Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Day 139 - Esfahan

The holiday is over.

We have been here 6 days now and its strange, but when I stay in one place for a long time I always find it hard to think what I have done, what is there to write about. I think it because all the days seem to roll into one.

It been a relaxing 6 days, yet in a way tiring. Walking around a city seems hard work after the days on the bike and added to that it always seems hotter in the cities as there is no self generated breeze.

So what have we been doing? Thursday was a lazy day, late up and a very long breakfast that went on until midday, then a bit of sight seeing, followed by more social chat in the evening.

Friday was interesting. There was a large demonstation in Imam Square and being the 2nd largest square in the world that makes for a big demonstation. Andre and I couldnt resist it so went down to have a look as we knew what it was all about from the posters and banners we had seen. It was an anti American and Israeli protest and we were left in little doubt about that as the only part of a speach we could understand was `bad bad America, bad bad Israel, bad bad English`. Having said that we never felt under threat but the nearer we got to the front the more I felt that we were being stared at. Somebody stopped to ask us if we knew what it was about so we said no. As he tried to explain a large crowd of youngsters surrounded us and as we departed it became a bit of a problem until adults stopped them from following us. A teacher then latched on to us and explained that it occured on the last Friday of Ramadan from the last 30 years, so it didnt seem quite so bad, not a rally call for war, although there were young children wearing bandaners and military trousers, but other men were seen wearing New York baseball caps so a bit of a contradiction there.

Saturday we met up again with the teacher and he took us for a guided tour of the bazaar that was little more than a trip to all of his friends craft shops, but it was good to see tiles and bowls being painted by hand. There were also plenty of other craftsmen to look at but most were metal workers.

On Sunday Andre bet me a beer that other cyclists would turn up that day so I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss and I looked forward all day to my nice cold non alcoholic beer as neither of us had seen cyclists in weeks. Amazingly enough 2 Dutch cyclist turn up, Erik and Chet (that's not how you spell it but it sort of sounds similar) and having tasted the beer I was glad I lost the bet. So there are now five cyclists staying at the hostel, but we are all heading in the same direction so no news coming in from Pakistan and I guess it too late in the year now to expect that.

Yesterday was a bit of a wasted day, but chores had to be done. This one took the form of getting a visa extension and it took me ages to find the office as it has moved. Once I found the office it was constant frustration of queuing, going to the bank to pay in money, queuing again, then being sent to another office where my paperwork was taken and I was told to come back tomorrow. They wouldnt give me a receipt and with so many passports in the place I could see me losing it so I pestered them to give me a receipt and they finally agreed to do it whilst I wait. 3 hours later I had my extension and it is for a month. I only expected 2 weeks then a repeat performance else where, so now at least I dont have to suffer that again. In the evening we went down to see the old bridges which are floodlit and made for a nice gentle bike ride and a good de-stress from the passport office. We then had tea in a really posh hotel that has been converted from an old caravanseri, very relaxing.

Today has been catching up with more chores, a bit of bike maintenance, washing including hand washing, changing money, that sort of exciting thing. Later in the afternoon we went around the last few sights here, a couple of little palaces and a mosque (photo), all very good and made a good end to the stay in Esfahan.

Tomorrow we are off towards Yadz and all five of us are heading off together. I had a phone call the other night at the hostel, that came as a bit of a surprise, and we were invited to stay with a student who lives in a village about 95k along the route to Yadz. I think he may be a cyclist himself as he invites cyclists to stay with him and was only too happy to accommadate 5 of us.

Beyond Yadz we are all going in different directions and as yet I am undecided as to what I am going to do, but it looks as though my continuous cycle from home is about to come to an end as I am getting grief from certain people about my chosen route through Pakistan, but I will say more about that when I have finally made up my mind.


Brian and Teri said...

I'm curious about the "washing including hand washing" - I hadn't envisaged you finding launderettes out in the sticks of Iran, so imagined that on the rare occasions you wash your clothes it was by hand - which leads me to believe that your hands were very grubby and in need of a wash!! Well, I'm glad to hear that they're clean now. Also glad to hear that we won't have to watch the news to see if a strange English cyclist has been kidnapped.

Lorna said...

