Backpacking Iran: Kashan and Tehran

We only stayed one night in Kashan, so it was a flying visit. We managed to get a taxi driver to take us to some of the highlights of the city. We had already been out in the old city the previous night and were keen to see some of the surrounds

Looking out at the desert early morning

So, early in the morning we set out. Our driver was really good value and knew exactly how to entertain us. He also stopped to picked up two watermelons. He put on his bangers as we were cruising on the way out to the desert.  Once it was finished, he would ask “one more?” and throw it on repeat. Our first stop was the Namak salt lake, just out of town.

On the salt flats
I’m not sure how, but we were talked into this one.

After the desert we went to the Maranjab desert, it was pretty cool walking around the dunes as we were the only people around. It was still early enough to be cool (which is still 30+ degrees!).

Sand dunes
Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot

We thought that buying two watermelons might have been a bit much, but our driver knew a lot more than we did. When we got back from the dunes some camels had come over to say hi and we were able to feed them the water melon. Its hard to describe how much fun this was. They were incredibly shy, but also pretty keen on the watermelon which made for a few laughs. They were very gentle with their teeth which was a nice surprise.

Loving it

After this treat, we continued on to the Nushaband underground city. This was neat. It was ‘found’ in the 1920s after being lost for a few centuries. Its thought that the city was built to hide from aggressive raiders, or to protect its citizens from the extreme temperatures outside. Either way it was fun to scurry around underground, the passages had old sites of booby traps and rolling stones. Very Indiana Jones.

Old entrance chamber
Exploring the city
Going down further

We went to Aran Va Bigol mosque after this which was very colorful. From here we finished our tour at Jalali castle which has an interesting history of sieges, battles and earthquakes. After this we jumped on our last bus in Iran to Tehran. All of which were incredibly comfortable, with reclining leather seats, TVs and snacks provided

Aran Va Bigol Mosque (borrowed photo)
Jalali Castle
In the watch tower, hot at this point.

We had a few days in Tehran we spent a fair bit of time just walking around and taking in the city. It’s a pretty sizable city, 24th biggest in world and home to 16 million or so people. It is crazy busy however, and traffic is daunting. The local advice for crossing roads was ‘close your eyes’ and ‘walk, don’t run’, both of which are impossible. The metro system is impressively full too. It was the busiest one we went on in our trip, maybe rivalled by Mexico city only.

Not even rush hour.

We spent a bit of time following a self guided walking tour around some of the older parts of town, where the Qajar and the current government have their administrative buildings, and the baazar . We also checked out the art history museum which had some really cool stuff, highlighting the different dynasties styles.

Then we went up to the mountains behind the city. These are over 5000m high and apparently have great skiing in the winter, which we will be returning for one day. The tochal chairlift to get us halfway up from the city took 45 minutes. It looked like it had been in use every single day since 1956, the café at the top had a great view. Their were some local donkeys hanging out there too.

Looking down at Tehran from Tochal
One of the cable cars

At this point we had had some pretty tasty dishes in Iran, but we found a restaurant close to our hostel which would become our favourite. We went four times in 3 days. It was so good.

We also checked out Golestan palace, which is where the last Shah was residing before the turbulent 50’s. This place is stunning and well preserved. It was interesting to reflect on our all the different palaces of the dynasties that we had stood in over the trip.

In the main hall
Outside Golestan
The throne. Complete with puppet
Lots of Mirrors. The effect with sunlight is amazing

On our last day we checked out two final places. The National museum to the Iran-Iraq war. This was a high tech and immersive museum, and was an interesting and intense way to learn about the war. One particular hall was a simulation of getting bombed by a fighter jet. Complete with shaking floors and incredibly loud noises. Outside the museums the exhibits showed all of Iran’s rocket developments, and all the cars of physicists who have been assassinated since 1979. (very morbid)

As it looks.

Our last stop was the Den of Espionage, FKA the US embassy. This was where the events depicted in Argo took place. This has since been turned into the home of anti us propaganda. It was an entertaining and interesting reading through the documents that were displayed.

Back at work
No.2 (apparently this is the most major concern with the sanctions for people)

We left for the airport that evening, after one last MesMes meal, and flew to Hungary via Istanbul.  

Post MesMes glow

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