A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019


To Kerman

After breakfast at the Caravanserai, we continued our journey southward through the Iranian desert.

We stopped at Anar to visit a shrine. Here, the women had to wear a chador to enter. Many of the shrines we have visited, including this one, are elaborately decorated with mirrored tile, which makes the interior dazzle.

We reached Kerman in mid-afternoon, and headed out to visit the bazaar. Kerman is the largest city in southeast Iran. The bazaar complex dates to the late 1500s. We visited a Hammam, now converted to a museum. Then we spent the balance of the afternoon wandering through the alleys of the bazaar. We are finding the Iranian people exceptionally friendly and welcoming - we are frequently stopped, asked where we are from, and welcomed to Iran.

In the evening we had a large, multi-course dinner at our hotel.

Outside our caravanserai
Outside our caravanserai
Anar Shrine
The ladies in our group in chadors
Pat and Jayne in chadors
Anar Shrine

Inside Anar Shrine
At the bazaar
At the bazaar
At the bazaar
At the bazaar
At the bazaar

Posted by Jimpat 10:20 Comments (0)


Yazd - Day 2

Our day began with a visit to a beautiful Persian garden, the Dowlatabad Abad Garden. This garden was constructed in about 1750, and boasts a fine example of a wind tower in its pavilion. A wind tower captures desert breezes and transmits them to the interior of a building, creating a wonderful interior tempature despite scorching outdoor temperatures.

Once again our able guide has managed to find us a place that serves cappuccinos, which we are able to enjoy in the garden, notwithstanding that it is Ramadan.

We visited a small museum that taught us about Iranian “qanats”, ancient underground water channels that provide water to desert towns and gardens. The qanats are dug by hand from aquifers in the mountains, and transport water, often dozens of miles.

We spent the rest of the morning exploring the narrow, winding streets of old Yazd. Much of the city is constructed of mud brick, covered over with plaster of mud and straw, so that the whole city is the colour of the surrounding desert.

At lunch, we went to a local restaurant, where we enjoyed an Iranian dish called “Dizi”. This dish, made with lamb, chickpeas, white beans, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, turmeric and lime, is cooked for a long time in a clay pot. Then the contents are mashed and served with rice. Delicious!

In the afternoon we continued our journey southward. We stopped at Saryazd Fortress. This large mud brick fortress was constructed in the 7th century, and was used to store valuables and foodstuffs against marauders. We then continued on until we reached the Zein-o-Din Caravanserai, where we would spend the night. This Caravanserai was one of 999 that were constructed in the 16th century along the Silk Road, to accommodate traders and travelers. This one has been restored and functions as a modern inn.

Dowlatabad Abad Garden
Wind Tower
Ceiling in wind tower
Mick, Jayne and Pat waiting for our cappuccinos
Mick, Jayne, Pat, Amin our guide, and Jim

Our yummy lunch of Dizi soup

A woman serving our Dizi soup
Jim mashing some of the cooked ingredients that go in the Dizi soup

Saryazd Fortress
Saryazd Fortress
Saryazd Fortress
Saryazd Fortress
Saryazd Fortress
Saryazd Fortress
Saryazd Fortress
Outside the Caravanserai
Dining area in the Caravanserai
Courtyard in the Caravanserai
Sleeping area in the Caravanserai

Posted by Jimpat 05:38 Comments (0)


Yazd, Iran

Yazd is a city of about 500,000 located in the desert at the geographic centre of Iran.

Yazd is a centre of Zoroastrianism in Iran. Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion that predates the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century. Yazd today has a relatively high number of Zoroastrians. Our day started with a visit to an ancient Zoroastrian Tower of Silence on the outskirts of Yazd. Traditionally, the Zoroastrians disposed of their dead in these mountaintop Tower of Silence. The body was cleaned, and turned over to priests. The priests transported the body to the top of the Temple of Silence, where it was left in the open. Vultures would remove all of the flesh from the body. After that, the remains would be retrieved by the priests for burial.

We then visited a Zoroastrian Fire Temple. A fire temple is a place of worship for Zoroastrians, at which priests maintain a perpetual fire, a key element of the Zoroastrian religion.

