Shiraz Travel Blog› entry 400 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
It was 05.00 when we disembarked our bus from Kerman, so we were left with the dilemma of what to do until we could check into a hotel. It was surprisingly chilly, so we huddled up in our hoodies and waited for some time to pass, as normally you cannot check into a hotel before 07.00. After an hour we went outside to try and organise a savari and as per usual, all the taxi drivers at the terminal proved to be complete and utter wankers. They kept trying to put us into a share taxi and charge us double the price of what we should have to pay a private taxi! Rather than give such people one cent of our money, we decided that we would rather walk for 30 minutes, as we had loads of time to kill.
Having used couchsurfing for the last few weeks, we had not really had to deal with hoteliers, who are the other thorn in the travellers side within Iran. The second they see you are a foreigner, this dumb look comes on their face as they think of a number that they can hit you with. I'm not even joking, when you ask the price, you watch their face twist and turn as they concoct some bogus sum. The first hotel that we went to was Mehmunsara Fadagh, where the rooms had been listed in LP at 60,000 Rials ($6). The opening price started at 70,000 Rials ($7) and we were happy enough to pay this, but when the receptionist realised this, he all of a sudden put the price up to 120,000 Rials ($12)! Having carried my backpack for so long, i had just wanted to lay down and go to bed, but now this fucker was trying to turn the screw. I really was fuming, but what can you do? We picked our bags up and left in disgust.
Zand hotel was the next one that we went to and rooms here had previously been 80,000 Rials ($8), but this included free laundry. Now the price was 120,000 Rials ($12) without laundry, but they were willing to throw in a moody ignorant receptionist for the price. Sod that. Just over the road was Esteghlal Hotel and prices here began at 140,000 Rials ($14), but we managed to bargain this down to 110,000 Rials ($11), on the basis that we would be staying at least four nights. For this price we got a boxy little room and communal shower and squat toilet – i was missing couchsurfing!
It was already approaching 09.00 when we got out of the shower, but we were so exhausted that we needed to take a nap until midday. Our first mission upon leaving the hotel was to change some Dollars into Rials, but all the exchange offices gave far worse rates than we had found in Tehran. Eventually we had to settle for exchanging at 9630, even though the real rate was nearer to 9800. From here we walked to the Anglican Church of Simon the Zealot, only to find it was closed. Things weren't going our way in Shiraz, it felt like the best thing to do would be pack up our bags and get the hell out.
Arg-e Karim Khan was the next place that we attempted to visit and i was pleased to see an open door when we arrived. The Arg commands the City centre, with high walls and circular towers, although the most noticeable feature is the southeastern tower that has sunk into the ground. Inside there was a nice collection of photos taken of Shiraz from the 19th and 20th centuries and also a little garden to walk around.
With our tempers already a little frayed from the stress of the morning, Julia and I decided that we would look around the City on our own in the afternoon. Its actually surprising how little time we spend apart from each other, i think i would have killed anyone else! My first stop was Bagh-e Nazar and the Pars Museum, which had Karim Khan Zand's sword and some nice paintings. The ticket collector here made me return to the entrance as he thought i had sneaked in for free, but his colleague told him that i had bought a ticket, which i had been waving at him! Rather than apologise, he grumbled a bit and waved me away, so far i wasn't buying the story of Shirazi's been the friendliest people in Iran, in fact i would say the opposite!
Masjed-e Vakil was located nearby, so i went for a look inside the Mosque, which had large iwans and a gigantic prayer hall that measured 75m by 36m and is propped up by 48 impressive carved columns. From here i headed southeast to Madraseh-ye Khan so as i could climb on the roof for views across the City. I wasn't overly excited by the place, but it is always nice to get a different perspective on where you are.
Next i tried to go to Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, but i was refused entry. I hadn't realised that you needed to be Muslim to enter and had approached the building like a dumb tourist with a guide book and bottle of water in my hand. I wasn't too sure where to go next, so i walked in the direction of a minaret that i could see in the distance. I'm not actually sure where i ended up, but i do know it was a holy shrine to an Imam's relative. The interior had ornate mirrored walls and ceilings and whilst i was sat absorbing the atmosphere, i got chatting to a nice guy who offered to take me to Jameh-ye Atigh Mosque.
This Mosque dates back to 894 and whilst the iwans were nice, the most interesting structure was the Kabba style block in middle of the courtyard. Called a 'Khodakhaneh' (House of God), this was built in the 14th Century to house the Mosques priceless Qu'rans. The exit of the Mosque led to the back entrance of Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh and my new found friend was adamant that he could get me in. I told him i didn't want to offend anyone, but he said it shouldn't be a problem and after asking the guard, he escorted me in. We opted to head into the nearest shrine, which was for the two brothers of Bogh'e-ye Sayyed Mir Mohammed, who was in turn one of Imam Reza's 17 brothers. There was a man collecting shoes and he seemed delighted to have a non Muslim foreign visitor, which was really nice.
Having looked around the shrine and then walked through a nearby bazaar, i said goodbye to my new found friend and headed home to meet up with Julia. Dinner was a kebab and hamburger and then we went to use the internet for an hour. I really do think Iran misses bars and clubs, as there is nothing to do in the evening, so we ended up going home early and had an early night.