In Tabriz we have the first encounter with really crazy Iranian city traffic. Maku was still comparably calm and orientation is easy, but this here is a challenge, also because of the glimmering heat which is boiling us alive inside our suits.
The city’s bazaar is declared as Unesco world heritage and, as the first one we see, is astonishing to us. It seems much smaller to us than described in the travel guide so obviously we’re doing something wrong, but still the atmosphere is terrific. Besides that, the city is known in Iran for shoes so it’s time to get a pair of them for Alex – as a practical side effect we make friends with one of the hundreds of shoe dealers, who then happily helps us to get a SIM card for our phone. For foreigners it’s quite a process involving several official documents and requires one to leave two fingerprints so we’re glad to have some local support.
Shops work differently here than at home – there are barely any bigger stores with mixed selection of products but small, independent shops run by a single person. So you have a place that sells only sports shoes for men, next to it there’s one for leather shoes for men and then one for high heels for women and in the next there’s only pink socks and so on. As an effect, they are not distributed around the city but conglomerate in a certain area – you end up having a whole street of just shoe stores, and around the corner may be the phone street (often the biggest of all) and then sweets or whatever. The bazaar is structured the same way so we assume this is where the concept originates from. Whatever option you choose, you’re always expected to haggle (it may even be considered snobbish not to).