We had to catch a bus at 10 in the morning from Esfahan to Shiraz, almost 500 km further south of the country.
Since we had missed to visit an important landmark in Esfahan, the Vank Cathedral, Mobinah got up very early and paid a visit to the Church that she described as a stunning structure with a lot of history.
Transportation hubs in Iran are most modern with excellent toilet facilities and not very crowded, so was the Esfahan Bus Stand Complex. Our luxury bus was very comfortable and initially it was only myself, Mehar and Mobinah, the only passengers. The bus driver and the conductor with thick hair, beards and moustaches kindly shared their personal coffee and snacks with us.
During the journey we passed through small towns and villages and I was amazed at the cleanliness of this country. No where we found any open gutters, rubbish and junk on roads or footpaths familiar in many third world countries. Midway we stopped for lunch and prayer. One of our fellow passengers, an engineer educated at Karachi during the seventies who had long conversations with me throughout the journey was very kind to buy us snacks for lunch.
After entering the city of Shiraz through the magnificent Quran Gate, we were received at the Shiraz bus stand by Mohammad, a long time friend who completed his PhD from UNSW in 1985 who I had not met ever since. He was now professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Shiraz.
Mohammad took us to our hotel apartment and very efficiently chalked out ur program for the next three days including a dinner with his family. He also organised a taxi/car with a driver also called Mohammad we later found out to be an excellent friend and helper and could only converse in Farsi.
Next day we made a day long trip to Persepolis or Takht-e-Jamshid and associated ruins such as Naqshe Rustam of ancient Persia and finally had dinner at Mohammed’s residence meeting his lovely family including his dignified sister in law sharing photos and talking about the good old days till late night.
Shiraz is the city of poets, the two most famous being Hafez and Saadi, very popular in India as well, whose tombs and associated gardens are a pleasure to visit. The well maintained parks had the the poetry being recited via speakers throughout the gardens. On my father’s request, who knows Farsi very well, I purchased Deewane Hafez and Bostane Saadi, collections of the poets’ works.
We visited the historic mansion and Bagh-e-Eram including the underground museum of Shirazi arts, culture and poets. It is at this place where all three of us decided to put on traditional Iranian dresses to take our own photos and then found many of the foreign tourists, Americans, Germans, Turkish and Koreans had their cameras pointed at us taking our photos around the gardens and the mansion.
On the final day we had to comply with Mobinah’s wish of visiting the Nasir al-Mulk mosque to take magnificent photos inside while morning sunlight entered through colourful glasses on doors and windows.
We caught yet another train from Shiraz back to Tehran, a 16 hour journey in very much comfort.
Next: Back to Tehran, and Qom side trip
This is part 2 of the series Safarnameh: A two week study tour of Iran.