Day 62 (2): Beautiful bridges

Esfahan Travel Blog

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Khaju bridge
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Michael (Australia), Maryam, Milad (Iran)

We arrived in Esfahan in the early evening. It had taken us much longer than if we had travelled by bus, but it had also been a lot more fun. We checked in to our hostel and went into town. Michael had been in touch with a girl he had met in Tehran, who was visiting her parents in Esfahan this weekend. We met Maryam and her friend Milad in the town centre and went for a walk towards the famous historic bridges of Esfahan.

On the way we passed the Jewish quarter of Esfahan. There is still a sizeable community of Jews living in Esfahan, despite all the hardships of living in an Islamic republic (Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians are allowed to practice their own religion, as long as they don't interfere with anything Islamic).
People hanging out under the bridge
Legend has it the Israeli government offered incentives up to $ 60,000 per family to move to Israel, which was snubbed by the Iranian Jewish community, who reminded the Israeli's that although they were Jewish, they were also still Iranian and this was their homeland (although some families still took up the offer. One famous Esfahan-born Jew was former Israeli president Moshe Katsav.
When we passed a synagogue we found the gate open, so we peeked inside for a moment. A man came towards us and upon seeing me he started talking in Hebrew and embraced me. I think he thought I was Jewish. I decided it was best not to tell him the truth. It was a touching moment, in a very strange way.

We reached the Zayandeh river, which is crossed by 11 bridges, 5 of which are remnants from the 16th century, the golden age when Esfahan was the capital of Persia.
Khaju bridge
These footbridges have been restored and are a popular place for locals to hang out in the evenings. As there is very little in way of entertainment in this country, walking up and down boulevards, parks, or bridges is favourite pastime.

We crossed the most famous of these bridges, the Khaju bridge, which contains a stone throne built for Shah Abbas II on which he could sit to admire the views. These days Iranians love to sit on this spot and reminisce of those golden days gone by.

Across the river we walked through the park to the next bridge, the Chubi bridge, which we crossed back again towards the city centre in search for a place to eat. Unfortunately the restaurant Maryam had recommended was closed, so we continued our walk to the Si-o-Seh bridge. This is the longest of the historic bridges, with 33 arches spanning the river.
Si-o-Seh bridge (bridge of 33 arches)
It is a stunning piece of architecture, even more beautiful when floodlit at night.

After a very pleasant two hour walk Maryam and Milad dropped us off at a restaurant. They were unable to join us for dinner, so Michael and I went in alone, to much amusement of the staff, who were obviously not used to tourists.
Walking had made us thirsty, so before we could even look at the menu we wanted to have an ice cold Iranian beer (I have developed quite a liking to the lemon flavoured Istak beer). Remember I told you how in Iran it is very unusual to have a drink before your dinner? (or have more than one drink during your meal, for that matter?) Well, it was impossible to explain to the waiter we wanted  a drink now, and then look at the menu. Once he thought he understood he went to get the drinks, taking the menus with him.
Psychadelic bridges
“No,” we explained, “please leave the menu, we want to order food”. So he stood by our table waiting for us to make a choice and order food. This sequence repeated itself about three or four times, much to the hilarity of Michael and I and to the frustration of the waiters who simply could not understand why we wanted a drink first and order food later. Eventually we just let it go and had them bring out the drinks whenever they wanted to.

The food was excellent, trying several local specialities we hadn't had before. Although it turned out we ordered a desert as a main course, but that didn't put a damper on our spirits at all. Today had been a long, varied and very good day.

nishaa says:
hi,i was searching for people travelled to isfahan as tourists.for I am conducting a survey on applying the Information Communication Technology in the foreign tourists satisfaction in Iran. The topic of my research is An Evaluation On The Impacts Of ICT In The Foreign Tourists’ Satisfaction In Tourism Industry In Isfahan, Iran.I seek your indulgence in taking some of your precious time to answer a questionnaire based on your experience as a foreign tourist in Iran, let me know if i can have your email adress so i can send you the questionnaire, thank you.
Posted on: Jan 30, 2011
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Khaju bridge
Khaju bridge
People hanging out under the bridge
People hanging out under the bridge
Khaju bridge
Khaju bridge
Si-o-Seh bridge (bridge of 33 arch…
Si-o-Seh bridge (bridge of 33 arc…
Psychadelic bridges
Psychadelic bridges
Milad, Michael and Maryam in front…
Milad, Michael and Maryam in fron…
Esfahan Hostels review
A bit of a rip-off
This is a long-time favourite amongst backpackers. I have no idea why. Well, actually I do. For lack of competition this dump remains the main choice … read entire review
photo by: genetravelling