Blogs from Mashhad, East, Iran, Middle East


Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad May 31st 2011

Mashhad was always on the list to visit, not only because very few tourists make it this far eastern of Iran, and most importantly, it is also home to the Iman Reza, one of the holiest and important shrine for Muslims. Being one of the most holiest city in Middle East & Central Asia, Mashhad is very conservative. My partner, was required to wear Chatdor at all times within the complex, which is available at the entrance for free, as this city receives tons of thousand Shiite pilgrims from all over the world. My first port of call in this second largest city, of course was this huge 24-7 Iman Reza Complex, or called Hamam in Farsi (not Hamam in Arabic as in Turkish Bath), and the surrounding buildings. The main shrine, located right in the ... read more
Rubat Sharaf
West Gate - Iman Reza Complex
West Gate - Iman Reza Complex

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad August 24th 2010

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad May 5th 2010

There is this saying that I hear quite often when I get off buses, leave a shop or just when I am strolling down a street in Iran. It sounded to me like the Russian 'dasvidanya' and so I asked my host, Vali, about it. Ah, he said, that means 'Power to your elbow' and you use it to thank somebody after he has done something for you. It is a way of wishing them strength and good fortune. And so I say unto you my readers 'Power to your elbows!' because quite frankly that is just a very cool expression. Now as you might have understood I am back in Iran, after three and a half years and many adventures. More precisely I am back in Mashhad, north-eastern Iran, and to pin-point it exactly I ... read more
Sharjah to Bandar-e-Abbas ferry
Sharjah to Bandar-e-Abbas ferry

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad April 3rd 2009

Pigeons are sitting on the gold dome of Quds Courtyard, it was night and the gold dome was reflecting brightly. The one area that wasn’t was the top of the dome where the pigeons have shat all over it. Surely the greatest animal in the world is the pigeon! No matter where you are in the world they’ll shit all over it! Normally I feel I can’t get the full scope of a country until I see the capital. With Iran even after seeing Tehran, Mashhad is that place. Iran’s second biggest and holiest place. It became larger during the Iraq-Iran war as it was the furthest city from the conflict. Here is Iran Shiite’s ultimate shrine Harem-e Razavi dedicated to Imam Reza. He was assassinated by poisoned grapes and pomegranate juice back in AD818. Most ... read more
The shrine from my balcony
The shrine

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad October 2nd 2008

Reza is working, so he leaves me with his friend Mehrdad. Mehrdad and his taxi driver brother Mehdi come to collect me and after a sneaky lunchtime tea (behind closed doors so as not to offend the masses) we head to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza. Apparently he was a pretty popular bloke because the sheer size of the Haram is unbelievable. After much confusion (since alot of the site is off-limits to non-muslims) we are allowed in and are ushered to the Islamic Relations Office and Foreign Pilgrims Affairs, where I am bombarded with Islamic propaganda by friendly staff. The museums are interesting, my favourite exhibit being the ode to nuclear power - a sculpture of two hands holding a radioactive cannister, with jars of each element displayed underneath...... contra-versial. So, its Tuesday morning ... read more

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad October 2nd 2007

Incompetent employees make us stay one more week in Iran Although we thought that we wouldn’t write you anymore from Iran… we have to spend an unexpected additional week in (very religious) Mashhad!! It seems that everything was going too well for us till now! Last Thursday, we experienced our first real bad luck during this trip!! This day, we felt that we had enjoyed our 30 days in Iran and, ready to take the flight to Bishkek, we were already dreaming of having a snack without shame during daytime and drinking a fresh beer on a terrace without hijab!! But… all this will have to wait a bit more!! The situation: Nationals from 28 countries can get visa at the airport in Bishkek on arrival of their flight. Switzerland, as most of European countries, is ... read more
Flight ticket changed!
Letter from airline telling we can go to Bishkek!
Diner at home with family

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad September 30th 2007

Finally, this is our next blog entry... it took a while and is short wrap up of our last 10 days in beautiful Iran. Esfahan This city is the beauty queen of Iran. We stayed 4 nights but could have stayed a lot more. The biggest attraction is the Imam Khomeini Square. The second biggest square in the world (the biggest is Tiananmen Square in China) is not only huge, but it is surrounded by nice buildings. Among others two of the most wonderful mosques in the whole Islam. We visited both, the Imam Khomeini Mosque and the Sheik Lotfollah Mosque and were deeply impressed. The square is also home to close to hundreds of souvenir shops as part of the bazar and as a tourist you are begged 10 times per day to buy a ... read more
Esfahan - Imam Square with Imam Mosque
Esfahan - Sheik Lotfollah Mosque
Esfahan - Church of Bethlehem in the Armenian neighborhood

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad May 9th 2007

'Chador', in Farsi literally means 'tent'. It's the huge plain moon-shaped sheet that Iranian women donn themselves with, miraculously keeping it in place without the aid of any buttons or duct tape. Now, if it weren't for all the practice I got during dorm keg 'n' Toga parties and Greek/Roman plays (I knew Shakespeare and Sophocles would come in handy, everything truly does happen for a reason!) I couldn't have managed to drag myself around the Masshad's Holy Imam Reza complex feeling like I was going through one of those Asian 'sweat out the fat' diets for three hours. Rules for female visitors are bloody stricter than anywhere else I visited in Iran, for the reason that it is the third Holiest site for Shi'ites after Mecca and Medina. So for non-Muslims, this is the ... read more
Imam Reza complex
Imam Reza complex
Masshad street scene

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad September 30th 2006

So what is this badgir you talk about? Well... It is the world’s oldest form of air-conditioning and very eco friendly too! Travelling through the desert cities of Iran, one can't help but notice them as they are everywhere... We might call them wind towers, because that is essentially what they are... Towers to catch even the slightest breeze and then lead it, through a column of water to cool it down, into the house, while the warm air is led through separate vents upwards and out of the same towers... How ingenious is that!! I for one think that everyone should get rid of their conventional air conditioning and build one of those... They look cool too! The ultimate badgir city is Yazd, my destination after Esfahan... It is one of the world’s oldest cities ... read more

Middle East » Iran » East » Mashhad April 20th 2006

Hi all Remember how we promised to get things up to date before leaving Iran? Well, we blew it I'm afraid and a proper rundown of the last 6 weeks in Turkey and Iran (as well as KP's foodie post) will just have to wait until we hit Uzbekistan. We're in Mashad, north west Iran, right now and will get up at the ungodly hour of half 4 tomorrow morning (20th April) to catch our taxi to the Turkmen border. From there we'll be whisked away by our local guide to the ancient city of Merv, which hasn't been properly inhabited since a certain Mr G. Khan and 7000 friends swept through 8 or 9 centuries ago. We're told Turkmenistan had a little less than 3000 tourists last year (that's around 8 a day, for a ... read more

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