The Good and Bad of Travel in Iran

Biggest Surprises and what surpassed my expectations in Iran

There’s only so much blog reading and picture browsing a future traveler can do before setting out on an adventure to a foreign land.  Information that’s out there via blogs, pictures news articles – reliable and current on travelling to Iran isn’t as prevalent as say Europe or South East Asia.  The official news publications are just full of endless stories that conger up fear and bloggers tend to be on the opposite side saying how hospitable the Persian people and  how beautiful the landscape and architecture is.  I sorted through it all and did the trip.  This is the basic likes and dislikes about what I personally witnessed while traveling a well beaten trail through central Iran.

Wonderful hospitality despite the constant bullying and bickering going on between other nations and theirs

It is said over and over again on various blogs, articles and travel shows that Persians are undoubtedly the most friendly and welcoming cultures of the world.  I also immediately comfortable when arriving 2 hours late after a 30+ hour journey from JFK to Shiraz International.  I’m an amateur hijab wearer who is both jet-lagged and  half conscience – where am I?  I’m alright but I’m concerned that my semiconscious self  is not going to notice if the scarf falls off my head.  At least it’s a very odd hour and not the middle of the day.   I, as a guest, am little nervous about offending anyone at this point.  At passport check we are the only ones in the “Foreigner Line”.  The officials get all the locals done and soon start to check out our credentials.  They apologized for not having the finger printing device working immediately.  No worries.  It only took a few minutes for what seemed like just a quick warm up and connection to the computer.  It was a short wait and I wasn’t moving too fast anyways.

Our start was much easier then the worst senario I had in my head before departing almost a day and a half ago.    I never had any close wardrobe malfunctions and very little culture shock. The people I met along the way were wonderful.  It was not all great but what trip is perfect?   Here’s some general thoughts – both good and bad to be balanced- about my experience in Iran.

Amazing Architecture anyone can enjoy without a PhD in Ancient Architectural Studies

Masjed-i Jamé mosque
Jame Mosque in downtown Yazd

This region is full of buildings, archeological sites, ancient texts, art and textiles which date back thousands of years in some cases.  It’s amazing what still remains to be seen today after countless wars and military conflicts have damaged and destroyed so much in this region over the centuries.  Many things have been taken or sold as some claim to museums in western Europe and North America.  It’s great to be able to see it in person like the permanent exhibit of Islamic Art that recently opened up at the Met  here in New York City, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person where it came from.

MET Museum Islamic Exhibit NYC
MET Museum Islamic Exhibit NYC

Much more is being uncovered by those working hard under skilled architects and hopefully more will be available for the public to see in the future despite current political conflicts.

IMG_4576
Inside the Bagh-e Dolat Abad in Yazd

Too much to see in too little time

Isn’t that always the case?   We were allowed 14 days since that was how long our required tour was going to last.  No tour – no guide – so no more days are needed on our visas.  Tours are not cheap so we’ll have to go back. The rumor mill says that once the first visa is granted then the next is easier to acquire, it’s faster and more days could be granted.

Lots of  bad music

Blame the US embargo for this one.  Our guide mostly played traditional persian music as well as Persian Pop music while we traveled along.  One day the subject of what kind of music we liked came up.  Of course, we are fans of Led Zeppelin, Silversun Pickups, Radiohead – just to name some better known acts that he might be familiar with – well Mahmoud just smiled and gave a few nods – he more than likely heard of them but not a fan.  He said he was a fan of Mariah Carey, Celine Dion,  and the Eagles  – all of whom sing about romantic new love and getting dumped – sound familiar?   Mahmoud was a big fan of the poet Hafiz like many Persians.   He also was being his hospitable self and decided to give us a break from Persian music – which I add was enjoying – and put sometime on that he thought we would like.  Not sure if it was Celine or the Eagles but the CD player was busted and the Persian music resumed.

Persians feeling they needed to apologize for their government

Na'in's Jame Mosque
Na’in’s Jame Mosque

Not many people are happy with what either side has been doing lately or the last 30 years for that matter.  I hope there is a time that the region will be at peace. Our countries governments and political powers that be must start looking forward.  The Persians still harbor resentment of the Muslim conquest of the Persian empire hundreds of years ago.  The decline and fall of the Sasanian Empire led to the rise of Islam in a region whose religion was dominantly Zoroastrian religion in Persia.  and just about eliminated their form of Islamic faith and Zoroastrianism.

Zoroastrian Cemetary
When the fire temples stopped being used Zoroastrians began being buried in cemeteries near by

The new generations want more freedom to do little things like sporting fashionable hairstyles and wearing clothes and jewelry that express their individual personalities.

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