Iran – Shiraz (25 Dec 2017)
And now, we arrive in Shiraz, a city in Iran’s south that is closer to Dubai than it is to Tehran.
Shiraz used to have quite a few wineries, but that all disappeared after the revolution in the 70s.
It is interesting to note (from Wikipedia) the following though:
In the current era, “Shiraz” is a marketing term for Syrah produced in Australia and South Africa. The modern “Shiraz” grape is identical to Syrah and originating in southeast France with no established connection to Persia (Iran).
Our driver/guide brought us to a very nice hotel, for a bargain-basement price (I think it was around S$40 tops). The lobby was a bit over the top ostentatious though.
And we had a huge apartment/hotel room, with 2 bedrooms and a kitchenette and living room. Not that we were going to be able to make use of those though – hotel’s just a place for us to catch up on sleep 🙂
And so, we started to roam the streets a bit. Here’s the citadel which takes up a significant part of the inner city.
Can’t get far in Iran without coming across a bazaar, the place where everyone gets what they need (and where there are too, too many of the same type of shops. To the untrained eye, this seems like a “perfect competition” market, where the goods are all the same (though not necessarily the prices…).
We were quite famished by this point, so we popped into a random shop to grab dinner.
Faloodeh is a traditional Iranian cold dessert similar to a sorbet, and it’s massively popular here.
Definitely a refreshing treat, although I still prefer my good-old ice cream. It tastes like (harder) noodles in a syrup, but the lime-y taste in the background together with the ice-cold temperature of the syrup gives it an extra kick.
The next morning we headed to the Pink Mosque (Nasir al-Mulk) to experience one of the more interesting architectural attractions in the city.
If you’re here at the right time (i.e. when the sun shines into the mosque), the entire interior turns into a kaleidoscope of colours. It’s truly an amazing sight to say the least. The photos below are as-is.
Our next stop was Shah-e-Cheragh, or the Mirror Mosque. It’s also a funerary monument, and it’s famous because much of the interior is lined with shiny tiles and mirrors.
When the sun hits the tiles and mirrors, it does make for a rather dazzling (if not blinding) effect.
Our next stop was the Eram Garden, and yes it’s yet another UNESCO world heritage site.
I really liked the gardens for its serenity – it’s truly an oasis in the desert. Loads of trees, away from the chaotic traffic outside.
After our little tour of the city, we decided to ask our guide to take us to the Pink Lake (Maharloo Lake). He even brought his kids along!
No need to go all the way to the salt flats of Bolivia – there’s one right in Iran 🙂
The pink colour of the lake is due to the presence of algae that produces carotenoids (organic pigments), such as Dunaliella salina – a type of halophile green micro-algae especially found in sea salt fields.
And after our little trip to the Pink Lake, our guide was kind enough to invite us to his house for dinner. It was a wonderful evening with great food and great company – we learnt a lot more about Iranian culture and everyday life from them. It’s cliched, but what we know and see in the media about Iran is definitely entirely different from what we actually encounter on the ground.
But there’s always a time where we have to say goodbye – off to Shiraz airport for the flight back to Tehran. We’re heading in the very last legs of our 27-day honeymoon it seems.
There’s obviously no Starbucks here in Iran, so I wonder where the airport cafe got their cups from.
While we were in the airport, we were stopped (in a friendly manner) by a local who wanted to know more about how we felt about the country, and if he could offer any help. He seemed genuinely interested to leave a good impression of Iran on us, perhaps to counter some of the negative impressions that foreign media might have portrayed of Iran. He sure did a good job there 🙂
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