Month 2 in Review
It's hard to believe that I'm over 2 months into my trip - only 3 weeks left til I'm back in the US! A quick roundup of what I got up to in month 2 - it was a quiet month on the blog, but I'll try to catch up over the next few weeks.
|Desert - Iran
Where I've Been
It was a busy month! I spent quite a bit of time in Tbilisi during the first half of September waiting for my Iran visa, but other than that I was on the move every couple of nights.
Tbilisi, Georgia - 10 nights
Kvishkheti, Georgia - 1 night
Borjomi, Georgia - 1 night
Kakheti, Georgia (Schuchmann winery and Sighnaghi) - 3 nights
Batumi, Georgia - 2 nights
Tehran, Iran - 3 nights
Yazd, Iran - 2 nights
Kerman, Iran - 2 nights
Shiraz, Iran - 2 nights
Esfahan, Iran - 2 nights
Abyaneh, Iran - 1 night
Birthday Celebration - I didn't know what to expect from a birthday on the road, but it turned out to be a fantastic night of eating, dancing and spending time with new friends. I also had a large tour group of older ladies sing me "Happy Birthday" in Polish on the dance floor of the restaurant!
|Thanks to George, Lela and Michelle for a fantastic celebration!
Village Visit - I already waxed poetic about my night in Kvishkheti in a blog post, but it remains a highlight of my month.
Hospitality in Batumi - I was put in touch with two friends/colleagues of friends in Batumi and they both went out of their way to make me feel welcome on my very short visit to town. Malvina met me at the train station and took me to her mom's house for a delicious dinner of Adjaran specialties. Within minutes of settling into my hotel room, Erek whisked me away to the boardwalk to meet his many friends named Mary, and then took us up to his cousin's cabin for an amazing nighttime view of the city.
|The view from Malvina's family's 9th floor apartment.
The people of Iran - the ancient sites were beautiful, the desert landscape was fascinating, the food was flavorful... but what I'll really remember about Iran was the warmth and openness of the people I met on the street. So many wonderful encounters in such a short period of time!
Tea! - I'm a tea lover, so Iran's tea-obsessed culture was a great fit for me! I could sit on a takht (a wooden platform covered in carpet and pillows) and drink tea and eat cardamom-flavored sweets all day every day.
|The prettiest tea I've ever consumed, with rock sugar sticks for sweetening.
Guesthouse disappointments - after winning the guesthouse lottery on almost every try last month, this month had a couple of highly-rated places (on Lonely Planet/Trip Adviser/Booking) that I found to be lacking. Dirty shared baths, uncomfortable beds, no shared meals - nothing that couldn't be handled for a night or two, but disappointing nonetheless.
Iran visa anxiety - I knew the process for getting my Iran visa would be stressful, but I had no idea just how much anxiety it would cause me. With a flight to Tehran leaving early Friday morning, I finally got the stamp in my passport on Wednesday afternoon (and the embassy was closed on Thursday). I don't do well with last minute things, and it might be some time before I visit a country with this type of visa process again! Almost everyone on my tour had a similar visa experience - but at least we all made it!
Food poisoning - I don't need to elaborate on this, do I? Luckily it was short lived, and we had doctors on our tour who brought well-stocked medical kits.
The remainder of my final month on the road will be spent entirely in Turkey! One of my best friends from NC, Isabel, is with me for the first 12 days and we are already packing in some serious bucket list experiences. After she leaves I have another week and a half to explore. I haven't quite decided what I'll do yet, but I think there will be lots of time wandering the streets of Istanbul, and maybe another visit to the beach? I head back to the US on October 26, which suddenly feels too soon!
|various baklava and related sweets
|In Istanbul with Isabel and Judith (my roommate from the Iran tour)