Historical beauty and more random kindness

Yazd Travel Blog

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People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

The bus was 90 minutes late arriving into Yazd and as usual the taxi drivers were pestering us before we had even taken our bags out of the luggage compartment. The opening offers for a ride into town started at 20,000 Rials ($2), but we knew this was too much, so set off walking down the road. After 100 metres one driver caught up to us and agreed on 10,000 Rials ($1), which we knew was the right price. Saving a dollar may seem like no big deal, but when you add up all the dollars over a day and then divide it by 28 months, it really is a lot!

Sadly the couchsurfer we had arranged to stay with had not switched his phone on for the last couple of days, but we didn't mind staying in a hotel again, in fact it made a nice change.

The Silk Road Hotel had come highly recommended and rooms were set around a pleasant courtyard, perfect for relaxing in. A dormitory bed only cost 40,000 Rial ($4) and Julia and I were lucky enough to be put in a 3 bed dorm that had nobody else in.

By now it was 22.00 and we were both famished, so decided to go for a walk to see if we could find somewhere to eat. Leaving the Hotel we were confronted by the towering, nicely illuminated Jameh Mosque, with its 48 metre minarets dominating the evening skyline. A short walk took us past a Clock Tower and soon we arrived at a small eatery, where we wolfed down a burger and some salad, before heading home for an early night.

In the morning we took a walk to the Amir Chakhmaq Complex, passing the Jameh Mosque, Clock Tower and Hazireh Mosque on the way.
We entered the nearby Amir Chakhmaq Mosque, which the friendly caretaker especially opened for us and he even let us onto the roof for some stunning birds eye views. There was no ticket fee, but we thought it was only right to leave the guy a tip, as he hadn't needed to be so nice to us.

Whilst walking to Ateshkadeh, a Zoroastrian Eternal Flame, a young guy approached us and offered to walk us to the site. I certainly didn't mind the company and enjoyed our conversation. Once we reached the building, he said goodbye and went about his daily life again. Normally the site is closed and you need an appointment to visit, but we were lucky enough to find the door was open when we got there. Having taken a brief look around, we hid in the shade for five minutes to take a drink and eat some cookies.
When we came from under the trees, we found that everyone else had left and they had locked the gate! It took 10 minutes of looking around, scrambling over fences and contemplating scaling high walls, before i found a gate that was only locked with a wooden bar. I managed to undo this and we were once again free!

The next place that we wanted to visit was also a Zoroastrian site, called the Towers of Silence and these were located 7 kilometres away in the South East of the City. This was too far to walk in the baking desert heat, so we stood by the roadside and tried to flag a taxi down. All of the drivers who stopped either asked for too much, or didn't even know the site, so we continued to wait. Eventually a car with two young men pulled up and offered us a lift and when i asked ow much it would cost, they said nothing, so off we went! In any other country i would know that there would be some sort of catch, but in Iran, i know that this is just the way the people are - incredible!

Neither guy could speak much English, but we managed to communicate through small talk, gestures and smiles.
When we reached the entrance to the site, the gates were locked, but they knocked and shouted until the gatekeeper came to meet us. The guys came in to look around with us, as they had also never been before and i found it an interesting place. Two Towers sat atop opposing hills and it was here that Zoroastrians placed the deceased, for the vultures to pick their bones clean before burial. The guys got a phone call, so had to shoot off, but told us not to leave, as they wanted to give us a ride back into town! We wandered up one hill and looked at some old crumbling buildings, before having a peek at a modern Zoroastrian Cemetery. True to their word, we found the boys had returned to the entrance and were waiting to pick us up and drive us all the way back to our hotel! Once again we tipped the gatekeeper, which seemed to be appreciated.

Back at our Hotel, the attached restaurant served up Camel with potatoes and this was too good an opportunity to pass up on, so i had a portion for lunch. Julia settled for a less adventurous aubergine and vegetable stew, but it gave us some energy to head back out into the sapping heat. It made sense to pay the Jameh Mosque a visit, as it was so near and the interior was just as impressive as the exterior. The 15th Century structure had colourful mosaic tiles adorning most of the walls and roofs, and a handful of worshipers sat praying and reading the Koran in the cool airy space below the central dome of the Mosque.

Exiting into the maze of small alleys that form the Old City, we had no real idea of where we were heading. Twisting and turning we passed buildings topped with badgirs, which are traditional air conditioners for the houses.
They work by catching the slightest breeze of air and transferring it down into the house, thus keeping the rooms cool. Peering into courtyards and watching small children play on the sun baked Earth, it felt like stepping back in time.

Alexander Prison was located on a square next to the Tomb of 12 Imams and we went inside for a look. There wasn't too much to see other than a well, so we carried on to Khan-e Lari, a traditional house located a couple of streets away. Having been to Kashan's traditional houses, this place didn't impress me at all, although it was nice to stand in the shady courtyard and get some respite from the sun. From here we went to the Hosseinieh, where we climbed onto the roof for spectacular views across the Old Town. When we returned to the square at the bottom, we got chatting to a very nice Iranian guy, who had lived in America for a year and England for a month.
To round off the afternoon, we wandered back to the Amir Chakhmaq Complex for sunset.

Back at the hotel we relaxed on the tea beds and ate some fresh grapes and pomegranates, before heading back to the Amir Chakhmaq Complex to see it lit up, which really was worth the effort, as it looked spectacular. On the way home we stopped off for a burger and ice cream, and went to bed before 22.00, as we had an early start the following day.

On Thursday we were up at 06.00 and having showered and packed, we checked out and caught a taxi down to the bus terminal. The 08.00 bus took us through a barren desert wilderness, as we made our way to Kerman.

Deats says:
The badgirs are the sixth photo down. They catch air on the roof and circulate it through the building. Its incredible, they really work!
Posted on: Aug 30, 2009
almond72 says:
Which of the pics is of the badgirs ? Curious on how these things work to keep the heat down.
Posted on: Aug 29, 2009
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