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esfahani Esfahan - A travel report by Ralph
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Esfahan,  Iran - flag Iran -  E¶fahån
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esfahani's travel reports

The one has seen Esfahan,...

  43 votes
has seen the half of the world (persian saying) - esfahan, nesf jahan

The ranking of Esfahan in my personal “top ten” city list, is still untouched, on number one.

Welcome to thousand-and-one night
Welcome to thousand-and-one night
Even after years I still remember every single day I have spend in Iran and of course there is my strong resolution to go back one day.

First thing: how to get a visa: Some travel agents arranging it, as long you book your air ticket with them. Recently it became really expensive. Flights from Frankfurt are about 400 -500 EUR plus visa and paperwork additional 250 EUR. If you are travelling with Iranair, they mostly include a domestic flight on your choice.

May german travellers can contact me for assistance in visa problems! It can take up to one month for the application!
I have been there in september, october, november of 1997.
As the only foreigner on the flight to Teheran, I met only backpackers on the transit route from Turkey to Pakistan mostly restricted to a week on their transit permission.

Favourite spots:
Amir Kabir Hotel
Amir Kabir Hotel
My tour: Teheran to Ghom, Esfahan to Shiraz (Persepolis) –
the plan, travelling to Bandar-e-Abbas and Kish Island I canceled because of the heat –
so, I returned to Esfahan and went via Yazd and Kerman to the "unfortunally"* famous fortress of Bam.
Mashed, Gonbat-e-Kavus along the coast of the caspian sea to Ardabil, Tabriz back to Teheran.

Before I left back home, guess! – I went back to Esfahan again!

*... because of the earthquake in 2003

What's really great:
The hospitality of the people! -
"shoma cheyli tashakkor mikonam"

Esfahan and the small village in the north-west, Sareiyn, and lots more.
Traveling by bus is probably the best way to get arround and see the country. Roads and busses are in a good condition the tickets cost only a few cents and sometimes the even showing englisch movies on board.
The first time I came to Esfahan, I did not reach the center... I met Rahim on the bus, and he invited me to spend the night at the university campus, eat and discuss worlds politics :-) with him and his student friends. As I went into the city center the next morning I notice lots of trees and flowers along the streets, but nothing about the breath taking monuments behind. Finding a Hotel to stay, became a bit difficult – after my arrival 3 days ago I have been first on my own!

Si-o-Se Pol - the 33 arches Bridge
Si-o-Se Pol - the 33 arches Bridge
Saryein: a villages in the north-west. Get a local bus at the Ardabil Terminal. Next to the mountain of Kuh-e-Sabalan (4811 meters) has the village lots of hot spring swimmingpools.
I will never forget the breakfast their: Tea, fresh warm bread, melting cream and the local honey in a comb, hmmm ... delicous

Sunset at the square
Sunset at the square
Of course I found one suiting my needs:
Amir Kabir Hotel at Charbagh St. is more a institution than accomodation – you meet travellers from everywhere:
some walking arround the world, cycling to india or returning with an antique Enfield motorbike. Japanese or australian mates on their way to europe and the europeans to the other end of the world.

During siesta time, I went for my first discovering walk around. Usually busy cities, without any parks or places to rest, I found my way to the Emam square.
As they say: “the worlds largest inner city square” – a former polo field of the emperors. Now, stuffed with goods and souvenirs, manufactures and warehouses since the wellvisited seventies...

Along the river you find both sides promenades overshadowed from big trees.
Under the arches of the old bridges you find tradional teahouses, inviting to relax and smoking a waterpipe. The most famous bridge is build around 1600 and called “Si-o-Se Pol” because of the 33 arches.

Lots of museums and culture but no clubs (at least not to the public).

Handcoloured Tiles
Handcoloured Tiles
okay, okay... lets count the teahouses to that chapter!
There is one very special, amazing place near the Emam square, the road leaving behind the Nomad Carpet Shop (very friendly and helpful staff for any needs) – as I remember, in Kheiabun-e-Hatef, into the right side courtyard, about 100 meter from the square. They serve tea and waterpipes, and light meals mainly to the bazaar people spending the lunchbreak there. Its like a vault walk, walls and ceiling covered all over with antique memories as pictures, porcelain ware, swords and firearms.
Once a electricity cut-off happened, for about 15 minutes sitting in the dark with gas lamps only: old men, with long beards, turbans smoking in the gloom, bubbling sounds of waterpipes like a thousand years ago, sitting next to Alladdin and his magic lamp...

Mystic lights
Mystic lights
While staying in the city I discover lots of hidden sights wich you not find by following a books advice, of course I “worked” as a guide too.
Restaurants are usually fancy with glaring neon lights serving Chelo-kebab only – rice with fried meat. The good foods you only find in midday hours in the bazaar area where the workers eat.

Other recommendations:
Iran welcomes you!
Iran welcomes you!
should be continued in separate reports...

well, to believe into the saying above:

Published on Wednesday June 1th, 2005

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Tue, Feb 12 2008 - 12:06 AM rating by krisek

This is a great report. I heard about visa on arrival for some 20+ nationalities. It is meant to be valid for a week. I am planning to go in May 2008.

Wed, Feb 28 2007 - 07:48 PM rating by

guter Bericht

Thu, Feb 15 2007 - 08:19 PM rating by travler

Interesting report and excellet pictures. I like the Persian Carpet one the best.

Sun, Oct 01 2006 - 01:24 PM rating by leillli

ralph!did you change this report?i remember the frirst time i read,that was the same?

Sun, Sep 24 2006 - 05:52 AM rating by marianne

Excellent information, good photos

Sat, Sep 16 2006 - 10:32 AM rating by mrscanada

The people I know that left Iran yearn to go back to see it. From your pictures and review I can see why.

Sun, Mar 12 2006 - 06:19 AM rating by farnaz

the most wonderful report i have seen in the glob..really very nice..

Mon, Nov 07 2005 - 07:21 PM rating by akhila

Very nice report. Does your user-id on this website reflect your love of this place too?
Best Regards

Sun, Nov 06 2005 - 05:00 PM rating by jorgesanchez

This report is like a dream. Thank you Ralph!

Sun, Nov 06 2005 - 02:43 PM rating by toribio


Sat, Oct 01 2005 - 10:05 AM rating by jesusferro

It is like 1001 nights

Mon, Sep 26 2005 - 03:34 PM rating by isaacmolina

You are very lucky to travel so much to fantastic countries

Sat, Jun 04 2005 - 09:15 AM rating by britman

Top marks Ralph - I Loved it! Congrats too on the picture of the month for May 2005

Fri, Jun 03 2005 - 11:01 AM rating by gloriajames

changed my perspective of iran! brilliant ! 5*

Thu, Jun 02 2005 - 06:23 PM rating by magsalex

Super report!

Thu, Jun 02 2005 - 01:04 AM rating by picasso

Superb report, very interesting read and good images

Wed, Jun 01 2005 - 06:21 PM rating by bootlegga

Excellent work! The pictures are fantastic.

Wed, Jun 01 2005 - 04:44 PM rating by rangutan

Informative and excellent report with real superb pictures

Wed, Jun 01 2005 - 07:48 AM rating by mistybleu

This is a lovely report full of relevant information.

Wed, Jun 01 2005 - 05:23 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii ralph ,
after a long time you wrote a report and its wonderful.

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