In the morning, we enjoyed plenty of space, reasonable internet access and the cool mountain breeze before heading back to Tehran – which in this case, should be a part of Italy. San Marco ice cream shop is a wonderful little cafe in the rather poshy, rather „liberal“ northern part of the city and owned by Hassan. He has studied in Berlin and spent several years there, before returning to Tehran with his family.
Several people (independently from each other) told us that we should not miss the ice cream and that Hassan is a passionated off road driver. In the first moment, parking in front of the shop was just like any parking spot in Iran: people getting interesting in us. But this time, we were soon questioned closer about the 4x4, the engine, and the (unfair for both parts...) comparison to the two Land Cruiser besides Kalimero. OK, no V6 gasoline engine, transmission might be weaker, but hey, show me how to take a shower in your Toyota :)
We had some very decent coffee (italian quality) but soon went off to see the jewelery museum. The National Bank of Iran displays some of the world's biggest diamonds in the city center, plus a ridiculously huge diamond chair, globus, swords and so on and so on...as a backup for its finances. Unfortunately, security was more elaborate than on a transatlantic flight, we were not allowed to bring cameras.
Back at San Marco in Ghetariyeh, we spent an incredibly nice evening with Hassan and his numerous friends. All being outdoor campers, we had dinner between Kalimero and Hassan's Land Cruiser, enjoyed the warm summer evening and learned A LOT about Iran, Tehran, its culture and people. After midnight, we were invited into a small nomad-tent-style restaurant in the even more northern parts of Tehran. Hassan, we can't thank you enough for this wonderful evening!
|San Marco Ice Cream - the taste of Italy with Iranien ingredients|
|Hassans Land Cruiser|
|Dinner with increadibly nice and interesting people|
|unconventional window transportation|
|Musicians performing on Teherans streets|
Morning was simple: Latte Macchiato, Cappucino, cinnamon roll from the shop next to Hassan's, then ice cream. It's really hard to eat traditional Iranian food, when this is your alternative – in the end, we are from the northernmost city of Italy and live under heavy US influence.
Our schedule was packed, so we were to rush on to Isfahan. We initially planned to go through Pakistan, but with a security level rather fading to non-existence than improving, we skipped this when we learned about the killing of Non-Balotchis by some terrorists south of Quetta, just on our route. We wouldn't want to imagine what such guys do with foreign tourists. Returning home was not a satisfying option to us, so we looked at other (call them coward or finally getting wiser - we don't care :) ) routes: there is a RoRo-ferry from Dubai to Mumbai every secound week, and we decided to get this one in time to (inshallah) still get to Ladakh in time, before winter comes. To do so, we need to be in Dubai by September 12th, so less than 2 weeks left. There is a (relatively expensive, because Iranian-state run) ferry from Bandar Abbas to Dubai twice a week, so our schedule was set from now.
Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast (Isfahan is half the world)
Isfahan's heydays were the 16th century, when the Safavid dynasty made it their capital. Countless palaces, mosques and parks still fill the center of this 1.6 million city. August/September may not be the ideal time for a visit to Iran, but in the shades of the public parks, it's hard to imagine more beautiful places. The central square (named after some religious guy, just as every biggest park/street/bridge/... in Iran after the revolution) is just amazing, surrounded by the Friday-Mosque, the Lotfalla Mosque, the Ali Quapu Palace and the Grand Bazaar. We walked the city for two days until our feet bled and in the evening hours, when the Imam Square filled with hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of Iranians enjoying summer breezes, water pipes, and (non-alcoholic, of course) beer, we did the same. Of course we were approached by Iranians tourists and locals with more or less profound English knowledge. It was interesting to learn about their view on the world. Most are surprisingly well-informed and -reflected, but sometimes situations got quite awkward. At least in our (of course, enemy-influenced) picture of this planet, the little moustache-wearing German did not bring freedom to the Arab world and India by liberating them from the evil English and French, HIV is not a man-made biological weapon invented for birth control, and Germans were not sole victims and all „not guilty“ in WWII.
Anyway, we enjoyed beautiful Isfahan where we stayed at the (somewhat pricely, but quiet) Tourist Inn in the south of the city.
|Taking the bus to the center, experiencing a different form of Apartheid|
|Grand Mosque or Jameh Mosque or Friday Mosque in Isfahan|
|Imam Khomeini Square (Naqsh-e Jahan Square before the revolution) was formerly used for Polo games|
|During the day it is quiet and relaxing|
|Spice mill at the bazaar, during the day a camel pulls the stone around, we came there too late.|
|These rooms are built in the 11th century and the trade inheritat over generations|
|the spices are mixed to give "curry"|
|the 85 year old spice trader|
|Spices sold at the bazaar are mixed with old bread, he told us (true?)|
|Isfahan is famous for its traditional hand printed fabrics|
|A rebuilt Hamam serving delicious food|
|Chehel Sotun, the palace with 44 columns|
|Isfahan is very green and has a lot of beautyful parks|
|Biryani is a specialty from Isfahan, bread with a paste of lamb and onions served with fresh mint leaves|
|...and eaten with your hands|
|33 pond bridge - the last years the Zayandeh river was dry during the summer month|
|Nevertheless it is cool between the 33 ponds in the afternoos|
|Ali, a literature professor writing a tourist guide book about Isfahan showed us his city|
|In the evening the Imam Square filled up|
|to give the well known picture|