Tabriz Bazaar and Qazvin

This morning we left the Tabriz Hotel to see the Tabriz Bazaar. We took a couple of taxis there organised by our guide Arman. This is pure bliss, someone else driving and no parking problems. The bazaar is the second largest in the world, second only to the one in Damascus. Covering 7 sq kms, it has 24 caravanserais and 22 domed halls. It is a labyrinth of passageways with shops selling every conceivable thing. The carpet section is large but our guide Arman recommended we wait until Esfahan before looking at carpets ( our wives have us on a mission ) because the quality of carpet is much better. Tabriz leather goods are highly regarded as are the pistachio nuts which they export to the world from here. The colour, the smells, the activity was all around us. Construction of this bazaar began over a millennium ago. The entrance is tiny, so it was good to have a guide to bring us to it. We only wandered around a small section as it could take a day to see it all.
Then it was a drive back to the hotel in taxis ( bliss again) and we set off to the east towards Qazvin where we would overnight. We refuelled and paid the equivalent of $15 for 50 litres of diesel. It is amazingly cheap here.
We stopped for a great lunch of soup and salad ( the soups are great in Iran). We are getting hooked on lentil soup. We also availed ourselves of the facilities. We are getting the hang of squat toilets and no toilet paper. (No further discussion will be entered into).
We stopped to visit the Oljeitu Mausoleum near Takestan (the seedless grape capitol of Iran). It is a magnificent structure built for a Mongol Sultan in the 14th century and it is now a World Heritage Site. It is the tallest mud brick dome in the world at 48m and has a diameter of 25m. It is currently under renovation so the inside is unfortunately filled with scaffolding masking the enormity of the space. There are still traces of the magnificent mosaics and colourful frescoes in places. Astonishing when you consider the age of it.
We continued along the Iranian motorway we were on. Three lanes either side and a 120kph speed limit. You do watch your speed as there are police cars all along the motorway with their radar guns doing a roaring trade.
The lane procedure on motorway is casual to say the least. They wander all over the place at various speeds cutting you off, roaring by either side of you, passing you at speed then slowing right down. We saw an accident right beside C-YA on the motorway when a lady driver had just passed someone then cut right in unnecessarily clipping the front of the other car. She began fishtailing at 120 kph down the motorway her husband reaching across to grab the wheel as she panicked. We slammed on the brakes as she wandered over the 3 lanes. Luckily they got control back and moved over to the side of the road to recover. Quokkavan was right behind us and saw the pieces fly off the other car when it was hit.
We made it safely into Qazvin where we were to overnight. After dinner at the hotel we wandered along the streets of the town seeing the colour and receiving the greeting of all the locals smiling at us and many asking us where we are from and welcoming us to Iran. The people are lovely and very friendly. Farsi, the language we hear about us, is a sweet melodic language and you feel strangely comforted by it, even though you do not understand a word of it.
We are currently sitting in a cafe drinking non alcoholic beer (30 cents a bottle) and eating chips using the wi-fi here as it is down in our hotel. Off to Esfahan tomorrow!
C-YA Andrew and Jeff

Andrew Bochenek
Mongolia Charity Rally 2015

Andrew Bochenek
Mongolia Charity Rally 2015

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