Our flight was at 1:00 AM, that meant that we were already into the next day as soon as we arrived, according to Iran time, we landed at 1:58 AM.
That marked the end of the day. The next day we kept for the more fitting shopping at Kuwaiti Bazaar or more officially the 17th Shahrivar Square, first we ate the arranged breakfast buffet of the hotel, there were loads of salads, cereals, eggs, the item I loved most was their hot chocolate milk.
Due to my dazed state of mind having been taken over by the movie Boss Baby on the airplane, I had for an instance forgotten that I was traveling, also, the external surroundings view of the Airplane field from the plane window and above the stairs didn't differ greatly from the view in my home country, which wasn't the case with other countries that I had travelled to as they'd differ in the strip lightings, scenery, transport vehicle models etc. but I soon realized that we weren't in my home country when a strong gust of wind hit me in my face. The temperature was around 20 deg Celsius. My home country is dry, there's absolutely no wind, even if it's in the AM's. I immediately felt relief from it. If I'm being honest, I didn't exactly want to come in the first place due to having travelled the previous summer and it being a pilgrimage, I convinced myself though as I'd have spent the rest of my summer slouching around watching anime or playing games, so obviously this was better. Since our aim from the beginning was pilgrimage along with a bit of touring, there were three ways we could've seeked it, one was to travel with an organized group in which the founder would take care of all the necessities, arrange the hotel reservations and meals, second was to travel solo (which might be for those that had come before and know the place fairly well), the third was through a private agent, which served the same purpose as traveling in a group, but minus the group. That was, undoubtedly the one we chose. An agent was to grant us a personal driver that would be fluent in Persian and an eloquent speaker of our native language, and then drive us to the places we wanted, as well as our hotel and meal arrangements would be taken care of. Our main goal for Mashhad was to visit the Shrine of Imam Reza, so we also had the agent book a hotel close to it, which was Madineh-el-Reza Hotel. The airport was really long, but appeared barren. I spotted a lazer treatment center and couldn't help but laugh. Who would've thought that a traveler would travel all the way to Iran just to get a transplant at the airport and then leave? Simply admirable. After security scans and passport processing, our driver greeted us and assisted us to his van. The clothing at the airport was trendy and up-to-date, but as we drove closer to the shrine, the clothing gradually changed to more religious ones, specifically women, which was mostly chador, but burkas and hijabs were also seen.
I do want to add that the Iranian population is more than 80% Shi'ite Muslims, so almost everyone walking the grounds outside the shrine was Shi'ite. Our hotel was really elegant from the inside as everything was dressed in a fancy gold theme with a large Quran seen at the center of the lobby.
The receptionists were also very kind to us and led us to a suite room with one being my parents' bedroom and the other being me and my sibling's. It also had a fantastic view from outside the window.
We had to then eat as my brother hadn't had much in the airplane, so we set our luggage and stuff in our rooms then headed out to eat food, the dawned streets of Mashhad were leaking slightly with some sewage water and there were water taps out in the open, the city gave off a very suburban look and people were sleeping on the benches. We stopped at a restaurant called 'Power Pizza' and tasted their Pepperoni pizza, personally I didn't like it, but my brother did.
After that, we returned to the hotel room and slept. After waking up in the afternoon, we had to visit the shrine. My mother was very desperate to touch the shrine, so we did our ablution then went there to pray and touch the 'zarih' (metal bars...), which was the most difficult part. The shrine was absolutely beautiful externally and internally, the <globe> was carved out of real gold, while the structure had exotic Persian patterns engraved upon it, and here, ALL the ladies were wearing chador unlike the case outside the shrine.
There was an enormous carpet inside covering almost all the ground space that marked the outside of the zarih, I grabbed a white plastic bag for me and my mother to put our footwear in (we had to carry them around with us because of the possible risk of them getting stolen or lost) then prayed. It was very long since I'd prayed outside and it was really a beautiful experience with the cool breeze flowing around me. Then we had to touch the zarih, we descended inside the zarih area, the place was packed as expected. We both headed towards the zarih, as we got closer and closer, the crowd became wilder and more packed, this sea of people had one aim; and that was to touch the zarih. We moved through the crowd, being pushed here and there and getting jabbed everywhere, my mother was panicking, but eventually she got to touch the zarih when the frontal people left and I managed to tap it and recite my 'duas' (islamic supplication). Everyone was exhausted after the task, but I was entranced by the landscape outside the shrine and so captured Mashhad's beautiful layout.
Then since we were going to keep the day light after a hectic visit to the shrine, we decided to walk the Shirazi Avenue which was outside the shrine, most of the items being sold were islamic things like rings, hijabs and accessories and turbat (a holy sand structure used by Shi'ite Muslims to pray on). We entered a Umid Complex, a mall nearby and there were slightly more people-friendly things like clothes, perfumes, makeup etc. but not a big difference really. Rings were Iran's specialty so there was no surprise that shops sold those in abundance.
