Tehran is literally at the foot of a mountain range. The Tochal telecabin offers a 45 minute ride of stunning views straight up to the top of the mountains. We had to wait for half an hour to board the telecabin. The reason was not recomforting. A wheel on one of the supporting towers was broken. Our iranian friend joked recalling that the telecabin had been built in the seventies, and had not been upgraded since then. Awesome.
While many locals may actually avoid the crowds at the Bazaar, it is undoubtedly a magnet for tourists looking for "authentic" shopping experiences. From jewlery to spices and underwear, all was available at the three bazars I visited in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz.
Figs in Shiraz. At the bazaar, we tried many food samples. Nuts, sweets, fruits, you name it. I had no clue what I was eating but it was tasty. And of course, at lunchtime no one was hungry anymore.
I had never seen that many jewlery shops, one next to the other. Many sold pendants with the symbol of Zoroastrianism, a wide-spread religion in Iran before the arrival of Islam.
Tea sets for sale at the bazaar. Whenever we ordered tea, sugar came in a very special form. Instead of sugar grains, they brought large sugar cristals attached to a small stick of wood. The stick went into the tea cup, where the sugar would melt with the heat. To have it less sweet, one had to take out the stick before it finished melting.
Golestan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of Tehran. It consists of a number of buildings. The entry fee to each building seems low at first, but if one adds up all the fees, the price to visit the whole complex is about 30 €. We did skip parts of it.
Food in Iran was amazing. My favourite starter were the olives in pomegranate paste. The taste was unexpected but very nice. Instead of tables and chairs, many restaurants had some sort of elevated round platform covered in carpets and pillows. We sat cross-legged on the platform, and food was served in the center. Eating there was quite some exercise.
Our last stop on the trip was Shiraz. The city houses some of the most famous persian gardens, such as the Eram Garden depicted here. While we could visit it after paying the usual amount of 200.000 rials, the garden was under "winter maintenance".
The Nasir ol Molk mosque is famous for its colored windows. In the morning, the sun shines through them and tints the white columns in beautiful colors. We arrived just in time to see the colors on the lower part of the columns but legend says that if one is there at 08:00 am, the whole room is covered in colors. We didn't verify it.
I thought no more walls with zillions of tiny mirrors could impress me after seeing Golestan. I was wrong. The central room of the Qauam House in Shiraz was breathtaking. Words cannot describe it.
But the absolute highlight was Shah Cheragh, a mosque and tomb in Shiraz. It is a holy place where two sons of one of The Twelve Imams are buried. It is also an important center of pilgrimage.
I only had a few hours in Tehran before my flight back to Madrid. We decided to visit the Sa'dabad Complex. It consists of a number of palaces where the Shah of Iran lived before the 1979 revolution that lead to the rise of the current Islamic Republic of Iran. The rooms in the palaces looked as if time had stopped at the very moment when the shah was forced to leave the country.
The complex is located in an enormous garden, including this statue of Arash the Archer. We rushed through it since we arrived shortly before the complex closed. In an attempt to find a shortcut, we got lost. We had to walk off-trail through the forest, climb over walls, and run up hills. When we reached the last palace, the lights were already off. However, the guards allowed us to take a quick look before politely asking us to get out of the place ASAP.