Hard to come to terms with the fact that this amazing and unusual trip of contrasts and adventures has finally come to an end. But wait, there is still one day left in Tehran before we hit the sand dunes of Doha, Qatar tomorrow.
On Saturday evening, again Sara organised an interesting Persian Traditional House Courtyard restaurant for an interesting dinner after which Cameron and I, the Swiss guys and German Gabriel (these guys have been so much fun and good company) had a walk around town past all the little shops, restaurants and tea houses which were now open and buzzing until we arrived at that magic place in Esfahan, the main beautiful and exciting Square.
We settled in at a rooftop tea house and spent a couple of hours just watching the people and happenings below as the people finished their Fast breaking picnic dinners and had fun together. Another midnight return to our hotel, I think I’ve become a night owl, the only problem was that we had to be ready for an all day bus trip back to Tehran by 8.30 am.
Sahar again went to the end the degree for us, nobody was particularly keen to return to Tehran too early so she arranged for our bus driver to stop in a very interesting little town en route called Kashan, an Oasis city on the edge of Dasht-e Kavir desert.
We visited a beautiful old traditional house with 5 interlinked courtyards (all had separate functions) fountains in each, summer rooms, winter rooms, reception areas all of which were used many years ago. Angled corridors for privacy, Badgirs which channel the much needed breezes so well into the homes. All very cleverly engineered and must have been exquisitely beautiful with Persian carpets, silk quilts and gold plates many years ago.
A beautiful old hamam (bathhouse) was also visited, I always enjoy visiting the ancient bathhouses, they must have been fun places to hang out in (certainly beats Lane Cove swimming pool each morning).
Lunch in a traditional old teahouse with yet more rice and bread was inevitable, as much as I’m ready for a change in diet, the experience of eating in these places sitting cross legged (ugh, I think I’m getting old) on the raised Persian carpets to dine is always fun. Freshly made lemon juice sans sugar is a favourite drink (who needs a NZ chardy, Lucille?).
Back on the bus until we finally reached the chaotic city of Tehran about 7 pm, a long day of travelling. But intrepid our group is, and without showers etc, we departed after a change of headscarf for the bright lights of Tjarish area for a walk through the market (I hope I am going to be able to get my Safron through Aussie customs - look out for me on Border Control), so interesting with all the lights on, venders offering us tastes of local produce, free tea, plenty of atmosphere.
Dinner was in a really fancy restaurant un on a mountain side with a stream running past, all very picturesque and for the first time in Iran, I wore a cardigan.
At times we all bastardise the English language, we use the word ‘stunning’ incorrectly, stunning is in my opinion the only and correct word to be used for this amazing country, Iran. It is stunning, not always that amazingly beautiful, however, the landscapes, barren desert panorama’s, mud brick buildings, Mosques with their mosaic colourful tiles, domes, minarets, Persian carpets and serene atmosphere, tree lined boulevards, Persian gardens filled with roses and fountains.
The history of this country, the Islamic, Zoroastrian, Armenian, Jewish religions all living side by side in harmony, so much to take in.
Again though this country’s biggest asset must be it’s people, descendants of Cyrus the Great, (they once slept on silk quilts and ate off gold plates, sadly no more as they are going through tough financial times at present, but no matter as they don’t let this period affect their bonhomie). I will remember the Persian hospitality forever, they constantly stop to chat with us, offer us tea and information, make sure we are ok or merely smile at us and say ‘welcome’.
Will I ever be able to articulate my experiences of my trip to Iran, I hope so. Some trips have faded into the background of my memory bank, I believe Iran (like my trip to Israel 42 years ago) will probably always remain a vivid memory.
Our leader, crazy enthusiastic Sahar, diverse, fun and interesting group of travellers all made it such a fun trip.
I can highly recommend Iran as a fascinating destination for intrepid travellers (McGregor’s have you booked your flights?). The lack of tourists was a huge plus for this trip, it makes such a difference as the local people were just happy to see visitors from the western world, they want to be understood and liked by the rest of the world and our message to people back home is that the Iranians don’t have two heads, are not hiding around the corner waiting to either shoot or kidnap Westerners, they are a very normal, educated, friendly and harmonious nation.
Obviously there are many problems here which I am not about to go into in my journal, that is probably their business, political, financial and needing to move on.
I am looking forward to getting home, I can’t wait to see the family and especially Maddie, just can’t wait to see her and hope you are going well, Nadine. I wonder how our Osprey family are going, whether we have chicks yet and if so how many.
Priscilla, I would love a barbecue when we join you in Laurieton as soon as I have caught up with Nadine and Evan.
I hope you are still keeping well Mum and that you enjoyed the company of all the people I organised to take care of you whilst I was away.
Bon voyage Wendy and Alan, you must be excited about meeting Phoebe and catching up with Jacky in London.
Ellen and Gill, are we ready for Port Douglas? You will have to shut me up as I have a wealth of Persian stories to divulge, more than a bottle of wine’s worth, ha ha.
We are spending the day in Tehran and fly out to Doha at midnight.