Most people know the name “Shiraz” from red wines sold all over the world. I remember finding out that it was actually a city in Iran just four or five years ago. While the region used to produce wine, all the commercial wineries and vineyards were shut down after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Nowadays, Shiraz is more popular for being the base for tourists visiting the nearby Persepolis.
I met an older Chinese couple on the bus from Yazd. I was impressed that being in their 60’s, they were traveling to exotic countries without tour guides and without knowing English. They latched onto me once they found out that I spoke Mandarin. I don’t usually mind traveling with others for a short period of time, as it’s one of the fun parts of backpacking. But I’d soon find out that the man had an obsession with bargaining, which is something I don’t enjoy doing.
They had no hotel reservations for Shiraz, and they wanted to come to my hotel to ask for prices. At the taxi stand of the bus station, they quoted us 100,000 rials (about 3 USD, or 1 USD per person) for the ride to the hotel. The Chinese man then spent the next 10 minutes haggling the price down to 90,000 rials. That’s a whooping 0.30 USD in savings (or 0.10 USD per person). To me, spending 10 minutes to save 30 cents is not worth it, especially when the money might mean so much more to the driver than to me. Once we arrived at the hotel he started to bargain for his room, which is fine except that he used me as the translator.
I spent the next few days avoiding them, although we did share a taxi to visit Persepolis.
Shiraz is a bigger and more lively city than Yazd.
It gets really hot around mid-day, and I saw a bunch of people taking naps next to Karim Khan Citadel, using the trees for shade.
I enjoyed the atmosphere of Vakil Bazaar, and especially liked all the spices on display.
At Shahcheragh Holy Shrine, I was provided with a guide since I wasn’t Muslim. We walked around the whole place without restrictions. The interiors were beautiful, as well as the sunset light outside. After the tour, the guide invited me to the visitor center where we chatted for a while. He was very curious about life and culture in the US.
I visited Nasir ol Molk Mosque (also known as the Pink Mosque) early in the morning. This is when the morning light hits the beautiful stained glass but, to my disappointment, the blinds outside the glass were blocking most of the light. When I asked the woman in charge if she could open the blinds, she shook her head.
Returning to Shiraz from Persepolis, we also stopped at Tomb of Hafez, the most important poet in Iranian history. It is said that every Iranian home has at least one of his books. Beautiful gardens surround his tomb, and it seemed like a happy place for the Iranian visitors. I saw many families and couples enjoying their time there.
The Chinese couple really wanted to go to Isfahan (my next destination) together with me, so to shake them off I decided to do a last-minute day trip to Firuzabad.