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Published: September 27th 2005
The first day in Shiraz, and also the time with a warm sun smiling in the sky. This does not in anyway prevent the fact that I am incredibly tired and have a hard time opening my eyes. As I am drifting in and out of sleep I keep hearing a lot of faint voices in my head, and as I start to come around I realize that this is in fact coming from the real world. There is apparently a school nearby, the song of dozens of children singing is carried in through the window, apparently some kind of morning congreagation is taking place outside.
We greet the lovely weather by going for a drive to the green paradise of Eram Park, an oasis perfect for relaxation. I run around with my camera chasing birds and photogenic Paykan cars with the same enthusiasm. The classic Paykan (arrow) from the Iran Khodro corporation is a mainstay of the Iranian carpark. The first models being pumped out in the 1960:s. Other common cars include the Renault R5 (under the name Saipa) and for those who have some more money to splash out, the Peugeot 405 seems to be the most popular
type. Trucks and buses are mainly vintage Mercedes models and provide good opportunities for nostalgia.
Our sightseeing trip continues to the Khan Teological School, a very peaceful medressah with a charming pond and plenty of trees in the yard. A group of mullas are seated in the shadows confering, and I am surprised to find some Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) chasing insects at the pond. The Yellow Wagtail is a rarity in my country, only to be found in a few locales, among them being a river in my hometown where they can be seen running across the rocks in the summertime. Next is the small but beautiful Nasir-ol-molk mosque. While the building itself may be rather bland on the outside it has lots of colourful details, and some spectacular archways.
Our last stop before lunch is the shrine of the local poet Hafez, which is a large garden with several small buildings surrounded by trees and flowers. The biggest attraction of the park though is Mr. Bergman, the locals are bewildered and fascinated by his exotic looks, being a tall and pale skinned man with white hair. My own mediterranean looks help me escape a similar fate, although
I get the attention of two sisters walking the grounds. Their English is also quite good and we chat a while before returning to the hotel for lunch and some rest. It is a good thing I set my alarm clock because this time there are no singing children to help me wake up, and my sleep is deep.
Late in the afternoon we go shopping at one of the local bazars. Mainly indoors, it features long corridors filled with small alcoves where the merchants are offering their commodities. You can find grains, fruits, jewellry, kitchen appliances, clothes, live birds and a host of other useful and not so useful items. The toy shops offer amusing plastic soldiers and vehicles under the name of "America Force". I am delighted to find a small shop that sells miniature posters of President Khatami and Ayatollah Khomeini and stock up accordingly.
As darkness has fallen we go to visit another shrine with its famous mosque of mirrors. Men and women enter through separate entrances into different chambers. The ceiling is covered in an elaborate pattern of mirrors that add an interesting dimension to the room. Further inside the shrine there is
a sacred altar which the faithful walk up to, touching and kissing it. The lamenting chants and prayers make me feeling a bit out of place and I do not stay that long. Instead I find another bookshop nearby where I can get even more pictures of the heads of state. As we drive for a restaurant we go via a lookout point for an evening view of Shiraz.
After dinner we are dropped back at the hotel, and I decide to follow Farzaneh and Mr. Hoseyn as they will head out on town. We go for an evening walk through the city past many interesting little city blocks. Bakeries with stone ovens making traditional bread and small butcher's shops with piles of sheep's eyes staring out the windows.
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