Isfahan & Abyaneh
First impression of Isfahan (ignoring the stinky meatworks passed on the way in): Gaudy. Coloured lights everywhere. Bad Traffic. Ok hotel. ‘Kentucky House” fried chicken.
Early start for Naqshe Jahan Square, including Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (with the beautiful ceiling, pictured above), A-ali Qapu Palace and the Bazaar.
At the Imam Mosque (which is at a jaunty angle to the square so as to face Mecca) we met a religious man off to Europe to spread the good word, keen to practise his English. All very good and well, showed us the pocket translator, but then asked me about religion and it all went a bit downhill there. It was not bad, I just got a lecture and he lost interest in practising his English. The main dome had a spot right in the middle where the echo was just epic and I spent far too long there maybe strange noises.
Lotfollah mosque was very ornate and beautiful, and built for a man who gave his daughter’s hand in marriage to the Shah at the time.
The Palace had a lot of stairs, but the music room at the very top was awesome, with the special sound deadening tiles to stop reverberations.
Wandered the (again, huge) bazaar with some fresh cantaloupe juice until we ended up at the Jame mosque with it’s ancient old domes (several rebuilt after being destroyed by Iraqi rockets in the war) and leaning columns because they didn’t quite get the foundations right. Still standing though.
Lunch was beryani – bread and lamb/lamb fat with yoghurt juice – which was nice except for the yoghurt juice ack.
After an afternoon kip at the hotel (via taxi) to avoid the heat it was off to the 40 column palace (Bagh-e Chehelsotoon) (20 real columns, 20 reflected in the pool) and it’s lovely gardens. They have fake dinosaurs there for some reason. Inside, I was swarmed by a bunch of giggling school girls keen to “practise their english” and determine if I had a girlfriend or not.
After wandering we had some iced (lemon flavoured) wheat germ WHICH IS AMAZING.
Back to Naqshe Jahan Square for the evening light/coolness where I met young Mohammed who told me his sad tale of a stolen bicycle, another guy trying to be my tour guide and 2 Iraqi’s and their girlfriends.
Caught a taxi to the Vank Cathedral/museum but it was closed, so wandered back along the (dry) river to the 33 Arc/Khajou bridge, crossed it, then had dinner at a swanky place. I had chicken in pomegranate and walnut sauce on rice and it was super.
Off again for the Vank Cathedral in the old Armenian (that is, Christian) settlement (and by settlement I mean they were forcibly moved there from Northern Iran to stop them causing trouble). Very beautiful paintings with that typically Christian brutality to them. By far the best part were the super old books in the museum. The worst part was all the genocide stuff…
Onwards to Anyaneh Village! Again, a pretty drive, passing some Anti Aircraft guns around the nuclear enrichment facilities passed Natanz. The road into the mountains was beautiful – a bit greener and you’d be back in NZ. Passed THROUGH a small tornado (you could feel the car suspension lurching ) and I got it on video, to be shared later.
The village was really lovely, very red, and would be excellent to photo in the morning light, but I did not have the luxury so I made do. Highlight was watching two old ladies attempting to move a donkey, then a third poking her head out the upstairs window to give her opinion on the matter.
Lots more nuclear enrichment facilities between Abyaneh and Kashan, so no more photos!