In Esfahan, Gorgeous Bridges Are a Main Attraction

I woke up very early this morning, hours before my early wake-up call, and walked through a garden behind our hotel in Shiraz. I wanted to see the street, and meet some people before our massive convoy of 130 travel agents and tourism officials left for the airport. I walked down the deserted side street until I rounded a corner. A man waited on the street, like many I’ve seen, he was hoping to hail down one of the thousands of renegade taxis run by people with day jobs looking for some extra cash.

Then I continued down the street to find a line of men, many of whom were holding pots in their hands. I have decided that the Shoul method of being very friendly and asking people’s ok to shoot is how to get better photos, so I dove right in, asking then shooting them as they stood in line. They were waiting for a few scoops from a five-foot wide steaming caldron of what looked like gelatinous chicken flavored rice. Each man waited in line for his scoop, then they proceeded next door for a helping of very well boiled chicken on top. They laughed as I shot their photos, and then two men held up a big stack of pita bread, beckoning me to come over and sample what they were offering for breakfast. I scooped a few dollops and shot some more photos, this is the traditional breakfast.

We flew to Esfhan, the second largest city in Iran, and the most beautiful. The city starts with a 10-kilometer park by the river, where we saw people picnicking and enjoying the sunny day. Outside on the highway, we passed what looked like small round castles with two layers in the fields, which were bordered by brick enclosures. “Pigeon houses,” explained our guide, “they collect the droppings to fertilize their fields.”

Esfahan also has the most beautiful bridges I’ve ever seen. One has 33 arches, another built in the 17th century once had a palace at the middle. Both no longer allow cars to pass over them, so they’re wonderfully full of dawdling pedestrians and couples out to get some sun. We visited an Armenian church and gasp, saw many images of Christ on the walls, and across the street met a family that runs a coffee shop. They were impressed that I too am a cafe owner, and refused to charge me for my latte.

This afternoon we’ll see the famous mosques of this city and more of the sites that make this Iran’s largest tourist draw. As we toured one of the bridges, we were approached by some young women, they told one of us that they too aren’t wild about their president. We were happy to assure them that they’re not the only ones, but things are changing fast.