Tabriz & Kandovan
Met up with Guide and caught a bus to the Blue Mosque - a very beautiful place, but the setting is pretty terrible - Iran does not appear to look after it’s heritage very well. No real care taken for presentation or access. And the 3000 year old cemetery behind the mosque is under concrete and about to have a mall built on top of it… The mosque was originally built in 1465, mostly destroyed by earthquake in 1779, rebuilt in 1973. The original paint/tiling is still visible in places and it’s not hard to imagine how amazing it would have been.
Went to Gojar/Amir Nezam House - an old house/museum with old stuff in it.
Wandered through (the UNESCO world heritage site) Bazaar which was breathtaking in many, varying ways and places.
Walked quietly (felt like I had to, even though it was empty!) through the huge Jame Mosque
Then we grabbed lunch - down some dodgy stairs into basically a hole in the ground for a delicious Dizi (this is why I pay for guides!)
Talked a lot with my guide (who has a mention in Lonely Planet which he is very proud of) about social issues and the economy (buying gold and carpets = inflation proof) but he kept going on about ‘Beautiful Ladies’ while looking directly at them, roughly a meter away. I looked suitably embarrassed and apologetic each time. I visited the guides house and met his wife and child. I’m sure you can all picture how relaxed I was in this setting, but the house was pretty normal except for the furniture which is all pretty gaudy to my tastes. That seems to be the norm there.
After lunch headed to Kandovan (“If you keep on this road you’ll end up in Iraq”). Really special place and deserves more care and protection from local tourists and their cars/garbage. It was here that my panic response to people talking to me was kicking in, which apparently means responding in Spanish…
Enjoyed the drive back, looking/thinking about village life listening to some much needed music. Reminded me a lot of Nicaragua (though that may have just been the smell of burning garbage). Everyone seemed happy though, with someone to talk to. All the old men hanging out making fun and laughing like schoolboys. All smiles. I guess all the sad ones are hiding inside somewhere?
Back in Tabriz we had a wander around El-Goli park at dusk. I got crapped on by a lot of birds but I was told that it’s good luck which made me totally ok with being crapped on by a lot of birds.
I was recommended a Pizza place near the hotel, so I did my best to order a chicken pizza off a menu, with no pictures, to a person who spoke no English.
I enjoyed my sandwich very much then headed back to the hotel where I scared a small girl when she tried to get into the lift.
Strongly felt the need to hide in the hotel all morning. Managed to leave at about 10:30 and did a big block around my hotel to try and get a feel for the city. It’s nice enough but rather third-world. No footpaths, a garden centre on the side of the road (on land that I suppose no one really owns) and a stream full of garbage and who knows what else.
Ordered and received a pizza for lunch.
Headed to the airport and saw (another) jet flying around - there is an air base nearby. Checked in without any drama, though much more security than flying from Tehran. A young (18? year old) boy came with his dad to chat, asking where I lived (“yes, I know New Zealand” - “In Europe” when pressed). He was surprised how good my english was. And the flight was only 10 minutes late.