After getting out of the train station, we got a taxi easily enough, which brought us to Dibai House. After getting to the area, finding the house was a bit of an adventure. Dibai House is an old house converted into a guest house, so it’s located in one of the alleyways in old Esfahan. We wound through quite a few narrow, tunnel-y alleyways and knocked on a few wrong doors, before we got to the right place.
The search was definitely worthwhile. Our triple room costs us around 50 SGD each, and it’s decorated in a traditional Iranian fashion, mixed in with some Spanish flavour, because the owner, Sophie is an Iranian who lived in Spain for a bit. Our rooms weren’t ready, so we were ushered into the living room for some tea. The decoration was gorgeous – it’s one of those places that you want to hang out in. Our triple room was spacious and super airy and bright, because there were at least four doors which we could open. The price also includes an excellent breakfast in the basement of the house, which was also very cheery. They also have other interesting rooms like the Water House, which we didn’t explore. If you want to stay in a classy mansion dating from the 1600s and not break the bank, do stay here. It’s comfortable, an oasis from your day’s adventures, and about 15 mins walk from the main attractions. Sophie is also really helpful when it comes to travel advice, things to eat/see in Esfahan, and also the booking of bus/train tickets.
After a short break, based on a hand-drawn map of our guesthouse host, we made our way to Imam Square, where quite a lot of the main attractions are clustered around. As a tourist city, Esfahan is the perfect compact tourist city – a lot of the attractions are within short walking distance, so you can visit a lot of sights without going around too much. We went to the Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and Grand Bazaar before lunch. The mosques were very impressive and mosaic-ed, but apart from that, I don’t quite know what to say about them. My favourite was the Ali Qapu Palace, because the rooms were so ornately carved. Also, it was decorated with very interesting paints. In short, it was one of the most remarkable things that I’ve ever seen. We then walked the Grand Bazaar, and ended up at a restaurant. I can’t remember what it’s called now, but it’s in the same area, and I remember an excellent garlic eggplant dish. Lunch was memorable, not just for the excellent food. It truly told us how friendly Iranians are. As we were trying to decide what we wanted for lunch, we must have looked super lost. An Iranian American lady who was visiting with her family came up to us, and offered to help us. So she basically translated the entire menu for us, told us what each dish had, and told our server our orders. She even came by to check with us mid-meal, to make sure we were ok. We were really, really impressed by the kindness we received on this trip. Traveling around really brings to mind the quote from A Streetcar Named Desire, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
The Grand Bazaar was also quite fun. Because Iran being Persia, they are famous for, you guessed it – Persian rugs. We just took a look-see, and there were many shops advertising “flying carpets”. I thought that was quite funny. After more walking, we decided to indulge in some ice cream, get some souvenirs like postcards and stamps. It was all-in-all, an excellent little trip so far!
Come late afternoon, early evening, we decided that we wanted to see some of the amazing bridges of Esfahan. Giving our wonderful Farsi, we bought a postcard of a bridge, and asked one of the taxi drivers to drive us to the picture. That worked out! I think we went to the Si-o-Seh Pol Bridge (bridge of the 33 arches) and the Khaju Bridge, which were architecturally amazing. These ornate testaments to mankind’s artistic and engineering creativity no longer serve a function, though. These pretty bridges used to serve as a means of crossing the river, but now that they dammed the river, and it’s just riverbed, people just cross the river bed. Some of the more enterprising Iranians actually set up tea shops and restaurants on the riverbed. It’s a nice hang out spot for young people, though.
After a short walk, we crossed the street, went into one of those Iranian-type fastfood places serving pizza, got some pizzas to take back to Dibai House, ending our first day in the beautiful town of Esfahan. I highly recommend Esfahan!
Goods for Sale in Grand Bazaar
Sheik Lotf Allah Mosque
View from Ali Qapu Palace
Excellent lunch of eggplant – we had some kebabs too, but I forgot to take pictures. Too hungry!
Iranian fastfood – this was pizza and burgers. I think we had pizzas here.