Travels in Iran – Tehran
Tehran is the capital city of Iran, flanked by the Alborz mountains with a population of 14 million.
The city can be divided into 2 parts, North and South. For North and South you can substitute rich and poor. There is great disparity between the 2 sections. I had 2 challenges in Iran, understanding the currency, which I finally got to grips with and trying to cross the road safely, which remainder a challenge. The traffic in Tehran is horrendous as is the smog. However, there are peaceful oases away from the noise and bustle. There are over 800 parks in Tehran. There is also the Golestan Palace with its 17 palaces, museums and halls and beautiful gardens, a haven of tranquility, cool and peaceful.
It is a fantastic mix of Persian art, history and architecture, ornate and colourful. Outside is full of beautiful tile work and mosaics.
Inside there are magnificent halls and museums decorated with enormous chandeliers, marble and stained glass.
One of my favourites was the mirror hall.
The museums were filled with paintings, historical items and gifts presented from foreign dignitaries around the world, including Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Victoria.
This is a lovely and fascinating place to while away a few hours from the heat and hustle and bustle of the city. Whilst I was sitting in the sun enjoying the peace and quiet an elderly couple came to chat. The gentleman apologised to me for the fact that I had to wear a headscarf.
In Tehran there were many images of Ayatollahs. It is also where I saw or experienced the only anti-American sentiment I saw. People did however criticise the sanctions and the effect they were having on everyday life. The Rial has devalued massively making everything more expensive. Tourist numbers have dropped and people are struggling. Many are moving out of the cities as they can’t afford the rents. It’s ordinary people who are suffering. Many I met openely criticised the Iranian government too.
It was then back out into the mayhem. The Grand bazaar and the streets around it are full of people. They are also full of colour and wonderful smells, everything is so vibrant.
Tranquility resumed with a walk through Shahr Park, one of the many in Tehran with it’s quirky sculptures.
Springing up all over Iran but particularly in Tehran are funky coffee shops. The one we visited had great coffee, shakes and snacks and a soundtrack of Whitney Houston and Ed Sheeran. It was full of young people all very fashionable. The staff were very keen to take photos of us in their establishment.
To the South of Tehran lies the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. It is the tomb of the Ayatollah, his wife and 2nd son. Also buried there are some of the soldiers killed in the war with Iran. The central fountain once ran with blood-red water to represent their sacrifice. All over Iran are pictures of these soldiers – known as martyrs.
My favourite activity in Tehran was having a cookery lesson at a local cookery school. The first stop was a visit to the local market to pick up a, few ingredients. There wee a few interesting delicacies on offer.
We cooked lots of delicious dishes from scratch. I absolutely love the food in Iran. There are so many ingredients in every dish and everything is so fresh and full of flavour. I was a big hit with the young women teaching us. We’d only just started when one of them said to me ‘You are so lovely, may I kiss you? ‘ She then proceeded to kiss me on the cheek. When I asked her why so many people want to kiss me she replied, ‘because you are so cute’.
We made different types of bread and rice, savoury dishes and desserts. It all looked so beautiful and tasted wonderful. Of course we got to eat everything we cooked. A fabulous way to spend an afternoon/evening, I loved every minute of it.
The traffic in Tehran was mental, so much traffic, 7 lanes, cars cutting across several lanes, motorcycles coming towards you in the opposite direction. One thing I loved about the Iranians was their sense of humour, there was always something to make me smile.
We caught the train from Tehran to Yazd. I had to smile when they came round with a crisp trolley. Tehran was a city of complete contrasts, rich and poor, noise and tranquility.
For details of the cookery lesson: www.horizontourism.ir
I stayed at the Roudaki Hotel
Coffee shop was the Adagio Adagio_Cafe_Official