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Published: October 18th 2014
Ok. Now, I am Officially Stiff.
At 0600 I get out of bed and discover that during the night my legs have died. The squat toilet is presenting a major problem as every muscle fibre is screaming with the tiniest movement, let alone full knee flexion. Breakfast calls and not giving in to the stiffness I take the stairs, pretty much so as to walk through the coloured light that the stained glass windows are giving off. The windows are actually the very best feature of the hotel IMO. There is a standard Iranian help yourself breakfast but it has extras- individually wrapped donuts and watermelon. Given that I have a few hours to kill before the flight to Shiraz I decide to read the English edition of the Iran Daily newspaper in the lobby. In one article the paper informs me that "Iranians areTop Users of Harmful Products"- using 6 times global average of gas and bread, Iranians consuming 160 kg bread/yr v 25kg rest of world. They also use 5 times more cosmetics, sugar and Coke than anywhere else according to Dr. Abhari, Pathologist.
Whilst getting informed about these issues I notice that the date on the
Lobby at Shahr
paper and think to myself "damn, yesterday's paper" I double check the date on my phone- it is in fact the 30th! Bloody hell. At this point that I am a full day ahead of schedule - meaning my Shiraz flight is actually tomorrow!!!!!! Dumb, dumb, dumb! Redeeming thing is that I discovered this before going to the airport. Instant decision to try and change the flight to get an extra night in Shiraz, or find a Central Tehran Hotel. Turns out that I can change the ticket, BUT, there today's flights are full. Start calling around hotels- Golestan is full, Silk Rd has a dorm bed but the very kind manager suggests that I should try Havez Hotel- it's in budget, AND, "yes", says perfect English speaking Fatimah, "we have a room for you, come now", It's a deal. Repack and 20 mins later I am in a taxi to Bank Alley, off Ferdosi St. It takes 45 mins in a taxi at a cost of 200 000 IR.
The Golestan Palace (Palace of Flowers), is made up of individual buildings around a large central pool. The Palace as it is now is a result of over 400
years of construction and renovations. The original site was enclosed by mud brick walls back in the 1500's. Entrance is 150 000IRR ($5.50) and then 50 000 IRR ($1.75) per building, or you can get a whole complex pass for 500 000 IRR ($18.25 ish). NB-These are the tourist prices, Iranians pay less than 10% to all attractions. Having arrived late I carefully opted for the Talar-e Ayaheh (Hall of Mirrors) and the Emarat-e Badgir (I asked the front desk guy to pick the top 2). Inside the palace walls is an immense courtyard, the walls mostly covered in the most beautiful tiles. There is a central fountain which is empty. The Hall of Mirrors (built in 1874) - WOW, you have to take your shoes off or wear shoe covers, you then head up an imposing central staircase to the mirrored hall and then 2 large tiled floor rooms. One is full of antiques and china plates and tea services that were gifted to the royals (Talar-e Zoroof). There are also additional rooms roped off- it really is huge. To the other side is a huge, intensely glittery room full of chandeliers, antiques and mirrors - no photos (Talar-e
The amazing Fatimah behind the desk
Salam), it also used to hold the famous Jewelled Peacock throne which is now housed to the Royal Jewel Collection at the Central Bank. Truly speccy- palatial even! Outside are some more glittery pavilions and another with lots of marble (Takht-e Marmar built in 1806 with the actual marble throne in it being made up of 65 pieces of yellow marble from Yazd). I also visited the Badgirs- 4 tall wind towers, again, lots of tiling, lots of bling. Lots of photographers. Would love to have spent longer and seen the whole grand extravaganza. Sit in the courtyard in the afternoon light until the place is officially locked up at 5:15.
Wander slowly back to the hotel through a bazaar set up on the footpath- lots of samples of biscuits, honey, honeycomb, fruit, etc. End up drinking tea for the next 2 hrs in the lobby of The Hafez chatting with various travellers. One girl has just left the Golshan- the traditional hotel in Shiraz that I am going to next. Meet Terry from Australia who has been travelling through the "Stans" and cross country, he does a big, exotic, high altitude, adventure trip every year for his birthday.
Sounds intriguing.... We arrange to have breakfast the next morning. Eat at the hotel- 2 choices- chicken rice or chicken kebab. Hmm, chicken or chicken? Might go chicken.
Addition- re the photos- really getting carried away with tiles- stay tuned- these are just the tip of the iceberg!
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