As soon as our plane touched the ground in Tehran, all women who did not do so before had to put on a hijab to cover their head and chest. In the beginning it felt a bit strange, especially since Iran is the only country in the world where tourists even non muslims have to wear a hijab. But also after some time and due to the windy weather it’s still difficult to get used to.
Because we did not have enough time to organize a visa before our trip to Iran we had to go for a visa on arrival. We almost got our visa very quickly after a few minutes until the officer realized that we are not married. After that he suddenly was playing tough and wanted to know everything about our trip and accommodation for each day in detail. Good that we had prepared an excellent Excel (guess who made it :)). After seeing it the officer started laughing and we got our visa.
Coming from Oman we were used to clean roads modern cars and respectful driving. We were both a bit surprised that Tehran is the direct opposite: Dirty roads, cars nearly falling apart and driving with no rules… We were happy when we survived the first taxi ride to our hostel. After one of the best dinner in Iran (cafe theroon) we went to bed early because we had to take the plane to Shiraz the next morning.
Shiraz and Persepolis
After we arrived in Shiraz we did some sightseeing in town. The most interesting thing was the pink mosque (Nasir-ol-Molk) with the beautiful colored windows. While we were sightseeing we found a local hipster coffee shop. When talking for some time with the owner we realized that people are struggling between the old Persian and the Islamic culture with its strict regime. For example we also learned that when an Iranian wants to say thank you he can choose between different Farsi or Arab words. Depending on which word he chooses it also tells a lot about his mindset. In general Shiraz seemed poorer than the other cities we have seen but as a surprise we have also found the most beautiful and clean mosque (Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine) in the city center.
We stayed in a traditional hotel which means there is a nice courtyard in the middle with rooms around. Also the way from the reception to our room was quite complicated and we got lost a couple of times. See the video below 🙂
The next day we made a half day trip to Persepolis, the ruins of the ancient time (500 before Christ) of Persia. We had a very good tour guide who could explained a lot about the Persian history (Achaemenid and Sassanian Empire). To finish the tour, we drove by Necropolis, some tombs built into a huge stone.
To get to Yazd we took the bus which was an adventure of its own. We had a pre-booked ticket from our hotel, but when we arrived at the bus terminal 5 minutes before departure a guy “helped” us and brought us directly into a ticket counter. There a lady told us that our bus was canceled for no reason and they wanted to book us for the next bus that was leaving 1.5h later. After we insisted to understand the reason why the bus was canceled it got more hectic and we started to feel that something is strange. When we had another look at our ticket, we realized the first guy brought us into a different bus company to sell us another ticket!
Feeling both tricked, we found the right counter. There we were told that was of course not canceled (the lady before lied straight into our face) and managed to enter the bus still on time.
After 3 hours and half way with the bus the story continued and the bus driver suddenly told us that we did not pay enough for the ticket (the bus was full with other local people, but of course it was only us who did not pay enough…). We played dumb and went back to our seats after some heated discussions.
A local guy in the bus who was translating for the driver, must have felt bad how we were treated and offered us a free ride to our hotel after we finally arrived in Yazd.
Our (personal) impression of Iran goes into the same direction and is a bit mixed: There are a lot of friendly and nice people, but also other people where you have to be careful (Taxi-, Busdriver and Touroperator).
Yazd is a town in the desert and has a very special old town, where all houses are built very basic from dried mud bricks. We loved the vibe with very friendly people, the narrow allies in the old town and the lovely small coffee shops with rooftops.