An interesting day in Chaotic Tehran yesterday. As mentioned before, not a WOW city, not geared for tourists and sightseeing is limited and sights never quite live up to our Lonely Planet guide, which by the way I would not recommend (not a great guide book).
On arrival at the Metro this morning we discovered our $1 metro card had run out of funds after 4 days of usage, as we tried to go through the barriers and that’s where the fun began. As we were making a spectacle of ourselves by trying to top up with all instructions only in Farsi, a stern looking policeman approached me.
‘Farsi’ he questioned? ‘Noh’I replied, ‘English’. PASSPORT he replied, Cameron replied ‘in the hotel’ and his response was ‘ passport, passport, passport’.
Luckily we had done our research well and I (as usual, actually) had a copy in my bag. But now I’m hassled, everybody’s watching and I’m scratching through bags and pockets trying to retrieve said passport copy.
Eventually, I handed it to him as he glowered at me, upon which his face lit up into a huge smile and he said ‘ahhh AUSTRALIAN’ and everything was sweet again.
He thought I’d said I was English and of course a English, Canadian and Americans have to be accompanied by a guide in Iran, Aussies are welcomed worldwide. Ha ha
We visited the ‘amazing’ Azadi Tower, freedom tower built to accomodate the 2500th anniversary of the first Persian empire. The rooftop was closed and we spent all of ten minutes there. Not so amazing.
We then decided to visit a Spectacular Shopping Mall with a lake etc as recommended, the taxi driver became totally lost. We ended up miles away in greater Tehran with the driver stopping constantly to ask directions, reversing up and down back street, we could not communicate with him, there were soldiers on barbed wire rooftops and we were surrounded by derelict buildings.
Starting to feel exceedingly uncomfortable, we decided to try and communicate to driver to return us to the Metro as we’d changed our minds, omg complicated and a wee bit uncomfortable.
Ok, so that little adventure didn’t work so back on the metro, much walking in heat to the Museum of Contemporary Art which sounded great and was sure to have a coffee shop, which up until now had been non existent.
We finally trudged up to the MCA to discover it was closed for renovations and no coffee shop.
Ok, so that one didn’t work either, how about visiting the USA of Espionage which is the former US Embassy, the focal point of the 1979 coup when it was stormed by students who then held 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days.
Interesting, but sadly there the documentation was woeful and almost non comprehensive. That didn’t take long.
So touristy sightseeing was not huge in Tehran today but again it was about the people, wherever we went they were as helpful as possible, friendly and welcoming. They stopped and chatted to us, we enjoyed the nut shops an so many other little shops with interesting products.
The bakeries where they make those delicious flat breads in open fire ovens and as they toss them out people grab the hot bread, no bags just carried out in the hands, fun to watch. We bought and munched on bread behind a wall out of sight.
We had a goood day although often frustrating (truely Gill, we did enjoy it).
In the evening we met our Intrepid guide, a bright, lively, extremely enthusiastic young lady who I’m sure is going to guide us on a fun and interesting tour around Tehran.
Our little group of 7, 2 Swiss men aged about 40, a Kiwi couple about our age and a German woman about our age, only 7 of us, great to have a small group, so much easier to get around and change the itinerary to suit our small group. We are all Foodies, as is Sara our guide and all have done Intrepid tours before so enjoy travelling independently.
Last night Sara took us to a fun Persian restaurant in a back street where we joined the locals for a kebab dinner with olives and yoghurt etc and ended off with us all smoking Shisha (waterpipe) which I always enjoy, such fun.
Ahh, but talking about ‘water’ reminds me of my more personal Tehranian discoveries. Of course all Asian toilets have the obligatory garden hose (Lorna, you would enjoy the many squats in Iran, I am developing thunder thighs again, good for the cycling) which I’ve never paid much attention to in the past.
Without wanting to give ‘too much information’, it’s amazing how refreshing the mini bum shower can be in the middle of an extremely hot day when you are covered head to toe and really feeling hot and sweaty. (Omg Margo, pse skip that part when you read the journal to Frank tonight as I shall be mortally emabarrssed when I see him next).
I have even almost got my aim perfected and don’t exit like a drowned rat. (Evan and Rach, don’t get rid of your toilet garden hose, it is useful and will I’m sure add value to your unit)
Ha ha it reminds me of my trip to Japan when I decided to try out all the buttons in a u beaut loo in a very exclusive shopping mall and set off all the alarms.
Ugh, however I digress and enough toilet humour.
We are really looking forward to catching an overnight train out of chaotic Tehran and heading out to the smaller towns in the desert.
No blog on the train tonight but will try and catch up tomorrow subject to wifi..