DAY TWO… Sightseeing in Qom

A thunderstorm this morning and rain on arrival yesterday. I have to say the weather is dampening my spirits. Rain is forecast for three days. Our first breakfast; eggs, halva, cheesy yoghourt and copious volumes of tea. Suzy is wearing a voluminous pregnancy dress. She definitely gets the prize for the most Iranian looking woman in our party. She has started speaking Turkish to Ali, which is a massive help.

6.05pm…. Everyone is quietly resting in their rooms, until we venture out for supper. A long day with an exciting visit to a very famous mosque where we were given a tour by a lovely Iman, who recognised both Jesus and Buddha as prophets. Unfortunately, we could not have access to the very holy central shrine, the Shia pilgrimage site of the tomb of Fatima, sister to Iman Reza. We were guided round the outside with amazing views of a gold gilded dome. Despite our best attempts at dress; black and totally modest, we failed the regulatory inspections and were all handed a very floral tablecloth chador. A complete laugh.

The floral tablecloth chador
Qom on a cold & wet day

The second mosque, we passed on our dress. ‘Aali’ (perfect), they said. Ladies were only allowed in a separate women only area of the mosque. We sat on our best behaviour but still attracted the attention of an official wielding a green synthetic duster, who asked us to remove our bags and ‘watch our hands’ … maybe we were pointing too much ?

For lunch, I mentioned Ash (a traditional Iranian soup) as a possibility to Ali. Then after much asking and driving, we found the best Ash soup restaurant ever.  Well worth the patient searching. Every sort of Ash was available (wheat, barley, aubergine, bean and mushroom).  It was so good. Ali told me it was only €1 a bowl. We sat Persian style on cushions with a plastic tablecloth on the carpeted floor for our food.

Lunch at an “Ash” Soup Kitchen
Very tasty “sangak” bread