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Published: October 5th 2015
Shiraz feels more liberal when compared with Yazd or especially Mashad. The people have kept at least some of the spirit and attitude that in pre-revolution days made the city the entertainment capital of Persia. The women dress more colourfully and push at the limits of acceptability with scarves worn far back on their heads. Many people enjoy socialising and eating out. Shirazi wine is still illicitly produced and drunk. That said this is still Iran and everybody, at least in public, is respectful of their religion.
Our first day started with a visit to the beautiful Nasir al Molk Mosque where the morning sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows creates a kaleidoscope of colour. As another demonstration of the schizophrenia sometimes found here it has an official Instagram account even though Facebook is banned and blocked everywhere in the country. Next up was the amazing Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine. We couldn't enjoy this together as men and women use different entrances and are separated inside.
We'd expected to see more separation but it seemed to only take place in shrines and mosques, the only other place we thought we saw something was on the buses in Tehran where the
front section looked to be for women while the rear was for men. Although it may be for different reasons the end result is not so different to the women only carriages on the Tokyo metro and some JR trains.
More Shirazi wonders at Narenjestan e Ghavam and some of the many gardens filled the rest of the day which was rounded of perfectly with fish and chips for dinner. The chain of restaurants was started by an Iranian entrepreneur returning home after living in England for a few years. They do a good job with the food being served in cartons that look like newspapers. They are just one step short of perfection – no mushy peas.
So far Shiraz is our favourite city but we still have Esfahan to come so it will be challenged soon.
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