Definitely worried about you on the next leg of your journey. Excitement and 'adventure' versus commonsense?!! Waiting with baited breath to see which you choose...

Greg said...


This bloke is cycling to Malaysia and is currently in Iran. This link shows you where he actually is right now and you might like to join him. Good luck on your trip down under.

Basher Barlow said...

Beastie, if you get kidnapped start singing your Cliff Richard songs that will soon make them let you go.

PS: Don't be your normal pig stubborn self and do it just to prove something to everyone make sure you make an informed decision. Check out the UK Govt. FCO travel advisory pages


Caff said...

Zibs, Eid Mubarak and a very happy birthday.
Now I've wished you a happy Eid Festival and a very happy birthday - I will remind you that my sentiments about the next leg of your journey is the same as the others quoted, especially BB's above.
Take care kiddo and continue to have fun :-)

S said...

Happy birthday - will you be celebrating with a delicious glass of non-alcoholic beer?

aoiffe said...

In honour of your birthday we are going to have a celebratory dinner and enjoy your favourite foods. We will start with fat juicy, sizzling sausages on a mound of creamy potato with pools of delicious onion gravy, aand follow with steamed pudding and thick yellow custard. All to be washed down with Wychwood brewery's best. Shall I save you some?
Hope you have a happy birthday with food and company nearly as good as mine...

Lorna said...

Many happy returns of the day! Another year older, another year wiser... Hope it's one to remember. Having a get together in Stonesfield this evening - we'll raise our glasses to you.

David & Lindsey said...

Happy Birthday! but will you be able to find a courgette big enough for all those candles? Lindsey also wants to know if that's a courgette in your pocket.....? By the way if you managed to ring any bells in the last 30 days will it be known as
'Ramalamadingdong' ? Great blog John keep up the good work and remember IT'S AN EXPERIENCE, NOT A HOLIDAY! ps less said about our respective football teams the better!

Garry said...

Hello John, just logging in here to catch up with events, and what an interesting place you've reached. Which way now? What a mega experience this is for you - a once in a lifetime kind of experience. I'm sure you've heard from your Audax mates in the UK and you will know that PBP has come and gone. Well [after The Dean, and the 7 Across, I did the BCM, and entered PBP], I did it - smack bang on 90hrs!! By the skin of my teeth! [You may not be able to put face to name - don't worry]. Onto the next challenge now - whatever that is. Massive respect to you and all your endeavours John. I'll drop by again soon. Good luck.

aoiffe said...

By the way - loved the photo of Rupert, but where is little bear?

dad said...

I just had to make it 12 comments even though I sent you Birthday Greetings on Thursday. I agree with BB and Caff even though the final decision is yours. I made five attempts to open the comments box and had just started typing " I just had,,," when not only did the blog shut down but the whole b.computer shut down. And no .. I didn't hit the wrong key nor was there a power failure. Have fun.

Caff said...

You know the great thing about a journey is the diversions we sometimes have to make to avoid unexpected circumstances. The change of plans can greatly enhance life and bring new and rewarding experiences which you may never have had had you not had to make those difficult decisions.
Enjoy...........and keep safe :-)

Brian and Teri said...

Reading Caff's comment (13) reminds me of a book I'm reading called 'Yes Man' about a guy who decides to rouse himself from his uneventful life by saying Yes every time he is asked something that it is possible to say Yes to and see where it takes him. It seems a good plan when he's being asked if he'd like a beer or a game of squash but things get more complicated when he says Yes to an email telling him he's won the Spanish lottery and all he has to do is go to Amsterdam with his bank account details...and through a series of Yes's ends up in a gay bar (rescued at the last minute by someone saying "shall we go now?") followed by a visit to a place called 'Conscious Dreams' where it's perfectly legal to consume magic mushrooms - doesn't escape so easily this time and wakes up to discover...well, you'll have to read it yourself. It's all good clean fun but be careful what you say Yes to!!

pip said...

Hello John

It's taken me 139 days to remember my username so that I can post you a message.

My memory's going, so I've forgotten what is was!

Never mind, I need to catch up on your exploits, so I'll go back to day 1 and work my way forward.

Did you hear about PBP. Worst conditions for 20 years and all that jazz?

Keep going, and 'bonne route'

Phil Magnus