05/09/2013 - 08/09/2013
In Yazd we stayed at the Silk Road Hotel. We'd read some reviews online where people had booked to stay there, turned up, but then been moved to one of the other hotels owned by the same people instead (some of which don't have great reviews). This slightly put us off booking there, but it was difficult to find anywhere else in Yazd that sounded as good and reasonable, so we took the risk. Happily it paid off and we did get to stay at Silk Road. Although it's called a hotel it's generally described as being more like a hostel. I guess it is more like a hostel than a hotel, but it's not really like a hostel either. I'd say it was most similar to the riads we stayed at in Morocco. It was a beautiful traditional-style place, with bedrooms located around a central open-aired courtyard. Our room was nice and the ensuite was one like we'd had in Fez; where the shower's just in the middle of the room, not in its own cubicle. That was the same everywhere we stayed in Iran, with the exception of Tehran. They supply you with plastic slipper things though, so you can keep your feet dry when going to the toilet after the shower's been used.
The hotel courtyard:
Ooh, another innovation we discovered in Iran (though have since seen in Russia too), which we thought was genius, was having buttons on tables in restaurants, which you press to call a waiter/waitress over. So simple, but it means you don't have to wait around or try and catch someone's eye when you want to order or get the bill.
Anyway, back to Yazd... Yazd was ridiculously hot. All of Iran was hot, of course, but Yazd was the hottest place we went. This meant we spent quite a while lounging around in the shade in the hotel courtyard. And eating ice-cream.
The main attractions of Yazd are probably the Jame Mosque (AKA Friday Mosque) and the old town area. The old town area's really nice to walk around - lots of narrow winding pathways with mud walls. We did, however, read that it's not a good place for women to walk around on their own in the dark, as they're liable to get groped by men on motorbikes, so we stuck to a daytime walk together!
The old town:
One of the best places we went to in Yazd was the museum right next to the Jame Mosque. It's just the one small room filled with various artifacts, which wouldn't be worth a special mention on its own, but the guy who works there is brilliant. He guides you around all the artifacts, explaining what they are. The most impressive thing in there is this long thin piece of paper that has the entire Qu'ran written on it in tiny writing. It's written in a decorative pattern as well; it's incredibly intricate.
After you've finished looking at all the artifacts, the curator guy will give you a free Persian lesson, which was fun. You go through it quite quickly, so we didn't actually retain any of the information, but it was still really enjoyable. The guy also likes to learn about where you're from and will ask questions about your country and culture. If you're in Yazd, you have to go. It's not free but it's pretty cheap.
One of the best things about staying at the Silk Road was that they had a really good food menu which you could order off at any time. It had quite a few veggie options too, so we just ate there every night. The breakfast was good too - a buffet that wasn't as extensive as the Tehran hotel but was still a decent selection (and far better than the minimal breakfast in Shiraz).
There's a travel agency that operates through Silk Road, offering tours and such like. We considered taking a half-day tour of Yazd with them, but it was about $20! That was about what we paid for the Persepolis and Necropolis tour, which was decent value for that, but not for a trip around Yazd. We just looked around ourselves instead. However the agency were useful for booking our onwards bus to Esfahan. They were better than the agency in Shiraz, who provided us with minimal info - this time we got tickets printed out for us and were told which company we were travelling with and everything.
On the day we left we got a taxi to the bus station. It was slightly unclear as to where we were meant to catch the bus from, but some people pointed us in the right direction. We had a VIP bus for this journey. These are slightly more expensive (as the name would suggest), but still cheap by European standards. The seats are bigger (only 3 on each row - 2 on one side, 1 on the other) and you get given snacks on board, which is nice. We were sat right at the front, so had a good view out the windscreen. We also had a good view of the driver, which was entertaining. Although he was sat below a sign that indicated no smoking and no mobile phone use, he managed to do both simultaneously, whilst also driving the bus. It was impressive and troubling at the same time. He also managed to make himself cups of tea while he was driving - it was fascinating.