Tehran is unfortunately as dense and polluted as ‘they say’. However give it a chance to reveal some of its beauty to you:
- Walk down the streets and stop to buy flowers at the many enchanting flower shops found on most street corners
- Move through the Bazaar as determined as a Tehrani shopper on a mission, but don’t forget to buy some iced sweet melon juice as you stop to catch your breath
- Stop at the many public parks to watch ladies in chadores exercise on colourful park gym-equipment without any inhibition
- Drive up to the Northern parts of the city and sip coffee with the younger Tehranians, who are extremely fashion conscious and have undoubtedly found a way around sanctions to access MTV.
With the honor of being one of the oldest civilizations known, it isn’t surprising that history follows you as you move through Iran’s distinctly different towns and villages.
There is a famous Persian saying describing Isfahan as being ‘half of the world’.
During the Iranian New Year holiday season, the roads to Isfahan are dotted with families stopping by the roadside to picnic en route to their destination. Isfahan dazzles the unsuspecting visitor by boasting some of the finest architecture that Islamic civilization has to offer.The characteristic blue tiles from the Safavid dynasty leave a most distinct impression. Aside from being saturated with aesthetic delights , Isfahan offers the visitor an array of culinary treats. Enjoy saffron and rose water Ice Cream while sitting by the fountains at Emam Square. Feast on fresh pistachios , almonds, sesame seed candy and ‘Gas’ – a nut filled nougat treat.
Moving South will also take you to Shiraz: the city of poetry, literature and culture.
Traveling even further South , the ancient city of Persepolis with it’s historical ruins awaits. For a taste of the desert, visit Yazd while Qom and Mashad houses the shrines of saints and scholars.
Before leaving for Iran I was repeatedly asked , “You are visiting Iran, why?”
“Why not?” is my reply.
This country which has repeatedly received bad publicity astounds the visitor and allows for preconceptions (of which there are many) to be turned on their head. Economic sanctions have left the country strained in some ways but it has allowed it to draw on its own resources to sustain itself, while maintaining a quaint type of authenticity.
Because Iranian hospitality must be sampled,
Because there are mountains, forests, deserts and oceans in one beautiful country , Because an Iranian village will take you back to a time of simple living off the land and Because Iran it is just so close to the Khaleej.
Important Travel Tips:
- The Lonely Planet guide to Iran is an excellent travel companion
- Take cash – as much as you need. There are no credit card facilities due to sanctions
- Modest dress for women is recommended
- Persian phrase-book would be helpful