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.

The last 10 km took us two hours in the bus…  But we made it, got a taxi and went to our hotel.  There, the trouble continued.  The hotel clerk pretended not to know anything about our reservation!  It was 11 PM and we had no place to go and were loaded up with luggage to our teeth.  Nicola was quite on the mark thinking that he perfectly well knew who we were and had given away our reservation.  This was the bird in the hand versus the two birds in the bush scenario.  This reservation had been made by the owners of our last hotel.   Once again I have to sing the praises to a one star hotel that operated as far as we were concerned on a four star level.  They spoke English, they bent over backwards to get us bus and hotel reservations.  They were full of knowledge about their town, their history, what to do, how to do it.  From the top down to the last chamber maid they were friendly and helpful even if they did not speak any English in the “lower ranks”.  We had toilet paper, towels, a clean room, a refrigerator, a filling breakfast, laundry done in a day, etc.  Even a TV was hanging in the corner of our room, but we ignored it.  Simple accommodations but a staff that made you feel safe, welcome and taken care of:  Go Iran Hotel in Esfahan!  Two thumbs up.

To think that they had lied to us about the reservation made no sense.  We had a handwritten note from them with detailed instructions, phone numbers, address and a name.  And the clerk at the Fars Hotel in Shiraz made way too much an effort to place us somewhere else and to promise us a room for the next day, for people he claimed he never heard off.  We got a second taxi driven by Mr. Clueless.  First he had never heard of the 4 star Apadana Hotel we now had to move to, and then he tried to cheat us on the price.  Oh, well – it was the mood of the hour.  We were in bed just before midnight and thanked all the gods for the miracle that we had gotten a bus at the height of the Noruz travel frenzy, had made in one day despite the heavy traffic, and had a bed to sleep in.

Good night.