Iranian female photographing outdoors, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Tour of Iran’s countryside: full of surprises
The famous Persian hospitality on our weekend trip in northeast Iran

avatar
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Road trip to country home in northeast Iran

First day of our stay in a Khorasan, Iran, village

Our autumn weekend tour of Iran’s countryside began on a Thursday morning (see the previous article) – the first day of the weekend in the Iran.

Ali & Saeideh’s tour of Iran’s countryside in the northeast of the country.

First, we opened all the windows to air the place with the fresh morning breeze.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 7 2
Our tour of Iran’s countryside: country home near village of Payeh, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

The owner of the home, Uncle Javad, who routinely gets up before dawn for prayer, had driven there ahead of us, from his home in Mashhad.

Javad doesn’t do anything without prayer. Here he is facing the Mecca for his noon prayer.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 4
Prayer toward Mecca, country home near village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

The famous Iranian hospitality on our tour of Iran’s countryside

I thought he was there to just give us the keys to the place. But I should’ve known better.

In the Iranian hospitality culture, you’re supposed to be generous to the nth degree: not just hand over the keys to your country home, but drive out of town to deliver them in person.

And then feed the guests too!

First, the obligatory tea from the samovar. Iran wouldn’t be Iran without tea. It would be like, say, America without guns.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 8 2
Tea from samovar, country home near village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Then we ate breakfast … where else but on a rug on the ground, around the sofreh (white cloth or plastic spread).

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 9 2
Eating around the sofreh, country vila near village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

For breakfast on tour of Iran’s countryside, Javad had brought us a very traditional Iranian breakfast: Haleem, a hearty mixture of wheat and lamb (or chicken or turkey) cooked slowly overnight, a delicacy for which fans queue up at dawn outside restaurants that specialize in haleem.

Eating haleem for breakfast, country home near village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.
Eating haleem for breakfast, on our tour of Iran’s countryside, near Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Fresh bread in Iran – impossible to do without

And he brought us flatbread topped with black poppy seeds, made in a clay oven only a couple of hours earlier.

Getting fresh bread at the neighborhood bakery – known as a nanvaii – is a daily ritual in Iran, in the city and country.

Worker working the over at a bakery or nanvaii in Tehran, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com
Worker (who would otherwise be an actor in a comedy) working the oven at a bakery or nanvaii in Tehran, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com

Fresh bread is a huge benefit of our stay in Iran. It’s one of the things we miss the most when we leave Iran. Iranians who visit the West often marvel at how people willingly consume plastic-wrapped bread made days or weeks earlier in a factory.

Here’s a nanvaii near our home in Mashhad, which I discovered just yesterday:

Fresh persian iranian break bakery nanvaii torghabeh mashahd khorasan razavi iran copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com
Fresh Persian Iranian barbari bread (nun or nan) at bakery (nanvaii)  Torghabeh, outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

The bread is handed to you piping hot. You have to hang it outside for it to cool down and dry out before stacking them. Otherwise they get spongy.

Too much food part of Persian hospitality

Uncle Javad also brought us 24 eggs and fruits.

Again, part of the Persian hospitality thing. Not just feed the guest, but it has to be too much food, served with frequent supplications to eat more. Please, eat. Come on. Why are you not eating? Eat. Eat. Eat.

The importance of the family in Iran

This entire home is the product of Javad’s attempts to accommodate the extended family.

He started out wanting to save the tiny cabin his late father built 50 years ago and became a popular weekend destination for the extended family.

Then he kept adding to the structure to make it comfortable and accommodate special needs, like putting in an extra kitchen on the ground floor so his 85-year-old mother doesn’t have to climb stairs.

This is also an Iranian way of doing things – to build with friends and family in mind – and not just yourself. Relatives tend to be tight knit and devoted to each other.

In fact, family members looking out for one another is how Iranians have survived the trauma of the last four decades.

Exploring nature on our tour of Iran’s countryside

We spent the rest of the day on our tour of Iran’s countryside strolling and exploring in the explosion of colors around us.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 12 2
Strolling in the fall colors near the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

To be correct, Saeideh took the lead and I followed behind, obsessively snapping pics, as I often do in Iran.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 22 2
Sitting among the fall colors near the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

About photographing women in Iran

My wife is my photography model 99 percent of the time, unless someone else happens to walk by and I can snap an interesting pic without bothering them – like this girl here:

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 2 3
Iranian female walking among fall colors near the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

As in the rest of the Islamic world, females here are sensitive to cameras in the hands of strangers, especially after the advent of social media and their misuse by male assholes.

The men don’t mind being photographed one bit.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 1 7
Iranian peasant on donkey near the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

The stair-stepped village our tour of Iran’s countryside

Later we drove to Payeh (PAW-ye), one of countless villages built in the slopes of Iranian highlands. It’s a pelekan (stair-stepped) village because of the way homes are built on top of each.

