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Abyaneh village, Dizin skiing, Iran, Iran travel guide, safe iran, safe to visit iran, Shiraz, skiing in Iran, Tehran, travel advice iran, visit iran, Yazd -

On our one way ticket to the Far East we never planned on stopping in Iran, a country we knew little about. However we had heard some amazing stories from backpackers who had visited Iran. So we decided to go for it! And boy are we happy that we did. We spent one month travelling the country, from the date palm trees in the south, through the deserts in the west to the freezing mountains in the north. Iran seems to offer everything a nature-lover can desire, where you can enjoy four seasons all-year round. Here you’ll find the hottest deserts on earth, the world’s largest water cave and the tallest mountains in the Middle-East. Not to mention, being repeatedly titled the most hospitable nation in the world by experienced travellers, with an unrivaled cultural heritage of ancient Persia. But is it really safe to visit Iran? At first our ignorant minds wandered about the Islamic State in Iraq and Afghani Taliban. 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 travel stories, all mentioning […]

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Alborz mountains, Dizin, Iran, Middle East, Rich kids of Tehran, Skiing, Tehran -

Our last week in Iran was spent in and around the capital, Tehran. Regarded by outsiders as a busy, crowded and a polluted city with one of the worst traffic in the world. Our first impression fully agrees with that description. Arriving by metro at Imam Khomeini square was a complete chaos. It seems like the traffic doesn’t give a shit about pedestrians; the cars will never stop for you when crossing, even on the rare crossing lanes. The locals seem to know how to deal with this by playing a game of “chicken”, they just cross over boldly without hesitating, forcing the cars to cave in. Andri trying to cross the busy street. No traffic lights! Total chaos! We later found out that Imam Khomeini Square, named after their first religious leader, had been known as Shah Square before the Islamic Revolution in 1979. This is not the only example, but many mosques, gardens, squares and streets that had previously been named after the Shah’s, or the kings of Iran, for hundreds of years were now named after their religious leader or ayatollah. Many Iranians still use the old names in protest, but all maps and signs have been […]

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Abyaneh village, Dasht-e Kavir Salt Lake, Iran, Iran nuclear debate, Kashan, Maranjab desert, Middle East, Traditional houses, underground city -

There are many old historical mountain villages in Iran, where the clock seem to tick slower then in the bigger cities. We decided to visit one of them, Abyaneh, often referred to as the Red Village for its red mud brick houses and the surrounding mountain terrain (bearing the same colour due to iron oxides). The houses are arranged like steps up the hillside, so the roofs of some houses are the front yards of the next one up. Abyaneh is at least 1500 years old (dating back to the Sassanid era), originating from the time of the Arab invasion, when many of the Zoroastrian followers fled to the mountains and deserts to escape forced conversion to Islam. Because of their isolation, the villagers speak a dialect of their own, which is though to predate modern Persian or Farsi, with less Arabic influence. To reach the village we decided to hitch a ride from Esfahan. Without effort we managed to reach the nearmost town, Natanz, famously known for its heavily guarded “secret” nuclear facilities. This is the main reason for the present sanctions of the United Nations against Iran, keeping it economically imprisoned. After some online research you will find […]

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Esfahan, Iran, Isfahan, Middle East, The Naqsh-e Jahan square, the Vank cathedral -

Centrally located, east of the Zagros Mountain range, this former capital of Iran is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with tree lined boulevards, historical bridges and Islamic architecture. There is a famous rhyme in Persian “Esfahan nesf-e Jahan”, meaning “Esfahan is half of the world”. Esfahan (Isfahan) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iran so we were excited to spend a few days there to explore what the city has to offer. We stayed with a local couple through couchsurfing. We were greeted with warm tea and fresh fruits, but unlike our previous hosts, this was the first time we sat by a dinner table, instead of sitting on the living room carpet. In Esfahan we felt a bit more close to Europe. It felt a bit more modern. The Naqsh-e Jahan square, a UNESCO site and one of the largest city squares in the world, reminded us of a park in Vienna. It was calm, people were relaxing on the grass, and tourists were circling the square on touristy horse wagons. The scenery is however stunning, on one end you have the famous Shah mosque, the other the imperial […]

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Bazar, Dowlat Abad Garden, hospitality, Iran, Iran desert, Iran opium, Islamic Revolution, Kaluts, Kerman, Middle East, Opium, Yazd -

The desert city Kerman After Shiraz we decided to visit the desert city, Kerman, located in East-Iran. It took us another 6 – 7 hours in a bus to get there. We were in a bit of a shock when we first entered the city, most buildings seemed either completely ruined or under construction. The reason is, the city is still recovering after a big earthquake 2003. In Kerman we were lucky to be invited to stay with a local named Mohsen. His house was situated in a creepy ally in one of the old streets close to the bazaar. At first we thought we were entering a slum, so we were surprised to find out that his house was on three floors and decorated with expensive carpets and furniture. We even got a private apartment just for ourselves! We enjoyed walking through the city, visiting different teahouses and old historical baths. During the evening it seemed like the whole city had arrived to do some shopping at the bazar. Salesmen were screaming out their products, claiming the best price and quality, selling everything from fresh vegetables and saffron to Persian carpets.  Here you mainly see locals shopping, unlike the […]

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