In January 29, 2002, President Bush first used the term “axis of evil” in his State of the Union Address. He then continued to think it was a good idea to repeat the term over and over and over again during his presidency. As a history course refresher, he decided that Iran, Iraq and North Korea were the axis of evil and MUST BE DESTROYED!!!
And thus begins the third of our trifecta, “Going Where No Man Has Gone Before: Iran”
Recently, Iran has been thoroughly peppered throughout the news and Twitter feeds with the Iran Nuclear Deal. This blog post will not address the Iran Nuclear Deal, because, c’mon. Let’s stick to what we know. Travel!
For years and years, Iran was considered a “no-go zone”. It has been in diplomatic gridlock with the US for years. We were “The Great Satan” and they were hell bent on sprinkling us with nuclear bombs. Whatever. We’re moving on. Now, with relations opening a little bit, tourism dollars are steadily flowing into Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s capital is Tehran. It’s a bustling city of 8.4 million and dates back over 7,000 years. Tehran can be roughly bisected; North Tehran is a little more cosmopolitan while South Tehran is a little less trendy, but cheaper. Hotels look like they’ve been caught in a time warp, forever stuck in 1979. That’s when the Islamic Revolution forced all foreign hotel contracts to be terminated. Instead of being horrified at being stuck in the Persian Brady Bunch days for your trip, think of it as charming. The rooms are clean and functional. It’s a quirk.
For tourists, the best way to get around is with a guide. They can help you with everything from airport pick up, to dealing with exchange rates, and will even bargain on your behalf. For women traveling to Tehran, it’s of the utmost importance to be dressed modestly. The religious police will let you know when your headscarf has fallen. Not every woman has to be dressed in a full niqab. A majority of women heartily embrace color and pattern in their every day dress. For those who didn’t come fully prepared with clothes down to your elbows and ankles, a guide will be happy to take you to a market to get you styled out.
The best known Iranian trait is hospitality. People will open their homes to you with a cup of tea and a warm, honey soaked snack with no expectation of anything in return. Persian food is mouthwateringly delicious. Dates and honey and pomegranate and kabobs are all standard fare.
When you’re in Iran, it’s best to just let it happen. Experience the food. Let your jaw drop at the mosques. Take a train to Persepolis and travel back to ancient times. The ruins are unparalleled.
When your parents protest that you’re going to visit the Great Satan, let them know, that you’re not going to get Argo-ed. If anything, you might be kidnapped and stuffed to the brim with delicious snacks and given charming trinkets.