The roof of one home is the porch of the home above it. How they deal with the property rights, I’ve got no idea.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 1 8
Looking down at the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

The significance of Imamzadehs to Iranians (and tourists)

This village is home to the mausoleums of not one but two imamzadehs (EH-MOM-ZAW-deh) – offspring of the twelve Shia imams who allegedly died here or nearby.

In just a few decades, the number of shrines dedicated to imamzadehs (also spelled imamzada, imamzadah and emamzadah) in Iranian towns and villages has grown by several folds to some 25,000, last I heard.

Believers come and pray, the imamzadehs answer prayers (sort of like Catholic saints), donations pour in, authorities take notice and, voilà, municipal improvements – paved roads, street lights, etc. – materialize.

The only way to get to this village 40 years ago was by donkey, although there’re still plenty of donkeys around.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 53
Sign welcoming visitors to the village of Payeh, on our tour of Iran’s countryside, near Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Visiting an Imamzadeh’s shrine during on tour of Iran’s countryside

For me, though, just the peace and quiet I often find in these countryside shrines in Iran are good enough heavenly rewards.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 27 2
The shrine-tomb one of the two imamzadehs in the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

You often find beauty, no doubt. Sometimes you run into quite elaborate Imamzadeh shrines that are visited by fans all day long.

Just watching the worshippers provides insight into the importance of faith in the Persian mind.

But for me, visiting the primitive unknown holy places in Iran can also be rewarding. They tend to be quiet and devoid of visitors, offering solace to the traveler.

Time and again, I’ve pulled off the road to take refuge in the silence of an imamzadeh’s shrine for rest and meditation and maybe a quick nap if no one’s around to shoo me away. Living in an Islamic republic has its advantages.

Going off-road (and off the map) on our tour of Iran’s countryside

Outside one of the shrines, we watched the spectacular scenery before us. There’s so much beauty in this country. It just never gets old.

Admiring the beauty of the Iranian countryside, Saeideh outside the shrine-tomb one of the two imamzadehs in the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.
Admiring the beauty of the Iranian countryside, Saeideh outside the shrine-tomb one of the two imamzadehs in the village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Standing there, I wished out loud I knew which roads to take to explore the area the mountains all around us. Road signs in Iran are spotty and not terribly accurate. Even the paved road to the village is not on Google Maps.

And, suddenly, as if by magic – or maybe it was the imamzadeh hearing me out? – we met a couple who invited us to follow them into the wilderness.

Up and down peaks and valleys we drove, following their car, taking in the breathtaking views around us.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 1 10
Exploring the dirt roads in the hilly country on our tour of Iran’s countryside, near Mashhad. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.
Iran's hills and mountains, east of Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.
Exploring Iran’s hills and mountains on our tour of Iran’s countryside, east of Mashhad, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Meeting Iranian locals is easy, almost unavoidable, on tours of Iran

In Iran, meeting people on the road happens constantly and effortlessly. Locals often are curious – especially toward foreign tourists – and usually respond to inquiries with kindness and generosity.

Even getting invited into homes happens often. In some regions – like Lorestan – a home invitation is almost a given every time you stop for directions!

And fellow travelers on the road, next to you on the train or plane – at least the ones without the headache of small kids – are often eager to connect.

This is another one of the joys of traveling in Iran: you’re never alone if you don’t want to be.

Our new friends – Ehsan and Yalda – were also Mashhad residents on a weekend excursion. Together, we made a fire, grilled skewers of lamb and chicken, and exchanged ideas for future road trips.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 11 3
Picnicking in the Golmakan area on our on our tour of Iran’s countryside, one hour outside Mashhad, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

Chai Atashi (fire tea)

No Iranian picnic is complete without chai astashi (Persian: fire tea). It’s just loose tea dropped in water boiled on wood fire but somehow – and I don’t know why – it does really taste better than regular tea. Tastes lighter.

Making chai atashi (Persian: fire tea) in the Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.
Making chai atashi  in the Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

The next morning, again began with another breakfast at Uncle Javad’s, overlooking the amazing view of the valley below us.

Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com 1 11
Breakfast of cheese and omelet at traditional weekend home near village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

It was our last day in the area and we were determined to make the best of it (to the next article) >>>.

avatar

Ali and Saeideh plan their Iran roadtrips from their home in Mashhad. More about us here >>

Other dioramas in the category of Where to go in Iran

The Khargerd Ghiasieh complex near Khaaf, Razavi Khorasan Province, in northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com

650-year-old Air-Conditioning in Iranian University
The AC still works. No one cares.

