Because I have been to Esfahan there is no real sightseeing pressure and I can just relax and enjoy the city. I settle into a nice routine: Go to a park, read, eat ice cream, nap, start over, maybe do a bit of sightseeing early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The Iran hotel is reasonably priced and there is no rush to leave town. Compared to my last visit in early March the parks are now green, the fountains are on and Esfahanis and local tourists are out in droves, especially in the evening.
This is the only place in Iran were I see no camping signs and surprisingly it is actually enforced.
Especially Imam square comes alive around sunset. Itís just filled with people having picnics, playing games, smoking a qalyan and generally having a good time.
The boys and girls play football
One of the nights Iím there, taking pictures of the Imam mosque, I hear someone shouting my name. Hm, that face looks familiar. Itís the guy who gave me some free ice cream in Borujerd. He is here with his extended family and Iím introduced to all of them and we take a group shot. Mum asks me how old I am and is very worried about me, traveling all by myself. She points out that her son, who is the same age, at least has a (very attractive) fiance. Not much I can say about that.
Another day I go to the Khaju bridge for sunset and listen to the guys sing and recite poetry under bridge. The singing sounds very unusual for Western ears. A bit like a stuttering yodel attempt with a sour throat but at the same time it is actually very melodic and it sounds like it is very hard to do. Most of the songs are an interaction between two or more guys under different arches of the bridge or some distance away. Even if you donít understand the words itís just beautiful. Iím glad some kind soul told me about this daily ritual the last time I was here.
I spend half a day looking for a lens cap to replace the one I lost a few days ago. The first one I find costs $10 and I tell the guy to get back to watching TV because he is better at that than running a business. I finally find another used camera and repair shop not far from my hotel and have a lovely chat with the old chap running it, reminescing about the old Russian Zenit and East German Pratica SLRs I used to own and he still sells. Iím briefly tempted to buy a medium format camera but with space limited on the bike I decide against it. Nearby is a top photographer and I consider to have my portrait taken.
I do get around to do some sightseeing eventually:
Imam Square at night
Chehel Sotun Palace
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
I took so many pictures that I had to split up posts. So, to be continued ...