Just returned from a 7day visit to Iran and I say it is an amazing country with many beautiful places and so much hospitality. As I arrived in IKA, I was warmly received by Muhammad the driver who was such a nice well-mannered guy from Irantravelservice. I usually travel solo so preferred not to go on a tour and just booked some hotels and buses through their agency. The next morning I started walking around and got the first taste of the unknown. The capital looks a mixture of modern and old. Most people seem quite busy. The life is hectic and traffic is awful; too many cars trying to squeeze into any space ignoring the others. Subway is easiest way to get around. Golestan palace, grand Bazaar and the national museum were the highlights, I would say.
Later in the evening, I headed toward the bus station to get to Shiraz. The bus was called a VIP from Royal Safar Company. The seat was really convenient but it was too cold inside which made me freeze in my T-shirt. The next morning I was in Shiraz. I had to look for Niayesh hotel as it was located in the old town. The alleys were twisty and narrow but there was a direction sign on walls. The hotel is very atmospheric with the room set around the yard. The rooms are small but clean and cozy. There was also a dorm upstairs which was good for 10 bucks. The first thing I got to visit was the Shrine. Impressive glasswork, with glowing lights and looked really beautiful later at night. The bazaar was also easy to find. Not as crowded as the one in Tehran. The most amazing part was the caravansary mushir with lots of artwork, wood carvings, and inlaid work but of course shopkeepers really tried to rip me off. Just got a small inlaid pen case for 20000 IR. It was so exciting to sit near the pool and watch people saying hello to almost everyone who passed by. There was a school which looks more like a mosque. It is called the Madrese Khan which is a place for Mullas but couldn’t find any to talk to. The big yard and the tile work looked like mosques.
Later I found Shiraz as the most hospitable city in Iran. In the evening, people were sitting near a park on the main street and sipping tea. I got totally excited when I was invited to join a family by their young son who spoke some English -so generous and kind. When walking alone, almost all young boys and some girls say hello and ask where I was from.
Next morning I called the man behind the emails and ask if we can meet and have some tea. Mojtaba met me at the hotel and we just walk around for a couple of hours. Visited the tomb of Hafez, a wonderful place with many Iranians visitor who come to pay their tributes to reputable poet. Just heard some translations of lovely poems. Next we got a taxi to visit the tomb of Saadi, another famous poet. The entrance looked really beautiful and we actually went to the underground teahouse to have some tea but I got a surprise instead. Some people were gathering to look down at a small fish pond and the rest sitting on the wooden benches and eating some dessert. The stuff was called Faloodeh Shirazi, really tasty. He recommended me to visit the orangery and Nasir al molk mosque in the afternoon. I enjoyed both places, especially the orangery. The mirror room, painting on the tiles and replica of Persepolis on the walls was wonderful. I had a car arranged for visiting glorious Persepolis next morning which was indeed impressive and also visited the tombs and carvings at Naghshe Rostam.
The overnight bus to Esfahan was almost as good as the VIP one. I got to Esfahan early in the morning at 7 and got a Taxi to leave the luggage at Safir hotel. Bargaining with Taxi drivers who always seem to be overcharging you is the most difficult thing to deal with. The hotel was a 4 star, nothing like the traditional Niayesh. Had some breakfast and headed toward Imam square and I should admit Esfahan is one of the most beautiful cities. The mosques and the palace were beyond imagination. Very different from other mosques you see. The tile works, colors and some unique features spell you. The Aliqapoo palace was wonderful too. The music room is like nothing I have ever seen. The wall painings, each showing a ceremony or a story was just amazing. The square kept me busy for the whole morning and I actually went back the next day. Chehel Sotoun Palace was one more wonderful place in Esfahan and really magnificent. What added to the beauties of Esfahan is Se o Se pol Bridge. There are many other beautiful bridges, though. Vank cathedral is worth visiting which very similar to western churches. I spent the last day in Tehran, met some nice and interesting girls in a gallery. We spent some time in café. They were as hospitable as all other Iranians I met.
Of course the whole trip was too short to travel to different parts and I know there is much more to see in Iran. I hope I can go back next year.
I wiil upload some of my photos shortly.
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