Tag: Tehran

Very VIP

Time is flying! This country is just so amazing! On Tuesday, my young friend Shabnam, came to pick me up. What an adventures we had! First we took the metro! Wow! I mean, I live in a town where we have three traffic lights and 15,000 people! The metro has special carriages for women, which was lovely. We went to this palace first, but the coffee shop and the palace were both closed. ( the palace for renovations)  but we were allowed to walk in the amazing garden! Which would be even more amazing in about two weeks time! Spring is in the air, it is lovely during the day. Very pleasant for walking.

Well what to do next? Ah, we are near the museum and library, let’s go there! Good plan! Except minor little detail, there had been an ISIS attack just a few weeks back, and now one has to apply TWO weeks before! The museum has the biggest collection of  Kamal Ol-Molk, one of the greatest Iranian painters. Well, having Shabnam with me proved really helpful, we were invited to have lunch in the staff canteen, where we had a fabulous home cooked lunch, dirt cheap.

Two hours later, we caught the bus! Shabnam had bought me the most delicious smoothie ever, with pistachio nuts on top! Oops! I had two back teeth removed this year, and l and behold I cannot eat nuts any more, bummer! So here I am standing on the bus, hanging on for dear life, hand on pole, other one on smoothie, Shabnam whispered that my scarf had fallen down! Okay, now what!? I only have two hands!! She was so incredibly sweet.  Gently she pulled my scarf up!

Finally we arrived at her beautiful where I met her gorgeous sister, Shiva, and her lovely mum. Shabnam is an incredibly gifted water colourist, and after a magnificent diner which could have fed an army, we looked through her works, before I was dropped off at my hostel again! What an amazing day! Overwhelmingly friendly people, the way three men put their job on the line to accommodate a complete stranger,  the hospitality of Shabnam’s family, I want you all to know that I appreciated every effort you all took today! It was just magic! A big heartfelt THANK YOU!

Persian birdsong

It was five am. The incredible birdsong woke me from some pleasant dream. I kept my eyes closed. The birds were singing in Persian! Slowly a smile crept over my face. I am in IRAN! I am HERE! I felt totally relaxed and rested! It took me from Friday night till Monday morning to get my body back to normal. I showered early, I love this quiet time in the hostel, before people start to wake up. I plan my day slowly afterwards.

There was a city walk, all the way down to the palace and the Grand Bazaar. After breakfast I set out on another adventure. The sun was shining, the birds kept singing in my heart. The smile stayed on my lips. As soon as I opened my Lonely Planet for guidance, people would stop, asking if I needed any help. Five people standing around me, how to get to Golestan Palace. Opinions were divided. Finally, an elderly man took control. Straight across the enormous roundabout, then right, then left. It sounded rather simple! This roundabout is HUGE! Traffic coming and going, what to do? This workman, holding his toolkit in one hand, was strolling across, I  skittered over to him, made sure I had him between me and the oncoming traffic, and got across. He was talking to me in Parsi. I have no idea about what. I just told him that the traffic was absolutely crazy, he smiled, obviously no idea what I was saying either. I have mentioned the traffic, haven’t I?

The palace was enormous! Entry fees were 500,000 rials. Before I got a heart attack I asked how much it was in U$ . Ten dollars? PHewww. Sounds so much better. It was beyond words to describe. I was speechless. My inner child loves anything that sparkles, glitters or mirrors. So I was in my prime playing time. Plastic booties over my sandals meant I could skate on the marble floors. School groups were plentiful, all wanting selfies with the blue-eyed foreigner and practice their English! My Instagram followers are increasing daily! I could have spent many more hours, but it was time to go shopping.

The Grand Bazaar was just around the corner, and oh boy, it was chocker block packed! Unbelievable! So many shoppers, never seen before. Hard to get in. I had planned to buy a manteau( overcoat)  but size 44 is the largest there was. This wouldn’t fit over my winter top! Fortunately, a lovely French back packer had given me her coat the day before. Too small as well, but as it is getting warmer daily, it will do for the time being. I took a taxi back to the hotel. Expensive! A whole A$5

At two pm. My dear old friend from twenty -five years ago was coming to pick me up. We were going into the mountains. Ah, this feeling, this incredible feeling, when you meet up with like-minded people after such a long time,  and you realise, that nothing has changed! It was as if we met yesterday. We gossiped about old friends, people who have since passed away. Reminisced about our adventures and stupid things we did, so many, many years ago in a country far, far away. We went to this magic place, high up near the mountains. Shame the rain started, and last weeks snow and rain damaged had not yet been cleared. I had an excellent fish kebab, and of course tea.

