Hi, I'm Elspeth from Australia.
You can read the first part of my Iran Trip here.
In this part, I continue my travel to Iran by visiting Kerman
Province (Mahan, Rayen, Bam, Kaloots) then I'll go
to Yazd to meet my friends and then to Mesr desert, Abyaneh,
Qazvin and Zanjan.
Today I went to the Bam Citadel with my guide. The town
of Bam and the Citadel were devastated by a 6.6 earthquake in 2003. Over
40, 000 people were killed and the citadel was majorly destroyed.
Archaeologists, restorers, governments and private citizens
from German, Italy, France, and Japan as well as UNESCO and, of course, Iran
contributed funds and expertise to the Citadel's restoration. The restoration
is impressive not the least for the way the ruins are incorporated into the
While visiting we bumped into a German couple. He is in the
process of making his third film about Iran and he told us how he remembers
first visiting the Citadel 44 years ago with his then 6-year-old daughter. He taught English in Tehran for 6 years and
this is his fourth trip to Iran. He was one of those people that you wish that
you could invite to dinner and listen to him talk for hours. They were off to
near the Pakistani border as possible and then to spend 3 nights in the deep
desert. He had to be in his mid-70s. What an impressive couple.
With my guide's help, I climbed to the top of the Citadel.
The next stop was Rayen Citadel. To my mind nowhere near
as impressive as Bam but the view to the snow-covered peak was beautiful.
Then we went to Mahan, Shazdeh Gardens are the
first elevated Persian Gardens I have seen and with the autumn colors
they were exquisite.
The journey between Kerman and Sahdad goes through mountains rich in
minerals and this is reflected in myriad colours. The geological variety is
astounding. I am amazed, not just at the colour and beauty, but also how the
shapes and texture of these mountains constantly change.
From the moment I first saw a photo of the Kaloots I
knew I had to go there. Here is why.
a vast country. Awe-inspiring in its
magnificence and impossible to adequately capture on a phone camera.
Once in Kerman, we visited the bazaar, where
among other things, I purchased some ghavout, a particular spice blend found in
Kerman and introduced to me by a friend on her return from Iran.
Kerman is a pistachio country and it was interesting to
see row upon row of these trees. Unfortunately, it was not harvesting time so there
were no fresh pistachios for sale by the side of the road.
Our final stop before heading to Yazd was the beautiful Fathbad
We continued our Iran Trip to Yazd,
I have visited this city last year but I put it in my plan again to meet my
What an honour it is to be staying overnight
at the foot of the mountains in a village in the Labouk area 80 kms from Yazd.
Azimeh, her family and I arrived midafternoon and
the three men whose home it is, and who are long term friends of Azimeh and
Mehdi, welcomed us warmly.
The men set about the business of preparing a
BBQ. Azimeh and I sat outside watching the men and enjoying the view of the
snowcapped mountains. We moved comfortably between talking and companionable
The youngest of the three men is a talented
guitarist and singer who, in between tasks around the property, would practice
his guitar. In the evening he played and sang for us.
The marinated chicken kebabs prepared on the BBQ
were delicious. I loved listening to the conversation in Farsi surround me. I
am amazed at how very comfortable I was amongst these people I had just met and
how kind they were.
As the evening wore on there was a gentle flow of
delicious fruit and Iranian biscuits.
The normal sleeping arrangements here are mats on
the floor but here is a perfect example of the kindness of strangers, hearing
that I have a disability that makes getting up of the floor very difficult they
have bought a bed in for me.
It is almost bedtime and I look forward to
waking and looking out the window to the snow-capped mountains.
Breakfast this morning was around a campfire
surrounded by beauty. In the distance are the snowcapped mountains and in the
valley below a low lying cloud ad to the beauty.
You can have these kinds of mountain trips with Iran's Travel.
It was great to be back in the familiar alleyways
of Yazd old town today. It was lightly raining and it felt there was snow
not too far away. I love the cold so I was more than happy to explore and remind
myself of what an ancient city Yazd is. Azimeh and I had coffee
in a gallery that had some magnificent art. Unfortunately, the piece I loved
the most was enormous. The gallery owner offered to roll it for me, I have done
that before but on the final days of a trip not in the middle.
You can visit Yazd city in Best of Yazd Tour.
Instead, I bought a beautiful Iranian handbag. I
had walked past the shop a couple of times admiring the display. However, I
talked myself out of going in because I felt sure they would cost close to $AUD
100. Fortunately, Azimeh encouraged me. I couldn't believe the price. $AUD 12.
My problem then was to choose which one. I am very happy with my purchase.
Today I said a sad farewell to my dear friends to
continue Iran Trip.
