“Oh, my. What was that? It sounds like a bomb! I knew a war was going on there. That was why I told you, “Don’t go to Iran”. But, you were such a stubborn guy”.
“Wow… Mom! Just calm down! That ain’t an action Hollywood movie scene at all. It’s a way of saying goodbye to the ending year and getting ready for the new one”.
“That’s worse than I thought. Do they greet their new year in the middle of a battlefield?”
“No, they are celebrating a unique festival. It’s Chaharshanbe Suri. People are now jumping over the fire bushes and popping firecrackers like there is no tomorrow. And, for you to make sure of my safety, I am drinking a cup of hot tea in this cool weather. Oh, I forgot to say… I made two nice friends here. Now, my hosts and I are on their apartment building rooftop, watching the festival below”.
Don’t Go to Iran; It’s Dangerous
Let’s go back to a couple of weeks ago. At my birthday party, I announced that I planned a birthday gift for myself: A backpacking journey to Iran. I was going to leave the next day.
There were all those frozen looks as if they were drilling into my mind to see what on earth I am thinking. When they realized I was so determined, they just moved their dropped jaws to persuade me not to visit Iran.
Their first strategy was to try to change my mind using kind quotes:
” -Just how high are you?”
-“Are you crazy?”
-“You are out of mind”
-“We should ground you,” and blah, blah, blah.
It’s a War Zone
“It is in a war zone. With all those missiles and nukes, is Iran safe for tourists?” Said my brother before my trip.
“I know. They broadly repeat this in the news. We’ve always heard them telling “Don’t go to Iran”. But why do you believe this apocalyptic picture? A couple of my classmates went on an Iran tour. They were surprised by the safety there”.
And, that was what I exactly experienced when I visited Iran. I faced no disturbances or any case of burglary during those days. That was what I told my brother after conning back home.
No Phone, No Internet
“I understand you want to be adventurous and follow your dreams, but why Iran of all countries? There are more facilitated and convenient destinations. How can we contact you to make sure you are safe?”, asked my worried sister after she repeated the holy phrase “don’t go to Iran”.
“Oh, yeah. I guess the locals send their messages via smoke and pigeons, haha”. I said. “As soon as I get Iran, I’ll buy a local SIM card and skype you. I’ll promise you to share everything I see.”.
To be honest, I couldn’t be on my words thoroughly. There were many sites to visit and I had so much fun there that I was so busy. Thus, most of the time, I forgot to call her.
Why Do People Stare?
During the first day, I walked on the streets; I had the feeling that there is something wrong with my appearance. Some people were staring at me. But, after a few hours, I got that I was mistaken. I actually failed to interpret the meaning of those looks. The Iranians sometimes stare to see if you need any help. I understood that I should take it as an affectionate and friendly body language.
Overwhelmed by People
There are several reasons that I can repeat this sacred clause, “Don’t go to Iran”. Well, one reason is that you may fall for its people. Iranians are so friendly. It happens a lot that somebody approaches you and asks you to be their guest.
After two days of wandering through the city, it was not surprising anymore if a group of folks in a café or a family picnicking in a park wanted me to join them. This led to finding great friends in Iran. I spent Chaharshanbe suri celebration with them and got to know Tehran from the locals’ perspective.
POW: Prison of Women
To my surprise, there were many women out there. “No way… are they allowed to be out of home?” I thought to myself. Though their lifestyle is different from women in western or other non-Muslim countries, they weren’t captivated as the mass media describes.
There I saw girls and women bustling around, driving, working, laughing out loud, wearing colorful and up-to-date clothes. Even some were together with their male friends in public places! Also, they had special women-only places like parks and beauty salons in which they could hang out freely with no restriction at all.
Hot and Dry as Hell
Not only I say “don’t go to Iran”, but also, I prohibit you from googling Iran nature. Since you can’t believe all these varieties of options on the table! You may get confused by choosing among the deserts, mountains, jungles, and mythical islands. Yeah! Iran is not just a vast desert, as you may have thought.
Swimming in The Winter
There are things to know before traveling Iran regarding its nature and natural adventures. You can take your ski poles and head for a ski resort in the northwest mountains. Then, the very next day, drive to the northern regions for horse riding in the jungles aging millions of years. At night, you can fly to the south and go windsurfing and swimming in the warm weather of Iran magical southern islands in the Persian Gulf.
That was the four-season natural menu available for me, as I traveled during the final days of winter by Iran tour operator. But there is a dreamy feature in Iran’s nature: you can adapt it with your own timing and taste. That four-season menu still works if you visit during the hot summer or delicate spring. So, don’t go to Iran unless you have planned well what to do in the natural sites.
The Wild Roads
When my flight was landing, seeing the dry terrain around the airport disappointed me. I thought that I should get ready for harsh moments of wandering through rough roads and up-and-down dunes. However, the asphalt surface of the roads between the cities, the streets in the cities, and the road signs were far better than I imagined. It wiped off all the previous thrilling images.
It’s not dangerous at all if you ignore the traffic jam and the road rage scenes which are common in Iran.
My first encounter with the great city of Tehran was a shock. Before my trip to Iran, I was praying Lord to be able to find a neat hotel room with an average service providing.
But getting to the capital, couldn’t believe what I saw. With all the highways, malls, high-rise buildings, parks, and many more recreational or residential buildings, Tehran was definitely far from this famous camel riding stereotype. It was as modern and facilitated as many great capitals around the world.
I walked over the award-winning Tabiat Bridge, which was a modern structure. It is the largest pedestrian overpass in Tehran. Its name means “nature” since it is over a lush hill in the middle of Tehran. Also, I visited the old neighborhoods with their noble spirit. The Iran World Heritage site, Golestan palace, was one of the most impressive places I saw. A palace of the empire that today serves as a museum. The room’s decorations are out of mirrors and crystal, and there is beautiful artwork everywhere.
2500 Years of Masterpieces
The more cities I went forward, the more astonished I was. In Kashan, I visited the 500-year magnificent mansions and Teppe Sialk from 7000 years ago.
In Isfahan, I wandered in Naqshe Jahan square. Iranians call it “half the world”. With the fantastic art and architecture used in the mosques and palaces in this square, It’s a good fair of Islamic-Iranian heritage.
Then I stopped in Yazd, a totally historic city. In Fahadan neighborhood, with clay walls and alleys like a labyrinth, I felt as if I was far apart the time and the rest of the world.
But, the highlight of their masterpieces was in Persepolis from 2500 years ago. I wondered how the ancient Persians built those gigantic columns and the monstrous creatures above them?
Don’t Let Anyone Tells You Don’t Travel to Iran
Don’t go to Iran unless you have not believed the mass media stories. Iran is the land of a kind and caring people, mystic natural scenes, rich history and… . Well! You must see all the unique features of Iran in person.
Yet you have not contended? Just watch “Don’t go to Iran video” once. “Sometimes pictures speak louder than words,” says Tolt, the creator of this video.