At the beginning I was bit skeptical about writing on this topic. Why? Personally, I was never afraid to go to Iran. For years I only heard positive stories about this part of the world. Ancient culture, vibrant towns, and friendly people. The latter seemed to prevail in all the stories from independent travelers. But still Iran has a bad reputation….. Let me tell you about my experiences.
The first encounter with Iranians was in their embassy in Dublin. Efficient, very informative, helpful and friendly. 5/5
Next step was arriving in the international airport in Tehran. Passengers from our air plain helped us to go through the immigration and to navigate in the airport. 5/5
Once outside the airport we took a taxi. Quickly we were on busy Tehran’s streets. In the fading sun we could observe the monstrous metropolis and millions of people on their motorbikes and in their cars. We kept moving, slowly taking in the fact, that yes we are in the Middle East. After an hour our taxi driver increased the frequency of asking others for directions. At some point we stopped at a shop, where he made a phone call. ‘Sorry for the traffic. Welcome to Iran’ he said handing us sweets, he just bought for us. 5/5
The hotel manager was a legend. Mine of information about traveling in Iran, eager to help. He gave us advice on any subject, booked hotels and flights for us. 5/5
On our first day we went to a busy eatery. We ordered food, paid and made our way to an empty table. Few minutes later the manager walked another customer to us in order to translate for him. He wanted us to know, that our receipt entitled us to free bowl of soup, collected next door. 5/5
Our main reason to visit Iran was to climb Mt Damavand. I found online a guide and arranged 5 day long trip. From the first email Nima was professional, efficient, friendly. He looked after us very well during the trip, making sure we were comfortable and content. He even cooked full Irish breakfast for us, while at the base camp. Thinly sliced beef pretended to be bacon. 5/5
In Shiraz we met on a street father and son duo. To start conversation we were asked about our views about brexit…. After initial shock we had lovely conversation and were guided to the best ice cream parlour in town. 5/5
On one of the streets in Yazd we needed to consult our map. The flow of people on the street come to a halt. Nearly twenty people stood around us, everyone willing to help. 5/5
Many times a day, we heard ‘Miiiiiiister!!!!!! Were are you from?’ coming from a man riding his motorbike towards us on the pavement. (Yes, motorbikes on pavements are a common sight) and than a very similar conversation followed: ‘I am from Ireland.’ ‘South, or North?’ ‘Dublin?’ ‘No, Cork’ a bit of confusion and ‘Welcome to Iran Mister!’ For entertaining us 5/5
Women tent to be more gentile in their approaches. They always asked where I was from, how I liked Iran, and than was time to pose to a photo. Some, usually elderly women, just hugged me. Again 5/5
We spent nearly 2 weeks sightseeing around Iran and everywhere we were met with hospitality and friendliness. People were genuinely interested in us, asking where we were from, how do we liked there, welcoming us to Iran. They were helping us finding places, crossing streets, pointing out places of interest. Many people just wanted to chat to practice their English. There were too many of them to mention in this post. But all of them for long will stay in our memories and hearts. This is Iran we want to remember. 5/5
And one more story. On one occasion I found John surrounded by a group of young students. They were asking, if he was not afraid to come to Iran? ‘We have such a bad reputation’ they said. He played well the cool dude: ‘This is my second visit to Iran. Loving it! Afraid? I do not watch news, so I do not know, I need to be afraid!’ 5/5 to John this time.