Susanna On the Go
Pool maailmast peitub Esfahanis

Pool maailmast peitub Esfahanis

Pärast esimesi päevi Iraani pealinnas Teheranis seadsime end ootusärevuses ööbussi peale. Järgmine sihtkoht oli Esfahan, milles kohalike sõnul peituvat pool maailma.
Jõudsime linna kella nelja ajal hommikul, julgelt enne päikesetõusu. Otsustasime jääda bussijaama inimlikku kellaaega ootama, kuid paraku kõik terminalid olid suletud. Ööhämaruses viitas keegi tundmatu meile roheka klaaspaviljoni poole, kus üsna palju inimesi sees istus. Ilmselt oli tegu ainsa avatud ootesaaliga ja nii mõnedki muud olid aega parajaks tegemas. Astusime sisse, kohalikud mehed tegid meile koheselt ruumi ja kutsusid enda juurde istuma. Rääkisime veidi juttu, no umbes nii inglise-vene-saksa-hispaania keele segu, ja närisime meestega koos sihkvasid.Tore oli! Lausa nii tore, et läks ligi tund aega, enne kui märkasin, et mõned neist end pappkastide all soojendavad ja tegu ilmselt kohalike kodututega oli. See võttis südame hästi soojaks – nagu ikka, võtsid külmunud turistid enda hõlma alla need, kel endal kõige vähem oli.

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Linnaväljak ja esimesed vaated Esfahanile. Tegu on traditsioonilise ja konservatiivse linnaga, see paistis silma ka tänavamoes.

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Üheks tähtsaks ajaveetmiskohaks on kungingliku mošee esine plats pargipinkide ja purskkaevudega.

Esfahanis võõrustas meid insenerist noormees Mohammad, kes elas üksinda traditsioonilises Iraani korteris ja näitas meile hea meelega linna. Koos külastasime paari kunsti- ja ajaloo muusemit ning jalutasime mööda ilusamaid parke ning vaatamisväärsusi. 
Kuna ta ise oli tulihingeline Iraani armastaja, õppisime tema käest palju huvitavat. Proovisime ka kohalike toite, näiteks rohelist suppi ash, mis maitses nagu vetikas. Mingil põhjusel serveeriti seda hapukoorega. Minu lemmikroog oli pudrutaoline kleepuv khalim, mida valmistati baklažaanist ja juustust. Kohaliku kulinaarse uhkuse alla kuulub ka muidugi mahlane kebab, mis maitseb eriti hästi just väikestes tänavaputkades, õhukese leiva vahele keeratult. Hinnad olid endiselt soodsad, kõigest 1€ eest võis saada kõhu korralikult täis.

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Väike armas maasika-tüdruk kuningliku mošee ees.

Esfahan oli Teheraniga võrreldes oluliselt kunstipärasem, organiseeritum ja kaunim. See olevat kunagi olnud valitseja elupaik ja seetõttu ka väga uhkelt üles ehitatud. Linn on tuntud ka oma eriliste põlismustrite poolest, mida põimitakse nii vaipade sisse kui maalitakse nõude ja ehete peale. Kusjuures kuulsad Pärsia vaibad on Iraanis täiesti eraldivõetav tootmisharu – käsitöövaibad on niivõrd kallid (ja samas ka ääretult populaarsed!), et vaibapoed saavad endale lubada isegi läbi Dubai kaardimaksete teostamist ja lisatasu eest sularaha väljamaksmist. Tegu on reaalselt ainsate (!) kohtadega, kust Iraanis on häda korral võimalik sularaha saada. Teatavasti on riik ju rahvuvahelisest pangandusest välja lõigatud ning reisida saab ainult suure hunniku dollarite või eurodega tagataskus.

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Sellistes pimedates käikudes toimus põhiline kaubandustegevus. Bazaaril müüdi Pärsia vaipu, serviise, kohalike maiustusi ja kõike muud.

