Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Blue Mosque of Isfahan

At the head of Imam Square in Isfahan is the beautiful blue mosque.  It's not the only blue mosque, but it's the largest and most famous one.  It is huge both inside and out (about 140 000 square feet!).  It was built in the 1600's by Shah Abbas, hence the original name of the Shah Mosque (Masjed-e Shah ).  After the revolution it has become known as Imam Mosque (Masjed-e Imam).

And that's all just the outside of the mosque!!  I'll feature the inside on another post.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Early Bird Catches the Bread

Travelling halfway around the world can give you some pretty intense jet lag. Actually, the jet lag I experience wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Mostly, I was just waking up super early (4 AM, then 5 AM). However, an afternoon nap every day was an absolute necessity. I tried taking melatonin for jet lag, but I really didn't notice any improvement.

Being up early allowed me to enjoy some truly Iranian experiences, such as hearing the beautiful pre-sunrise call to prayer .

Another way to spend an early morning in Iran is to head to the local bakery to pick up some fresh bread.

Every neighbourhood has a few bakeries like this. They are only open at certain times throughout the day (generally before mealtimes).   They are very efficient operations.

Bread is called nun (nan/naan) in Farsi.  It is the original naan that you may have heard of in Indian cuisine. The Persians introduced it to India!  There are several different types of Iranian bread (more pics to come!) This one is the most basic and readily available type.

Outside each bakery is a rack like this where the fresh hot breads are laid out to cool off a bit before being sent home with you.  During busy times the customers themselves will come here and spread out their breads for a few minutes before taking them home.  Bags are not usually provided, so many people just carry the bread in their hands or bring their own bags.

Breakfast was always tea and a yummy spread of feta, butter, jams and honey to top the fresh bread with.  Deelish!