Shiraz - of poets and gardeners

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Middle East » Iran » South » Shiraz
October 8th 2014
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: 29.602, 52.5313

Shiraz is a large and sprawling city and the things of interest to the traveller are somewhat scattered. But it figures on the UNESCO World Heritage List thanks to its gardens. But Iran is desperately short of water, too little has fallen and too much is being used so the water features in most gardens have been turned off and they are dry and dusty.

Iranians also have a saying that all homes must have two things - a copy of the Quran and a copy of the poetry of Hafez, their most famous poet. Though others would support the claim of the poet Sa'di who wrote of his love of roses and gardens. Both were from Shiraz, both have their burial places here, both are in gardens.

Yes there are mosques and shrines (one to the brother of Imam Reza who you might recall featured in Mashad) and a whole series of bazaars one of which has a lovely caravanserai. But it's gardens and poets really.

Our train ride here took somewhat longer than expected but was comfortable enough and had a restaurant car that served breakfast and lunch. Everyone wants to know from my guide where I am from. Those who have English want to talk to me directly. Everyone is friendly and generous. You can't get them to talk politics, though there are those who are dismissive of the government.

I haven't felt threatened or in danger anywhere I have been. It's a great place, though the requirement for female foreign tourists to dress modestly and wear headscarves is clearly obnoxious - to see all the German hausfrau at breakfast clad in their headscarves is bizarre (most of the tourists are German).

When in Kyrgyzstan I spoke of being as far East as this trip goes, about as far east as Delhi. Well this is as far South as it gets - almost as far South as Delhi! It really is all in the direction of home from here!

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