February 20, 2015

On the 30th day of the 11th month of Persian year 1393 we were in PERSEPOLIS.

Amazing. You can still see those images carved in the stone 2,500 years ago, in 520 B.C. Those scenes of the foreign delegations that queue to visit the king, offering presents, give a clear idea of how it must have been. It’s moving to be there and see in person what I had previously only seen in pictures.

We spent two hours there. Then we moved to Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab, two tombs of ancient emperors. And Pasargade, but if I had known it was so far (70 km – about 40 miles – North of Persepolis) and that there was so little to see (we actually didn’t see everything, but after Persepolis it seemed of little importance), I would have stayed at home. Well, I would have come back earlier.

Now we are very tired, back to Shiraz, and the bus is in more than 3 hours. We’ll soon go to the bus station, we’ve already had dinner, and we will wait there for the bus. We had Dizi and Zereshk Polo for dinner: chicken rice with pomegranate (the same as yesterday, but at the teahouse in the bazar it was better).

We went to Persepolis with Johanne (from Taiwan) and Bo-U (China), and paid 650 000 Ril, about 15 euro, per person; a big saving compared to the 100 dollars that the hotel wanted for the same tour!

Bo U is a teacher in China and now they have the Winter Holidays; she’s been traveling in the Middle East for about two months now. She was in Egypt (her favorite country of the area), Jordan, Lebanon and here. She doesn’t like Iran too much because she feels like she’s in an area of China where they are mainly muslims and you can only find mosques. And no need to talk about the food! Everywhere she goes she brings a camp stove, so she can warm up the water (she always needs to have warm water to drink), cook her eggs and noodle or instant soups. Johanne is visiting only Iran, and she’s not excited neither; a bit for the food, and also because she finds it similar everywhere; two years ago she was in Turkey and she loved it, food included. Anyway, in Iran her favorite town is Isfahan. We had met her in Kashan too, she was complaining about the food with a German couple (she’s vegetarian and finds it difficult to find good food here). About Italian food she doesn’t know what to say, because she hasn’t tried it in Italy yet. I invited her to come to visit, so she’ll be able to taste it.

10 pm. A bit longer for the bus.

In Shiraz, the town that gives the name to the world-famous wine, after the revolution in 1979 vineyards have been burnt or converted into cultivations of sultana. A shame, I would say.

The separation between the two genders is everywhere: at school, at the mosque, on the buses! (men stay in the front, women in the back). I wonder how they meet and get to know one each other in order to get married.

In Shiraz it rained both nights and mornings while we were here. That was good for Iran: if it doesn’t rain in Winter, Summer is unbearable. For us it was a bit of a bummer to visit Persepolis with the rain.

It’s 10.30 of a Friday night, even the bazaar was closed today (Friday is their holy day of the week), but here at the station there’s a barber working.

In Iran there are banks and ATMs everywhere, at every corner, in the shops, in the stations, I even saw a “mobile” one, on a truck. But they only accept Iranian cards. We can only use cash. There are a few exceptions, some carpet shops for example accept international cards.