Wednesday, June 23, 2010 Daily Notes Pizza lunch for two: 57,000 rials (~$5.70) ($1 US = 10,034 rials) Bus from Quazvin to Tehran for two: 30,000 rials (~$3.00) Chris and I got an expensive hotel last night for $66.00. We needed a little western feeling to re-coop and collect ourselves. We had Internet and BBC in the hotel room. It was glorious. Today we decided to head for Tehran and skip the excursion to the Valley of the Castles. We didn’t have it in us to take a taxi on a winding mountain road for 110 kilometers and them be stuck in a small town. So here I am sitting on a rather hot, packed-full bus bumping along the highway to Tehran. Hordes of young Iranians were gathered at the bus station. We had to push our way through the crowd to make sure we didn’t keep getting squeezed to…Continue Reading
Saturday, June 19, 2010 Daily Notes Breakfast: 14,000 rials (~$1.40) Taxi to bus terminal: 20,000 (~$2.00) Bus tickets from Tabriz to Zanjan: 90,000 (~$9.00), about a 4-hour ride Hotel in Zanjan: 450,000 (~$45.00) Dinner: 33,000 (~$3.30) Chris exchanged $300 US at a shop located in what appeared to be a gold souk.  The exchange rate was $1 = 10,034 rials. The bus from Tabriz to Zanjan doesn’t actually pull off the highway into Zanjan. Instead, it pulls over on the side of the highway where a bunch of taxi drivers are waiting to shuttle you off the highway into town. The taxi from the highway took us to another designated taxi area where it was apparent we had to cross the street and find another taxi, a city taxi, to continue. As we crossed the street somewhat confused, due to the order of things, a lady in her late 20’s…Continue Reading
Being in Thailand, all I want to do is put photos up about Thailand but as promised here are some more shots of things we saw and did in Iran. I also promise you that I’ll make a special post about Persepolis. I got some good footage and photos. For now, enjoy these.  
We are most likely in Esfahan as you read this, but all of these photos are from Tehran. I haven’t felt very comfortable pulling out my SLR here, so I’ve been using the point-shoot camera. Perhaps that feeling is irrational. Either way, all the photos I have posted here are from our little point-shoot, which makes taking indiscriminate photos incredible easy.  
It had been a while since we’d visited a museum. I was beginning to itch because of it.  So to enterain ourselves during our first full day in Tehran we decided to checkout the National Museum of Iran. It’s the perfect size for a visitor to look at the entire collection in 2-hours, meaning you’re satisfied and content when you leave rather than overwhelmed and tired. You’ll never believe how much it cost to visit the museum! It was .50 cents per adult! So Chris and I spent $1.00. Unbelievable. The museum very professionally displays its collection of bone tools, Palaeolithic lithics (stone tools), metal and clay carvings from animals to humans and grand artifacts from the famous site of Persepolis, which we’ll be visiting at the end of our trip.  I’m simply in love with the Persepolis carvings. I love the way they carved the beards, hair and turbans.…Continue Reading
The Unesco World Heritage site Takht-e-Soleiman is 42 kilometers northeast from a small town called Takab in Iran.  It was the spiritual centre of the ancient state religion called Zoroastrianism. This 1500-year old site must have been remarkable in its heyday, because the fortifying walls that still stand are very impressive.  It is truly a remarkable location with its height, the view and the lake in the middle.  The site is actually 20-meters higher than the surrounding area. The height of the site is primarily due to the deposition of lake sediment! It is still possible to walk through what use to be the Fire temple.  Back in the day, the temple contained an eternal flame which was “provided thanks to a natural volcanic gas channelled through ceramic pipes” (Iran 2008, Lonely Planet).  The site also honours the elements of wind and water.  Seeing as the site has such a…Continue Reading
It sure is getting hot wearing my head scarf and the knee length “manto” (a.k.a. thin jacket). It is the law for me to wear a head scarf. I have some other ones you’ll see me modeling in future photos.  Cultural pressure and local fashion make me feel like I should wear the manto. People sure stare as us a lot with curiosity. Many people say “hello” as we walk by or they stop us on the side walk to say “Hello. How are you? Welcome to my city and to Iran. Where are you from?” They are the most friendly, curious people I’ve ever encountered. My favorite things here are the fruit shakes and the baked goods. They are both delicious. The other night to help relieve some of my culture shock I searched Chris’s computer for some up beat music. I found Michael Buble! Ah, love that guy. His voice and…Continue Reading
Images of fast moving clouds blackening the sky and a lightning bolt allowing me to see the silhouette of the castle  in front of me raced through my mind. Chris and I were about to visit Bran Castle, one of the magnificent castles of Romania. My imagination was going wild. I couldn’t help it. Dracula was on my brain.  Although he is a fictional character created by Bram Stocker, he was loosely based off a real man named Vlad Tepes Dracula.  Living back in the 1400’s, Dracula was the prince of Wallachia, a historical region of Romania which on a modern map would encompass the entire southern half of the country. He was also known as “Vlad the Impaler” due to his cruel way of killing his enemy.  According to the Lonely Planet (although if this trip has taught me anything, it’s taught me to not trust every word in…Continue Reading
For the first time in my life I have had people ask me where I’m from and when I say Canada they shrug their shoulders and say, “Where’s that?”  After 5.5 months I am officially homesick. Although some of my homesickness might be brought on by the fact that my entire body is aching, my eyeballs hurt and my head is pounding. To say the least, I’m glad I brought Imodium.  To make the situation even worse, Chris is also feeling like this.  I hope we get on our feet soon because we should jump on a bus and head into Iran. Right now we’re in a city called Van which is very close to the border.  To get here we took a 7-hour bus ride from Diyarbakir where we spent two nights and had a wonderful adventure. We’ve had people ask us throughout our trip if we are homesick,…Continue Reading
I’m sitting on a comfy bed in our quaint hotel room in Brasov, Romania.  Located within the old city walls, we can almost touch the house across from us. We took a four-hour train ride here yesterday from the Romanian capital, Bucharest. After our time in Madrid and Morocco, it was refreshing to see the lush environment, farmer’s fields, foot hills and tree covered mountains out the train window.  The first thing I noticed about the buildings and houses outside of Bucharest were the roofs. They reminded me of a mixture between a barn and architecture commonly found in Germany. However, within Bucharest we were constantly surrounded by massive, sad looking apartment complexes from the communist era, huge public parks and the few buildings  (like the ones below) that survived the 35% demolition of the city by communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu when he built numerous communist blocks. Prior to his…Continue Reading