Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Lazy Afternoon

The Museum of Contemporary Art.

What we had for lunch.

A walk in the park
Thursday, we went to the Golestan. But it is shut on Thursdays! So we went to the much mentioned Carpet Museum instead.
At 1100 we sent Christl back to the residence with the driver and Uschi and I went to the Contemporary Art Museum, just along the square from the Carpet Museum.We had a look at the paintings on display which seemed to be mostly student works from 2006/7. There were a large number titled “Part of a Poem – Rumi”. I assume it was a set assignment. A bit disappointing, while the student work was OK, the Museum seemed to hold many works by many well known world artists, none of which were on display.
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The Carpet Museum

A carpet on display

The main entrance to the carpet museum

One of the oldest carpets in the museum, 700 (?) years old
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Ceramics Museum

The Ceramics Museum in Tehran. Look carefully, Uschi is there.
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Monday, May 28, 2007

National Museum, Tehran

The National Museum of Tehran (Iran e Bastan).
A necklace, more than 2000 years old.

Relief carving from the Treasury at Persepolis.
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Highs and Lows

All in one day!

3000m (10,000 feet) above sea level.
Alborz Mountains

3 Hours later...

60m (200 feet) below sea level.
Caspian Sea

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butterfly by our room

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Trip to Chalus

It’s 0815 and I am in the kid's seat in the back of a Prado.
Today we are on the way to see the Caspian. We have been on the road for about1/2 an hour and have left Tehran. Our next major place to see will be Shemshak but we are passing through many small villages 0n a winding road. There are occasional bright red poppies by the roadside, and far above there is still a little snow on the mountain tops and in the high valleys. We are at 1630m (according to the car altimeter!).
Renate noted that in March the trees in this area were bare, but they are fully in green leaf now.
We missed the road to Shemshak and are in a larger village. Four girls in brown (school uniforms?) see us and smile and wave.
Now we are back on the main road, Uschi comments that the mountains are a bit like the Flinders Ranges due to the dryness and feel of the place. However, at 1750m in the valley where we are, we are much higher than the tops of the Flinders.

[Photo of farmers at the deserted ski resort of Shemshak, no one else around in the summer]


Climbing up through the pass we reach 2090m, then stop for a while by the roadside at 2600m to take pictures of an icy stream. A bit later we reach to top of the pass at 3000m where we get out to look at the panorama. We drive down a very steep, dirt switchback road down to Shemshak


Just arriving in Chalus as the midday call to prayer is on the speakers. The last 15 km or so has been like any part of Europe. Driving along a road at the bottom of a narrow river valley with lots of green trees.
Now suddenly we are on the flat and can increase speed. A short time later we reach the built up area proper and find ourselves turning to the west and driving along parallel to the Caspian shore.
The hotel is about 12km along from our turn off. The driver heads down a back road when we had done about 9km and we find ourselves between a number of high walled mansions. The mansions are a distinct contrast to the road which is thin and in very poor condition.
Not very much longer and we come to a barricad. We have to back track to where Renate said we shouldn’t have turned off anyway. Back on the main road with two lanes and traffic islands, but it is still in poor condition, badly patched and uneven. Eventually we arrive at the Casplan Azadi Hotel where we are waved straight in by a guard at the gatehouse. They think we are diplomats and waive the entrance fee!

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At the top of the Tochal Ski lift. The longest ski lift in the world (apparently) at over 7km.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In Iran

Here we are in Iran and I am just testing to see if the Blog will work from here. This is a view through a stained glass window in an old palace in Qazvin.


A ceiling detail at Amini's House
(Above) Imamzadeh Hossein
Lunch at the Eghbali Restaurant in Qazvin

At the restaurant with a tour of German ladies. I am the only male (bar the driver) in a busload of tourists. There are 28 of them, mostly wives of German nationals working in Iran.
I had an entrée of yoghurt, sliced onion and a salad like coleslaw wrapped in a flat bread.
The main course was a smorgasbord of kebabs, ie grilled meats, chicken and lamb. All this was accompanied by rice, a mix of white and saffron coloured. This is the first time I have seen sumac. It was sprinkled on the rice from salt shakers, and gives a sour/soapy taste, unusual but nice. There was also a lamb casserole and a bean stew with vine leaves or spinach. It was all very delicious.
The restaurant has western style soft drinks, which I was interested to find out. Iran isn’t as isolated as I thought it could be. Have so far been to one of the old city wall gates, the old palace (Chehel Sotun) and the Amini's House (Aminiha Hosseinieh), an old 19th century private residence.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First Daylight View of Tehran

Arrived in Tehran late last night and we are now on the way to Qazvin with a tour which was arranged by our hosts.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Second Day In Abu Dhabi

Lying awake at 0400 this morning I could hear the call to prayer. Very unreal to look out at a darkened city across the park to the mosque with the loudspeakers blaring.
Hardly any of the buildings around the park have their lights on, but the park is well lt with street lights along the paths. There is no movement to speak of in the area below but the car parks are still packed, just as they were during the day.


Spent a big day yesterday. It is now 1500 and we are sitting in the marina Mall. I am very tired after waking at 0400 this morning then going for a walk at 0600. We have had a late/light lunch at “La Brioche” a pseudo French café in the mall. Most interesting to watch the variety of costumes go past. Arabs drinking coffee in a French pattiserie, very surreal. A small number of men (about 10%) and slightly more women in traditional dress, the men in white or occasionally light coloured full length robes. Different varieties of head dresses, sometimes a turban like arrangement, but more often the expected cloth held with head bands. Patterns in red and white are common, but so are plain white ones. Very occasionally young guys have a baseball type cap or similar.
The women are much more varied, ranging from colourful head scarves only with normal fashionable clothing, all the way through to complete black, head to toe, without even eyeslits, only a see through veil. I noticed a couple of the older women had a brass (?) face piece with a strap in front of their mouths and one in front of their eyes. It might be something to stop the veil touching their face (maybe). I can’t think of any other use, other than purely decorative.
I just saw a younger girl all in black but with a pink tee-shirt over the top, she might be staff at one of the shops on her way home. I bought a long robe yesterday, Uschi wants me to buy a head dress too!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A new adventure begins

Woke up at 0500 this morning and stayed awake until the alarm went off at 0630, then fell asleep again for ½ an hour. Did the final packing and some flat cleaning, before the taxi picked me up at 0750. The driver didn’t know his way to the airport.
I waited around for Uschi and her mum for about 10 minutes then got in the check in line . I let a few families with babies go ahead and at the last minute as I got to the check in desk, Uschi turned up, so I shouted across the hall for her. She and her mum checked straight in and we got a wheel chair for Uschi’s mum. We pushed it straight through security and to the boarding gate, where the plane hadn’t arrived yet.
When it did turn up, 10 minutes late, we, and a family with a baby got on first into row 2. The flight to Sydney was almost exactly 90 minutes then we had to get from domestic arrivals to international departures so we took a taxi.

When we got to the international terminal Uschi's mum scored a wheel chair which had been specially widened for the King of Samoa.
At least that's what the attendant said.

Arty shot while waiting at Sydney
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