SYNOPSIS: Update on Nicola.  First impressions of Kerman.   Meeting a Dutch couple over dinner and losing track of time.  After hours in Kerman  – not a good idea! 

I surrounded the Southern tip of the Zagros Mountains and turned to the middle of the country today.   I had originally thought I would fly at some point.  Flights in Iran are cheap and many inland destinations can be reached via plane.  But Nicola’s experience has damped my enthusiasm for this experiment.  By the way, as hoped, she and all her luggage made it home as scheduled.  Now she is recuperating from 24 hours in transit.   Aside from the uncertainties of the plane travel – delays are notorious – bus travel here is so convenient and so much more tangible that I think I will stick to it.  There are overnight buses, but I prefer the day buses.  I can actually see the landscape and get a feel for the country a lot better this way.  But perhaps, at some point I will try the train.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY



Hello valued readers,

Elisabeth is having trouble finding open  internet cafe’s due to the holiday as well as other difficulties transfering her documents. There may also be a transit delay for the weekend due to her being in a remote area.  Please be patient as she is still writing daily. We will have plenty to read from her soon.




SYNOPSIS: My visa was extended; details on the process.  I met a guy from Denmark and did some sightseeing with him.  An update on Nicola’s journey.  Beware:  This is a long blog.  I had 8 hours to write it on my bus ride to Kerman…  Is 30 days enough?  No rhyme or reason to the visa extension process.

I have no direct news yet from Nicola, but she and her bags arrived in Teheran on time to transfer from one airport to the other with about 3 hours to spare to make her flight to Moscow – that’s the news from Mozaffar, our contact in Teheran.  What a relief!  That flight officer must have come through on his promise.  I am sure Nicola will catch up on some sleep and let us know how the rest of her journey went.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSIS:  Today was a day of taking care of business:  Changing hotels and flights, exchanging money, getting the visa extension process started.  As always, a few unexpected things happen.  how many officers does it take to answer one question?

It was with some hesitation that I left Nicola at the airport a couple of hours ago, knowing that she had a big extra bag to take to Teheran with all of our shopping stuff and that she had just heard the news that her flight was delayed by 2-3 hours…  That meant that all of our efforts this morning to get her on an earlier flight had been in vain.  I could see how stressed out she was at the thought of not making her connection to London via Moscow tonight.  Not a pleasant thought indeed.   But my presence would change nothing and the taxi was waiting and so I went.  At least we had attracted enough attention right away so that one officer from Qish Air (is that really the name of an airline?) promised Nicola to personally try to squeeze her on an earlier flight.  Of course, this is still the height of Noruz travel and all and everything is booked to the brim.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSISNicola’s final day in Iran.  She is writing today’s blog about an excursion to Sasanian Bishapur and Elamite Kurangun.     Nicola’s final day starts badly but gradually gets better.

Tonight Elisabeth is busy with some hotel arrangements and a very slow internet connection at the local café-net so I am writing this blog, my final entry.  This morning we awoke to find that not only had it rained heavily overnight but half the tent people of Shiraz were camped in the foyer of our hotel and Monsieur le proprietor was knocking on our door telling us we had to leave.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSIS:   Shiraz – what Iranians think and what we think.    Devotion and enthusiasm for a city with a past.

We have now had two days to get to know Shiraz a bit better and we are not sure how much we are going to like it.

Today, we visited the two most important sites in town “The Shrine” and “The Tomb”.  Everyone knows what you refer to even though the city is full of both.  The shrine which stands out is the Aramgah-e-Shah-e-Cheragh shrine, considered one of the holiest Shiah shrines in the country.  It has a huge courtyard, two bulbous domes unique to Shiraz, a noticeable museum; and altogether houses three different tombs.  Aramgah was one of Imam Reza’s brothers.  Imam Reza himself was one of the twelve holy imams or saints in Shia history who is buried in the holy city of Mashad.  In fact he was the eighth imam and because he is the only one buried in Iran, he is the most important one for the Iranians; and his brother is the next best to the real thing.  Put this together with Noruz and the fact that it was Friday today and you get the picture:  a huge crowd was pouring into the shrine.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSIS: What a day we had:  Persepolis and a few other sites, posing for photos, a stupid driver, two hours with the Iranian Security Forces, contemptuous looks, a shoe shine and a creepy guy.  Christmas songs at Persepolis and the police – your friends and helpers.

Where to start?  So much happened today.  This was the big day to go to Persepolis known to the locals as Takht-e-Jamshid.  Up at 5 AM, out the door at 6 to beat the traffic and the crowds; we did it.  Our driver, Amir, was a pompous young man.  Already, when making arrangements with him on the phone he got me frustrated because instead of answering a question like “how much do you charge per hour?” He would answer “no problem”.   Then he showed up at the hotel last night unannounced and we still did not communicate.  He spoke English quite well, but had nearly zero comprehension skills.  He could not make sense out of a simple question like “should we wake you up?” “No problem” was not helpful.  Perhaps, I should mention that he was late.  We should have followed our inner voices and been on guard when Amir dropped us off and as a meeting point suggested “the coffee shop”.  That was all we had to go by when we parted.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSIS:   Nicola was resting for a day.  I ventured out people watching and when permitted, photographing them.  Curious looks on both sides.

We switched hotels this morning, no easy task when the town again was clogged with hundreds of thousands of cars and people. The ten minute walk from one hotel to the other took the taxi almost half an hour.  But it transported our luggage which, as you know, got very heavy due to the shopping spree in Esfahan.  Nicola wanted a day of rest and read up about Persepolis for tomorrow.  So I ventured out on my own exploring our new neighborhood.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSIS:   We were in transit and experienced some of the Noruz frenzy people had been warning us about. Today’s pictures are provided in part by Nicola – she had the window seat in the bus.   Where there is a will there is a way even during Noruz.

Everything went according to plan until 10 km outside of Shiraz, when the trouble started.  Traffic condensed into bumper to bumper.  Not like in the States that is.  A three line highway turned into five rows of tightly packed cars, half off the road, which moved at a snail’s pace.  Dozens and dozens of cars lined the side of the road.  We speculated that they had run out of gas, had overheated, or were just fed up going this way and waiting it out.   People either prepared for this ahead of time or they had picnic gear along, but hundreds of people had little mini tents set up of the sort that do not take stakes but unfold in one piece.  People seemed to have a good time.  Nicola remarked that they were going back to their nomadic roots.  I think they much rather would have been home but they certainly knew how to cope.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY


SYNOPSISToday’s blog is written by Nicola.  She will tell you about our final day in Esfahan which we spent shopping, visiting one more palace and people-watching.  Shopping amongst the new year crowds in Esfahan.

Elisabeth has quite a bit of catching up to do so I am writing today’s entry. This was our last full day in Esfahan so we permitted ourselves a break from cultural pursuits and went shopping.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY