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Iran Trip Report, Part 1

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Just back from our trip to Iran and Armenia...not sure where to post the Armenia details but here goes with Iran.

Iran is the most fascinating country and we had a wonderful time, there is so much to see and do that it should be packed with hitory, architecture and culture buffs!

Amazingly they LOVE Americans and make a strong distinction between the people and the government. Because my husband and I are a Brit and an American we had to be on a tour to get our visas....

I didn't fancy a tour with alot of people and the tours from the US are very expensive so we decided to organize the whole thing over the internet with an Iranian travel agent (www.irangashttour.com)
They arranged a 14 night customized itinerary just for the two of us, Tehran, Isfahan, two nights in a nomadic camp, Shiraz, Kerman and Yazd.

Isfahan is certainly a highlight we loved the bridges, mosques, the quality of the stunning tilework and age of the buildings, many 500-300 year old. The Chehel sotun palace was gorgeous, with a classical Persian garden outside and incredibly beautiful painted mural inside including court scenes, musicians and dancing girls fortunately not painted over after the revolution! The carpet shops were wonderful and we even found one who took a credit card charged through Dubai. The Iranians are so friendly and trusting that the carpet shops will let you put down 25% in cash and then you send the rest when you get home.

People were so friendly and this makes Iran one of the most culturally accessible countries we have ever visited. Obviously there are very few foriegners there these days...kids wanted to take our photos and everyone loves to talk and particularly to complain about the government!

After Isfahan we drove through the Zagros mountains, encountered a nomadic wedding on the way where we saw traditional music and dancing...unbelievable and then on for two days camping next to a nomadic group.

The tour company had organized all of this for us and when we arrived, in the car with our guide the owner of the tour company, Mr. Ghajar had come out from Shiraz to meet us and had already set up our tents with another young man....I have never encountered such service, throughout the trip he called us daily to ensure we were happy and even had us to dinner at his house!

We were interested in hiking and he organized an interesting hike with a guide and arranged to drive us back from the hike with a visit to a fascinating US educated local geologist who also happened to be the leader of the local nomadic communities...we couldn't believe how much trouble they went to.

The nomads were fascinating, they move in the spring and autumn and live in bllack tents. They work all the time and the women spin wool even when sitting and chatting. The keep goats and sheep and supplement their subsistence by selling carpets and kilims which they weave themselves. They were so warm and hospitable and it was a look into an entirely different world.

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