When we set out to plan our journey to the Far East we hadn’t decided on staying for long in the Middle East. We had only planned on stopping over in Dubai for a short visit before reaching Sri Lanka.
However we had heard some amazing stories from backpackers who had visited Iran. At first our ignorant minds wandered about ISIS in Iraq and Taliban’s in Afghanistan. How can it possibly be safe to travel to Iran, bordered between these two unstable countries? But we were wrong! After filtering through media propaganda and US embassy warnings, we found heaps of real stories from travellers all mentioning how safe it is to travel to Iran. Violent crime rates are low (lower than US) and tourism is quite underdeveloped making it hard for people to live on pickpocketing tourists.
After more online research we discovered all the amazing things Iran has to offer. The country is huge with four season occurring in different places all year round. Iran seems to offer everything a nature-lover can desire. You can go skiing in the world class skiing resort in Dizin, hike up Damavand volcano (5610 m, the largest peak in the Middle East), take a boat trip inside the biggest water cave in the world, visit the orange hot springs in Soort Badab, or ride a camel in Shahdad desert (the hottest spot on earth). Suddenly Iran was getting to the top of our “countries we must visit” list.
Wearing a Hijab is compulsory by law in Iran
Iranians are famous for being one of the most hospitable nations in the world. We didn’t have to wait long to test this reputation…already, while we were waiting to board our plane to Lar (our first destination in Iran) we started to get invitations to peoples homes. Iranians are really interested to know what we think of the country. Our opinion about Iran seems really important to them, so they truly do their best to be helpful and hospitable towards foreigners.
Landing in Iran felt like going 40 years back in time. Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the United States among other governments imposed sanctions against Iran (Like in Cuba). So it’s quite interesting to see the streets which are covered with extremely old cars and the lack of technology in the country.
Enjoying the warm weather
A lot of Iranians are members on couchsurfing, a website for free homestay with locals all around the world (for more information see our blog from Dubai). Our first night we stayed with a lovely family in Lar, a small town in South-Iran. As in many of the smaller towns and cities of Iran, families stick together, live in the same building and meet up daily. That certainly characterized Mohammad and his big family. It was lovely to see the eldest play with the youngest and help in the kitchen, taking part in their everyday life. A nursery home doesn’t seem to be an option here like as in most Western countries. They truly respect the elderly.
In Lar we were invited for dinner after dinner, from relative to relative. We were quickly introduced to Iranian cuisine and the tradition of eating on the carpet (which is the usual way of dining for most Iranians, whether poor or rich). At first we had some difficulties finding a comfortable position, but with every meal our ligaments seemed to get more and more used to the strain. Somehow sitting together on a beautiful Persian carpet makes the atmosphere more relaxed and less formal than dining at a table. This is a tradition that we will definitely nurture in the future for certain occasions at our home in Iceland, but first we have to buy a nice carpet !
Getting used to the Iranian culture
Admiring the beautiful persian hand-made carpets
Hadi and his sister-son running up to the 600 year old castle in Lar
Beautiful Shrines and Mosques here in Iran
After a short stay in Lar, we headed north by bus to the former capital, Shiraz, famous for winemaking, poets and beautiful gardens. Read about our adventures in Shiraz here!
Are you thinking about travelling to Iran? Read our Ultimate travel guide to Iran here!
Find all our blogs from Iran here!
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