After two days of observing and interviewing folk dance troupes during the Tabriz 2018 Festival in El Goli park, I had a day to sightsee. I visited the childhood home of the poet, Parvin E’tesami, now a museum in her remembrance and spent some time in the tranquil garden as well. The Mausoleum of Poets was a necessary next visit: an impressive monument created in honor of many renown Azeri poets: from Asadi Tusi to Ostad Shahriar. As it started to rain, I rushed to the historical Amir Nezam House (now the Qajar Museum) where I spent several hours among exhibitions of historic ceramics and textiles.
I ended my day tour at the Tabriz Bazār strolling through the many alleyways, lingering at carpet stores and spice stalls before an unforgettable visit to try the best chelo kabāb in Tabriz. I had already sampled Koofteh Tabrizi, a delicious local dish on previous days, but on my visit to the Bazār, I had been told not to miss Haj Ali’s chelo kabābi. The hot buttery rice and fresh grilled lamb kabab were well worth waiting in line for.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the must sees, but my most memorable moments were those shared with people. A solo traveler visiting museums and historic sights doesn’t often have opportunities for deeper cultural exchanges with people. So I was thankful for the friend I had made during the Tabriz festival. As she was the only other participant that stayed for each and every folk dance presentation, we naturally became festival buddies. We exchanged comments on each troupe, she spoke to me of the history of Azerbaijan and invited me to her home for a rest between the morning and afternoon presentations. I appreciated her kindness and hope our paths will cross again at future festivals some day.