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Walking in Shiraz

Walking in Shiraz

It’s raining in Shiraz. In floods. I hope it will quiet down, otherwise we won’t be able to see anything of this town. It rained all night. In the guesthouse, there’s a sheet covering the courtyard where we have breakfast, and from time to time a drop falls into your head while you’re eating.

13h20 Seray-e Mehr Teahouse & Restaurant

Luckily the rain slowed down a bit and we made it to the bazaar and we are now having lunch at this beautiful teahouse hidden in the maze of the bazaar.

My eggplant dish was less tasty than usual; Luca’s chicken with rice and pomegranate was delicious.

We met some lovely people here in Shiraz. We were walking in the street and I stopped to photograph a door at the end of the alley, and the owner of the house I’m photographing walks by; he had gone to buy some bread and invited us for a chai. It was a bit embarrassing, because neither him nor his son could speak English. But we did manage to communicate, somehow. Bread and cheese, oranges, fruits similar to jujube. The room where we were sitting on the floor, displayed a fridge, some mattresses piled along a wall, a wardrobe and a carpet that covered the concrete floor. At one point they showed us the rest of the house. There was a room where they were weaving a carpet (finally we understood what earlier they tried to explain to us) and a beautiful mirrors room. Everything was falling apart, but it was stunning in its decadence. I hope they’ll find the money to refurbish, so they can make some money with tourism.

Shiraz
Walking around Shiraz after the rain

21h14 We are at the hotel. Luca is exchanging glances with two girls behind his shoulders, both having dinner with their partner, but it looks like this is not a problem. After the afternoon nap we went back to the street. We visited the castle, the Hammam, another mosque, a bazaar, the bus station to buy the bus ticket to Isfahan for tomorrow night. The Taiwan girl found a taxi driver that can take us to Persepolis and Pesargade for 8 euro each. Great! We leave tomorrow 8.30 am. At the hotel they asked for 55 USD each for a similar tour. Yeek!

A day of travel to Shiraz

A day of travel to Shiraz

Maybe it was better if we took a private car from Yazd to Shiraz, with a stop to visit Pesargade and Persepolis, that would have cost 110 USD, but would have saved us a day travel. If we had met someone else to share the car with, we would have done it; but we didn’t, so we are here waiting for the bus.

This morning we took a bus from Fahraj to Yazd, where we had to ask to two bus drivers how to get to the main bus station; one of the drivers got off the bus under the rain to stop another one that was leaving and explain the other driver where we needed to go. In any other country, we would probably have been told “Get a taxi if you don’t know how to get there”.

Breakfast, bus to Yazd, two buses to the Terminal (the long-run bus station), half an hour wait, and at 10.40am we leave. VIP bus with wide seats and TV just in front of us. Nice to watch a super-romantic movie where you can imagine kisses and hugs (just imagine, in Iran public display of affection is not allowed, not even on TV). Finally in Shiraz, at about 5pm.

I have seen few smartphones here in Iran, less than in the Dominican Republic or Tanzania. Probably because it’s not easy to find an Internet connection. Anyway, I’ve found out that a sim card with no Internet costs about 3 dollars, with internet 10; maybe it’s a bit expensive for the local wages, but the service is available.

Copia di per strada-2
“Pit-stop” along Iran’s roads

9.20 pm Niayesh Boutique Hotel. We got the last available room at the Niayesh, so maybe if we came by car and arrived at 7 pm (because you need at least 2 hours to visit Persepolis, plus Pesargade and the necropolis) we would have to look for another place. And it would have been a shame because the Niayesh is the only hotel in a traditional house here in Shiraz, a house with an inner courtyard surrounded by rooms. It’s a meeting point for tourists, so hopefully we’ll meet someone to go to Persepolis with, otherwise we’ll have to take the bus and it’s not easy, especially for Pesargade.

We had dinner at the restaurant of the hotel and it was delicious.

So we arrived in Shiraz at about 5 pm; the last hour on the bus from Yazd was cherished by the only person of mixed race seen so far, a 7 years old boy. When we arrived in Shiraz, we took bus 79 from the Terminal to the hotel. And the people on the bus started talking to us; they wanted to know where we come from and if we like Iran. It felt very different from other towns, you can tell this town is more open-minded, metropolitan. They suggested we went to hotel Shiraz, 5 stars. Maybe when we’ll be rich. An elder man got off the bus with us, payed for our fares and walked us to the hotel, stopping every 5 minutes to ask the direction to passers-by to make sure we were on the right way. Even when we saw the first signs of the hotel, he didn’t let us alone until we found the entrance. Crazy. Never witnessed a welcome like this.

As soon as we put our bags in the room and went to the toilet, we went to see the AMRAGH-E SHAH-E CHERAGH, a shrine where two brothers of Mir Ahmad are buried (or maybe it was the Boghe-ye Sanyed Mir Mohammad… never mind the name). It was a bit complicated to wear the chador, but the ladies at the entrance were very kind. We were taken to the “international relations” office, where we were offered a tea. Then we were accompanied to the two tombs. Walls and ceilings were covered with mosaics of mirrors. Separate entries for man and women, so Luca went in with his escort. Inside people were praying and crying to get rid of the pain caused by illnesses and concerns. Very touching. Other people were looking at their phone and making balls with their chewing gum. I had to leave my camera at the entrance, while Luca could take pictures with his phone. The girl that was my escort is a student at the Sociology University that once a week volunteers here. She explained that to pray you should take a small stone that you can find along the walls and put it on the floor; you should then try to touch it with your forehead, so the negative energies can exit your body and flow into the floor, while the positive ones go in. Allah has 1,000 and one name, all written in the Koran. Green is the color of Islam because Mohammed dressed in green, plus heaven will be all green, full of trees; gold is the other color of Islam, can’t remember why; blu also because it links don’t know what. A lady asked my young escort if she was married; she answered that no. She wants to finish uni first, but she is often asked that question; probably they’ve got a son of marriage age and she looks like she is a very good girl.

