Monday, December 18, 2023

Iran | Tabriz | Covered Bazaar | Tea

Wandered by Tabriz, a city of some 1.7 million souls—the fifth largest city in Iran. In 1655 the legendary Turkish gadabout Evliya Çelebi ((1611–1682; his mammoth Book of Travels—ten volumes, only eight have survived—is what his translator calls “probably the longest and most ambitious travel account by any writer in any language.”) spent two months in Tabriz and observed:

. . . in the entire kingdom of Persia there is no city and no countryside as fine as Tabriz, the ravisher of hearts . . . It is a large and ancient city with delightful climate, lovely boys and girls, lofty buildings and numerous foundations and institutions. May God allow that it will once again belong to the Ottomans [the Ottoman Turks had occupied Tabriz from 1585 to 1603] . . . may God Most High cause it to flourish forever!

Hotel in Tabriz where I stayed (click on photos for enlargements)

View of Tabriz from my hotel room

While in the city I visited the famous Tabriz Bazaar, said to be the largest covered bazaar in the world. It covers 66.7 acres, with 3.41 miles of passageways and 5500 shops. The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, while ranking as the biggest single tourist attraction in the world, with over 91,000,000 visitors a year, has between three and four thousand shops. The largest mall in the United States, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota covers more space than the Tabriz Bazaar—96.4 acres total with 56.8 acres devoted to 530-some shops—but many would argue that it is not a covered bazaar in the classic sense of the term but rather a New World mutation.

Gallery in the Tabriz Bazaar

Of course I gravitated to the tea shops. Here tea is sold by the kilo out of big wooden bins, as God intended, not in ridiculous little tea bags.

Tea for sale in the Tabriz Bazaar

 Green tea (Chai Sabz) grown in Lahijan, a city in Gilan Province in northern Iran, just south of the Caspian Sea). The sign indicates that this tea is Chin Bahara (spring pick). I like that they say when the tea is picked. Freshness is crucial with green tea.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Italy | Venice | Palazzo Rizzi

Wandered by Venice and am back in my usual digs, an old nunnery which has been converted into a hotel. The building, once the Palazzo Rizzi, is located on the Fondamenta Rizzi, about a five minute walk from the Piazzale Roma, where all buses from the mainland terminate. The hotel is still owned and operated by St. Joseph’s Daughters of Caburlotto, the religious order that occupied the nunnery. As befitting an old nunnery, the rooms are tiny and spartan, to say the least. My bed is about three feet wide—all that was needed by a nun—and my ankles hang over the end, but the room does have a desk and enough electrical outlets to keep all my devices topped up. What else does one need in a room? There is also a midnight to 6:00 a.m. curfew. You cannot enter or leave the building during those hours. This is of no importance to me. Venice is not a night-life city by any stretch of imagination, and I myself would never have any reason to stay out past midnight. The Fondamenta Rizzi, the walkway on which the hotel is located, does not even have a convenience store and is as quiet as Ligeia’s tomb after nine p.m. 

Fondamenta Rizzi on the right (click on photos for enlargements)
The old Palazzo Rizzi, later a nunnery and now a hotel
Venice. The leaning bell tower is not a photographic distortion. It actually does lean that way.
Canal of San Luca
The Piazzetta in Venice
The Piazzetta in Venice
Piazza and Church of San Marco
Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

Friday, December 8, 2023

Mongolia | Ulaanbaatar | Soyolma

New painting by Mongolian artist Soyolma (click on photos for enlargements).

Soyolma in her studio. The painting  behind her is now in my Zaisan Tolgoi Galleria.

Soyolma’s painting in my Galleria

Soyolma is also a thangka painter. Here is a White Tara thangka she painted for me. 
Now in my Galleria.