| Part 7: Mashhad, Tehran
Mashhad -> Tehran
Tehran Grand hotel. Today
my room feels
like a room in a two star hotel.
Weather: hot and sunny,
cover in the afternoon, surprisingly heavy cloud cover in the evening
I get up at 9am, get ready and after the breakfast leave the hotel at
11 something am. The plan is to catch a taxi to see the Boq'eh-ye
Khajeh Rabi shrine, be back in the hotel by 2pm, have lunch
until 3pm, then later in the afternoon visit the tomb of Ferdosi in Tus.
Immediately as I leave the hotel I get adopted by a local guy who
actually has no taxi but never mind. While on the way to
Khajeh Rabi shrine he shows a brochure with a dozen places with
pictures and is
suggesting in Farsi to bring me to these places. Some discussion,
several phone calls and finally there is a girl on the phone who speaks
She explains that the driver will show me all these places for $80 as a
day trip. Not exactly cheap, but never mind, it's not such a bad idea
see more places than planned and to have a local person as a guide.
At 12:10pm we are at the shrine. Nice building with a blue
dome, in a well kept garden setting. Inside the building is richly
decorated, very photogenic.
I'm there until after 12:30pm, then we drive to the next place. Some
discussion, the driver insists that I should visit the tomb of Ferdosi
now, but I'm against it because the light right now is too harsh. We
agree that he'll bring me there at 5pm.
We then drive to a place where I can have lunch. The name of this place
is Shardiz and we are there at 1:20pm. This
is a restaurant in a very nice setting: on terraces there are platforms
with Persian carpets on which you lie and have lunch under the shadow
of many trees. My lunch consists of delicious grilles sheep ribs with
rice, salad and other stuff. The bill is very high however: 240000
Rial, twice what I have spent so far for a lunch in Iran. I wonder if
the driver is perhaps pocketing a commission. On the other hand, in
Euros the price is not too high for what I got.
After lunch, at 2 something pm, we drive to the next place, a bazaar.
This bazaar lies in Torgabeh and is quite modern.
It sells a good deal of tourist junk stuff but also some intersting
articles. However I'm not in the mode for shopping, so we leave this
place after about 10 minutes.
Then we drive to the next place, a shrine in the small city
of Golestan. This is interesting, quite nicely set up, very photogenic.
In the shrine I get involved in a conversation with the local shrine
It's 4 something pm when we leave the shrine and drive to the last
place, the tomb of Ferdosi in Tus (5000 Rial ticket). This is the most
interesting place so far. Ferdosi is the poet who lived about 1000
years ago and who is credited for saving the Persian
Without him people in Iran nowadays perhaps would perhaps speak Arabic.
shrine contains at the bottom wall carvings showing scenes from his
After the tomb of Ferdosi we briefly stop at another nearby place, the
Boq'e -ye Hordokieh, then drive back to the hotel. Today's trip was
interesting, but overpriced.
In the evening the 21:55 Iranair flight to Tehran is delayed by over an
hour, but at least it lands safely in Tehran. At the Mehrabad
airport exit there is the usual set of touts offering taxi trips to
downtown Tehran for inflated prices (200000 Rial vs 100000 Rial). I
sleep at 1:30am.
Overnight in the Airasia
Weather: sunny, hot, dry
some clouds in the sky in Tehran. Comfortably fresh along the river in
After breakfast I check out of the hotel and shortly after 11am I meet
Reza, an Iranian from Shiraz who lives in Tehran. Together with him and
another two friends of his we'll visit a couple of places today. The
first stop is the Sa'ad Abad complex, the former residence of the Shah,
which we reach at 11:50am.
This is a large site with a number of buildings spread over a large
park with beautiful trees. Inside the park are a number of museums and
exhibitions, such as the cars of the Shah, the paintings collection of
Farah Diba (the wife of the Shah), the Omidvar brothers exbibition (two
Iranians who starting in 1954 toured the world for 7 years), a green
marble pavillion apparently the
residence of the Shah and more.
We're done at 1:30pm visiting the Sa'ad Abad complex and the next step
would be to have some lunch. I suggest to look for a restaurant, but my
Iranian friends have a better idea. We'll do it the traditional way.
Over the next two hours we criss-cross Tehran and buy food and
groceries with which to set up a barbecue. We drive to Karaj, a place
at 1400m altitude to the west of Tehran, where along a fresh river
there are platforms with Persian carpets and pillows, on which to have
a comfortable picnic. We set up a barbecue and grill the chicken the
friends of Reza have bought. Then it's a Persian style picnic meal on
the platform. Interestingly the friends of Reza have bought some kind
of carbonated yoghurt drink, which I drink for the first time.
It's 5:10pm when we drive back to Tehran. I fetch my bags at the Bozorg
hotel, say goodbye to Reza and his friends and drive to the airport.
The Imam Khomeini international airport today makes a much better
impression than last time I used it. Today it seems modern, fresh and
functional. At the airport I discover that the 9:55pm Airasia flight to
KL miracolously is now a 10:55pm flight. According to the staff at the
check-in counter the arrival time of 10:50am however is unchanged.
Without problems or long queues I check-in, proceed through
immigration, security and make it to the gate. Not surprisingly in the
plane the Airasia hostesses are not wearing miniskirts as usual, but
loose fitting pants.
Soon as the plane takes off, the Iranian girl next to me takes off her
stuff and sports a sexy top which would get her stoned in a city like
plane is almost completely full (how does Airasia manage to achieve
such a high load factor?) and most people look like Iranians. I'd even
say 99% are Iranians (why would a Malaysian travel to Iran anyway?).
On the plane a dinner is served, which surprises me given that with
Airasia usually you have to pay for the meals.