Tour Report: Iranian Skies & Cities II – “Exploring Iranian History”

Iranian Skies & Cities II: Exploring Iranian History

(Traveled on November 12, 2016 – November 14, 2016)

The second Iran tour I organized together with Yukihiro was split into three thematic parts – Exploring Iranian History, Flying the Classics, and Kish Airshow 2016. The first part of the report takes a look at the “Exploring Iranian History” part in which, over three days, we had a chance to visit the cities of Isfahan and Shiraz.

Table of Contents

Day 1: November 12, 2016 (Saturday)

A Morning in Tehran

The tour started on the morning of November 12, 2016. Some of the participants arrived at the hotel overnight while others joined us later in the day. Those of us that were at the hotel in the morning had a chance to see a bit of Tehran before our 3:20PM flight to Isfahan.

Hotel Lobby

Getting ready to start the tour.
Hotel

Leaving the hotel to see a bit of Tehran.

Our first port of call was Tabiat Bridge – a bridge connecting Ab o Atash Park and Taleghani Park over Modares Highway. The driver dropped us off at the Ab o Atash Park side, and slowly we made our way across the bridge and Taleghani Park to a parking lot on the other side of the bridge where we were picked up.

Tabiat Bridge

Tabiat Bridge.
Tabiat Bridge

Friendly people on the bridge.

The second place we visited was Milad Tower. At 435 meters, it is the sixth tallest tower in the world, and it offers great views of Tehran. Unfortunately, the visibility during our visit was not the best, but we were still able to have stunning views of the metropolis.

Milad Tower

Milad Tower.
Tehran

Milad Tower offers great views of Tehran.

IR314: Tehran to Isfahan with Iran Air

After visiting Milad Tower, we headed to Mehrabad airport where we met up with three more members of the group before having a lunch in the airport restaurant.

Having finished the first kebab of the tour, we headed downstairs to check in for our flight – IR314 to Isfahan.

The flight was scheduled to be operated by a Fokker 100, however, the bus took us to UR-BXM – an MD-82. Before take-off, candies were handed out, and at 3:48PM, almost half an hour after the scheduled departure time, we started taxiing to the runway.

Surprisingly, we stopped on the taxiway, and the crew including the captain opened the back door a number of times. Later on, an announcement followed saying that we would have to return to the stand as there was indication that the door was not closed, and inspection was needed.

Luckily, the issue was fixed in less than an hour, and shortly before 5PM we were in the air.

Boarding IR MD-82

Boarding the flight to IFN.
Sunset

Sun setting on our way to IFN.
Iran Air Crew

Cabin crew teaching us how to write our names in Persian.

After a flight time of roughly half an hour and some friendly interactions with the crew, we landed at Isfahan airport from where we headed directly to Abbasi Hotel.

Me with Crew

Me together with one of the crew members.
Deboarding

Our aircraft in Isfahan.

After checking in and dropping of our bags, some of us decided to head out for a quick dinner before calling it a day.

Day 2: November 13, 2016 (Sunday)

Exploring Isfahan

The whole second day of the tour was dedicated to exploring the historic city of Isfahan. The morning started with a breakfast in the historic Abbasi Hotel before being picked up by our guide – Ms. Rosa.

Hotel

Abbasi Hotel lobby.
Hotel

Abbasi Hotel lobby.

We started the tour with a visit to Khaju Bridge – one of the many bridges crossing the Zayandeh river. There seems to be a dry spell in Iran right now, and as such, there was no water in the river resulting in a bit of a sad sight of the bridge. However, the architecture is still impressive.

Khaju Bridge

Khaju Bridge.
Khaju Bridge

The group in front of Khaju Bridge.
Khaju Bridge

The arches under the bridge are a favorite hangout spot.

Next, we went to a historic pigeon house which, besides still housing some pigeons, offers great views of the city. From there, we saw a brand new mosque which we decided to visit right after.

Pigeon House

Inside the pigeon house.
Pigeon House

View from the pigeon house.
Mosque

Mosque under construction.

