Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Esfahan: Squares and Mosques

Exploring a new city on a Friday in Iran is good for us.  Like our 1st day in Tehran, the traffic is lighter, and while the Bazaar might not be open, it is easier for us the get about.

Our destination for the morning was Naqsh-e Jahan Square, a enormous space.  As a public space it is 2nd only in size to Tiananmen Square.  We sat down on a bench to work out where we would go first.  Within a minute, an 11 year old with her father, and then all the rest of her family, stood around while she asked us questions, practicing her English ( which was very good).  After they departed another man and his wife replaced them and wanted to talk.  It was very nice, but we decided to move on so we could see some of the places we wanted to see before the day disappeared.  We have noticed there are not so many independent tourists obviously about as we travel.  But we do keep seeing the same two or three elderly French and German tour groups following the same route as us!

We entered the “Kakh-e Ali Qapu” Ali Qapu palace and Andrew spotted a cafe inside so we sat while he had a Cappuccino.  This came back to rumble his tummy 30 minutes later and required a toilet stop.  Interestingly he had another cappuccino the next day, from another cafe, with exactly the same consequences.  As a result he has decided Esfahan milk does not agree with him and he will stick to espresso...moving on.

The palace has a terrace overlooking the square and we stood and took some photos.  We went up to the music room.  The ceiling here has shapes of household items which have been cut out to enhance the acoustics.

We wandered around the square and its arcades where it is good to see real hand-craft. And less mass production for sale.  We took the Lonely Planet recommendation of the Bastani Traditional restaurant, where they said the food was good.  It was at best average, it was a disappointing choice.  Even the rice, Chelo Polo, was nothing like the delicious rice we have been consuming (we have eaten more rice here than we eat in Asia)

After coming out of the restaurant we took the opportunity to visit the Masjed-e Imam.  It was visually stunning and dated from the 17th century.  

As we walked through the park to the hotel, and saw plenty more families enjoying traditional picnics in the park.

In the evening we walked down to the river to see the 1st of the bridges along the river Zayandeh, “Pol-e Si-o-Seh”. There is no water in the river, we walked one direction across the upper bridge and then back in the other direction on the lower ramparts.  The bridges are a gathering place for people and there were plenty of people parading, talking, playing music.  The open arches have no barriers and standing in the dark, it is a little disconcerting looking down!

For dinner we went to a nearby hotel Italian restaurant and had a VERY good plate of pasta each.

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