My Trip to Iran
by Kieran on December 30, 2011
I was lucky enough to travel with my wife and 3 young children to Iran a couple months ago. The trip was a homecoming of sorts for my wife, who hadn’t been back to Iran – her place of birth – in 12 years. Instead of writing an endless, wordy, summerization of my trip I have decided to use each of the daily email updates I sent to my family back in America. From my arrival to my last day…below is my daily reaction / recap…with relevant photos.
The Arrival: September 24th 2011
Family – we are in Tehran and in the Naghib condo…what a trip…it is 1am here, 7.5 hours ahead of est. flight was an adventure…flight out Friday night was delayed 2 hours…we finally left at 2am…we got to Amsterdam and immediately boarded the plane to Tehran.
Tehran, from what I have seen, is is interesting….reminds me of Florida for some reason. Maybe because it is so flat? The weather? Will fill you in more tomorrow.
Night time is here in Tehran…loads of family will be coming over this evening. The time change is messing with my head big time.
Today Jay, Laila and myself went to the bazaar down the street from the Naghib home..second largest in Tehran. It was truly sensory overload..the people, the cars, the shops selling anything & everything. It was one of those places you see in movies. Not a clean or orderly place but man you can just tell the food was fresh..brightest fruit you have ever seen. All you can smell is herbs or kebab…best way to describe it is as organized chaos.
Walking through Tehran is an adventure…take the worst cab driver and pedestrians from NYC and times it by 100000. Cars have no regard for people and people have no regard for cars. Yet, I have not seen one accident…even minor. Basically, how you drive in Tehran is how you drive…would love to give it a shot but pretty sure I would kill someone.
The people here are very friendly, I don’t stick out as much as I would have thought. Seems as though the only person who thinks being American in Iran is a big / scary deal is myself. Like Laila has always told me the people of Iran love American people…person to person I feel very comfortable. In fact, people are TOO nice to me.
|Shah’s palace…his summer palace in Northern Tehran|
This morning we went to the former Shah’s palace…his summer palace in Northern Tehran. This place was massive…and I can’t describe the opulence. First was a car museum – only a fraction of their cars were shown and we are talking multiple Mercedes, Rolls Royces and limo’s – basically take any top car of the era and they and it, in different colors. The palace itself is a massive park filled with houses that would put the mansions of Newport to shame. We went to one palace on the grounds, which I believe belonged to the Shahs father…they had a room that was all tiny mirrors, a room that was all marble, a room that had Italian leather walls…I could go on. This is where we had that picture taken. We also stopped at a tea tent on the grounds…gorgeous area and they had amazing ice cream that Kamran ate up in a second.
Tonight we ventured out for dinner…it took an hour to drive a couple miles, no matter the time of day there is horrible traffic. Place we ate was outdoors, food was good but more importantly the kids behaved.
A quieter day, at least for me, Laila went to the bazaar with Sean..I stayed home with Nooshie. Either jet lag or the altitude or both have me really tired. Around 3 or so we went to Laila’s Aunts house, Nooshie’s sister…going anywhere in Tehran is an adventure so even though she is close by it can take 30 minutes or more with traffic. Plus getting there isn’t half the fun…case in point, the taxi driver who took us not only went down a one way street the wrong way but proceeded to then drive backwards down the same one way street going the wrong way. Make sense? The funny thing is that people here act like it no big deal. I feel the only times I truly feel like a outsider is when driving around the city.
Laila’s aunt house was what I expected being in Iran tons of food, tons of tea and tons of family. It was a great time. Pretty sure I am the best backgammon player in Iran…I am that good at it.
|Tehran's view from Tochal Mountain|
It is 1:15 in the morning here …shows how this day went. Where to start…
This morning Laila, jay and I went for a hike up a mountain that is behind Jay’s house it is called Tochal and is part of the range that surrounds Northern Tehran. When I say it is behind Jays house it really is behind his house…we started at an elevation of 4500 feet and hiked up a windy, steep and breathtaking path to about an elevation of 6700 feet. But this was no ordinary hike…after a short climb from jays house you get to a tourist landing that had an eclectic mix of things to do…tons of food places, including a corn dog spot, a tennis club, a Segway club, a 5d theater ( yes not 3d, 5d), archery, bungee and tons more…remember this isn’t the base of a mountain this is probably 4800 feet above sea level and you can see across all of Tehran. It was breathtaking.
From the first landing we walked up a somewhat steep and treacherous path with breathtaking views…this path was no easy hike (for me) yet you saw people of all ages climbing it. We walked to the second landing at an elevation of about 6700 feet, here we had an amazing breakfast overlooking all of Tehran. Such an interesting group of people to watch…including an elderly man showing a young guy how to jump rope. I walked up a bit more to a overlook that was truly breathtaking…it jutted out so you had a panoramic view of Tehran. I can’t stress enough how amazing this view was.
As you can see from the site – www.Tochal.org -we only scratched the surface of things to do here on the mountain. There is a restaurant high up, during the winter there is skiing and the worlds highest hotel. All of this is literally in Jay’s backyard. More pics to come of this.
