Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Day 82:Esfahan to Persepolis. 450km, 6 hours, 25-34degC

Each day Dick prepares the route in his head.
His homework includes checking possible routes on a map, on google maps and mapsMe.
He checks the weather, too, a good brain workout.

We tend to set off early in the morning because there is ess traffic and it is cooler.
Today is no exception.
we ride south and into the desert.

We thought we would be riding alongside a lake, but when we get there the lake is dry.
There are some salt pans along the way, along with intermittent patches of green where water has brought life to the desert. Crops of potatoes, tomatoes and some corn...

At the traffic lights tobacco smoke fills the air. We become acutely sensitive to smells  on the bike.
the majority of the cars that we see on the road are Peugeot. Some Renault and Citroen and Japanese and Korean and Chinese brands. There are other brands that we don't recognise.

Many family vehicles have loads on the roof. Many have CNG tanks in the boot. The fuel stations often have gas and petrol bowsers.

Having a Google translate chat.
 Vegetables growing along the road. Sunflowers, too.
Water reticulation in the dry areas is via qanats - and ancient system of underground water channels that bring water from the mountains in underground tunnels which have a very gentle gradient.

We stopped for a drink at a truck stop. The drivers were about to have lunch on the carpet benches.

Our home tonight at the end of the treelined avenue at Perseplis.

Fried fish, lime, rice garnished with raw onion and capsicum.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Day 82a: exploring Esfahan

Come and join us for breakfast in the stunning breakfast room.  Fresh flowers, beautiful painted walls, chandeliers...
An omelet for me and the egg stirred into a tomato and onion sauce for Dick. 
Fresh fruit. The white melon is especially delicious. Luscious peaches, too.



The Local newspaper in English. We found the newspapers to have less opinion and more reportage than newspapers in New Zealand.
Here are a couple of references to articles on food security and on settling the treasury bills that the government had given to contractors in lieu of payment after the global financial crisis.
 We go for a walk to explore some of the sights.
Chehel Sotun Palace. The original was built by Shah Abbas 1 in 1647 but this pavilion was built in 1706 after a fire destroyed the original. This building is the pavilion which is surrounded by classical Persian gardens that are listed with the UNESCO heritage list. The walls and vaulted ceilings are decorated with frescoes.

Highly decorated vaulted ceilings from the 17th century.

 It is only a short walk to Imam square and the bazaar.
Imam square. 
 I love the way people are so welcoming to me as we walk around. 
This delightful girl was interpreter for my conversation with her family.

Elham and her mother.


The Armenia Apostolic Cathedral of the Saviour commonly known as  Vank Cathedral in the New Julfa area.
The cathedral was built in 1606 and dedicated to the hundreds of thousand of Armenians who were deported during the 1603-1618 Ottoman war.
Shah Abbas 1 brought the Armenians to Esfahan and they were settled in the area known as New Julfa.

Notice the crosses on the domes and the towers.
The interior highly decorated. Biblical frescoes.
The museum had a special section on the Armenian genocide with maps, documents and  photographs.


Frescoes at the Vank Cathedral.
An original Armenian gospel from the 9-11th century.

Sapphora and I had a wonderful conversation via Google translate and English. Sapphora and her friends, Samoye and Elham are nurses. They share nurses humour. They were having evening out.  They had bowls of ash reshte a lamb and vegetable soup and ice team.

Ash reshte a soup  with sour cream and fried onions.
 Delicious saffron ice cream.


From the Abassi hotel evening buffet. Kofte, fried spinach and egg, dolma has, saffron rice, raw carrot and lime. I am enjoying this break from chicken and lamb shashlik tonight.
Perfectly cooked lamb cutlet kebabs at restaurant Sharrzad. Served with blackened tomato, flatbread fries and lime.


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Day 81: Kashan to Esfahan: 230km, 4 hours, 25-35°C

We roamed the market during the evening.
Rested to the sound of babbling water fountains in the courtyard.
Dined under the stars.
All ready for a new day in the morning.

Macaroons at the market. The baked treats were tender and delicious.
I was looking forward to the evening meal because we had heard such good reports. This would be a departure from the shashlik and kebab as we have seen in the menu most days.  The eggplant vegetarian dish was delicious. I was a little disappointed with the lamb and chicken dishes. They looked good but the chicken was overpowered by the pomegranate and spices.


Dresses at the market are beautifully decorated.
Fabric stores have many rolls of black chador fabric. When I looked more closely I could see that they had be woven with all kinds of patterns. The are really black - the flash has 'greyed' them.

The ancient design of the wind towers (badgirs) provides effectived air conditioning in the hot, dry climate. The first historical evidence of the wind towers dates back to the fourth millennium BC. In Kashan the houses are closely set together, have thick walls, small windows facing away from the sun.
The courtyards often have a pool and here at Eshan hotel there were pomegranate trees.



The rooftops in Kashan.
Orlanda was parked on the roof. Exit through the narrow doorway was choreographed carefully.
Ready to ride south.

Desert for the whole day's ride.
People come and talk to us when we stop at the petrol stations. 
Many have their mobile photos in their hands...
They want to take our photos and are happy for me to take theirs. 
Many folk have Instagram accounts and are happy for me to post photos on my pearlsonwheels Instagram page. 
Cheerful waves from cars and motorcycles along the way.
Sometimes drivers cross the white line and come and look more closely at Orlanda. Then they swerve away. I find it a bit disconcerting sometimes- especially when they are driving at speed.

Arrival in Esfahan (Isfahan).
Cool under the shade of the treelined avenues.
Hotel Abassi is our home for a couple of nights. 
The main building was a caravanserai. Caravanserai are places where travelers can rest after a day's journey. I am very happy to be visiting this one. Caravanserai were found frequently along the Persian Empire's Royal road which was built during the Achaemenid empire 550BC-330BC. The road stretched 2,500km from Sardis in west Anatolia to Susa in Iran that Herodotus

The Abassi hotel is around 300 years old. It was built during the Safavid era by Shah Soltaniyeh Hossein Safavi. 

What a treat.