Friday, September 26, 2014

Ghalaat (Qalaat) village, ancient beauty in Iran

one of the most pleasant trips you can make in Iran, is heading to lovely city of Shiraz. understanding why Shirazi people are so calm and warm-hearted, lies in the way they live! Shirazi culture is seriously mixed with the philosophy "life is short, enjoy the moment"
Qalaat village - I call this picture: windows to blue sky

for living the moment, Shirazi citizens often go to suburbs and near villages or areas, calling Baagh (garden). and Qalaat (Ghalaat) is one of the most famous and top destination, especially for those who live in North - North West of Shiraz.
The Village is almost 20 miles from Shiraz, toward North-West. Qalaat has a history for over 2600 years, still enjoying beautiful ancient memorials, like a church called Glory of Christ, survived from Ghajar period, surrounding with nice gardens. the village has less than 300 residents in roughly 70 families, mostly serving the tourist come to the village from Shiraz and Jahrom city.

for living the moment, Shirazi citizens often go to suburbs and near villages or areas, calling Baagh (garden). and Qalaat (Ghalaat) is one of the most famous and top destination, especially for those who live in North - North West of Shiraz.
The Village is almost 20 miles from Shiraz, toward North-West. Qalaat has a history for over 2600 years, still enjoying beautiful ancient memorials, like a church called Glory of Christ, survived from Ghajar period, surrounding with nice gardens. the village has less than 300 residents in roughly 70 families, mostly serving the tourist come to the village from Shiraz and Jahrom city.

In Ghalaat you can find some handicrafts and souvenirs from Persia and Fars province. like Kilims, knitted and woven bags and shoes, wood crafted artworks etc. there are two rivers passing the village called Shab Shotori and Cheshmeh Anjiri with many beautiful springs heading toward them and three amazing waterfalls. best time to see all these is in May and June.

Qalaat Village
I took these pictures in March. so don't worry about the weather, it will be hot in the summer.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Tehran Property prices are EXPENSIVE or not?!

Is Tehran an expensive city to live in? in this post, I check some indexes and share some facts, with a focus on Property prices and costs, since it's swallowing the majority of Iranian household income.

Why house prices rise globally? what was the case in Tehran?
land resources are obviously scarce!
is this the only reason prices rise? The most important reason for this crisis is that we have been drastically restricting the amount of land available in Tehran, for housing since it was chosen as Iran's capital. Furthermore, after the revolution back in 1979, new policies and strategies led to dramatic immigration of people from farms, countries and villages or small towns in to the bigger and larger cities for more opportunities on employment and seeking a better quality of Life.
These are problems of market failure and land markets fail more than most, so they need regulation, which is what planning should do. But regulation needs to be informed by an understanding of how markets work. The problem is that our planning system seems to proceed as if it can entirely suspend the laws of supply and demand.

cost of living in Tehran...?
a couple living in mid-level style in Tehran needs:
350 USD per month rent (it can go as high as 2000+ USD per month for a two bedroom apartment)
200 USD per month for markets
100 USD per month to dine out once in a week (4 times a month)
100 USD per month transportation
50 USD per month utilities

I quit trips, vacations, sports, entertainments, parties, clothing extras etc

so they both need to have roughly 800 USD per month.
now more statistics and facts to know:

minimum wage in Iran is 200 USD per month
a 5 years experienced engineer or BS holder works for 350 USD per month
a 15 year experienced engineer or BS holder works for 500 USD per month

so they have to work hard both to live in a very simple mid-level life style with no extras!

luxury properties in Tehran
the price of an apartment in Tehran can vary from 1000 USD per sqm to 12,000 USD per sqm!

Shahrak Gharb - apartments: 4000 - 5000 USD per sqm
Villas from 5 - 25 Million USD

Kamraniyeh - apartments: 7000 - 10,000 USD per sqm

France, Royan - a 4 bedroom Villa for 400 USD per sqm
400,000 USD for 1000 sqm plot and 240sqm villa
what's next?! where the prices are going to?
Iran and specifically Tehran's real estate market shows up with a boom every 5 or 6 years. this has been always like that in last half decade.
it seems that the market will have a smooth rise fitting the inflation rate only in 2015, till 2016 summer. then the prices have the potential again to racket up again.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Shiraz, a city to love, a culture to live

Shiraz is one of the oldest cities in Iran, also one among most five populous and largest cities in Iran. almost located n the southern part of Iran, close to Persian Gulf and laying in the foothills of Zagros Mountains, roughly 900 km away from the Capital Tehran.

but these are just numbers and stats! Shiraz is a city to love, not to count! Shiraz has been defined by more than 2500 years of history and culture, since the Achaemenid Empire and Dynasty ruled Shiraz or Pars province to be capital of their Empire.

Shahcheragh Mosque

With such history, Shiraz has become synonymous with education, poetry and genuine and noble people. Shiraz was also the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (AD 1747–79), which many of its most beautiful buildings were built or restored, like Arg Karimkhan, Vakil Bazzar, Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque and many others.

