My dad told me stories of pre-Revolution Esfahan, when the women wore mini skirts, people flooded to catch the latest flicks at 24-hour cinemas, and when he and his friends pooled their money together to buy a big bottle of ouzo and got so smashed, he had to be carried home. Now people flock mainly to see palaces and mosques, or to buy the region’s famous carpets at the Bazaar Bozorg. Kids hang out on the Siosepol bridge and along the Zayandeh riverfront, which was as dry as the desert when we visited because all the water had been redirected to Yazd to combat a drought.
Compared to when I visited two years ago, there were really shitloads of Western foreigners combing through the bazaar, and the traders were happy to try and tout their products in English and German. Most of the tourists were old Europeans out to explore the Middle East on their retirement fund, but we did spot a few younger couples and groups who have tapped into Iran as an increasingly accessible but still off-the-beaten-track destination to discover.
We spent only a little more than 36 hours there thanks to a suddenly tight schedule. Most of that time was spent hanging out with the locals where most locals spend their time (at home), so poor Mook didn’t really get to see much of one of Iran’s most beautiful cities. (But we did get booze, lots of food, and some excellent Iranian dancing)