Yazd, Iran: Oldest Town on Earth?

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
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Trip End Feb 06, 2014


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Flag of Iran  , Khorasan Razavi,
Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ready to go we were a little surprised when the phone in our hotel room rang at 7am. More so when we discovered it was our driver from yesterday saying he would be around shortly to pick us up and drive us to the bus station. He wouldn't even accept payment, saying we were so generous with our tip the other day it was his way of saying thanks. How nice.

The bus trip was good, not a VIP bus but at least it didn't break down. My favourite pass time of staring blankly out the window was hampered by the sun streaming in and blinds being drawn so I slept instead.

Yazd is a town that seems to spring up out of the desert - one minute there's nothing, the next houses rise from the sand and a town is born. What's even more remarkable is that Unesco believe the old city to be one of the oldest on Earth. Once exploring, it's certainly not hard to believe.

The first thing to hit me was the heat so I was pleased to arrive at our hotel and discover a lovely shaded courtyard with daybeds. Our main reason for choosing the hotel was the simple fact it offered an Indian curry so after checking in and dumping our bags we tucked into lunch. Admittedly it wasn't the most amazing curry but after eating nothing but kebab and rice it made for a welcomed change.

The town of Yazd itself is made up of a number of mosques (I'm now officially all mosque'd out), a not very big or interesting bazaar, an enchanting mud brick old city, shops selling beautiful silk tableware and a pizza place that is NOT open for lunch. We discovered the latter after walking in the sun for 30 min. Needless to say I insisted on a taxi back.

Like others, the bazaar is a run of vaulted ceiling corridors jam packed with the usual paraphernalia - spices, hanging sheep or cow carcasses, clothes, fabrics etc. There was probably more room to move here than most, less chaos and a section for jewellery which far outweighed the space given to other items of sale. The more interesting parts were those used for manufacture in the back alleys which then led into the mud brick maze of the old city. A haven where children could play chasey for hours. It would certainly make for a mean game of hide and seek. You'd be going for days.

Stepping into the high walled narrow lanes the temperature dropped to a bearable level. We didn't really know where we were going - a twist there, a turn there. Sam's little face peeking out from behind a wall before disappearing down another alley. Hands running along the course mud, packed and dried to create our alleys of wonder. Shadows melting into walls as women emerge or go into homes. A splash of green as a tree grows in the vain hope of providing shade on a children's playground, the rusted slide of which I'm sure hasn't felt a bum on it for quite some time. Can't imagine the concrete slabs doubling as table tennis see much action either.

Entering a square we set about trying to find some steps to gain a birds eye view over the city. Looking slightly lost a local stepped in to show us the way - through a door, into a courtyard and up some steps onto a roof we went to see as far as our eyes could see. A jumble of rooves and cables intertwining for miles broken occasionally by the brilliant blue of a domed mosque.

Being up on that roof was definitely one of the highlights of Yazd. My other was buying a beautiful silk tablerunner (another twig for the nest Sam would say) whilst Sam changed some money.... only to have to change more once I spent it all. I believe I was fully justified though due to Yazd being known for its fabrics and silks since before Marco Polo passed through in the 13th century. Thank you history for providing me with the perfect excuse to shop.

Each night we relaxed in the hotel courtyard. It was nice to have something to do of an evening. I think that's what I really miss - not the alcohol just the endless options for things to do at night. I just can't seem to get excited about a night on tea and we're as yet to discover a nice relaxed tea house in order to do that. With the weather as it is we thought there would be an abundance of outside cafes. I guess almost Moroccan or Egyptian style - cushions on the floor of a footpath or under the shade of a tree - but there's none of that and the last thing I really want to do is sit on a plastic chair in a greasy kebab house for the night. Sorry Iran but your evenings suck.

What also sucks is having a check out of 9am. 9AM - who the hell enforces a check out at that hour? My alarm doesn't function until at least an hour later than that. What's worse is we had to hang around until 7:30pm for our overnight bus to Mashhad. Sam managed to get us a later check out of 10:30am but it still made for a very long day.

The overnight bus to Mashhad was comfortable enough helped by the fact we invested in a VIP one with reclining seats. Worth every penny on a 13 hour trip. I thought I would sleep for most of it but no. Made a good dent in my book though ("The Help") and spent the rest of the time dozing to music.

INFO:

Bus: Shiraz to Yazd dep 07:30 arr 14:30
Hotel: Silk Road Hotel IRR 500,000 : US$16 per night dbl room incl. private bathroom + breakfast (bread, cheese, tomato, cucumber, fruit, tea and coffee).
Bus: Yazd to Mashhad dep 19:30 arr 08:30
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