We then went home to sleep. Next day we were then supposed to go to Torghabeh bazaar which was Mashhad's local bazaar tourist spot. It was really hot, but the shade of the bazaar compensated for that. There were Iran's special ingredients and spices like Saffron, candies, Turmeric etc. which I was honestly not interested in, then we saw synthetic fur shops, a couple of clothing stores and their stones rings, we purchased whatever we wanted. Their shopping wasn't that great, but for those interested in a country's traditional things, it'd work out well.
For lunch, our personal driver brought us to an exquisite place called '...'. Enduring Masshad's hot weather for a while now, this place was like heaven to us! There were tiny condensing water sprays everywhere, the floor and the environment were damp inside, along with lots of water fountain structures of the historical figures of Iran. We were beaming with happiness as we entered.
They brought us to a traditional bench that overlooked a pristine cascading waterfall.
We ordered Iran's specialty, Chillu and Kubideh Kebabs with Saffron Rice and Irani Bread and then sat to relax our tiring muscles.
This time, the food was as appetizing as it looked. A thing to note is that Iranians do not specialize in fast foods, we've also been validated that by countless local people themselves, their traditional foods consisting of luscious kebab should be enough to keep you filled there. After food, we went closer to the waterfall to snap a couple of pictures.
We then headed back to our street and again decided to roam by ourselves at night in more complexes nearby.
We visited Nishapur briefly first where the water of shifa (healing water) was flowing and everyone was hurrying there with big empty bottles, we didn't bring one so we purchased one and pushed through the people to get ourselves some water. One more thing whoever visits this country needs to know is that you need to be tough and alert there, as you would never get to achieve your task if you're not because everyone is in a hurry and no one leaves the especially religious places alone. We didn't take many pictures at Nishapur, because well, everyone was absorbed in the religious duties to be performed there. But the place was built for tourist use too as there were loads of camel monuments on the way up and pot shops, also at the top there was a park, where the water of Shifa was at. My brother insisted he wanted to buy a ring, so we had to go to those shops. Our driver came along with us to help us decide which ring was best and not fake, despite our many attempts to shrug him off, he didn't leave. Oh well...
We then headed to the Kuwaiti Bazaar, it was very busy with people and way more crowded than the markets outside the shrine near our hotel. Gave the look of a real busy town square. My father had to stop at a pharmacy for something, but not many understood the meaning of that in English, so we looked it up in the Persian-English dictionary as 'Dar-WaKhanna' (Pharmacy). Everything looked quite mediocre and I really think my home country has better to offer in terms of products, however their shoes were really cool. They had the copies of Adidas and Nike and they looked fantastic, they might not be the real deal but they'd do. I nudged my brother to go ahead and pick some for himself, but he being the stubborn person didn't listen, and I was already overloaded with shoes myself so we left without any. I absolutely do recommend anyone visiting to get their shoes, they've got style and durability both. We then headed to a fountain nearby to take some pictures.
On the way my father had lost his bag of medicines that he'd purchased. So we asked an Iranian family on the way, they were extremely kind and did their best to help us even though they didn't know English (and that's the case with half the population by the way), and we traded it back to the shop we left last and there it was. The entire day was spent in touring the shopping centers and bazaars on that street.
After walking along to the outside bazaar, we started going inside shopping centers. Again we encountered another, this time branded shop, of all the shoes, but they were at the original rates' prices unlike the bazaar, and there was no guarantee whether they were the originals or duplicates. We turned to leave to another vast mall, but like 1% of the traffic of the bazaar was only present inside. We noted that malls were usually left empty unlike the bazaars, we'd never seen such a thing in countries we had visited before as malls are where the crowd always is at.
We got down to the last floor after aimlessly wandering around the shops that had nothing of our interest. The last floor was much more extraordinary than the top floors, it had a beautiful grass tank at the start.
Then we saw a blue fadedly lit section, as we entered we were surprised by the full aquariums with exotic fish of Iran swimming around. What did we do? Yes, like normal people, we took pictures of the whole thing.
After coming out, we were greeted by music coming from amidst a circle of people heavily crowded around the source. We tried to look at what the band performing this, but couldn't even get a glimpse of it due to every inch of view being blocked by people. Well, that was compensated for by how pleasant the music was, so we stood at the sidelines and recorded the thing.
And then I got to the hotel and watched a livestream of Family Guy 24/7 on YouTube. It was an absolutely beautiful trip, I learnt somewhat about how people live there, although I'd complain about the food as there's not much variety there except Kebabs, those taste delicious too, but someone that gets tired of the same food again and again should have some arrangements with them because the fast food there isn't good at all.
If you enjoyed this post, please do let me know in the comments so I'd make a post about the second city of Iran: Kelardasht.
Thank you so much for reading!
Till next time then, fellas~