Our travel group has a passion for coffee and, despite the fact that it is Ramadan and most places serving food and beverages are closed during the day, we were able to find a place serving cappuccinos.

We visited the Jameh Mosque in the heart of Yazd, and the main square and some shopping streets radiating from that.

In the evening, we visited a zurkaneh for a performance of varzeshe baastani. “Varzeshe baastani” translates as “ancient sport”, and is a form of ritual exercise performed by men to the beat of a drum and the sounds of a singer. The event is performed in a domed structure called a zurkaneh. The athletes perform a standard pattern of exercises, kind of an ancient form of aerobics.

Later that evening, our guide took us to a very modern restaurant, where we enjoyed some fabulous Iranian dishes. Due to serious declines in the value of Iranian currency, as a result of American sanctions, we find that the cost of food is very low for foreigners.

A view of the Tower of Silence
This is the area where the priests laid the bodies. The hole is where the bones were later put.
Jim with his back to another Tower of Silence
Zoroastrian Fire Temple
Jameh Mosque
varzeshe baastani
Yazd main square at night
Lamb Shank
Rice with lentils

Posted by Jimpat 05:18 Comments (0)


Leaving Tehran

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We had a morning tour of Tehran today. Tehran is a large city of over 15 million, nestled at the foot of some snow-capped mountains. It is incredibly busy.
Our guide took us first to the Golestan Palace. This palace was built in its present form in 1865, as a home for the Qajar dynasty. It is a remarkable place of opulent luxury. Many of the rooms consist of elaborate mirrored walls and ceilings, making them absolutely dazzling. The gardens are beautiful.
Ou next stop was the National Museum of Iran. This museum exhibits archeological finds prior to 700 a.d. We saw some spectacular artifacts from the Persian Empire city of Persepolis, including a large wall relief showing Darius the Great. The detail is stunning. There was also a statue of Darius, and a number of other artifacts found in Persepolis, despite the fact that that city was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 300 B.C.
We went for lunch in an interesting underground restaurant. Then our final stop in Tehran was the Jewellery Museum, which houses the Iranian Crown Jewels. Security at the museum was extremely tight, and for good reason. The scope of the collection was staggering - we have never seen such a collection of valuable jewelry.
Our guide then took us to the Tehran train station where we boarded our relatively modern train for the trip to Yazd. The trip took about 6 hours, and traveled chiefly through dry desert lands. Finally, about 10:00 pm, we arrived at our hotel in Yazd.

Inside Golestan Palace
Inside Golestan Palace
Inside Golestan Palace
Outside Golestan Palace
Beautiful tiles outside the palace
Handsome man outside the palace
Love the tile work!
Artifact from Persepolis at the National Museum
Artifact from Persepolis at the National Museum
Artifact from Persepolis at the National Museum

Posted by Jimpat 04:35 Comments (0)


Off to Iran

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We got up early and caught the shuttle bus back to the new Istanbul airport. The new airport is far outside of Istanbul, at least an hour’s drive. The new airport is very nice, large, bright, and modern.
Our flight to Tehran was under 3 hours. On arrival at the Tehran airport, we breezed through Immigration. We found a money exchange place, and cashed in 150 euros. Then we got a taxi to our hotel.
En route to the hotel, we compared the amount of Iranian currency that we had received from the exchange place with our fireign exchange app. We came to the conclusion that the woman had given us 3 times too much Iranian money. For 150 euros, we received almost 15,000,000 rials, while we expected to receive only about 500,000 rials. We received nearly 2” of bills! We learned later that the Iranian currency has suffered steep drops in value lately (apparently due to economic sanctions imposed on it).
Our hotel was nice, and we had only 2 hours to wait until the first meeting of our tour group. The group was made up of us 2 Canadians, 3 Yanks, 5 Australians, 2 English, and 1 German. The average age is probably about mid-50s.
Our guide suggested a restaurant, but somehow our group passed it by, and wandered about looking for a restaurant. We finally found a cafe and had an interesting dinner, before heading back to our hotel for the night.

Istanbul airport

Posted by Jimpat 17:00 Comments (0)

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