Rumi, one of the most famous Persian poet, once said: “Travel brings power and love back into your life”. Well, he was definitely right. That feeling when you visit another country, when you get familiar with their culture and ways of living is priceless. Traveling makes you rich. You can watch as many videos as you can or read as many books as you can but nothing is like to be there and walk through those streets, breathe that air, get in touch with those people and examine their culture.
January 2017. Was my first trip to Iran/Persia.
After a very long, comfortable and safe trip with my favorite airline company, Emirates, we landed in Dubai. While I was waiting for my flight to Tehran I was excited to finally visit Iran. Since I know myself, I was always wanted to visit and explore the Middle East. As Soon as we took off and crossed the Persian Gulf, we entered Iran airspace. I was really happy. I said to myself, that’s it, I am really here, this is really happening. Maybe twenty minutes before landing we got a warning for not to import alcohol into Iran and females should cover their hair with a scarf and have proper clothes. Finally, we landed in Tehran, the capital of Iran. After filling up a very short application and paying 55 USD I received 30 days valid visa at the airport. My fiancé family was waiting for us with tons of flowers and after a short drive, we finally got into our apartment in Tehran.I was impressed so much with their apartment internal design. Every room had a traditional Persian carpet with that royal style beds and dressing tables. We had a view on most important symbols of Tehran, Azadi Square and Milad Tower (sixth tallest tower in the world), the city was just in front of us. We spent 6 days in Tehran where we visited almost all of the Persian king’s palaces as well as the palace of the last Iranian king Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah Diba. I think I have never seen that much luxury and prestige in whole my life.
After Tehran we went to Esfahan, we didn’t want to go by plane, so we went by car. It took us 6 hours to get there and we enjoyed the landscape.When we finally got to my mother in law house and we had the most delicious meal ever. Chicken kebab with traditional steamed basmati rice mixed with walnuts, pistachio, berries and saffron juice. The explosion of tastes, it makes me hungry every time I think about it. Esfahan/Isfahan is a historical city, famous for his monuments, paintings, and architecture. They call it: Half of the world. The Naqhsh-e Jahan Square is one of the largest city squares in the world surrounded with one of the most famous bazaars. Bazar in Esfahan is the center of art.While I was walking through Esfahan bazar I saw and met many tourists from New Zeland, Europe, and Asia. Local people are really in love with tourists. Once they find out you are a tourist you are being bombarded with tons of questions and there is no chance you can get away without them offering you Iranian black tea or being invited for dinner. I ate lots of foods and I don’t regret it. Riding in a carriage through one of the biggest squares in the world, The Naqhsh-e Jahan square, was one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had.
I visited many historical places, squares, monuments, universities, parks, mountains, mosques, The Holy Savior Cathedral which was very interesting to see in an Islamic country, first tunnel aquarium in Iran, reptile and butterfly park, Esfahan telecabin (Sofeh mountain) and many other interesting places.
Esfahan also has the 5th largest shopping mall in the world which I highly recommend.
From Esfahan, we went on Kish Island to meet with rest of our family from the other parts of Iran, Germany, and Switzerland. Kish Island is 91.5 square kilometer in the Persian Gulf.
Kish Island was among the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world by New York Times in 2010. There is absolutely no word to describe that undiscovered island, that beauty, and untouched nature so I have decided to write one completely new post about Kish Island.
Our house had a view of Persian Gulf (Iranian side). I spent the most beautiful 11 mornings and evenings drinking my coffee or tea in peace, listening to Persian Gulf waves, watching turtles swimming and enjoying the sun. My days were finishing walking next to white, long, clear beaches. Paradise on Earth. That was what I needed.
Our journey was coming to its end so we took the plane to Esfahan where we collected all our belongings, including 20kg suitcase filled only with souvenirs, and dishes from Esfahan’s bazar. Yes, 20kilo.
Ride from Esfahan to Tehran was kind of sad, we had to say goodbye to everything. There are so many other great cities to visit but we decided to leave that for next time.
If you are looking to discover an ancient country with lot’s of historical places, different climate, and delicious foods, Iran is the right place to be, but if you are looking for clubbing, getting drunk and that sort of things it’s better to think about some other destination.
Let me share with you couple of useful things that are important to know if you want to visit Iran.
- RULES – Iran is an Islamic country and you are not allowed to bring alcohol into Iran also officially there is no alcohol to buy. Women should wear long T-shirts which are covering their hips and they should have a scarf around their head which they can bring it to the middle of their head, actually they can show their hair without any problem.
- VISA – You can obtain your visa on your arrival at the airport very easy. You only need your passport, of course, some invitation letter if you have private accommodation or just your hotel/booking details. I had my travel insurance with me just in case but they didn’t ask for that. Visa is 50 EUR or 55 USD, you can’t pay with their local currency so make sure you have that money ready with you and remember other currencies are not accepted in the airport. Whoever visited Israel and has stamped in their passport will not obtain Iran’s visa.
- SOCIAL MEDIA – Youtube and Facebook are filtered but other platforms are free to use and Instagram is the most popular one.
- PEOPLE – I found Iranian people very friendly, respectful and open minded, they really like tourists and I got a lot of help wherever I was (airport, street, shops, restaurants, etc.)
- DRIVING – Be very careful if you are gonna drive because driving is a bit challenging.
- SAFETY – It’s very safe, I didn’t have any problem wherever I was.
“YOU WHERE BORN WITH WINGS, WHY PREFER TO CRAWL THROUGH LIFE?” – Rumi