After resting for a bit we went to Laila’s Aunts house for dinner…it was the usually scene of tons of food and lively talk with a good deal of family. Laila’s cousin, Bahman, busted out the guitar and started to play American hits from Kings of Leon and 30 seconds to Mars…surreal moment #1. After his performance I struck up a music conversation with him and his brother Bardia ( who is a big time news anchor here), about all types of music…they are huge Metallica and rock fans. This conversation concluded with them making me listen to the latest Metallica song from their cell phone…surreal moment #2. The evening concluded with everyone leaving the house with me and Laila’s cousins singing Bob Seger’s turn the page on the streets of Tehran….surreal moments #3,4 and 5. It was one of those moment I will never forget as long as I live.
Day 6 & 7
yesterday and today have been dominated by the preparation, participation and recover from the party at Laila’s Aunts house (Nooshie’s sister).
Yesterday we kept it low key until leaving for Laila’s aunt’s house around 3 or so. Slowly throughout the evening more and more of Laila’s relatives showed up for a true house party. My words can’t describe the scene it was..thankfully Laila took plenty of pictures and videos. Most of you probably won’t be surprised that it was a dancing fest that lasted until 1am. As with my backgammon play, it is clear I am the best dancer in Iran.
In preparation for the planned debauchery we brought overnight clothes so we could spend the night. Again, it should be noted that people marveled at how amazing I was at dancing…it was also said on numerous occasions how much better of a dancer I was than Laila. As noted before there will plenty of proof of my dancing prowess.
Today, after waking up around 9 or so we just hung out with family all morning drinking tea and eating. In Iranian tradition before leaving Laila was given a haircut by her Aunt…a bang haircut…not a banging haircut mind you, a haircut that revolves around bangs.
Tomorrow we are heading to the historic city of Kashan so my update should be much more interesting.
After tomorrow the rest of our time here will be spent visiting friends and relatives…I hope we make another trip to the bazaar as well as a couple more treks up the mountain.
|Ameri house - Kashan|
Historic city of Kashan was mind-blowing – for someone who has traveled very little this is the place you would only read about. An old town with history around every corner.We went to a local restarant for lunch – it was beyond amazing.
On the way back from Kashan we stopped at a rest area on the highway…technically it is a rest area but in reality it is a shopping / food heaven in the middle of the desert.
kids have been acting up the past few days, traveling this long is tough…overall they have been great but they are getting to the end of their rope.
Today was a gorgeous day in Tehran, 80 and sunny, I could see almost across all of Tehran from the Naghib apartment. This morning we took the kids to a park not to far for the apartment. the park was gorgeous and perfect for the kids to run around in. one thing I find amusing but also practical is that there are exercise equipment throughout Tehran in the various parks…same ones you would find in a gym except without the weights. why not, right? In the park we went too they of course had these in various locations. the park had numerous play areas for the kids to run crazy through. The park and play equipment could be found in any city in the US., the kids exerted a ton of energy. One thing of interest and curiosity was a play area that looked futuristic and appeared to be for adults. Within the park they also had a bird sanctuary and an animal area that the kids enjoyed greatly.
On the way out of the park a ice cream vendor made the mistake of not having just vanilla soft serve that Kamran wanted..all hell broke loose with Kamran and Alanna having full on tantrums on a main street in Tehran. It got so bad people actually stopped to ask if they could help or what was wrong. Good times.
This evening we went to 2 different houses of friends of Jay and Nooshie’s – as always we were treated exceptionally well and left both houses with full bellies.
Tomorrow the kids and I are going to hang here while Laila and her mom go shopping.
As we are preparing for our journey home I wanted to summarize my trip..In a few bullets.
- without exception the Iranian people I have interacted with…this includes family, friends and random people across the city…have been nothing but friendly, jovial and inquisitive.
- Iran the country, as well as Tehran, has endless possibilities for anyone interested is sites of historical significance
- Tehran has the traffic and pollution of any major city – however, I have never seen such skilled driving. At first I thought the lack of accidents was due to luck…in the end I realized the people are just all very aware and skilled at avoiding each other.
- The mountains surrounding Iran are amazing and so convenient…The Tochal mountain I hiked twice is the Iranian version of central park. Food, nature and endless people watching.
- I wish I95 was as a good of a highway as the main highways here.
- Tehran has very few obese people…I don’t know how as I gained 10lbs in 2 weeks and felt I was somewhat active. It might have to do with the endless food choices.
- the country is just filled with amazingly beautiful woman
- traveling with 3 young kids is not easy but I wouldn’t have changed them coming…this is a trip we will talk about for decades
- I am leaving speaking and understanding a lot more Farsi but still have the vocabulary of a 2 year old.
- the greatest reststop in the world is on the outskirts of Tehran…basically in the middle of the desert. I would have no problem going to this reststop just to hangout, eat and shop.
- I can’t wait to get home but Also cant wait to come back