Travelling through Iran is generally a pretty easy process. There are a tonne of buses that connect through just about every Iranian city you could ever want to visit, and furthermore, these buses are cheap, comfortable and convenient. However, despite buses being easy, the most popular mode of transport in Iran (especially amongst locals) is via the train system.
So, while I backpacked through Iran, it was a given that I wanted to experience the train travel – at least once.
However, my little train journey in Iran did not exactly go to plan!
When buying train tickets in Iran you are required to go to a travel agent or ticket office with your passport and purchase them in person. Once at a travel agent, the agent takes your moolah and buys the tickets for you.
It is possible to buy tickets online, but this can be tricky for those doing so outside of Iran itself.
When I purchased my ticket, I very specifically requested that the ticket be for the afternoon train and the travel agent definitely got the memo, however, we were chatting away enthusiastically and I think this chatting may have distracted her somewhat.
When Hayden and I arrived at the train station the following day, there was a suspicious lack of other people waiting for the train. After around 30 minutes of waiting, a man approached myself and Hayden and informed us that the tickets we had purchased were for the train that had already left that morning, about 10 hours prior. Oh, and the afternoon train was fully booked.
Luckily, we found someone to help us translate, and even more luckily, Hayden had kept the business card from the travel agency where we had booked our tickets. The train station employee was able to call this number, our situation was explained, and we were reassured that the manager would sort something out.
About twenty minutes later, the owner/manager of the travel agency had turned up to the train station and spoke with the train station manager.
The travel agent then negotiated to reimburse the train station for a new set of tickets, and also to pay a little sum of money to the conductor of the train as a thank you for accommodating us! We were told that we would be seated in the dining cart, but in the end we were put in a pair of really nice seats!
For the first hour of the trip I was half expecting someone to come and demand that we move from their seats, but I eventually settled in to enjoy the journey – and what a journey it was! I absolutely love this next shot of the sunset taken from my seat window – not half bad at all!
Eventually we arrived in Kashan, and though I didn’t full in love with Kashan as much as I had with Shiraz and Yazd, there was still a tonne of incredible things to see and do.
On the day that I ventured to Abyaneh we happened to drive past a whole bunch of people marching through the streets. At first glance I wasn’t sure what was going on, but our driver soon explained that was a ‘march of mourning’ – for someone that had passed away.
Fin Gardens is another popular site of interest in Kashan. This traditional Persian garden is an incredibly well known UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the fact that it is where Amir Kabir – the Qajarid Chancellor – was assassinated in 1852.
Entrance to the gardens costs 200,000 rials – which is approximately $8 AUD.
The gardens are not the kinda place you could spend hours on end, but they lovely for a short respite from the dusty streets of Kashan.
The Kashan Bazaar is also very worth a visit. I wasn’t in the market to be buying any wares, but taking photographs of the incredible domed roof was pretty wonderful!
Also well worth a visit is the Agha Bozorg Mosque of Kashan. This small but memorable mosque is fairly new by Iranian standards (it only dates back to the 1800’s) and as a result, has a very different vibe to many of the other mosques that I visited whilst in Iran.
I mean, how many other mosques have motorcycles lined up inside them? Not very many!
However, my absolute favourite place in all of Kashan ended up being the Aran va Bidgol Mosque. Located about a 20 minute drive outside of the Kashan City Centre, this mosque may not have looked like the most impressive one in the world, but I had a wonderful time there, so to me, it was pretty magical.
After donning my chador (a rather hideous pink and white floral one) I was allowed to enter the mosque grounds, and pretty much as soon as I did so, the clouds disappeared, the sun started shining, and the incredible blue and green colours on the dome and minarets really started to shine through.
I had a quick peek inside the mosque itself, but I hate not being able to take photographs, so after I snapped a few of the incredible mirrored walls and ceilings, I made my way back outside to admire the incredible external architecture.
I hadn’t been outside for too long before I found myself the object of attention for these smiling faces!
I am gonna go ahead and say it now – Iranian children are absolutely adorable! These three kiddos were a little bit obsessed with my camera, and kept gesturing for me to take their photograph and then giggling hysterically when I showed them the results! Meanwhile, their father just looked on smiling. It was pretty darn sweet!
The girl on the left of the next picture was also rather fascinated by something that I never would’ve expected. She didn’t speak much (if any) English, so it took a while for me to understand what she was trying to tell me! She kept pointing at the pink flowers on my chador, then pointing at my face and giggling! It wasn’t until I crouched down and she poked my cheek that I realised she was fascinated with my pink cheeks! How cute is that?
Overall, Kashan probably won’t end up being the ‘favourite Iranian city’ for many people who visit Iran, bit that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a seriously awesome place to wile away a few lovely days.
Getting to Kashan: Kashan is well connected to Esfahan and Tehran via bus, but is only connected to Yazd via train
Sadeghi House: A cheap hotel with a few mixed dorms, expect to pay around $15/night
Mosques: Most mosques in Kashan are free to enter, so if you are on a budget, this is a good place for you
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Kashan is the only place I visited in Iran where I was bothered by mosquitoes – bring insect repellent!