In modern Iran, almost everybody seems to like Shiraz city and Shirazi people :) holding graves of some of the most important and popular poets like Sa'di and Hafiz, alongside with historical sites like Persepolis and Pasargad, Iranian people are sympathetic about this city. Cyrus the great and Darius' cemetery located in Pars (Fars) province, adds tons of feelings and emotions among those who believe in Persia's Empire supremacy.

Arg Karim Khan

all these facts and figures haven't caused Shirazi people to be disrespectful to other citizens and nationalities. if you have once visited places and cities in the heart of Europe with people who are deeply concerned about their race, you will cherish such manner in Shiraz. a city with stuck up nose citizens has a poisoned spirit above the houses and monuments!

how to travel to Shiraz?
for visiting any city in Iran (except for free zones like Kish island) you will need a Visa from Iran's embassy (or consulate) in your country or countries who accredited with your homeland politically. Visa on arrival is available for some nationalities (ask your local travel agency or embassy office)

you can fly to Shiraz int'l airport from Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, London, Kuala Lumpur etc
you can also fly to Tehran or other int'l airports and travel to Shiraz via air from almost all the cities in Iran, or travel by bus or train. price of air ticket from Tehran to Shiraz varies in a range of 50 to 100 USD (one leg) and the flight is roughly one hour.

bus tickets are cheaper, around 15-20 USD and the trips takes 12 hours.

where to stay in Shiraz? accommodation options
Shiraz has many hotels as it is a well known destination for most of tourists coming to Iran from the very beginning. 5 star hotels like Shiraz Hotel, Chamran Hotel, Pars etc and many 4 and 3 star hotels. like all the other cities in Iran, regretfully Shiraz suffers from lack of some tourism infrastructures, but with some study and research before your schedule, you can guarantee your trip out of bad surprises :)

planning a budget trip? back pack lovers read here!
a backpack travel to Shiraz with your partner would be memorable
you can travel to Iran from land borders in south and travel to Shiraz with bus for as low as 7 USD. in Shiraz there are some motels you can stay for below 10 USD per night. also try, which many from Shiraz are offering a coach or bed for single or couple travelers. once again Shirazi people are greatly welcome and kind to tourist which will definitely surprise you!

Eating in Shiraz
Shiraz enjoys good restaurants and meals like many other Iranian cities. Sea food is a must to try in this city! and there should a "must try before you die" in your food bucket list called Kalam Polo!! it is Cabbage, rice and meat baked in steam with herbs and spices. foods can be spicy in Shiraz.

if you are Vegetarian, like all other cities in Iran, you may face difficulty in Shiraz.

where to go?
what a silly question! keep calm and walk away! going every where in Shiraz is pleasant :D many places reminds you of the greatest historical places in Italy or Greece. and some streets are really sleepless! try this link on Lonelyplanet

if you have enjoyed Shiraz before, please send me your travel reviews to be published here :) send them to me by email to honarparvar (at) hotmail (dot) com

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Respect the Forest, Respect the Nature...

These days we are witnessing another nature tragedy in Malaga, Spain. A raging forest fire there, leaves one person dead and thousands evacuated as fire-fighters struggle to subdue the blaze. 
The fire, which is now thought to have been started deliberately, is affecting Coin, Monda, Ojen, Alhaurin, Mijas and Marbella.
It's a big drama for humanity and nature, both. Russia, Portugal, Brazil, China, Iran and many other countries have experienced same tragedies recently. The worst point is when we come to the fact, all these phenomena start directly or indirectly with human cause! global warming or simply leaving an open fire in the woods. the result is the same!

Dal-Khani Forest in Iran, a virgin jungle for respectful Tourists
Dalkhani is the name a virgin and untouched area in North of Iran, between Ramsar and Shahsavar (Tonekabon) city. the village had only three family as residents till 2005! but now it's a major tourist attraction in the area of Caspian Sea.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sarvelat, a paradise in North of Iran

Right in the border of Mazandaran and Gilan provinces in north of Iran, there's a small city called Chaboksar

3 km down to the west, up to the mountains of Alborz, you can drive in to one of your joyful moments of life: Sarvelat! the village of Sarvelat is located in the montain, with a view of Caspian Sea and sight of Hachiroud and Ramsar jungles. 
Caspian Sea from Chaboksar

Attractions of Sarvelat: 

  1. Traditional Restaurant
    in this restaurant which is famous for its traditional meals and dishes, you will just feel like home! the price of the meals are very affordable and the taste is great! I rank it top fifty among MUST TRY before you die bucket list!! 
  2. Rental cottages
    Have you ever dreamed of waking up in the jungle while you just don't remember what happened last night?!! try these cottages for as low as 20 USD per night (low season) up to 50 USD per night (high season)
  3. view of Mountain Alborz and Caspian Sea

for getting there:
you can go from Tehran to Qazvin (highway) and then take the Rasht Highway and then the road to Ramsar.
6 Km lef to Ramsar, Sarvelat's exit is on your right side

or you may go to Chalous from Karaj City and then to Ramsar. after 6 Km the exit is on your left!

and you definitely won't forget to RESPECT the nature while you visit this fabulous and virgin place :) 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shemshak Ski resort in Iran (Tehran)

Nature inspires everyone, but which scene is really your type of inspiration? Sea, Mountains, Jungle, Desert, River, panoramic landscpaes, rocks, water falls...? mine is definitely Mountains.
Iran has all the above attractions for tourists. Deserts in central areas, sea and Ocean in North and South, mountains and high altitudes in north and south west parts etc.

