Mashhad

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Woke up in Hassan’s place, had breakfast, watched some cartoons on the tele.

We took some pictures of Hassan:

Hassan

And of his little daughter Mahdiye:

Mahdiye

Hassan insisted that we comb my hair (he had been a barber at one point in his life), and I suffered in silence:

Hassan doing my hair

It was all very relaxed:

Then we had another glorious chicken meal for lunch:

lunch at Hassan’s place

And then, at about three in the afternoon, we took our last photos together:

Mahdiye taking a picture

I said good-bye to this awesome family:

saying goodbye to Hassan’s family

Walked past the Ashura-flags that were still there:

flags in Razaviye

But I hadn’t come very far when Hassan and his family appeared again to wave goodbye:

Hassan’s family waving goodbye

Then I saw their village with those strangely identical houses (they were very comfortable on the inside) become smaller in the distance:

new buildings in Razaviye

And then, after another hour or so on the road, I finally saw Mashhad:

enter Mashhad

It started behind this bridge, which didn’t have a sidewalk:

last bridge before Mashhad

In hindsight, this was like a foreshadowing for all the things that were yet to come in Iranian city planning. But first I was on a good sidewalk for a while:

good sidewalks near Mashhad

Took a Let’s Walk video but then the batteries gave out:

Then the sidewalk turned to shit again, and again there were stray dogs and mean dogs around:

bad sidewalks near Mashhad

These young gentlemen stopped for a picture:

young cyclists near Mashhad

And then, once the crappy sidewalk stopped and the good sidewalk started again, I was really in the city:

women in chadors near Mashhad

There were clothes shops:

clothes shop near Mashhad

And there was inner city traffic:

traffic near Mashhad

I liked it at first, but that didn’t last long. Because then I reached the foot of a flyover that spanned over a massive highway:

terrible bridge into Mashhad

And there was no way around it. No other way but to walk on the flyover itself, in the traffic lane with all the cars, because the sidewalk was just too high for the Caboose to climb.

So here it is, a walk full of fear and anger:

But it was far from over after that stupid flyover, for there was yet another flyover that I had to cross. I couldn’t believe it, or rather: I didn’t want to believe it. So I tried my luck on an abysmal sidewalk that was hopefully going to take me where I wanted to go:

bad bad sidewalk in Mashhad

But no. Of course not. The sidewalk just stopped, and I had to pull the Caboose up a looooong set of stairs in order to get her on top of the flyover.

It was all so very shitty.

But somehow we made it:

the flyover

And at least the view of Mashhad was nice:

Mashhad from above

Then there were small roads with small shops:

shop in Mashhad

And slightly larger roads with slightly larger shops:

toy shop in Mashhad

Sadly, most of the sidewalks had comically large drainage canals that the Caboose and I could never cross:

sidewalk in Mashhad

And what was even more sad, the traffic was bad. And I mean Chinese-traffic-bad. Like everyone-wants-to-murder-everyone-else bad:

traffic in Mashhad

Remember I told you Mashhad is a holy city, right? That’s because it has a massive shrine dedicated to Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of the Shia. It’s one of the largest religious places in the world. So I figured the Caboose and I should walk past the shrine.

Shopping malls and hotels appeared:

mall in Mashhad

Then there was what looked like an artwork on an old building (?):

installation in Mashhad

And then the shrine was there, visible, just a bit down the road:

near the shrine of Imam Reza

But alas! We were not allowed to go there. There were bollards in the road that prevented cars from getting close to the shrine, and the Caboose was too fat to get through. A couple of taxi drivers saw our predicament and offered to help, but in the end we realized it was probably better to give up and come back another day without the Caboose.

Here’s a short video of my frustrations with traffic and of the moment we arrived near the shrine:

So after giving up on the shrine we walked back again, past the clothes vendors:

clothes vendor near the shrine

And past their clothes:

chadors for sale

At one point I got terribly lost in the old town:

getting lost in Mashhad

And we ended up on a roundabout that was absolutely void of traffic:

forsaken roundabout

It was all a bit strange, and I felt exhausted. But I had my mind set on a certain hotel a bit to the west of the shrine.

We passed a night market:

nightly bazaar in Mashhad

And sometimes we could see the shrine in the distance, a perfect golden dome with one golden minaret to the left and another one to the right:

shrine from a distance

It was very beautiful. But all I could think of was one thing – just how badly I wanted to find that goddamned hotel.



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