We left Yazd in rain and headed towards Kharanagh.
To start with the snow was on the peaks but as we drove the snow came closer to
the road in what was spectacular scenery even by Iran's standards. Ali's sheer
delight in the beauty of it was as enjoyable as the scenery. By the time we
reached Kharanagh and were exploring the abandoned village, it was
You can visit Kharanagh village in Iran's Travel city tours.
We then passed through more magnificent scenery
and stopped and explored another almost abandoned mud-brick village, Bayazeh.
By now we were in the middle of the desert but this town was an oasis with date
palms and pomegranates.
in Mesr Desert in time to head out for sunset at the dunes. We had
hardly seen another car all day as we traveled through vast open spaces that
seemed to stretch my heart wide open but all of a sudden there were 5 tourist
coaches, 4 4 wheel drives, ATVs, motorbikes and lots of people. Aaarrrghh!
What a culture shock. My guide explained that it would've been Tehranis come
down for the weekend.
Part of me just wanted to turn around and get
back in the car and walk away from it but fortunately, My guide encouraged mean
to climb to the top of the closest dunes and it was definitely worth the effort.
Leaving the beauty of the Mesr desert
behind, We travelled through the vast open nothingness of the central desert
of Iran. There is something in me that expands and soars in such a landscape.
You can join our Mesr desert tours.
Slowly blue skies and desert turned to mountains
and clouds that looked as if they were holding snow. As we climbed towards Abyaneh
there was snow on the mountains, by the time we arrived the snow was on the
rooftops and the ground. The contrast of the red bricks and the white snow was
As we walked through the village I was once again
enchanted by the architecture. This was a place I visited last year and chose
to come back to. I had dreamt of strolling through the narrow alleyways,
sitting in the cafe overlooking the valley and generally having time just to
wander idly. The reality was that it was quite cold and in places, the water on
the pathways had turned to ice, therefore it was slippery. My guide helped me
stay upright but slippery surfaces induce terror so reluctantly I suggested we
head to the hotel. I was rewarded for this sensible idea with a balcony
overlooking a snow-covered mountain.
This morning we went for a crisp walk in the mist
at Abyaneh and then said farewell to the snow-covered village and
mountains and returned to the main highway through the desert and visited the Holy
Shrine of Qom. Chador was necessary as was a guide from the shrine. I was
hoping to have time to absorb the energy of the shrine on my own but it was not
to be. Foreigners are to be in the presence of the guide at all times. So
I took some photos and listened to history.
After this, My guide and I wandered around the shops
underneath the shrine and I found some beautiful small enamel plates at
excellent prices. I also purchased some of the sweets that not only are a
specialty of Qom, they come in tins with Iranian designs.
This evening we arrived in Qazvin where I
ate the local specialty of rice, beef, burberry, almonds and orange zest. Delicious.
Today we went to visit Soltaniyeh Dome
near Zanjan. It is breathtaking. It is 700 years old making it the
oldest dome in the world. At one point Italian archaeologists were working on
the restoration but that has stopped. However, the scaffolding is still in
place. It is now an amazing mix of the old and restored.
We met a local guide there who was a sheer
delight. He talked with us for a while and then suggested that we go and visit
a Buddhist temple. Having the opportunity to visit the only Buddhist temple in
Iran was too good to miss. We drove right up into the mountains into snow
country. I was on the lookout for what I imagined a Buddhist temple to be
and was looking for prayer flags. Eventually, we found it right at the end of
the mountain road. It was not a Buddhist temple. It was the Dash Kasan temple
from Mongolian times when Schemenism was practiced. It predates Islam. It felt
ancient and sacred and as if it had been a place of worship for a millennium.
A wonderful morning wandering around the handicrafts
in the restored old caravanserai in Qazvin. The handicrafts were locally
made and I took great delight in buying some beautiful painted glass from a
local woman. I could have spent hours there and filled my suitcase many times
We also purchased some local sweets including baklava
flavoured with saffron, cardamom, pistachio and cinnamon. The
colours looked great but one mouthful was enough to know they were way too
sweet for me.
The next stop was a coffee shop were on the grounds I
will try anything once I had grape juice, milk and espresso. It was delicious.
Next was the old Safavid Palace Chehel-Sotoun were
there was a calligraphy display including the works of miniaturists. Some of
the work is amazing, what at first glance looks like a simple background turns
out to be verses of the Koran written with the finest of brushes.
We also visited Amanina Hosseiniyeh, a
house for mourning Iman Hossein. It was a traditional house with
intricate ceilings and wall decorations. Most amazing was that on the wall facing
the sun were zodiac symbols and the windows were designed in such a way that
the sun would shine through on to the appropriate symbol.