Persian bridge, Unfettered thirst
copyright © Sophia Khan
"Having drunk entire seas, we remain quite surprised that our lips are just as dry as the shore, and we continue to seek out the sea...without seeing that our lips are the shore and we ourselves the sea." ~ Farid al-Din Attar, Persian mystic poetic
Some of the most beautiful and dynamic spaces I have encountered in my travels are those that serve multiple functions. A simple example would be the piazzas that are found throughout Italy. These served as containers for rituals around religious and civic ceremonies, and as gathering places for evening strolls, or passeggiatas. Many are lined with restaurants and contain seating for eating outdoors. Spontaneous activities such as performances, and music and also abound.
Another space where this is beautifully done, is with bridges; an example being the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. More than just a means of connecting one part of the city to the other, across the Arno River, it serves as an urban shopping experience, with small shops lining the bridge. In the evenings, during the warmer months, small musical performances often take place here. I used to love taking a walk over to this bridge when I lived in Florence, to engage with the crowds, music, and romantic ambiance of all the beautiful views of the river.
In the city of Isfahan, the Si-o-Se Bridge similarly serves as both a stopping point or place of arrival, in addition to its primary function of being a means of crossing water. Within its brick arches, there is a lovely and quaint little tea shop, serving delicate sweets, hot chai in glass teacups, and many delightful flavors of hookah. I remember crawling into my own little niche with a window view, (pictured below) to enjoy a bit of a break afters spending some time sketching the bridge. A German couple seated nearby almost mistook me for a local.
One of the things I loved about this space was that it felt like a celebration of the self. There really is only enough room for one or two people to crawl up onto the cushions to enjoy the delights and the lovely views. And being that I love solo travel, it has become one of my simplest and most favorite travel memories.
I would love to hear about one of a favorite place you have discovered during your own travels, if you are so inclined to share. I love hearing from readers...