Well an interesting day with many challenges.
Not quite what I expected of Tehran, perhaps a little more downtrodden, not quite as modern or open as expected, truely mixed emotions about this city not easily explained.
As usual, we did the city free walking tour, the highlight of our day and where we learned so much about what keeps Tehran ticking over and much more about life as an Iranian from our local guide. So much general information whilst visiting interesting areas and learning more about the history of Iran.
Of course there were only 4 of us on the tour, a Hungarian couple (interestingly) and us as there are so few solo tourists in Iran, the walking tours (based on the free walking tours worldwide only began in 2018).
Our guide was an Iranian young lady who had lived in Germany for 5 years so was westernised and able to give us the most useful information. Like all Iranians, she is passionate about her Iranian heritage (which is why she returned) though most despondent about the way things are going here, naturally like all Nationalities, very anti government (of course except Australians, we love our Liberal Party Government, esp SCOMO).
The Iranian people still have hope for their future (which is refreshing compared to some countries I have visited like Egypt where the people have just given up on their country altogether), but hey, these Iranians are doing it tough financially, so hard.
They are really westernised, no wonder they fit into Australia etc so easily, but they are battling to make ends meet, we see very few children around, they either don’t have them or only have one child due to finances. In the poorer Asian countries where so many are starving, they have hoards of children, Iran is very smart and up to date in many ways.
Educated people are doing menial and many jobs to make ends meet and everything is so cheap, a full meal with drinks etc for two cost us $9 last night, such a shame for the locals.
The tour was a Persian Walk through the downtown and old quarters, the conservative and traditional area of Tehran.
I found the Religious tolerance street rather interesting with a mosque, synagogue, Christian Church all within sight of each other, reflecting the spirit peacekeeper of the Iranian people. The open fire temple, one of the holiest fires in the world in the Armenian Church was fascinating.
We learned all about the kingdoms of Iran and the 1921 coup in Tehran, visited the first Iranian College and many other interesting places.
I loved chatting to our guide who was a wealth of information, eventually her and I travelled in the Women’s carriage of the Metro, a fun experience where the women finally lower their dreaded scarves and get to behave like normal women, laugh, have fun etc.
The many Persian gardens around town, all have a water feature, surrounded by a wall (to keep out desert sand in old days) and always have a section in bloom, are a pleasure. They are pretty and well used by all the local folk. There is lots of greenery in the city, tree lined wide streets, pity about the lousy traffic, smog, petrol fumes etc.
I’m finding the scarf very hot (30 degree days) and uncomfortable and pollution is pretty bad. It is also quite uncomfortable (as in I’m afraid to pick my nose or make funny faces) being constantly scrutinised as we stick out like a sore thumb. But love it when the people lose their shyness and smile or ask the one and only Iranian question, ie. where you from? The people though have 100% lived up to their reputation of being super friendly and as helpful as possible subject to communication barriers. I do enjoy them.
Now for the important things I’ve learned about life in Iran...... Iran is famous for the quality of their Gender Transformation operations, super cheap and specialised, people come from all over the world to have them done here.
The other interesting sight are seeing many, many women and men walking around with their noses all bandaged. Iranians love to have nose jobs and wear their post operation bandages as a badge of honour. They like you to know that they have just had the op and although extremely cheap to have it done here, if they can’t afford one, apparently they walk around with their noses bandaged anyway, just for effect!
The women all wear loads of heavy makeup as it is the only part of their body you can see and I am also perplexed to see the low cut jeans, shorts midriff blouses etc in shop windows as the only time they can wear that gear is in their homes. Quite sad not having any say as to what they can wear and when.
After the walking tour we had a bit of a disastrous arvo, attempted to go up the mountain by cable car, after train, taxi and bus trips we arrived to be told it was all closed for the day ugh. However on the ‘upside’, we saw the expensive area of Tehran and it was very pretty, seriously expensive and vastly different to the area we have been hanging out in.
We decided to join the local families for a walk across the Tabiat bridge at sunset and enjoyed seeing them organising elaborate family picnics with pots and tablecloths etc ready to break their Ramadan Fast as the sun went down.
We opted for an extremely pleasant Iranian restaurant and enjoyed a tasty meal of dips, chicken kebabs, tasty breads, salads, lots of eggplant, garlick and a very unappetising alcohol free beer which did not do our lovely meal in the perfect setting, justice.
We experienced a particularly hair raising taxi trip back to our hotel but made it in one piece. The Hotel staff are always so pleased to welcome us back home.
And that’s enough for today.