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Rock Formations of Kandovan and Historic Bazar of Tabriz

Everybody except of Sam was meeting at 8am to go for a walking tour around Kandovan. Sam is a night person like me and likes to sleep-in whenever possible. Other people with a different biorhythm get up earlier such as my fellow traveler Andrew. When meeting at 8am Andrew had already finished a self-guided walk around the village. During the walk he made friends with some local people who even invited him to their house.

Mehdi, our local Iranian guide, was walking with us through the village. The rock formations and rock houses very much reminded me of what we saw in Cappadocia a couple of days ago. Just the village of Kandovan appeared more authentic and less touristy than Göreme. Many people still live in rock houses as their grandparents did hundreds of years ago but you could also spot some modern devices such as flat-screen TVs and mountain-bikes. Very close to the village was a little hill and after climbing it we had a wonderful view over the village. It appeared very much remote and unreal compared to the fast-moving cities back home. The people living here have a much more basic life but seem to be more relaxed and happier than what is considered a successful person in the Western civilization.

We ended our walking tour in a small coffee shop were we relaxed over a cup of tea, a Shisha with apple flavor and inspiring conversations with fellow travelers. My water pipe didn’t produce any smoke in the beginning but after putting on some more burning charcoals it was working properly. The Shisha was quite strong and after smoking for a while I felt a bit dizzy.

In the late morning we continued our travel towards Tabriz where we stopped for lunch. While some of us went for the known chicken or lamb Kebab others were more adventures and tried Kofta which is basically a giant meat ball consisting of ground lamb meat, rice and spices. Interestingly the Kofta dish came without any rice or vegetables so we were exchanging parts of our food. As one of the locals spotted Jason eating Kofta with rice he actually came to our table to explain we have to eat the plain meat ball and are not supposed to have any rice with it. Also Patricia struggled with her meat ball since it was simply too much food for a lunch type of dish. In the end most of us ended up eating only half of our dishes and we decided to share dishes in the future not just for sampling different types of food but also to not waste any food.

The main reason why we actually visited Tabriz was Andrew who had read in one of his many guidebooks that the Historic Bazar of Tabriz is very fascinating. So after lunch we went to have a look at the bazar. While walking there we ran into a booth selling soft ice crème and I couldn’t resist having one. What looked like vanilla turned out to be rose flavored ice crème which wasn’t quite what I expected but nice.

The bazar of Tabriz was truly fascinating. It’s one of the oldest bazars in the Middle East and the largest covered bazar in the world. It even became an UNESCO World Heritage Site a couple of years ago. I joined Sam walking through the different sections of the bazar. There was one for gold jewelry, one for spices, one for shoes, one for cheap Chinese stuff and so on. The bazar is actually quite large and you need to remember the directions you are coming from otherwise you get lost in what feels like a labyrinth. Actually my fellow travelers Isabella and Alistair managed to get lost and we waited nearly half an hour for them finding their way out of the bazar.

In the afternoon we drove to Zanjan were we spent the night in a lovely hotel. Compared to other overland trips this one feels much more luxurious than the ones I have done before in Africa and South America. During our whole 3.5 week journey from Istanbul to Ashgabat we only camp once while on other overland trips we camp maybe 60% of all nights. The major reason is security or camping is simply not allowed in a number of areas. I really start to miss this basic life in nature.

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