In every travel guide and in most hotels we would see breathtaking posters of a hillside village, red adobe houses on a hillside surrounded by greenery – Abyaneh. A must-see we figured and together with two travelers from New Zealand, we headed off in the early morning from Kashan.
The untimely departure was due to a stop at a rose farm on the way. The best time to see the roses and especially the picking is during the wee hours. A handful of people was walking up and down rows and rows of rose bushes plucking the buds, quickly disappearing in big cloth bags strapped around their shoulders and waists. They were ecstatic when we took pictures of them. We were less ecstatic because a cool drizzle set in and by the time we reached Abyaneh, it rained heavily.
We had a lady driver who had thoughtfully brought tea that we all drank squashed in the tiny car before we bravely we set out to explore the old part of the village. Many of the old owners of the very old buildings have started some kind of business, like selling dried fruits, jewelry, badly sewn traditional dresses, very colorful though. These are still worn by older women and the flowery patterns reminded us of a trip at a Bulgarian dance festival where the female dancers wore similar folkloristic outfits.
The village was quaint, but nothing like what we had seen in the posters. Eventually we could make ourselves understood to a bus driver of a tour group. He walked us down a small path and brought us to the slope opposite. This was the place where the famous photo was taken from and certainly not on a rainy day.
Our attempts to grasp the beauty turned into nothing, it could not be done in this light, under these weather conditions. We climbed back up and even further up the hill to look down on the village and discovered a motif that would have been out of the world – all roofs were covered with tin foil that would glow like silver in the setting sun. Well, we all know that for spectacular photos, you cannot just breathe through and expect perfect conditions.
Befitting the weather was a “sight” that we saw coming and going from Abyaneh: only a couple of kilometers away is Natanz, one of Iran’s nuclear facility. Although we saw not a single soul anywhere we would not dream of taking a photos. It was tempting though to take a shot of what to us looked like anti-aircraft artillery on little hills. Either the military personnel were hiding or the place was really deserted. It certainly did not look frightening…