Magical Journey around Iran

A Magical Journey around Iran

I always had a fascination for Iran and Persian culture. I was able to finally experience 13 days of Iran, not through the eyes of CNN, the government's travel advisory or other political special interest groups but from my own eyes! The results, I must admit, were gloriously wonderful, and above any expectations I have had.
I must admit that I had, over the years, had been involuntarily preconditioned and perhaps brainwashed by our government media/ propaganda machine about Iran, and it was one of the facets which during my trip, to eradicate those negative notions from my beliefs about that beautiful country. At first it was a battle between my mind, reality as well as the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran pertaining to American tourists, which are dramatically different from the other tourists visiting Iran.

As I sat in my Atlas Air seat on a flight bound from Istanbul to Tehran, while the plane was lifting off from Ataturk runway, my mind warned me, "this plane is on its way to Iran!... IRAN!! and you are on it!  Looking around me on the plane, seeing that most of the passengers were Iranians, including the two kind Iranian guys sitting next to me, practicing their English with me, while others on the flight were screeching and laughing loudly from jokes and other vivacious behaviour! Persians are a happy people who like to joke!  I had a nice dinner with some Turkish red wine served by the beautiful Iranian flight attendant on our Tehran bound flight.
I had flown over Iran many times in which I would look with wonder at the city lights far below the plane while flying to other destinations. This time I again watched from my window the city lights of Teheran below, but this time the plane will be landing and not merely passing by. Once again I felt that strange sensation in my head as the plane was landing, and a cold chill raced down my back when the wheels of our plane touched down on Iranian soil on the runway, " Oh my gosh! I am "IN" Iran!".
Sadly when one mentions travel to Iran, ominous images and labels appear in the mind; "Religious fanatics" "State Sponsored Terrorism", "Human rights abusers" " Ayatollah Khomeini and the Axis of Evil" with crowds of people chanting "death to America", hostages, hezbollah, fanatical mullahs, and the movie "Arco".
I came to prove to myself all of these were a fallacy and did this with great success!
In the queue where passports were getting stamped, I was next to go up and the handsome muscle bound immigration officer seeing my passport was from the US  left everyone else behind me wait whilst he shouted "omreekoi yeee" to the other officers standing around. My heart shook a bit when I had to follow him to the others. With the other two staring at me, one of them points me to go to an office. "Go there" I  "Ok, here it goes" my mind told me.In my head, quick flashes of (misleading!) CNN media flickered b, and the thought, "what's going to happen now"?  I entered the room and a smiling and playful immigration officer was sitting next to a finger print machine. I also had a smile during the whole passport immigration ritual and  I greeted the officer with "Salaam" and had a smile. He asked me in Farsi how I was and I answered him back in Farsi that I was fine. He started speaking quickly in Farsi to me and I told him in broken Farsi that I don't speak Farsi well. He continued in Farsi, translating to "very very little" and both of us giggled and I nodded my head, repeating in Farsi what he said to me. That made the atmosphere in the room playful, which led to a kind of brotherly bonding. He held my hand and positioned each finger on the machine, having to repeat the fingers at times, but at the end he kept his hand cradled around mine a bit longer after the fingerprinting process was already completed. Looking at me with a smile with his hand still holding my hand, we both giggled with each other. I was allowed to go out afterwards. All of those Iranian immigration officers looked at me in my eyes, and I gave a humble smile back, and I believe, beyond my passport, and our ugly politics, that they saw in me that I am "just another guy like they are", and I am not my passport nor my government. This was a fun start and a welcoming feel to Iran. I was happy to see the sign and my driver among the crowd at the arrivals door!

This is the first page of the many editions which I will write about. The thirteen days I was in the Islamic Republic were full as I had made it a point to have as many interactions with Iranians as possible, down to every elderly man on the street when I was asking for directions to my long time chat friends from the internet. I will sa, because of their genuine kindness and hospitality, I found it immensely rewarding.

 I must apologise in advance for the quality of my photos taken throughout my journey in Iran. I traditionally borrow photos from my friends who came along but this time I was left to my own devices and my photography skills are very far from professional. Anyway, the photos are seen from my eyes!

I love the tea ritual and all the things regarding tea in the Middle East! One could enjoy tea virtually anywhere!

Along with the encounters I had with people, I will also mention about the food and drink from the various regions, the places I stayed at, Iranian music from pop to traditional, as well as the plethora of historical sites which I had visited in one of the cradles of civilisation. I will always remember our wonderful driver. He came to know that I love Googoosh. Whenever a Googoosh song came on his music selection he would put the volume up for me. When everyone was off of the van he would play some Persian pop music loudly and both he and I would dance wildly in the van!

This trip was only an introduction to Iran for me and I have a thirst to encounter different areas of Iran, mainly following the nomadic peoples and also staying in the caravanserai along the route, as well as to soak in the thermal hot springs in their various locations around the land. I also hope my excitement spreads to others evolving into the ultimate journey of fun to Iran in the very near future!
If you have any questions or comments I will be happy to hear from you!