Syria: Aleppo

Are you Syria?

Umm… Aleppo is awesome.

P1010685_aleppo

After Iran I spent a few days in Turkey in the cities of Van & Gaziantep – both great cities and a must see if you head to Turkey. But, Aleppo is awesome.

Yesterday I left Gaziantep and crossed into Syria near a town called Kilis. Was reasonably easy and only took a few hours. From the centre of Gaziantep I took a dolmus to the otogar, then another dolmus to Kilis and then a taxi from Kilis to cross the border. Exiting Turkey took a few minutes.

P1010674_aleppo P1010724_aleppo P1010727_aleppo

To get into Syria I paid $30 (paid in euro & lira) to get a 15 day single entry visa for Syria – the immigration people were friendly but not friendly enough to give me the double entry 1 month visa I was after (plan is to go to Jordan then cross back into Syria and then to Lebanon).

P1010731_aleppo_mosque

P1010746_aleppo_moqsue

P1010747_aleppo_mosque

P1010741_aleppo_mosque

P1010751_aleppo_mosque

P1010752_aleppo_mosque

P1010755_aleppo_mosque

My taxi mate dropped me at the nearest town and put me into a van to get to Aleppo. Less than an hour later I was at the bus station on the outskirts of this wicked city. £60SYP (about €1) and 10 minutes later I was in downtown Aleppo!

What a beautiful city!

I couldn’t get into the highly recommended Tourst Hotel but directly opposite I found a cool placed called the Spring Flower Hostel – got my own tiny room with a shower & toilet for £450SYP (€8) Syrian.

I think I could walk around this city forever.

Today I woke up around 8am and went for a walk around the old city & the souqs, tried to get into the citadel (not open on Tuesdays), and then saw a gigantic mosque in the distance so decided to go check it out.

The mosque ended up being a good score because I was quickly befriended by Milar who’s Dad and colleagues were working on the construction of this Mosque – due to finish within a year. The guys on the construction site were great and let me walk all over it and get some photos of them.

P1010774_aleppo P1010776_aleppo

Iran: Esfahan

“Hello hello, where are you from?”
The catchcall of this stint in Iran.
P1010008_esfahan_localshop

In the first day in Esfahan I think Tobi & I must have met 15 people and some of them we chatted with for hours. Within minutes it seems people are pretty keen to get onto talking about religion and the government. Most people seem to miss the freedoms of the Shah days and see Islam as a connection between them and their god and not something that should be used by a government.

P1000678_esfahan_SiamakTobi P1000827_esfahan_manager P1000845_esfahan_inkguy

What about the sites? Well the Imam Square and mosque were great, a walk over the bridges (Khaju, Choobi, 33 Pol), a look over Esfahan from the Ateshkadeh-e Esfahan Fire Temple, some towers I can’t remember the name of and the bazaar.

P1000882_esfahan_firetower
P1000887_esfahan
P1000835_esfahan_bazaar

Food – finally got to try a proper kebab served with rice, bought some noughat called “Gaz” which Esfahan is apparently famous for, and Beryooni – delicious!

P1000826_farshod P1000824_esfahan_ladies P1000804_esfahan_bridge P1000735_esfahan_Ali P1000930_esfahan_ali_nazila P1000711_esfahan_flyingcarpet P1000726_esfahan_Ali P1010022_busdriver P1000969_esfahan_mickey

A Persian proverb says Esfahan is “Half of the world”.

Whilst i didn’t quite have that feeling when I was checked out Esfahan it is indeed a grand city.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Imam Square) is massive and beautiful to see, and is also cool because it was once used to play polo in (someone told me Polo was first played in Esfahan).

The Imam Mosque is full of mosaic work, 2 minarets, and some imperfections to show that nothing on the world is perfect – seems if they hadn’t added intentional imperfections then the building would have been perfect. hmmm…

P1000698_Esfahan_ImamMosque P1000699_esfahan_imamsquare P1000702_esfahan_ImamMosque P1000707_esfahan_imammosque P1000710_Esfahan_ImamMosque P1000688_esfahan_bazaar