Shiraz Travel Blog

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People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

Ever since deciding that we loved Iran so much that we wanted to remain longer than our 30 day visa, i had been dreading the day that we would need to try and extend our stay. With memories still relatively fresh of our ordeal with Iranian bureaucracy in Tashkent, we made an early start on Tuesday morning to the Police Department of Aliens Affairs, as a long wait was expected. Entering the 3rd floor of the relevant building, a cheery young officer checked our passports, said '30 days, no problem' and gave us a piece of paper with the bank details of where we had to deposit our money. Sadly Irkel, Alf and ET were not receiving such favourable treatment!

We hopped in a taxi to Melli Bank where a nice Iranian guy filled out our papers, then we each handed over 200,000 Rial ($20) and walked back to the Office.

Presenting our bank receipt, we were asked to fill out one form and the officer helped us with the Iranian section. The sheets were passed between two more officers, we payed another 5,000 Rials ($0.50) each and WHAM there was a new 30 day visa in our passport. Leaving the building the officer thanked me for helping him with his English (i taught him a few words) and told us to come back if we needed any more help. I felt shell shocked at receiving such wonderful treatment from someone issuing visas � in a good way for once!

It was only 10.00, but we went for a celebratory burger and fries, so as to give us some energy for a day of sightseeing, which would include a lot of walking. Located 5km away, our first stop was to be Aramgah-e Sa'di, which is the Mausoleum of famous Iranian poet Sa'di.
The tomb itself was located under a large blue dome, and his poems were inscribed upon the wall. Although this was pleasant, what really made the place stand out to me was its setting. Rows of beautifully tended flower beds created a wonderful atmosphere and we took the chance to sit on a bench for some time, to soak it all up. There was also a nice little underground fish pond, which had once housed a tea shop, but this had sadly closed down.

Having not had our fair share of death, poetry and exercise, we walked another 5km to go and see Aramgah-e Hafez, which is the Mausoleum of Hafez. Young couples took the opportunity of sitting in the grounds together, hiding in the shade of buildings, whilst others preferred to sit beside the tomb. For Iranians, this is paramount to a place of pilgrimage, but for me it was a nice building in some decent gardens, but i couldn't really feel any spiritual connection.

We were pleased for the greenery and shade within the City and wandered through Melli Park on our way to Imamzadeh-ye Ali Ebn-e Hamze, a striking Mosque. Sadly a family was preparing for a funeral, so we decided not to linger, even though we were assured that it was no problem. The exterior was large, colourful and eye catching, whilst the interior was mesmerising with its glittering mirrors and tranquil air.

To finish the day off we walked up to Darvazeh-ye Quran, which is known as the Qu'ran Gate in English. Travellers are supposed to walk under this at the beginning of a trip, but as we are some way into ours, we decided not to tempt fate and walked around the edge of it. Nearby there was a nice patch of shaded grass, so we opted to take a rest and have a mini picnic, if you can call bread, crisps, biscuits and juice a picnic? From here we walked up a hill that gave us panoramic views of Shiraz, although i didn't think they were anything special.
Maybe I've just become a little bit over ambitious with what i expect to see nowadays?

It took 45 minutes to walk back to the centre of town from the Qu'ran Gate and we passed through the busy Bazaar-e Nou, but it was a little too chaotic to really enjoy it. Having used the internet we went and ate Dinner in a cafe that we had used before and couldn't work out why the food was so cheap. For some reason, cafe owners in Shiraz never seem to charge for drinks. We have told three different places that they are undercharging us, but they just wont listen. We wondered if it was 'taroof' and tried to insist paying more, but they never accept it. Whenever we pass by they will always acknowledge us if they spot us, which makes me think they just want to be nice to the foreigners, maybe its there charitable deed for the day :)

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photo by: Vlindeke