Iran

I don’t know any traveller who brings back from a Persian travel anything other than beautiful experiences: Iran is fascinating, inspiring and lovable

 

It’s hard not to like Iran. First of all it is a beautiful country. There are deserts, traditional clay villages and mosques that are so magnificent that you just can’t properly photograph them. Mountains with ruins of castles, cave dwellings, palaces and gardens. in short, Iran has everything to please. And that’s without counting on the people and their culture, their hospitality.

Salam Iran ! Esmam Christine ast, faransavi astam, khoshbakhtam ! سلام ، اسم من کریستین است ، من فرانسوی هستم  از دیدار شما خوشحالم! Hello Iran!

 

Iran is rooted in a thousand years of history and old traditions

 
Iran has a rich history dating back thousands of years. This beautiful country has no less than 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Empires have succeeded one another since antiquity: Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanians, a string of Arab-Muslim dynasties, Mongolian domination, Afghan, British or American. As for the historical celebrities, their names are well known but few know that they originated in Iran: Darius, the Persian Empire, Persepolis, at least 550 BC.
 

Iran does not only rhyme with tyrant

 
Iran often occupies a special position when travelling. It is a very lovely country. We don’t talk about government, politics, just about the country. You can love the United States and hate its president. It’s the same for Iran. In Iran you meet people like you and me who work, study, have children, eat, pray, love, cry, fight and try to be happy.
If I only visited countries with “politically correct” governments, I would not have visited a single one.
 

I am not one of those who refuse to visit a country to boycott its politics

 
Refusing to visit Iranians for political reasons is tantamount to applying double punishment to these citizens.
Like Afghanistan, the best known part of Iran’s history in the western world dates back to 1979. We forget that in 1935, during the reign of Reza Sha, the wearing of the veil was forbidden by law and that men had to dress “Western-style”.
 

When we travel, it is the people we visit, not the governments

 
It is better not to forget the lesson when you have the opportunity to put your bag on Persian soil. Because if the land is beautiful, the people are even more beautiful. Everything you can love about Iran comes from the people you meet on the streets, not from the state. Iran is a travel like no other.
It is impossible to ignore the political context, in Iran you have to adapt and not do anything stupid.
 

In Iran we respect the dress code and that’s it!

 
Women are obliged to cover themselves, in institutions they have to wear the black chador, which makes them look like ghosts, all identical, like puppets.
In Iran, women, minors and enemies of God are executed by hanging. Here the fight against the wearing of the veil is tantamount to an “invitation to debauchery and prostitution”. Certainly Iran is not making headlines either for its vineyards or for its fashion week. But all this should not prevent you from meeting these men and women, from getting to know their traditions, their language, their daily life and their culture.
 

Why make a trip to Iran?

For Iranian history, ancient and contemporary

Persepolis, it is not only a (beautiful) film. It is a city that dates back to 520 BC. We see the famous winged horses, the cuneiform script, and understand better the immense cultural heritage of this country. Traveler, be aware that from the top of these columns 2500 years are looking at you!
I believe that some of the most beautiful mosques in the world are located here. They are so large, so finely decorated, that I could not get a single suitable image of them.
On the way there, the traveller finds villages kneaded from mud with the beautiful ochre colour. When you walk through its alleys, you think that there are still places on earth that have preserved their soul. Everything is extremely neat, delicate and raw at the same time. There are many reasons to visit Iran. The culture, the palaces and gardens of Thousand and One Nights is one of them.
 
You can show a little curiosity and visit the former US embassy, which has been converted into a museum. Everything is still in its place: the secret trading rooms, the ancestors of the magnetic tape computer, the data processing rooms. It’s like in an old spy movie.
 

For the landscapes: from north to south, from the Caspian Sea to the Arabian Gulf Iran is amazing

Off the beaten track, areas are not easily accessible. You have to go with an travel agency, and the costs are sometimes high. There is so much to see that it will probably take several trips to discover the whole country. What you can admire, if you follow the beaten tracks, the 30 day visa is well worth it, it will be difficult to be disappointed.
 

What about Persian gastronomy then? What do people eat in Iran?

The souks are full of spices, dried fruits, teas, seeds and kebabs.
Gastronomy is not overwhelming in Iran. For street dishes the choice is reduced, the menu is repetitive, kebab and more kebab.
There are many restaurants that offer more varied menus, but you have to pay the price for them. Try this experience at least once, the service, dishes, rituals and atmosphere are great.
 