The exterior of the Shah Mosque, the quintessential Persian mosque, located in Isfahan, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com

The Architecture of the Persian Mosque for the Iran visitor
Terminology & purpose explained for tourists

Fall colors along the river running through the Valley of Purple (Valley of Arghawan) near Mashhad, Razavi Khorsan province, Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran.com

Mashhad Day Trip: Purple Valley

Mountains of Lorestan

Sefid Dasht Area of Lorestan
Mind bogglingly Beautiful Mountainous Terrain

Kamarmaghbola Petroglyphs near Torghabe, Mashhad, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, Escapefromtehran com

Touring History in Iran: Ancient rock art in my backyard
This time we find 4000-year-old petroglyphs 2 kilometers from our apartment

Badab Soort or Surt mineral springs in southeastern Mazandaran, Iran travel tourism coastal copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran.com

Badab Soort hot springs of north Iran
Iran’s Answer To Yellowstone’s Hot Springs

alandan or alendan lake deep inside the forest mazandaran iran tourism travel road trip

Camping in Iran: Alendan of Mazandaran
Fresh water lake at 1200 meters above sea level

destruction of historical monuments in Iran - the towers at Seyyed Zein Al-Abedin Hoseiniye Sari Mazandaran Iran

Tour of Caspian Coast: City of Sari
The northernmost province of Iran

travel tourism village home in Seyyed Mahalleh near Sari Mazandaran province iran

Waking in a traditional Iranian village home
Deep unscientific analysis of sleeping on the floor in Iran

travel for real mahali local food in iran breakfast in filband mazandaran iran

North Iran Tour: Fantastic local food
And avoiding Iranian hotels on our 4th day of escape from Tehran

An island in an ocean of clouds, Filiband, Mazandaran. A strange world and yet jsut just a daytrip from Tehran

Touring Iran’s Caspian Region: Filband
Day 3 of our aimless escape to the highest point in Iran’s Mazandaran

filband village mazandaran above clouds daytrip from tehran-001

Iran Caspian Trip: Journey into the clouds
The journey to Filband, Mazandran’s highest point

View of the Haraz River one of countless restaurants on the infamous Haraz Road, which links Tehran to Amol, Mazandaran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com

Iran road travel: Tehran to Caspian Sea trip
On the infamous & alluring Haraz Road

Waking up iranian countryside touring travel outside daytrip tehran iran

Iran Road Tour: Mt. Damāvand’s first sighting
Escaping from Tehran keeps paying off

Road outside tehran iran tour tourism travel in iran road trips tourists

How to plan a road tour of Iran
First night of an unorganized trip

Touring Iran's countryside, Scene in the village of Lāsem, in Bala Larijan Rural District, Larijan District, Amol County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com

Touring Iran’s countryside: Our first night
Iranian village stay on Day 2 of our trip to Khorasan

Day 1 of trip tehran to mashhad, through the caspian sea region escapefromtehran com 006

Our Iran road trip is really an Escape
And another lesson on Tehran’s ills

The karat tower or karet minaret near town of taybad

Iran’s Towers: “Lighthouses of the desert”
Iranians kept fires burning on these minarets to direct desert traffic

Nissan patrol, a favorite 4WD in Iran countryside mashhad khorasan razavi copyright ali torkzadeh escapefromtehran com

A tank is just right for Road Trip In Iran
Hunting for rocks and history on our last country stay in northeast Iran

Country home near village of Payeh, Golmakan area, one hour outside Mashhad, Khorasan-e Razavi Province, northeast Iran. Copyright Ali Torkzadeh, EscapefromTehran.com.

A perfect Iran Vacation: sleeping on the floor
In northeast Iran, a simpler traditional living is a short drive away

Mausoleum tomb of abol hasan kharaghani aboul hassan shahrud iran tourism destination mystic sufi 010

Mausoleums of Iran: Sheikh Kharaghani
Abol-Hasan Kharaghani still draws fans from all over the world

Hercules and Cacus in Florence

Too much history in Italy & Aching for Iran

Birjand's old town, architecture trips and tourism, South Khorsan Province, northeast Iran

Birjand’s Old Town: nighttime alley Diving

Qanat Of Shafiabad, On The Edge Of Dasht E Lut Desert, Kerman Province, Iran

Village of Shafiabad, Dasht-e Lut Desert – in pictures
Pics from our stay on the edge of the Dasht-e Lut desert

Iran qanat: Ghasabe Qanats Of Gonabad, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran

Iran Qanat: Swimming & wonder under the desert
Cooling off in an ancient qanat is a treat

Dakhmeh Featured Yazd Ali Torkzadeh Com

The Zoroastrian Dakhma (cemetery) of Yazd
Here the carrion birds feasted on the dead

Child at the Village of Zafaraniyeh, near Sabzevar, Iran

Stumbling Upon Antiquities in Iran
Highway boredom leads to a day of marveling Iran’s past

Touring picture-perfect Lorestan, Iran

Tour of Western Iran: Three Days in Lorestan
An Unforgettable Exercise in Alternative Touring

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright © 2006 – 2024 escapefromtehran.com