The water runs only 10 days every 2 months, the rest of the time the water is redirected to other towns and used as drinking water. Worth seeing was Masjed – Jame Mosque, Monar Jonban with the shaking minarettes, the Armenian Vank Cathedral, the Chehel Stoung Pavillon with the garden.
After a short hike to the fire temple we had a fantastic overview over Esfahan.
On the way back to Teheran we stopped in Natranz, Abyone and Kashan.
On this trip to the south we have finally tasted the good Iranian kitchen, we even put on some weight. New dishes were: Kalam Polo (rice with cabbage), Byriani, a speciality of liver and lung (Marie-Claire did not taste it) and many sweets.
The 5 day excursion was a full success. We had good fun, laughed a lot, took plenty of pics and returned dead tired and full of impressions back to Tehran.
The last two days we spent for Visa extension, another round of visits to say good bye. As a grand final we were invited for lunch from Shadhes mother – best Iranian kitchen.
On the same afternoon we have taken the bus and arrived at 10pm in Sari. Good to be back on the bike after 2 weeks break. Now we are on the way to Mashhad.