Persepolis awaits!

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ November 19th, 2007. Updated on April 18th, 2009. Published in: Travel blog » Iran.

Travel Journal Overview: An early wake up call, and I finally get on the path of Alexander the Great. Persepolis awaits! Not to mention Naqsh-i Rostam a true half a world away.

Naqsh-e Rotam, Iran.  simply breathtaking (click to enlarge)

Naqsh-e Rotam, Iran. simply breathtaking (click to enlarge)

I slept poorly due to the noise outside, and the lack of sound proofing on my windows. There’s also been a German females voice arguing to a tee from reception. I put my ear plugs in and finally fell asleep by 3am. By 6.30am I was being woken up by a banging on my door. Light at first, then louder and heavier. I ignored it at first, thinking it was another guest lost. But then the next words I heard had me shooting out of bed like a jack rabbit. “Mister, Mister… There is an Emergency!!”.

Shit, was it a fire? No smoke. Was it the police? Were they there to plant fake drugs? I had been reading the damn LP to Pakistan before sleeping and that was the last thing a read. I grabbed my clothes and threw them on, put my money away and prepared for the worst on the other side of the door. I opened the door, bracing it a little with my left foot around the other side. I saw Frenzi and was ready to see the police or worse preparing to push the door open.

Frenzi immediately started to apologize, “I am so sorry about this Mister, so sorry”.

Shit, what had he done, or aloud to be done?

“Mister,” he started again, “I have an offer of 150,000 for you!”

What the Hell?

Frenzi babbled on, “150,000 for the one remaining seat in the car. For the tour sir, do you want it?”

Tomb at Naqsh-e Rotam, Iran.

Tomb at Naqsh-e Rotam, Iran.

It took me about 3 minutes to figure out if he was cheating me or not. The wake from deep sleep into serious alert mode had done me favors in rational thinking. But I excepted the deal and rushed to the door before heading out to the corner store for a breakfast of “Mira Misi”, a strange cake and Bipsi. When I can back, the taxi was waiting. I hoped in the back next to the blond New Zealand guy Willy in the middle and on the other side the Japanese girl from the day before whose name resembled Chicago. In the front was a red haired and rather wild looking German woman in her mid 60’s called Christine. Her powerful German accent brought back thoughts of the late night argument from reception I had heard.

Our driver spoke no English as we took off to Pasargadae, the first of our ancient tomb day. The one hour journey was actually fun as we in back sniggered and laughed at Christine’s outbursts of strong German accented criticisms of everything from her hotel, The Zand to how the driver was at driving. My only downfall here was to mention I was planning to leave for Yazd in two days…so was Christine, and she heard.

Gates of Persepolis

Gates of Persepolis

We arrived at Pasargadae and headed out from the car into the barren landscape to a the lonesome scaffold covered tomb of Cyrus the Great. For a great Leader of his time, it was now none to magnificent. However some gentle research later proved a nice touch, their carved into this monument was the following:

“Passer-by, I am Cyrus, who gave the Persians an empire, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument.”

A pretty nice epitaph for the founder of the Persian Empire.

We scuttled back into the car and drove for 30 seconds to the next site. A recently built run-down shack with electrical cables. Right now an actual tour guide would have helped, but outside we did see some ancient stones embedded into the ground… or else someone just dumped them there. ho hum.

Next we drove a little further out to the Achaemenid palace, which at least included some ancient Farsi inscriptions, including an “I am Cyrus the Great”.

We headed off again to another site that had a scattering of columns, and we joked about not even getting out of the car. Yes it was historical, yes we had a book to tell us what things were, but no it was not that interesting to none historical, or should that be, Archaeological buffs. But we preserved and did do out for some photos before moving on to another area which boasted an impressive hieroglyph, that had unfortunately been missing for quite some time. It was at our final site that we did indeed decide not to bother leaving the car, a few crumbling walls around a hill. Not so exciting, but at least it did cement our humorous relationship .

