September 03, 2004 GMT
its A Game Of Two Halves

Its not over till the ref sings and the fat lady blows her whistle!... We made it to Tehran and found a good home for the bikes - chained up at the back of the Hotel Nadiri... and nearly went mad finding a flight!! All credit to the Man at Nadim Travel, its big green sign next to terminal one at the airport.. Who would have thought it would be soo busy with people leaving Tehran! .. the short of it was he pulled out all the stops, got us on a flight to Birmingam the next day (he insisted on pronouncing it as Bye - minge- arm.. strange!) and a large pile of dollars was pushed across the counter..

... in five hours we did what took us a month - we are back in the land of rules and byelaws... outside the hotel in Tehran was a man digging a hole in the ground, nothing remarkable about that, its a man with a hole and a pick axe - In the UK there would also be a safety fence and site co-ordinator, Health and Safety signage, a feasability study, an enviromental impact survey and a cordon.. and a portable toilet cubicle, in Tehran you just have the man and the hole!!

.... you also have a army guy at every road junction with traffic lights. Can you believe there is a road safety campaign to make people stop at red lights!!! Wow.. not sure if you now get shot if you run a red lights, but somthing happens that is making it all very effective!

Iranian Beer Philosophy - with out the beer for there is none, Banana Milkshake Philosophy. Chris and I are having a Kebap and talking boys talk.. We have now developed our own Mode Of Operating, summed up with the phrase, Lead, Follow or Feck Off - If we both know who is in which mode all is indeed well ... I pose the question of, Heaven/Hell or re-incarnation? and we discuss.. at a pause I throw in the other great debating conundrum, Hairy or Shaved? He is astounded at the apparent change of subject! Well to me it is just opposite ends of the same Life and Death Spectrum...

So we are back in Europe temporarily.....

"Chris, whats that falling out of the sky?"

"Liquid sunshine, mate, made in England "

"... and where did all the trees come from?"

A Celebration of a Life lived with passion was enjoyed, Eulogies where given and we all wore black... Now we are waiting for a new visa for Iran to go and continue.... In the meantime life goes on, Jan and I are having a holiday within a holiday and I got to see some of the Olympics... Iran does not have much coverage of them, the dress code is so far removed from the Islamic norm it just could not be.... Rodders had his 93rd birthday on the way in to Tehran, he is quite excited at being here, he likes all the ladies modeling those loverly black dust covers along the streets - I think he wants one for his next birthday! Mahan Air, our executive transport back to Birmingham International shows highly censored films.. Halle Berry is nothing but a face and a fuzzy blob of distorted body doing heroic things next to a mostly naked Male lead..

To Be Continued.......

11 September - Happy Birthday PAT, and the other good news of the day is we have at last approval from Tehran for a new Iran visa -- Yeeeee Haaaaa , we are on the way back..... even had a call from Mohamad at the the very helpful Nadiri hotel saying the bikes are still all fine chained to the lamp post in the garden, where else but Iran could this be considered nothing but normal!! ........ and due to the excellent support of my boss, and the world finest luxury travel company we get to go back via Dubai and be complete and utter tarts and stay at the finest hotel on Gods beautiful earth Budget, What Budget??? Personally I am very pleased to be alive and am dam well going to enjoy it!!

13 September We finaly got the email from Tehran saying we have approval for a visa, YeeeHaaa... we are up early and on the train to London , not missing the Mullahs at all... There we are 8.45 strolling around the corner in Kennsington to the embassy nice and early, two happy chappies going to get a visa and go back to the journey.... WHAT!!!! a big notice on the door.. it says "In the name of God - The Emabassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is closed to celebrate the birthday of the Phrophet Mohammed" Well, Oh Dear, Silly me, how could I have forgotten... I did not even send a birthday card.... We come back the next day and the day after that too and get what we need, which is a relief cause we are the flight that night!! .....Time to be a Tart

The Burj Some of the greatest pieces of the written word start in a rhetorical, retrospective manner, for example "I had a farm in Africa" (Karen Blixen)... or "In the beginning God created Man"....(Oh and St Peter, remind me in a millenium or two that this would be a really good name for a Pop group as well...) I am not sure if any should be started as " We where complete and utter tarts"? That is the only way I can describe the experiance of staying at the Burj.. It is Opulent with a Capitalist Oh! Now doesnt every one arrive and be collected by a White Rolls Royce? Put it this way, at the end of your life you can smile in satisfaction or still be speaking to Ida??(If only Id a done that....)

The butler introduced himself, Raj was his name, a rather helpful chap and showed us around the suite.. We have a basic suite, only 10 telephones and two bathrooms he explains, he points out the Butler Button on each telephone and on the two remote controls as well (to control the DVD, CD, Wireless Internet curtains, lights etc..."need any thing sir, push the button I can assist you". As he takes his leave he asks, "Is there any thing else you need for your suite sir?" Yes I think to myself, I need a Girlfirend - this place is the ultimate Shag Pad

Before dinner Chris and I continue our sporting challenge taking up from the Chess tournament in Ayvalik Turkey, we retire to the Library for a game of snooker - our prowess in this fine game is not to the standard we imagine, there is a real possibility we will starve to death before all these little game balls get in to those miniscule holes... we end the game at a suitable juncture Chris leading 6 to 4, both of us having made magnificent breaks of 1, several times each!

We eat at the adjacent Mina al Salaam hotel, part of the same hotel company as the Tarts Palace... to eat at the Burj is an arm and a leg, we chose to invest a much smaller digit and take the complimentary chauffeur to the next hotel along - we are crazy, but we are not stupid, we got to save some money for those 30 pence Iranian Kepabs !

The food alone was worth all the trauma of the preceeding days.. as you know for me food is right up there with oxygen, travel and the Other Thing (Hi Jan) ... Giant prawns with capers, pickled sweet ginger, black pepper and humous... Green olives and lobster tails topped with shredded onion and truffle... Veal roasted to perfection...then passion fruit cheese cake... Back at the Tarts Palace we indulge in coffee in the lounge, a moment of utter bliss ensues, the live classical musicians play the perfect melodies; we can see the fountains outside errupting with furry and fire in thier spectaclar way, all is calm and peace....Raj is busy tidying up the suite and leaving four chocolates on the bed... The waitress are all utterly gorgeous and smile in that way that makes a mans mind race.. as Chris said "Venus.. With arms!"

Poolside at the Burj is some experiance.. the pool boys will arrange your lounger to the perfect position, they bring you water, fruit sorbets, fruit kepabs, they clean your sunglasses, rub on lotions and spray you with Evian Mist.. all you need to do is keep breathing.. and as the afternoon closes in, they stick a thermometer up your arse to see if you are cooked yet!

Tommorrow we go to Iran

Posted by Richard Stone at September 03, 2004 01:31 PM GMT
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