Tea is one of the main things in Iran. I had hoped to lose weight by not drinking alcohol, fat change, the tea comes with a stick of yellow sugar, I have forgotten the name, and it is just sooo delicious that I can’t resist! So far I have resisted the Iranian sweets. I remember from the good times had with my Iranian friends in Mysore, India, that they can be irresistible!

Terrific Tehran

I have arrived! In Tehran. As I left Sydney and checked in at the airport, there seemed to be an issue with my visa for Iran! Apparently three days AFTER my visa expired I had an ongoing flight from Dubai. The airline required proof of my ferry trip from Iran to Dubai. Well, duh, I haven’t booked my ferry as yet as there is NO visa payment possible, so NO on line booking possible! Well, according to the lovely lady from Lebanon, I would have to buy a new visa on arrival in Tehran! As my Iranian visa was the most expensive visa EVER, you can imagine my shock at the prospect that it was not going to be valid! Ah well, I’ll see what happens, I thought. If worse comes to the worst I will buy a new visa, it is only money.

The flight was long and exhausting. Met a lovely lady, Dianna from Lebanon. Well, from Sydney really. I watched quite a few movies and arrived in Abu Dhabi, were I was singled out, and put in the naughty corner, as there was something WRONG with my Iranian visa!! My first thought was that the woman in Sydney put a RED flag on my ticket! I had to wait for the manager to arrive, which he or she didn’t do. In the end, I was told I would have to buy an ongoing ticket from Iran to Dubai. I sagely nodded my head and agreed to everything they told me!! Just don’t send me back!!

On arrival in Muscat, my boarding pass was taken from me, and I was told to wait in the corner AGAIN! This time however, there was a big mob of Iranian people, who all asked me what was wrong! As my boarding pass was put through the machine all the red lights started flashing and bells started to ring! by now three young men, who all spoke perfect English all tried to re assure me that all would be well. In the end the man gave me my OWN boarding pass back and said nothing.

You can all imagine how I was by now very concerned about arriving in Tehran!! What if I was send back? All the Iranian people re assured me that I would be fine. On arrival in Tehran my by now two musketeers promised to wait for me to see what would happen at immigration. I was friendly and polite, he salaamed me, I salaamed back, he smiled, I smiled back, he stamped my passport and welcomed me into Iran! Problem? What problem? He didn’t even ASK if I had an ongoing ticket! So all this scare mongering was totally useless.

The first thing, after finding a toilet, was to exchange some money so I could catch a taxi to my hostel in Central Tehran. Well, said the man at the exchange boot, you get much, much better rates in the centre of Iran. I have very high exchange rates! Can you imagine a business in Oz saying, don’t buy from me I am too expensive?? Unbelievable. I also saw that I could buy a SIM card at the airport! My young rescuers bought me my SIM card, PAID for my taxi!! And apologised that they had family commitments and couldn’t drop me off at my hostel! Unbelievable!! We exchanged phone numbers, and they followed me on Instagram!! By the time I reached my hostel one and a half hour later, there was already a message to ask if I had arrived safely! Friendly? It is beyond friendly!! I felt incredibly humbled, by the whole experience. Can you imagine anybody doing this in Australia? Well, I can’t!

When I told the friendly young man at the hostel about my experience with the three musketeers , he nodded his head, as if this was a common experience, and said, welcome to Iran! Iran, I have already fallen in love with the people here! I am not so sure however about the traffic, nor the pollution! Pedestrian’s lives are very, very cheap, I think! I just stand with other people who want to cross the road, make sure those people stand between me and e oncoming traffic and pray that I won’t be run over today! There are no atheists on the streets of Tehran! ( I have difficulties posting photos, here and on Facebook, hope to get this sorted in the near future!)

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