To appreciate Iranian cuisine, you must be lucky enough to live with a family for a while. Then you will be lucky enough to taste khoresht (a meat stew), ash-e-reshteh (a traditional soup) and the strange Iranian bread, lavash, thick as a sheet of paper and as wide as a pillowcase. One of the specialties that never tires you is doogh, a refreshing drink made of salted and highly diluted yoghurt, with mint and other herbs.

The greatest wealth of Iran is its people!

Hard to describe without falling into superlatives: The Iranians are people of great, immense kindness

 
They are very polite, have good manners and are always ready to help strangers on the street. Yes, sir!
Hospitality is not a legend, it is real, and it is sometimes almost embarrassing to see how they take care of their visitors with so much heart and generosity. There are countries like this that painfully remind me that generosity is not always present in Europe. 
Iranians love tourists; they take every opportunity to talk to them, to advise them, to guide them.
 

What is most surprising in Iran is the overwhelming and disinterested goodwill of the Iranian people

 
When I arrived in Tehran by night bus from Tabriz, I found myself in the subway at rush hour in the early morning, strapped in like a mule and heavily tired. I was accompanied by a young Dutchman who knew Tehran. So I had to keep an eye on him. But here we are, in Iran, the subway cars are not mixed.
No problem at all! All these ladies with black veils surrounded me like a lost child and took care of me until I found my friend. They grabbed me and pushed me into the men’s train. This is allowed by law if it is the rush hour, but men are absolutely not allowed to visit women under any circumstances.
The ladies were delighted. So many smiles! They looked like birds around a feast. The men also. They had a lot of fun as I waved to my travel companion through the window and passed messages like an Arabic telephone: “Where do we get off, how many stops?

I have so many stories of sharing, welcome and smiles in Iran that I could write a book

 

Like everywhere else in the world there are good people and not so good people. I cannot say that there are no crooks or liars in Iran, but I have mostly met people with surprising honesty

Everywhere there are positive, commercial experiences. But in Iran the spontaneity is amazing. People don’t ask for money in return for a service, and their generosity is rarely for profit. They are simply happy to have a guest from elsewhere. I would like to take a picture of the shop? There’s the salesman who hastily offers me some pistachios. Should I stick my nose through the door to admire the pies? “Please! Come and sit down, we’ll offer you tea and biscuits!”.
 

99% of the residents have been kind and honest with me

Dollars or Euros must be changed constantly (no cash machines that work for foreigners). While I change a few dollars in the hotel. I am amazed at the answer of the employee: “You are wrong, it is much more than you ask for!”. They often recounted the purse, checked the price for me, always at the right price.
 

Nazee, my friend, my sister from Iran

I was very lucky to live with a family for almost a week. We met by chance on a bus and finally met in the last week of my stay in Iran in Tehran.
I can’t tell if the stars in the sky were perfectly aligned or if it was just luck, but these moments spent together are true jewels in my memory. 
How can I describe this? When everything is simple, light, funny and without embarrassment. People who are open and tolerant and like to share what they have. Happy to welcome a stranger, to spoil her. We cooked, go shopping, went for walks, explored, hiked in the mountains, went to the park, to the pool, visited friends of the family. Nothing complicated, nothing time-bound, days interrupted by spontaneity and exchange.
 

Iran is a country far removed from its evil image that is portrayed in the media. Here I was never afraid

I don’t know how the world sees Iranians in general. I fear it imagines them as fanatical, hateful, narrow-minded and slow-witted lunatics. They are far from the truth. 
I do not claim to have met all Iranians, but one thing I can say is that kindness was omnipresent throughout my time in Iran.
I was never afraid, I never felt threatened. Day and night, in the souks, in the alleys, in the streets. It is an incredibly safe country. For everything to go well, you just have to make sure that you respect the rules of the country and learn to say yes as often as possible.
 
I wholeheartedly support those who suffer under the political system. Parents, children, young or old. I hope that things will change, that they can travel and visit other countries. Above all, I hope that they will experience the same hospitality, the same attention that I have received here. 
I hope that the time will come when the youth will no longer feel “killed from inside” and that better days will come very soon.
 
با تشکر از شما ایران ، خداحافظ ، به زودی می بینم !

!آرزو می کنم بهترین ایران باشم ، قلب من برای تو می تپدKhoda hafez, merci !

Iran

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