Allah has 1000 and one names written in the Koran. Green is the color of Islam because Mohammed used to dress in green; gold is another color of Islam because I can’t remember why, the blue because it connects can’t remember what. A lady asked to my young guide if she was married; she replied that no, she’s not. She wants to finish her studies before she gets married, but she is often asked if she is married; probably they have a son looking for a wife and she looks like she’s a good girl.

At the border with the desert

At the border with the desert

Finally the desert.

Feb 17 2015, 9.30 am

We are sitting on the cold roadside along the Silk Road Hotel, waiting for Masoud of the Fahreddinn that offered to take us to Fahraj. The german girls will stay another day, we will meet them again in Shiraz. We are right in the middle of our trip.

10.50 am. At the end we asked the hotel to call Masoud, and he sent us a driver. We could have gone to Fahraj by bus, but it seemed offensive not to take the lift. He did offer it.

The roads out of town have 2 or 3 lanes on each direction, even though there’s not much traffic, and between the two directions there are about 50 meters, so it’s difficult to see accidents here (they do have the habit to spend a long time on the opposite lane when they overtake); they can do it, there’s a lot of space, there’s the desert around.

Between a town and another desert. Only near the towns, where water arrives through the qonat (a water system that apparently is quite expensive, so they’re trying to substitute it), there are trees and some cultivation. Everything else is sand, rocks and some bush.

Passeggiando per Fahraj
A walk in Fahraj

1.20 pm Haven’t seen Mr. Masoud yet. I’m starting to think we will never see him. His factotum has arrived, he’s making some tea. We are relaxing and waiting that the heat goes down a bit. Bahadur told us a few months ago a “Luca” passed by: he’s touring the world on a vespa. You can follow him on ilgirodelmondoa80allora.com. That sounds so cool! I would also love to do something similar. Italy-Turkey on a motorbike would be enough for me.

Nel deserto
Desert in Fahraj

7.23 pm. Bahadur is making dinner. He truly does everything here. He took us to the desert for a safari, we had tea and homemade grappa on the dunes, and smoked from a water pipe.

Bahadur told us that some of his friends would like to move abroad; but he talks to foreigners quite often, and knows that life abroad is not as shiny as you might think, he’s got a girlfriend and so he’s ok, he goes to the desert with his grappa so he can drink alcool when he likes; he’s happy with his life.

Before going to the desert we walked around Fahraj; the mosque was built 1400 years ago, it’s one of the oldest in Iran, and it’s made of sun-cooked bricks. The old part of Fahraj is made of sand and clay, like Yazd. The local restaurant at 7.15 pm was closed, so Bahadur cooked some spaghetti for us.

Over-cooked spaghetti with very oily sauce made of mushrooms, meat and tomato. And put into the oven. A bit heavy for a dinner, but not bad.

A stroll around Yazd

A stroll around Yazd

13h33

This morning we visited the Zoroastrian temple Ateshkadeh here in Yazd, one of the most important in Iran. A part from the garden and a room with a fire continuously on since 460 AD, there’s not much to see. On a bench of the garden we took a couple of pictures with some local ladies… or so we thought! The husband in reality was able to zoom the mobile phone camera and only captured Luca and I, leaving out the two ladies. Shame. I thought he wouldn’t mind because he was the one who asked to take pictures of the four of us. But he kept the good ones for himself.

Tempio Zoroastriano
Tempio Zoroastriano

Amir Chakmaq Square

Later we went to Amir Chakmaq square and its complex: a mosque, the Hosseinieh (so are called the buildings that commemorate an Imam), a small swimming pool with no water and a qanat (a well of the particular Iranian water system) that is now a gym (there are also some shows with bodybuilders from time to time).

Below the Hosseinieh there are some small shops. Among them a kebab restaurant, specialized in sheep heart and liver. Here we had lunch with the above mentioned skewers and dazi (but the one we had in Kashan was much better), a stop at a pastry shop and then quickly to the hotel because I needed the toilet.

This morning I bought a hejab, that scarf that covers your forehead and goes below the chin, covering the ears too,because the scarf that I was using to cover my hair keeps falling down and I have to check it all the time. Because I don’t know how people could react if my scarf fell in the middle of the crowd. Probably they wouldn’t be shocked, but annoyed yes. Better not to run the risk.

Piazza Amir Chakmaq
Piazza Amir Chakmaq

Yazd Old Town

After the coffee we walked around the old town of Yazd, made of clay and straw. The base of the walls is clay bricks, that are covered with a mixture of clay and straw instead of mortar.

Walking around these little alleys is magical. They are very narrow and still you can find a car sometimes; I don’t know how they can drive here, I would rather walk all the time.

Città vecchia di Yazd
Yazd Old Town

All houses are surrounded by walls about 2-3 meters high, so you walk this alleys between walls. We visited a traditional house (pretty, but after what we saw in Kashan, we weren’t really impressed), Alexander prisons (and we drank a tea in the well where worst prisoners were kept), we got lost, we paid one euro to go up to a roof where there’s a small café and an art gallery selling two cups and a bowl, just to take two (horrible) pictures. Then a tour of the bazaar and dinner at the Hosseinieh again, with kitchen and more skewers because Luca didn’t want to have dinner again at the guesthouse (here many hotels are also good restaurants with local cuisine).

Incredible little town this Yazd.

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