It is harder and harder to decide which place I like the best! After a bus trip on a VIP bus, of course, I arrived at the Niayesh hotel. I had slept most of the bus trip but was still that exhausted, so a dinner and early night! The next day was Friday and since my back, knee and the rest of my body was ready to collapse, I asked the girls at the front desk if the knew where I could get a massage, and preferable a Hamman. Well, there is this five star hotel, very famous, except my taxi driver couldn’t find it! I had walked for about an hour, when I realised I was completely and totally lost! This is the norm by the way, just ask my children about my legendary sense of direction!!
The Hamman was beautiful the massage mediocre(I needed Jenny Edwardes!! )Anyway as I was quoted the price in euro I tried paying in that currency! Not possible! Okay, I went with my bill upstairs to the reception, gave him the bill and my twenty euro, I needed five change, so I got this pile of money. I thought I paid my bill! ( I had a splitting headache and felt very sleepy!) I asked if I could use their excellent wifi, so crawled into a corner to feed my Facebook addiction. This man comes up to me and asks if he can see my bill! Of course, sir here it is, I paid!! Well, eh, actually I did NOT pay! He just changed my money into rials and expected me to go down to pay at the Hamman desk! Oops!! Needless to tell you I felt, again, like a total dork!! I must have turned bright red of embarrassment, both men were profusely apologising to ME!
I returned to the hotel and again had an early night, slept like a babe, which was good because I had planned for a busy day!! I visited the pink mosque as it is known, Masjid-e Nasir-al- Molk. I doubted that the sun would come through after a night of rain! Iran is in the middle of a drought right now and the rivers are empty! I was fortunate, as per usual all the good luck was on my side! The clouds lifted, the sun shone through the blue and red window and lo and behold the magic light show was on! It was mesmerising! I stayed as long as I could, until the first tour bus with French tourists arrived. Then I wandered around the rest of the complex. I met Fatimah who spoke to me about Islam and their believes, she was a devoted Muslim and the photo I took showed her as a Madonna! I like to make a drawing or painting of her. She was so genuine, and so pure, that it was a delight to spend time in her presence.
After a delightful intermezzo at the coffee shop outside the mosque, when I asked this handsome green eyed man if the little ten year old was his son, in Farsi I may add, to which he acknowledge the boy as his ” pesar” and afterwards found out it was the son of the shop owner, afterwards I called the green eyed man , “Pinocchio”, which they all found delightful, I am sure there were double meanings going on, as they kept giggling like a pair of teenage school girls!
Bagh- e Naranjestan, which is named after the bitter oranges that line the central courtyard, the smell of the blossoms and hyacinths was divine.
It is Shiraz’s smallest, but without a doubt the most beautiful garden! It is enclosed by the Naranjesran-e Ghavam Pavillion. It was built for the wealthy and powerful Mohammed Ali Ghan Qavam al- Molk between 1879 and 1886 as the buruni,( public reception area) of his family home. The pavillion’s mirrored entrance hall opens onto rooms covered with intricate tiles, woodwork and stain glass windows. The ceilings of the upstairs rooms are painted with European style churches and busty women.
I had barely finished seeing the upstairs, when I bumped into an elderly woman, we both ” be- baksheed” ( excuse me) and the necessary ” mote asefam” ( I am sorry) she must have thought I spoke Farsi!! We yakker away like long lost friends. She told me that she had three sons, and three daughters, I told her that I have one daughter and a son, and no, so sorry, but no grand children! This is the extend I can communicate with people but after this exchange I have to tell them that no, I don’t speak Farsi!! ( mind you it is killing me not being able to speak it!) so see called out to her grand daughter, Yasimin, to translate.
This old woman after a five minute exchange, invited me to a traditional Shiraz lunch!! I managed to say yes ( no is not an accepted options in Iran, unless you are on your death bed!) but could I please just finish seeing this magical place first? They gave me fifteen minutes to run around and finish sight seeing. Loaded me in a taxi, grand Ma, grand daughter, daughter and daughter in law. We went somewhere in the heart of Shiraz, in the back streets, zigzag, criss crossing to this magnificent house cum restaurant! It had a small courtyard, with orange trees, heavy with fruit. It was magic, not a tourist in sight! Grand Ma set the placing, I had her on the left and Yasimin on the right, and they ordered enough food to feed two armies!
” Begor, Begor” was the first Farsi word I ever learned twenty five years ago in India! Eat, eat is the Iranians favourite word, Yasimin loaded my plate up, while I noticed that they all had very little on their plate, oops, they probably had a large breakfast just like me! I have all the names some where for these magnificent local Shiraz dishes. Each and every one more delicious than the next. After I felt I was going to blow up, things were put in take away containers, I was refused to participate in the payment, loaded into a taxi and taken to this magnificent house, recently restored. Apparently Yasimin and her family lived in the flat of the top floor, near the entrance of this place, and their kitchen overlooked the awesome gardens. We looked around, climbed all the stairs to the top floor and I was offered tea. You guessed it of course, the sweets came out and the by now famous ” Begor, Begor” started again! Only by really declaring defeat, no more, please!! Was I allowed to go back to my hotel. Grandma and I are now life long friends and we are proof that language is not necessary, the language of the heart is all that we need! I needed an early night as I had planned my trip to Persipolis for the day after!