Travel to Iran and become a fan

Not that long ago, the idea of a holiday in Iran may have seemed a little like stepping off the map into the unknown, but that seems to have all changed recently.

Zistboom: Not that long ago, the idea of a holiday in Iran may have seemed a little like stepping off the map into the unknown, but that seems to have all changed recently.

“In fact, nine out of 10 glossy magazines in our local diabetic clinic are trumpeting Tehran as the ‘must–visit city of 2014’”, said Shane Fitzsimons, a globetrotter, Independent Irish reported.

He and his friend entered Iran with trepidation as their guide—it’s difficult for Europeans not to.

They left with a Persian rug and some sweeties, but along the way they discovered one of the warmest and welcoming peoples.

They were entranced by the beautiful landscape, dazzled by a most courteous and generous culture—in short, they found it to be a wonderful country.

Iranians have known this for a long time. Their earliest cities date back almost 7,000 years but they had a little less than three weeks to play with, so Fitzsimons  and his friend planned a vaguely circular circuit of the country, taking in the hilly Kurdish areas of the northwest, moving south towards the Persian Gulf, swinging east into the more desert areas before turning north towards Tehran.

“It’s a massive country but it’s got a fantastic infrastructure for moving around. Internal flights are simplicity itself: local travel agencies booked us next–day flights of 800 miles for about €25,” he said.

He added that they weren’t long in Tabriz. Delighted to find most people under the age of 30 speaking such good English, that’s for sure.

Fitzsimons said that from Tabriz they made their way to Kashan, an oasis city on the edge of Dasht-e Kavir, a massive salt desert about the size of Ireland, and checked in at the Khan-e Ehsan, a traditional hotel.

Leaving Kashan and heading south, they arrived in Isfahan late in the evening under a cloudburst that made the streets shine. By far the most lovely of all the cities they visited, Isfahan’s river bridges are one of the iconic images of Iran and the riverside is lined with parks and greenery, and nooks and crannies where people picnic.

“The city’s wide boulevards are lined with leafy trees, casting a greenish dappled light over everything. And then there’s the main square, Imam Square, one of the largest city squares in the world, lined with shops, cafes and historical mosques and palaces,” Fitzsimons added.

From Isfahan, they made their way to Shiraz, gaped at the ancient ruins of Persepolis and then on to the desert city of Yazd, where 1,000-year-old underground canals draw water from mountains many miles away to irrigate the city. And tall wind chimneys catch the air, funneling it down into the houses and over pools of water to cool the domestic interiors.

From Yazd they flew north to Tehran and saw the remnant of the winter snow on the Alborz Mountains that loom above the city.

Then they went north, to the hills of Darband, where Tehranis like to walk on weekends and eat kebab in little kiosks set up over the plunging mountain streams.

Again, so many stories. The big three sights are a visit to the jewel museum (where the Darya-e Noor diamond is only one of the historical gemstones).

However, they also loved the Museum of Contemporary Art, where Giacometti and Magritte statues are kept out in the rain, while works by Van Gogh, Bacon, Picasso, Pollock, Monet and Munch are all kept in the vault.

“They say that there’s €4 billion-worth of forbidden art locked away, but there is some amazing Iranian stuff showing on the walls,” he said.

By ZistBoom


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