Nesf-e Jahān

The bus to Esfahan came to a grinding halt 40k outside the city in a long line of traffic. Sick of being cooped up I decided to get proactive after 30 minutes of imperceptible progress and got the driver to let me out. Bike retrieved I headed towards the city via the Kesheh and dry crunchy hills feeling ever so pleased with myself.

Rolling into a new city after dark would usually be my idea of hell but following the arrow straight and well lit Kaveh central boulevard was a doddle. Iranian city navigation can be especially confusing due to what I consider an especially dull and repetitive naming system. Everywhere you look seems to be a Taleqani street bisecting Kabir Road at Khomeini Junction. If your lucky you might get a Hafez or Saadi place but at times it feels like the revolution is still being fought on the streets such is the dominance of a handful of Mullahs on the naming conventions. I was therefore quite relieved to have nothing but 'straight on' to remember as I closed in on my host Abbas's house.

Naturally that would be far too easy and his location indicated on (a bicycle tourist hosting website) proved to be a wild fiction. A quick phone call convinced me that finding his actual location would be an all night job. I changed tack and found the cheapest guesthouse I could and in the interest of financial solvency resolved to reduce my stay to two nights.

With a newly ambitious timeline in which to explore Nesf-e Jahān (Half the World) as Esfahan is called I set off before dawn the next morning to get my fill.

Esfahan is Iran's number one destination for foreign and Iranian tourism and its easy to see why. I began with a restful early morning wander through one-end of the still sleepy main bazaar which vomited me out into the Masjed-e Jameh; A mosque in continually used since 771.

Sunlight dappling the distinctive arches it was easy to believe that this was Iran's largest Mosque.