Samstag, 14. September 2013

Day 84 - 88: the south: Yazd, Persepolis and Shiraz

After Isfahan, we drove on (past another huge Carrefour-style „hypermarket“ - but no, we resisted to enter this time) to the desert city Yazd. On the border of huge Iranian deserts, we looked at the picturesque adobe city center with its characteristic wind towers. Again, in the sun it was quite hot, but any shadow was relieving and the dry air was amazingly comfortable.

Roadside impressions

A typical windtower in downtown Yazd.

Wooden mosque door, centuries old.

and even older.

Under the shady arches, it was remarkably cool.

Construction work. Buildings are still built with the traditional clay method.

A mixture of clay and straw is used to cover bricks.

A local blacksmith.

Imam Ali, whom you can often see on wall, trucks etc. His role as successor of Mohammed was the reason for the Shia-Sunni split.

A little girl's proper praying instructions.

As a proper housewife, Katha is shopping pots and pans.

A famous temple of the Zoroastrians is located in Yazd.

with an eternal flame, a woodfire that burns since 1500 years.

The temple itself is rather neutral and a sharp contrast to all the mosques.
We stayed at a newly renovated guesthouse 25km outside of the city, and for a bargain price we slept in the courtyard and enjoyed the breakfast. With Kalimero standing/driving in the sun all day, we preferred cool air over the 35° interior, and the atmosphere was truly one of a kind.

Kalimero in front of the old Faraj fortress

Smoking water pipe in the courtyard (4 walls --> no headscarf) with a French-Chilean couple.

Waterplays in the courtyard.
Mahsoud, the owner of the Guesthouse, spoke perfect English with quite a British accent, and was also a maniac Land Cruiser desert driver. He told Kalimero some tracks where he had not to fear his unexperienced, wet-behind-the-ears owners would get him stuck, damaged or lost. So after a visit to the city, Kalimero drove his 2 surprised passengers on a straight, GPS-guided line from the main road 20km to some sand dunes just at the border of the desert. Michi intervened to drive some loops and wroom-wroooom donuts on a dry lake and surf through sand pools, but it may have appeared more like a 4-year old in the middle of a Sandkasten than like an experienced offroad driver.

We enjoyed the remoteness of the desert (no head-scarf, no t-shirt, showering naked outside the car!), gazed at the stars and our campfire. After a quiiiiiiiet night, we navigated back to tarmac to get the 500km to Persepolis done.

On the long driving days, we did not want to drink only water or Coke.
We found quite a refreshing alternative: BEER! Of course, alcohol-free, but very drinkable.

an extremly delicious refreshment (and almost a full meal): fresh carrot juice with ice cream.

Persepolis is the city of the Persian rulers around 500 BC, and today an astonishing lot of its detailed carvings are still intact – also thanks to Alexander the Great, who inadvertedly burnt the city down over 2000 years ago. The ashes and following millenia covered the structures and kept them for the afterworld.
We arrived in the evening, just to be woven on a „parking and camping“ ground – well, a huge area of asphalt next to a park. Almost empty when we came at 7pm, the place filled up until 10pm and (usual pitcure in Iran) dozens of families shared our camping space.

Being prototypics German, we stood at the gates at 8am, just when the antique city opened the next morning. Because, being German, we wanted to evade the heat coming in from 10am on (not a single tree in the whole area), and we had hardly use for the Farsi guides. So, we had the place rather empty and could easily look at the hundreds if carved figures and structures. Really amazing, how masonry was advanced 2500 years ago.

The carvings are well-secured nowadays, barriers and defined boardwslks to protect them against vandalism. This was not always the case, as it seems.

50km away from Persepolis, the huge city of Shiraz is found. We were told it was one the most beautiful Iranian cities. We could, however, not agree – large construction sites, deteriorating buildings, and somehow the atmosphere in the city was not the best in our eyes (completely different to Isfahan and Tehran). Our inital 2-day plan was thus shortened to 1 day, the gardens and parks were pretty dry, the city dusty, and the Tourist Inn once again pricier than our usual stays in Iran.

Construction site next to a huge shrine with thousands of pilgrims.

But nonetheless, wonderful mosques can be found in Shiraz.

Katha had to cover up even more to visit some of them.

Even more, the ferry to Dubai runs Saturdays and Mondays (although a travel agency told us Mondays and Wednesdays with a car), and we were advised to try to be there the day before departure: Iranian customs would be notorious for their export buerocracy.
The day before departure is Friday = generally dead streets until 6pm in southern Iran, and probably so is the ferry ticket agency. So, our time plan was even more compressed, and we rushed on to go to Bandar Abbas.

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