Afterwards, we headed to Monar Jonban also known as the shaking tower, and to Atashgah – a Zoroastrian fire temple.

Shaking Minarets

Monar Jonban.
Fire Temple

Atashgah.

Finally, we went to Naqsh-e Jahan Square, more commonly known as Imam Square. The square which is bordered by beautiful Islamic architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Except for a quick visit to Chehel Sotoun palace, we explored the square, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset there.

Imam Square

The group and some locals.
Imam Square

Beautiful fall colors.
Imam Square

Cafe next to Imam Square.
Imam Square

Loftollah Mosque on the square at night.

QB1283: Isfahan to Tehran with Qeshm Air

After a long day in Isfahan, we were dropped off back at the airport where we got on a plane back to Tehran.

Our airline of choice was Qeshm Air, and the flight was operated by a Fokker 100 – EP-FQI. It was the second equipment change as the flight was scheduled to be a BAe RJ85.

The flight took about forty minutes, and at 11:33PM we landed on Mehrabad’s runway 29L.

After disembarking, we met with an Iranian friend and the crew outside of the terminal, and took some more photos of the crew. Interestingly, the flight was operated by the same captain as the same flight we took earlier during the February tour.

Qeshm Air

Boarding the F100.
Qeshm Air

Qeshm Air crew after our arrival in Tehran.

Day 3: November 14, 2016 (Monday)

RV38: Tehran to Shiraz with Caspian Air

After a very short night at our hotel in Tehran, it was time to get out once again to catch our 5:50AM Caspian Air flight to Shiraz.

Getting off the airport bus in front of EP-CPZ – an MD-83 instead of the originally scheduled 737 Classic, we were facing the third equipment change. Luckily, from there on, equipment changes avoided us.

We took off at 6:09AM, and less than an hour later we landed at Shiraz airport.

The approach was, perhaps, one of the scariest and at the same time exciting I remember. The pilots went for a visual approach with a very sharp turn at a low altitude. At some point, I was not sure if we were on the right track to reach the runway.

Caspian Airlines

Boarding the MD-83.
Caspian Airlines

Meal on the short flight.
Caspian Airlines

Shortly before commencing a right turn.
Caspian Airlines

Beautiful views on approach.
Caspian Airlines

Cockpit visit after landing.

Exploring Shiraz & Persepolis

At Shiraz airport, we were picked up by Ms. Sara – a guide that led the first tour in Shiraz as well.

The first stop of the morning was at Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque (Pink Mosque). It was my second visit to the mosque, however, I was left speechless once again – the mosaics and their reflections are simply beautiful!

Pink Mosque

Inside the Pink Mosque.

After the mosque and a quick coffee in the city, we headed on the highway towards Persepolis. What remains of the ancient Persian capital today is nothing compared to when it was in all its glory, however, it is still an impressive sight.

It felt even more impressive after seeing graphics of the original appearance overlaid over photos of the ruins in a book.

Persepolis

Statue of Homa in Persepolis.
Persepolis

Persepolis.
Persepolis

Persepolis.

On our way back to Shiraz, we stopped by Naqsh-e Rustam – a necropolis where Persian kings are buried – and a restaurant for a quick kebab lunch.

Naqsh e-Rustam

Naqsh-e Rustam.

The rest of the day was spent in Shiraz where we had a chance to visit three more places – Tomb of Hafez, Ali Ibn Hamzeh Holy Shrine, and the bazaar – before being taken back to the airport.

Shiraz

Ali Ibn Hamzeh holy shrine.
Shiraz

Passing by the citadel on our way to the bazaar.

EP3791: Shiraz to Tehran with Iran Aseman Airlines

The first part of the tour concluded with a flight from Shiraz to Tehran onboard Iran Aseman’s sole Airbus A340-300.

More about the memorable quad-jet flight in a separate report, though.

Iran Aseman A340

Boarding Iran Aseman A340.
Iran Aseman A340

Lights of Shiraz after departure.

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