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More Persian Tombs and Overnight Stay in a Caravanserai

This morning we started to drive up north from Shiraz into the direction of Yazd. On the way we stopped to visit two major sights. The first one was the Naqsh-e Rustam site which are four tombs carved into rock. They belong to kings of the Persian Empire such as Darius the Great who built Persepolis we visited two days ago. All tombs are pretty high up from the ground so you can only look at them but not go inside to see the sarcophagus the kings are lying in. The surface of the tombs is shaped in the form of a cross and the actual entrance to the tomb is in the middle of the cross.

The second sight we visited today was the Tomb of Cyrus who founded the Persian Empire. There is actually not too much to see. The tomb is 11m high and pretty simple structured. There is a platform consisting of six tiers and on top of it is the actual chamber with the dead body. The tomb is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Pasargadae which used to be the capital of Cyrus the Great and is now his last resting place.

Before heading off to our home for the night we went shopping in a small town. Tonight we will be staying in the Zein-o-din caravanserai which we all very much excited about. Caravanserais are road-side inns from Persian time, so basically 400 year old hotels, which were built along the Silk Road. I’ve been told the caravanserais in this area used to be a day-trip by camel away from each other which is approx. 11km. All travelers on the Silk Road could spend the first night in the caravanserai for free and only needed to pay if staying more than one day.

Our local guide Mehdi told us there is currently no dinner served in this caravanserai why we needed to buy our own food. The little supermarket we went to didn’t had much choice but Isabella, who is according to my taste the best cook in our group, managed to buy lots of healthy food to prepare a delicious dinner for us. By now we are all kind of fed up with the chicken and lamb kebabs, which are often the only available choice in small restaurants, and are really looking forward to some healthier food. Especially we are missing vegetables in the Iranian cuisine since most dishes only consist of meat and rice which is also a challenge for our vegetarian Alistair who sometimes is really challenged to find something eatable.

The small supermarket we were shopping in also offered an interesting choice of products which you wouldn’t find at home. There was yoghurt advertised as “high-fat yoghurt” which was interesting to see since back home everything is marketed as low-fat product because people fear to become fat from their unhealthy lifestyle. Other interesting products included tined apples and cherries which I don’t know from the supermarkets back home. Cherries actually seem to be one of the most popular fruits in Iran and probably that’s why people feel the need to conserve them in a tin.

We arrived in the caravanserai shortly before sunset. Isabella, Patricia and Emilie volunteered to cook for us and in the meanwhile I spent some time at the roof of the building overlooking the mountains and the desert in this area. I also had a look at the “room” which was very basic but nice. You sleep in a small wooden chamber which has enough space for two mattresses laid out at the ground.

Dinner was very delicious. We had a three course meal in the courtyard of the caravanserai. It consisted of soft local cheese for starter, spaghetti with vegetables for main and fruit for dessert. After dinner the guys from the caravanserai were dancing for us which I didn’t watch since I don’t like performances just done for tourists. Instead I was soaking-up the atmosphere of this very special place.

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