Naqsh-i Rostam was far more impressive as we approached 40 minutes later in the car. Set high up and hewn out from a rocky cliff face were four impressive and massive tomb entrances. Surrounding each was a magnificent relief depicting scenes from imperial conquests, events, and royal battles. From left to right were the tombs of Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I and Xerxes I. Opposite the tombs on was a strange cube like structure that was listed as being a Zoroastrian fire temple.

Pillars in Perseopolis

Pillars in Perseopolis

I wandered further down a quarry like road were the others were not so interested in going. More bold relief’s were etched into the cliff walls, and I found it easy to imagine walking down the same path 2500 years ago. And I also wanted more time here. It was a warm and impressive feeling being there, it reeked of history and magnificence. However Willy and Chicago were already heading for the car, and Christine was spotting mistakes listed in her LP as she read the local literature on the area.

We headed next to Naghsh-e-Rajab where there were just three carvings set into a jumble of several rock faces. An equestrian scene was depicted and to the left a relief of Shapur surrounded by his generals. There was also a scene of Shapur with an angel. Not so interesting, but the area did deserve more time. It’s hard to imagine such rocky ruins were once something completely different. Maybe the center of a religious sight, or town center. Now they were rubble in a desert.

Inside the Tombs behind Perseopolis

Inside the Tombs behind Perseopolis

We were now driving to what was really all of our goals for being in Shiraz. 10 minutes later we were driving down a long straight road lined with sparse trees. Then in the distance we saw the orange like columns appear, telling us that we were heading into Persepolis. Again my imagination took flight, was this the same road Alexander the Great had taken before he conquered the city? This was also a side milestone in my travels. I was now on the same path as Alexander the Great, and it would be leading me into Pakistan and beyond.

We all agreed to go our separate ways, and meet back in two hours. I already knew two hours would not be enough and was already imaging the consequences of not being back on time. I bought my entrance ticket for 8,000 Rial and headed in and up the massive grand stairwell and looked on at the massive Xerxes Gateway. Two huge crumbling half man half winged bulls stood separately on each column. I headed off into my imagination, lost in a separate world. Bold carvings in ancient stone surrounded me. Some containing black marble as though it was carved a few years ago, others depicting scenes from an ancient history.

I bumped into the others as we ascended the cliff set tombs of Artaxerxes I &II that loomed behind the old city. Sneak peeks behind closed iron bars into the tomb vaults revealed a sarcophagus with its lid ajar. A scene best envisaged by stirring up a movie scene from the Mummy.

It was on my way down that I started to speak with Chicago and found here to be quite nice. The mere fact that Christine in her multi colored chador was bombarding locals with German accented questions about anything and everything to do with the site was enough to form any humorous bond.

Perseopolis from Above

Perseopolis from Above

Willy wanted a quick look at the tent city made by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi beside the ancient ruins of Persepolis to pay homage to 2,500 years of the Imperial reign. Now it was no more than a few rusty tent poles and tattered pieces of material.

We headed back to the hotel. Willy and I went out to the bazaar as he need to get some gifts for people, and it was here I noticed just how developed my bargaining skills were compared to someone who never tried before. Still it did not take him long to find some bargains before we were off to dinner with Christine and Chicago. Dinner consisted of Chicken kebabs and rather embarrassing comments from Christine which Willy did not approve of at all. In fact the situation became uncomfortable tense, and even the jokes Chicago and I nudged out. Christine did not like Iran at all, and had no problems in voicing her thoughts on the matter. The problem was her thoughts were often quite rude and offensive. I can be very opinionated, and very verbal about it. But I do draw the line at insulting someone for not speaking English, like a waiter in a local restaurant.

We headed back to out respective hotels where Chicago asked that as Willy was leaving tomorrow could she share a room with me to save on costs. Finally my solitary confinement seemed to be over.

Some related links from this website that  you might like: (including a lot more photographs from Iran)

Stories: Feeling Low on the Road, in Iran

Stories: Iranian women, and the others I met in Iran

My Iran country guide

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