My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Iran: A Persian Odyssey - we arrive in Shiraz

Wednesday 19th October; the day our trip to Iran with McCabe Travel begins. 

street scene Shiraz 
tobacco for sale
 We have been looking forward to this with eager anticipation for so long. The ladies of our 20 strong group have been agonizing for weeks over what they can wear - to make sure they comply with the strict hijab rules imposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. We all have our varied and colourful headscarves, with a mix of tunic dresses, long shirts and trousers, the idea being that arms and legs must be covered, and body contours not accentuated in figure hugging clothes. I am comfortable in a mixture of my sons' longer shirts and my own mid-thigh to knee length long sleeved tunic dresses over a mixture of baggy cotton trousers I bought in Cambodia a couple of years ago and a pair of denim jeans. Others wear Indian style tunics and trousers in the Salwar Kameez style or similar and look smarter than any of the rest of us. The men are lucky - short sleeved T shirts and jeans seem acceptable everywhere - although sleeveless T shirts would not be normally allowed in mosques for example.
street scene Shiraz
British Airways have only just announced a resumption of direct flights so we go by Turkish Airlines from Heathrow to Shiraz with a change in Istanbul - an overall travel time of about 10 hours. London is three and a half ahead of Tehran. Although the journey seems long and tedious in no way can this be blamed on Turkish Airlines who look after us very well. The veggie option is excellent on both planes and I enjoy watching Maggie Smith in Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van - an excellent film which helps while away some of the time. Coming through customs at Shiraz airport is somewhat chaotic with little orderly queuing - but we all get through the security here eventually, are met by our superb guide Ali and are soon introduced to our equally splendid - and incredibly handsome driver Mori.

shiraz bazaar
Driving through the streets of Shiraz at midnight there are many pavement shops, still very active at this late hour. We finally arrive at our hotel Homa in Shiraz at 1 am - all incredibly travel weary - for a short sleep before being up again at 7am for breakfast, an introductory group meeting and off at 10.30 in the coach for a city tour. And so much to see in the days ahead as we explore Shiraz before traveling Northwards over eleven days via Persepolis to Yazd, Isfahan, Kashan and Tehran, and seeing much more besides along the way. 

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