Sunday, May 24, 2015

Iran - Unearthing the ruins of Persepolis!

I asked Richard where he'd like to go on his annual birthday trip. "Iran" he answered without hesitating. Gulp. Iran was not at the top of my bucket list - in fact, it wasn't on my bucket list at all. But..I asked, and he answered. We began making plans and figuring out how we could get tickets on Emirates with our dwindling cache of frequent flyer miles. We managed to do it and although circuitous, it won't be dull. We leave San Diego and overnight in Seattle; next day we fly to Houston and thence to Dubai. We'll stay in Dubai a couple of days for jet lag adjustment and fly Dubai to Tehran where we're picked up at the airport by a driver/guide who will stay with us for two weeks as we travel around. From Tehran we'll fly to Muscat, Oman for 4 days of R and R, back to Dubai and then onto London for 6 nights. From London, we fly to Mexico City and finally back to San Diego. 

As instructed, I had my visa photo taken while wearing my head covering. I think I look vaguely like Mother Theresa. I wish I was as good as she....even 1/100th as good. Of course, women must cover the hair at all times in public which doesn't sound too bad until you try it. I'll also have to wear a manteau which is pretty much a lab coat which covers up your body; ankles and wrists, those terrible teasers, have to be covered. Ankles and wrists are the only parts remaining on my corpus that haven't yet shown significant aging.  If just one of my wrists were to escape and hang naked out of a sleeve, the Iranian men would be driven out of their minds. 

Our itinerary (see below) reads quaintly. Some quotes: 

"Meet warm Iranians in Hafiz tomb reciting his poems." "Unearth the ruins of Persepolis." Unearth?

I'm a little worried about day 7 in the desert but I'm trusting I'll enjoy the caravanserai. We'll be doing a lot of "pondering, amazing, admiring, reflecting, learning and treading" according to the writer of this brochure. I've been reading trip reports on-line on the Fodors and other travel sites and most visitors have loved Iran, including Rick Steves and Anthony Bourdain who each made films on their visits. I'm hoping we'll share their feelings. 

I'm actually worried about NO WINE for two weeks. Holding a scarf on my head and maneuvering in a long lab coat in the heat is one thing, but NO WINE?? Pray for us.

Day 1
See Iran National museum and get amazed at its priceless pieces, spend your time in the busiest Bazaar in Iran and maybe sip some tea in a nice tea-house. Discover the eye-catching precious collection of Jewels of Iranian 2500 years of Monarchy in the Iran Jewels museum.
Day 2
Fly to Shiraz in the morning and after the hotel check-in head to the  Zand complex including the castle, gardens and mosque to get a sense of Shiraz as a capital 250 years ago.

Day 3
Drive to Persepolis and Necropolis (Naghshe Rostam) and Unearth the ruins of Persepolis as a world heritage. Meet warm Iranians in Hafez tomb reciting his poems.

Day 4
Drive to Kerman to discover how people adapted their life to a dessert city surrounded by mountains.

Day 5

Get acquainted with Sufism and mysticism by visiting Moshtagh Alishah tomb, uncover Iranian old style hammams  in Ganjalikhan hammam of Kerman, see Kerman Jame mosque and its majestic Persia structure. In the afternoon drive to Mahan. Meet Sufis who have travelled a long way to pay homage to their  Sufi master Shah Nematollah Valiin his shrine. Laze in Shahzadeh Gardens and admire a great example of Persian gardens that depicts a high contrast between a green garden and a harsh dessert at the background.

Day 6
Drive to Rayen and spot the imposing deserted citadel of Rayen. Then drive to Shahdad and reflect on what natural forces and time has built there.

Day 7
Drive to Zeinoddin desert and ponder life in Zeinoddin Carevanserai and its scenic surroundings.

Day 8
Drive to Yazd and get into the mysterious world of Zoroastrians by visiting their fire temple and towers of silence there. Admire people of Iranian plateau by visiting Yazd water museum and learn about the underground water canals, Qanats. Gaze at the high minarets and nice brick and tile work of Yazd Jame mosque and visit the marvelous Islamic Amirchaghmagh complex.

Day 9
Drive to the most sacred site for the Zoroastrians around the world in Chak Chak Yazd. Then head to Kharanagh and visit this deserted which is amazing in architecture and landscapes.

Day 10
Drive to Isfahan on the way visiting Nain and its historic Jame mosque.

Day 11
Get acquainted with the historic Royal square of Isfahan registered as a world heritage. Visit picturesque Royal mosque, Sheikh-Lotfollah mosque.Ponder on the breathtaking Armenian Vank church In Isfahan and marvel around Isfahan Armenian quarter, Jolfa. Stroll aside Isfahan river and admire the masters who built several bridges over it through the history.

Day 12
Today is at leisure.

Day 13
Drive to Kashan. On the way visit Abyaneh as one of the oldest villages in Iran and meet its people who still speak old Persian and wear beautiful costumes.

Day 14
Get an insight into Iranian traditional houses by visiting Tabatabai and Boroojerdiha houses. Tread in Fin gardens of Kashan and once again praise Persian garden designers. Taste Iranian food at the cooking class hosted by a local family.

Day 15
Drive to Tehran.


  1. It should be wonderful. I read a really interesting book a few years back that I think was called the Carpet Wars that ostensibly tracked a carpet trader but actually introduces the reader to the ins and outs of the political situation of the area. Isfahan is supposed to be really beautiful. Lots of fountains.

  2. I downloaded The Carpet Wars onto my Ipad. It looks really good...thanks for the recommendation.

  3. This looks really fantastic! We will be a little worried about you. Especially if one of your sexy wrists slips out of your sleeve!

  4. Anonymous11:38 AM

    it seems you're going to be a lot of pondering on this trip. Have a wonderful one. Can't wait to hear all about it.