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Elspeth in Center of Iran


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Hi, I'm Elspeth from Australia.

You can read the first part of my Iran Trip on south of Iran, Qeshm Island.

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.

bam citadel
 

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 restoration.

bam citadel, kerman, iran, arge bam
 

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.

Baghe shazdeh, shazdeh garden
 

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.

 

kaloot, kalout, kerman

 Iran is 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 bazaar

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 Garden.

fathabad garden
 

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 friends.

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.

eagle mountain, 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 silence.

trekking around yazd, yazd
 

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.

yazd mountain, trekking yazd
 

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.

trekking in yazd, yazd
 

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.

breakfast at mpuntains, yazd
 

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.

 

yazd old town, art gallery

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.

souvenir, iran, bag hand made
 

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 gently snowing.

kharanaq village, kharanagh, yazd, iran
 

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.

 We arrived 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.

garmeh, mesr desert
 

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.

mesr desert, mesr desert tour
 

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 startling.

abyaneh, abyaneh village, kashan
 

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.

 

qom, holy shrine, qom shrine

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.

persian food, delicious rice
 

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.

soltaniyeh, zanjan
 

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.

zanjan
 

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 over.

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.

baqlava, sweet in qazvin
 

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.