Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Day 77: Marand to Zanjan, Iran. 380 km 10 hours.

Yashar is a great young ambassador for Iran.
When we stopped on the street last night men gathered around.
This was our first taste of Iranian friendliness.
What did we need?
A hotel...
Yashar ran ahead  us to a hotel down the street.
Where shall we park?
No problem, ride up the footpath and park outside the front door...



 

A quizzical gathering of men come to say goodbye.

 
A group to farewell us...
 
We ride past these taxis up onto the footpath and on out of Marand.

 

 

 

 
Mosques along the way.
Iran is a a theocratic Islamic republic. 90-95% of Iranians identity with Shi'a branch is Islam which is the state religion.5-10% identify as Sunni or Sufi branches of Islam. The remaining  0.6% are non Islamic. Jews, Christians and Zoroastrian are minor religions here and are officially recognised and protected and have reserved seats in the Iran parliament. Zoroastrianism were once the dominant religion in Iran. Baha'i is a breakaway faith of Islam dating back to 1840 and is not officially recognised. 

 
Wheat fields. The first of many 100s of km that we see in Iran. Hillsides have been harvested. The ground has been ploughed and dished and in some cases harrowed ready for seed planting before the winter.
 
No room at this hotel in Tabriz.
The celebration of the festival of sacrifice signalling the end if Eid is this weekend. 
Many families are taking a break over the four day holiday.


 

 
 
 
We arrived just as the weekend was beginning on Thursday afternoon. Traffic is heavy.
It is also a special holiday - the end of Eid which in Islam is when the feast of the sacrifice is celebrated. In the Muslim tradition this commemorates when Abraham prepared to sacrifice Ishmael and instead sacrifices a goat. They say that Abraham's  reward was another son, Isaac.

An angel appears - in a black and red tee shirt riding a scooter.  "Hotel? I'll take you to a good hotel."
He does.

 
 .... the angel on a scooter leads us through the dense traffic and delivers us to the Ghasr Hotel.

 
We go for a walk in search of lunch.
A wee challenge because it is Thursday and most shops close around midday.
We find a grill open and order shashlik. We are going to see a lot of shashlik and kebabs...
The baker makes wonderful fresh bread in the tandir.  


  
Sunflower seeds and fresh pistachio nuts which taste sweet.

 

The weather looks good for the next few days. Cool evenings here on the high plateau and warm sunny days.


  
Breakfast. Some freshly baked flat Brea, butter and carrot jam - which had a slight citrus taste, along  with sliced cucumber and tomato (on every breakfast table since we arrived in Europe in June)

 

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