Esfahan (which certain members of our group still insist on calling Estefan) is just about as hot as we were expecting Iran to be, or possibly hotter – people here keep telling us we’re insane to travel through Iran in a month of drought and fasting and I’m inclined to agree with them. On the plus side though, the restrictions on dress aren’t quite as strict as we expected them to be when we were in Turkey, so we’re fine showing a little hair under our headscarves and wearing sandals.
As well as visiting the mosque, we’ve spent most of our time in Esfahan being shown around by Saeed, a local carpet salesman who offered to show us around the city for only the cost of our minibus transport – he took almost 6 hours taking us to every end of the city, arguing for group discounts for us at the sites and then smuggling us into a carpet warehouse so that we could secretly eat lunch during Ramadan.
Khajou Bridge – note the incredibly high water level
Mural at the Armenian church of St Joseph of Arimathea (the Armenians were happy folk)
The next day Saeed offered to take us on a free tour of the bazaar and took us above and behind all the shops to see the artisans working on painting tiles, grinding spices and repairing carpets. I came back to the bazaar on my own later (yes, it’s perfectly safe and I didn’t feel remotely nervous walking around alone) to do some souvenir shopping and I am now the proud owner of a hammered and enamelled copper plate which I will use to serve biscuits at every opportunity just so I can say ‘do you like the plate? I picked it up when I was travelling through Iran’ in an unbearably smug manner. I lost in the impressive souvenir stakes though – someone tried to sell me a tablecloth and I replied that I didn’t own any furniture, then got back to the hostel to find that Alex and Caroline had bought tables. Not sure I can beat that.
Gathering outside Saeed’s for free tea in the sunset – and after all that he didn’t even push any carpets on us. Top bloke.
Saw this just as i was leaving the bazaar on the last day – even though I’m sort of getting used to the headscarf, I don’t think I’ll be converting to Islam any time soon. According to this rule I don’t think I’d make a very good Muslim.