United States 2006
P-06 - Persia trip with stops in New York and Istanbul Date of travel: Apr 17 - May 12, 2006 ITINERARY: At noon on Apr 17 I drive in a rented car from Vista to Los Angeles airport. I fly to New York where very early the following morning. I spend most of the day here visiting the Central Park, Lincoln Center, the City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge. Then I take a plane to Istanbul in TURKEY (I have a walk through the center of the city visiting the Blue Mosque there). By a red eye flight I go to Tehran in IRAN (the old name was Persia) where early on Apr 20. That morning I continue with 2 other travelers by plane to Mashhad in north-eastern part of the country. We spend most of 3 days sightseeing this Holy City of Shiites and its vicinity (mainly the Shrine of Imam Reza and caravanserais on the Silk Road). Then we fly back to Tehran where we are joined by the rest of our group. A day is devoted to sightseeing of this 15 million people capital of Iran (visiting the Saadabad Palace Complex, the Crown Jewels Museum and the Carpet Museum). The following day we leave Tehran by bus for Hamadan to see the Tomb of Ester and Mordecal, Avicenna Tomb Tower and the inscriptions carved on a mountain by Darius I. and his son Xerxes. Day after we drive to Kangavar to see the Anahita Temple, to Bisotun with another relief of Darius, this in 3 languages that became a Rosetta Stone for deciphering the cuneiform script. By evening we are in Kermanshah where are important Sassanians reliefs. On Apr 26 we drive into area of Iranian oilfields and spend a night in city of Ahwaz. From here we make a daytrip to Susa to visit the ruins of Apadana and the 2,500 years old remnants of Darius I. palace. On the Dez River we see the ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil built in 1250 BC. At Shustar we stop at Sassanian Watermills and an ancient bridge on the Korun River. Between Ahwaz and Shiraz we make visits to more excavations and see more rock carvings. Having Shiraz as a base we travel to the most famous Iranian place, Persepolis. We devote its exploration and to a visit to the Hajiabad necropolis the whole day. Next day we do the sightseeing of Shiraz itself. On May 1 we leave this city and with a visit to ruins of the capital and the majestic tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae we reach Yazd by the evening. Before Islam Zoroastrianism was the main religion in old Persia. The last significant community of Zoroastrians (some 30 thousands strong) lives among the 500 thousands people of Yazd. We visit their “Fire Temple“ and the “Tower of Silence,” where they used to put their dead. It takes us most of the day driving to get to the jewel of ancient Persia, Esfahan. We need two full days to explore many of its monuments. There are number of famous mosques, palaces, gardens, museums, bazaars and 5 ancient bridges here. The most impressive is the Imam Square (the second biggest square in the world after the Tiananmen Square in Beijing) surrounded by several mosques and palaces. It is a gathering place of the city. One can see families taking a stroll and many young people, too, though boys and girls are visibly separated. On our way from Esfahan back to Tehran we see the golden domes of shrines in the Holy City of Qom (Qom is not open for tourists). Next 5 days we spend in Iranian Azerbaijan. First, we fly from Tehran to the provincial capital, Tabriz. After its sightseeing we get in a van and go over the high mountains to town of Anzali on the Caspian Sea and the same time it is close to the border with independent Azerbaijan to the north. Following days we drive along the coast to Ramsar. Here we sleep in an old royal hotel built by the father of the last Iranian shah in 30’s of the 20th century. The Caspian Sea is 27 m under the level of the world oceans. On May 9 we drive over the high Alburz Range (here is the highest peak of Iran 5,671m above the sea level.) back to Tehran. We then spend another day sightseeing the city (visiting the Archeological Museum and Niavaran and Sahebgerameh Palaces). After 21 days traveling through Iran we boarded planes on May 11 and flew to our individual homes in North America. My flights took me via Istanbul, New York, Dallas to Los Angeles. From there I drive in a rented car home to Vista where very early in the morning May 12, my 67 birthdate. Travel office: Spiekermann Travel Service from Detroit Who took part: Most of the trip there were 9 travelers, but there were only 3 of us in Mashhad and then 8 in Iranian Azerbaijan. One of the travelers, a professor of a university in Texas, lectured about the relevant matters of our journey. We had an excellent Iranian tour leader and in some places also local guides. There were Iranian drivers in the bus and later in the van.