I've been written about Ski resorts in Tehran before, and this time more about one specific one, Shemshak Ski Resort:

Shemshak Ski Resort
Shemshak is a famous ski resort located in the north east of Tehran city in the Alborz mountains. It's the second largest ski area in Iran after Dizin and even according to professional ski fans in Iran, more exciting than Dizin regarding its field shape. It includes two ski lifts, three dish teleskis and two Hammer teleskis. The slopes lie at an altitude of 2550m to 3050m above sea level, high enough to be able to Ski for almost 6 months a year. The resort includes two main slopes each with a chair lift that apex at the top and several lifts. There are also lighting facilities for night skiing.

Accommodation is available in Villas and Hotel
Shemshak has classically catered to more advanced skiers while Dizin has drawn beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. The slopes are quite steep and many of the runs are mogul runs. the resort is about 1 hour drive from Tehran, 10 km from middle-slope parking of Dizin and 5 km from Darband-Sar ski resort. in the way to the resort from Tehran, there are many restaurants with Persian and European meals which themselves attract many tourists from Tehran.

Shemshak area in Alborz range of Mountains
I'd like to take you to this page to see more photos of the Ski field itself and Skiers. Other Ski Resorts close to Shemshak include: Darbandsar (2 km), Dizin (13 km), Tochal (22 km), Aab Ali (51 km), Pooladkaf Ski Resort (628 km)

Also take a look at this page for weather forecast, map overlay etc. all the pictures in this blog post are taken by Hassan Abbasnejad.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buying a property in North of Iran, Good Idea or not?

For a long time, coast of Caspian sea (aka Khazar lake), in the north of Iran has been a major destination for capital residents, Tehrani people. Caspian sea or Khazar or Mazandaran lake is the largest lake on the planet by area. beauties of the coast of Caspian in north of Iran is not limited to the sea shore, because of Alborz mountains and forests located in the area, Mazandaran and Gilan province are hosting a very beautiful and various natural sceneries. 
Caspian Sea shore in Iran
in many countries touristic areas are popular places for investors, constructors and holiday makers to build, buy and invest in holiday resorts and tourism facilities. Khazar's sea shore is not an exception. in high season period and during 3-4 days holidays, you can see people rushing from Tehran to Mazandaran and Gilan provinces causing huge traffic jams in Chalous, Haraz, Firouzkouh and Rasht highways. this fact had been shown a strong impact on local people's lives and income.
Villa in Sisangan area, Mazandaran
So Tourism has became a major economy key for this region and side businesses have experienced a significant growth during pas decades. one of these businesses is construction and property. Prices of properties in Khazar area has been grown for more than 1000 times during my lifetime (3 decades). with the property crisis and credit crunch in west, Iranian people who had invested in to overseas properties like Dubai and Europe, again attracted to national investment opportunities since they believed Iran has not any link to int'l economy (which is true) but they ignored the fact national economy doesn't have the potential to grow anymore as well as under recession international economy. So after a while we had a bulb on prices and obviously a crunch after that. and now we are in a 2 year old recession which I believe will last till another fresh air in tourism industry in Iran. some consequences of such recession are listed below:
  • many jobs have been lost
    construction has stopped in large quantities and many are out of job now. including Afghan and Iranian workers and labors, real estate agents, services etc
  • a big portion of capital is frozen on half completed construction sights
  • people who have invested their capital in properties face credit and cash problems
  • banks face problems with those who have borrowed
  • customer behavior has changed. for example now investors prefer to buy apartments rather than Villas, which was somehow unusual in Mazandaran and Gilan provinces so far 
still buying property in North of Iran, coast of Caspian sea is known investment method for many Iranian. and I believe the biggest challenge in future for them will be a competition which soon or late will begin with overseas properties. right now countries like UAE, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Turkey and Spain have attracted many Iranian as investors.
property prices in Mazandaran province vary from 200,000 USD up to millions depending on the location and construction quality, and with the same money you can buy a villa in Cyprus or even cheaper in Turkey. at the other hand property mortgages are not available for more than 10% at unbelievable rate of 12% interest!! and even for more portion mortgage like 60-70% you have to obtain it from private banks in Iran which will charge you up to 30% of the money annually. comparing to 4-6% rates in Europe this is completely crazy. another option buying a property in other countries can offer which Caspian region can't offer is residency. countries who offer residency upon buying a property have this advantage comparing to their national rival.