20 June 2017
Rasht to Sarein
We had a varied and interesting drive to our destination in Sarein today from Rasht. We continued along the Caspian Sea coast before heading up through a subtropical rainforest, from Bandar Anzali to Ardebil. It was very warm and humid and the clouds hung low and thick so much so that we had difficulty seeing the winding road and even the semi trailers as they laboured up and up and up. We headed into a long tunnel and surprise… surprise….surprise, we came out in clear blue sky and brilliant sunshine plus, rolling hills and meadows very different from the lush jungle habitat we were in on the coast. The land changed to farming land and some dry pastures. Some of the mud brick houses had an almost biblical appearance except for flat blue steel colourbond roofs. We continued to climb higher into the mountains and onto high altitude plateaus, again the scenery changed to barren rocky stubble covered wind blown hills at the about 2138 mts.
We stopped in Ardebil at Shiekh Safi Addin Arebili (1252 – 1334) Mausoleum, a UNESCO a beautiful rose filled Persian garden greeted us as we entered the walled compound. Roses, marigolds, delphiniums and Cyprus trees filled the space and some pools were filled with water. The masonry was being repaired with intricate cut tile mosaics and massive slabs of onyx and agate were being cleaned and polished. The Hall has paintings on plaster of floral designs on the ceilings and small different shaped wooden niches towering up to the domed brick ceiling housed hundreds of pieces of Chinese Celadon and Ming porcelain from the Silk Road and Emperors. But now much of the porcelain is now in the Hermitage in St Petersberg.
Safi’s claim to fame was the founder of the Safavi dynasty and sect. Many family members are buried here along with his disciples. This building is one of the most prominent buildings in all of Iran. Once again photos aren’t permitted but look them up on the internet.
We are very happy that Pat and David have been able to stay with us through out Iran, taking turns in the guide’s car or in one of our cars. But unfortunately when we go Turkey they will return to Melbourne via Tehran.
21 June 2017
Sarein to Kandovan
Due to time we have only a short time to visit some of the places on the way. On our way today we stopped at the Tabriz bazaar – the largest in Iran. The red brick arched hallways and corridors went on for kms filled with everything imaginable. Dried fruit, nuts, perfume, jewellery, carpets, household goods, rugs, amazing selection of fabrics…. Only a few draped and shrouded women could be seen amongst the multitude of men who were doing business or bargaining.
We also stopped at Constitution House before continuing onto Kandovan. Where we were in for a treat! We stayed in a Cave hotel in the mountains of Kandovan. This hotel is burrowed into the side of rocky cliffs and a mountain side…definitely not Fred Flintsone here but every mod con you would ever want. But be prepared for some steep and long hikes up stone steps to get to your room. What luxury!
22 June 2017
After leaving our cosy cave we were off to Urmieh and once again the landscape took our breath away. Set amongst desert plains and rocky mountains, a massive lake- Urmieh appeared before us with pure white shores of dried salt stretching for KMs into the distance. In some places the salt even appeared to look like icebergs and in others the pale pink salt extended for KMs into the distance. We drove over a new causeway across the lake to get to the other side which was about 5kms long. Once again the wonders of Nature have left us breathless at her ingenuity and beauty.