Day 50 (2): A little piece of paradise

Masouleh Travel Blog

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Masouleh

Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Soroosh (Iran)

Masouleh is a wonderful village. The houses are built on a mountainside so steep that the roof of one house forms the verandah of the house above it. The houses are connected by steep steps - driving a car or any vehicle is impossible here. The town is popular with day trippers, though I wanted to stay one of two days here. There are plenty nice mountain walks in the area and I figured this would be the perfect place to unwind a bit.

My driver wanted to drop me at the beginning of the town, but I asked him to drive me further on, to a hotel which I'd seen in my guidebook. He did not understand, there was a luxury hotel right there, why would I not stay there? He did not know where my hotel was, did not even understand the name as written in western script, but he agreed to drive a bit further and ask some people.

Masouleh mosque

A little boy in the street knew where it was and agreed to show me. Cars could not go up there, so I got out and followed him up the steep steps with my way too heavy backpack.

He spoke pretty good English and asked me if I had a reservation for the hotel. Then he continued to say that the hotel wasn't very good. It wasn't very clean and the toilets smelled. I began to suspect something fishy here.
His house was near, and I could rent a room with his mother. Hmm, a homestay, that is not a bad idea either. We got to his house, I was introduced to his mother, and they showed me the room. It was a very large room, with thick carpets on the floor and a stunning view over the valley. There was no bed though. The place was usually rented out to Iranians who seem to be perfectly happy to sleep on the floor on some thin mattresses.
Masouleh
There were plenty of those, so I figured I could make myself a nice comfy bed with those.

So what about the price? 30,000, he said. 30,000, that's 3 dollars. Not bad. But as soon as I got the money out to pay for two nights the boy said “no, no, not rial, toman!” In Iran it is normal to quote all prices in Toman, even though that only takes off one zero of the amount (why not quote hundreds or thousands, I wonder). So 30,000 toman, that is 300,000 rial, that is $ 30!
Thirty bucks for a room with no bed, now that is a bit steep me thinks. Negotiation started, and eventually his mother reluctantly agreed to lower it to 20. Still too much in my opinion. I decided to check out the hotel first.
A lady who works at the hotel happened to be walking by and the boy asked how much a room was in the hotel - $ 50.
in the 'streets' of Masouleh
Are they mad? That is 4 times the price mentioned in the guidebook, and even with 25% inflation that is too steep an increase in 2 years time. I decided to have a look at the hotel anyway. I could always come back to this place. The mother beckoned me to follow her though, to one of her friend's houses. Here a smaller room, without view, and not particularly clean looking, cost $ 14. After some haggling it was lowered to $ 12. Hmm, it'll do I guess. I decided to stay one night and could always move or leave Masuleh altogether tomorrow.

I dropped my bags and went for a walk. I decided to check out the Mehran hotel and see their rooms and prices so that I could possibly book a room for tomorrow.

The receptionist was a nice guy who spoke excellent English with a very strong kiwi accent.
view from my balcony
I would later learn that he learned to speak English after meeting a traveller from New Zealand who he still regularly calls and e-mails. They had plenty of rooms available and for me the price would be 160,000. Toman? No, rial. So that is 16 bucks with breakfast included. Interesting, let's see the room.
The room was very large, complete with kitchen and a large terrace overlooking the valley. Right, that's me sold then. Forget making a reservation for tomorrow, I'm staying here right now. I walked back to my homestay, picked up my bags and passport and said my goodbyes to my 'hosts'. So that is one lesson learned then. Yes, Iranians are possibly the nicest people on earth, but here too they do get spoilt by tourism.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing a bit of blogging while enjoying a qalyan (which is what they call a water pipe in Iran), served of course with the ubiquitous çay.
Sheesha time (or rather, Qualyan as it is called in this country)

When it got a bit too cold to sit outside (temperatures drop considerably here at night) I went back to the hotel. Soroosh, the receptionist, had promised me some home-style cooking. What I had not expected was that he would be doing the cooking as well. In Iran a man cooking is somewhat of a rarity, but then again, Soroosh turned out to be not much of an average Iranian. Very opininiated (not much danger of the Iranian Islamic police in this part of the country), not particularly religious (that is a polite way of saying he was bordering on anti-Islamic) and a vegan (would like to see you try in a society where meat dominates every menu).
More typical Iranian were his manners though. Very friendly, polite, hospitable and incredibly interested in my life, my culture and my travels.
Masouleh bazaar


We had a really nice conversation and on my first proper day here I already broke the first rule of travelling in Iran: don't talk about politics or religion. We did. We extensively discussed the president, the imam and the Islamic law in this country. It was really refreshing to hear his point of view (which pretty much echoed that of Ali, the Iranian guy I'd met in Antalya) and he claimed that at least 60% of the population of Iran shares that view. Well, 60% might be a bit over-estimated,  but still this means that the current way of governing Iran might come to an end sooner that expected. I just hope they wait with their revolution until I am gone. I know, selfish, but in a way travelling is a bit selfish, isn't it?

This had been a perfect day and what would have made it even more perfect was if I'd been able to have a nice cold beer.
Strawberry flavoured beer - it tastes better than it sounds. Honest!
So I went for the next-best thing: Iranian beer. Yes, they do sell beer in Iran, but it is non-alcoholic. And since they know non-alcoholic beer is for wimps, most of these beers have a flavour added to it. I went for strawberry.
Actually, it tasted better than it sounds. This stuff really does taste like strawberry flavoured beer!

So a perfect day indeed. Well, ok, the rock-hard beds took some getting used to. I like a hard mattress, but these beds hardly have any mattress at all, I'm just sleeping on a wooden plank. Ah well, the alternative had been sleeping on a floor, so I guess I was still better off.


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Masouleh
Masouleh
Masouleh mosque
Masouleh mosque
Masouleh
Masouleh
in the streets of Masouleh
in the 'streets' of Masouleh
view from my balcony
view from my balcony
Sheesha time (or rather, Qualyan a…
Sheesha time (or rather, Qualyan …
Masouleh bazaar
Masouleh bazaar
Strawberry flavoured beer - it tas…
Strawberry flavoured beer - it ta…
anyone want to buy a necklace? or …
anyone want to buy a necklace? or…
Masouleh mosque
Masouleh mosque
view over the Masouleh valley
view over the Masouleh valley
can anyone translate what this say…
can anyone translate what this sa…
Clouds roll in over Masouleh
Clouds roll in over Masouleh
Masouleh
Masouleh
Masouleh
Masouleh
every evening the clouds roll in, …
every evening the clouds roll in,…
Masouleh Hotels & Accommodations review
Excellent value apartments
The hotel Mehran is the best budget option in Masouleh. It is cheaper even than the various homestays offered by locals. I only paid $ 16 for a tr… read entire review
Masouleh
photo by: Sajjad_Monti