Minu isiklik lemmik osa Esfahanist oli Armeenia linnaosa. I Maailmasõja Ottomani tagakiusu ja genotsiidi ajal põgenes meeletult armeenlasi oma riigist. Suur osa neist jõudis naaberriiki Iraani, kus nad on moodustanud suured kogukonnad. Esfahani Armeenia linnaosa oli muu linnaga võrreldes vaiksem, organiseeritum ja veelgi kunstipärasem. Siinjuures ka fun fact: armeenlased on islamistlikus Iraanis nii hinnatud, et riigi valitseja neile lausa ise kristlikke kirikuid ehitab!

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Minu lemmik piirkond – imeilusate mustritega kaetud Armeenia kohvikud ja tänavad. Pildil koos meiega on kohalik Ali, kes meile hea meelega linna näitas.

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ENG

After the first few days in Tehran,Iran, we set out in anticipation to take a night bus to our next destination – Esfahan.
Iranians have a proverb:

ا ست م ش هور ج هان ن صف ب ه ا ص ف هان

which essentially translates to „Esfahan is half of the world“.
We made it to the city at about 4 a.m, well before the sunrise. We decided to stay in the bus station to wait for an hour a bit more humane. Unfortunately all the terminals were closed. In the dimness of night someone unknown pointed us towards a glass pavilion. There were fairly many folks sitting, waiting in that room. It was evidently the only lounge that was still open at such an hour. We entered. At once the local men made room for us and invited us to sit with them. So we did. The conversation was an odd mixture of english, russian, german and spanish. We chewed on some sunflower seeds they offered us. It was lovely. So lovely indeed that it took me about an hour to notice that some of these men were sitting on cardboard boxes, trying to keep themselves warm; to realize that they were most probably homeless. We felt odd. As often happens, folks that took us under their wing, were the ones, who themselves didn’t have much.

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City square and first impressions of Esfahan. Even the street fashion referred to it’s conservatism and traditionalism.
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One of the most important hang out and meeting places was the Royal Mosque with park benches and water fountains.

Our Esfahan host was a young engineer Mohammad, who lived alone in a traditional Iranian apartment and gladly showed us around. Together we visited a few art and history museums; walked in the prettiest parks and saw the nicest sights.
We learned a lot thanks to his passion. We tried local foods like ash, a green soup which tasted like seaweed. It was served with sour cream for some reason. My favorite was a sticky porridge khalim, made of eggplant and cheese. Under the proud local culinary heritage is of course the juicy kebab, which was especially tasty in the small street stalls, where they rolled it up between a layer thin bread. The prices of the dishes were unbelieable as well – around 1€ for a full meal.

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Adorable little strawberry-girl in front of the Royal Mosque.

Compared to Tehran, Esfahan was a lot more artsy, organized and therefore a lot more beautiful. One of the causes for the city to be as glorious as is, is that it used to be the capital of Safavid dynasty. City is also know for it’s indigenous patterns, that often embellish (among other things) plates, jewelry and carpets. Carpet-making
is sort of an industry all on it’s own. Handmade carpets are so expensive (yet popular!), that the carpet stores can afford card transactions through Dubai, and for extra charge, withdrawals. These are the only places where to withdraw money in Iran, due to US sanctions. You can essentially only travel with a pocketful of euros or US dollars, British pounds are a bit more complicated.

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The main transactions were made in these kinds of passages. The bazaar had everything – Persian carpets, porcelain, local sweets and so on.

My favorite part of Isfahan was the Armenian district. During the Safavid era hundreds of thousands of Armenians were relocated from an unstable border area with a Persian archenemy, the Ottoman empire (current day Turkey). Many of them resettled in the newly founded Armenian Quarter of Isfahan. The New Julfa distric has become one of the largest and oldest Armenian quarters in the world, mainly due to the Ottoman persecutions of the Armenians (Armenian genocide right before and during the first world war). Compared to the rest of the city the district was calmer and maybe even a bit more organised and artsy.
Fun fact: Armenians are so valued in the islamic Iran that the rulers have ordered to build them christian churches. Today there are more than 200 Armenian temples in Iran. 13 of them have been built in the New Julfa district.

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My favourite district – beautiful Armenian tea houses and streets, covered in gorgeous patterns. We are sitting with local Ali who was gladly showing us around.

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