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I know it's OT but I trust you guys for good travel advice

I know it's OT but I trust you guys for good travel advice

Old Feb 10th, 2008, 09:06 AM
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I know it's OT but I trust you guys for good travel advice

I'm currently enrolled in a 4 year asian classics course at U of Chicago. First year was India (read a lot of the ancient hindu and buddhist texts and Mahabharata, Ramayana etc); this year is Middle East (mostly Persia and a lot of Islam and sufism); 3rd year is China and last year is Japan. It's a fabulous program and much to my shock it is making me want to visit Iran. Needless to say I have a lot of conerns about it and I know politically things could change on a dime but have any of you ever gone? There's virtually nothing on the Middle East forum. Distant Horizons does a tour there every year with a scholar and that's the way I would probably go. But before I pursue it much more (would probably be for 2009) I wonder what experiences/thoughts any of you have?
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 10:28 AM
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The New York Times travel section has a front page article on Iran today. I'd love to go, but in addition to potential difficulties about getting a visa, I'm also not wild about the clothing restrictions for women. Still, it's high on my "dream" list in combination with Central Asia. BTW, your course sounds fascinating.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 10:43 AM
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go to Conde Nast Traveler's website, a few months ago they did a big article on travel in Iran... I agree with you I would love to go, they have an amazing 6000 year old culture.

Please be aware that Persians love Americans, the Iranian people love Americans & our culture... they do not like our government.

Be aware that many Americans think that Iranians are Arabic, they are not Arabic they are Persian & Asyrian & their culture is not Arabic but Persian & Asyrian.

I have an Asyrian friend who is very proud of his ancient culture... the Persians have beautiful mosaics/paintings that depict people (not found in most Arabic cultures).... they are also persecuted by the rest of the Middle Eastern nations as they are not Arabic.

Do not be afraid to travel there... see if there isn't a Persian cultural center in your home city. I went to graduate school with many Persians & they are educated, friendly & welcome interest in their homeland.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Oh, I'm not worried about the people in Iran -- more worried about what the US government will do while I'm there that could impact me! And I do know that their culture is Persian-- I just finished reading their 1000 year old epic -- Shanameh-- and am currently reading their Conference of the Birds. And in a few weeks I start reading Rumi. And in the first quarter of the class I'm taking I read the koran the the 40 Hadiths and am now also reading the Life of the Prophet (5 of the 12 volumes). It's my reading that has made me so interested in going.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 12:59 PM
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Gloria, like you, I'd worry about what the US might do while you were there. I'd wait until our politics have calmed down, which will hopefully be by the time you are interested in going!
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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Gloria,
We visited Iran and Armenia in 2003 and it was one of the most fascinating trips we have taken.

Iran was a so interesting, both in terms of contemporary cultural politics and historically. I can't begin to describe the beauty of their mosques, palaces and sites like Persepolis.

I wrote a long trip report but for some reason I can't find it when I search, perhaps Fodors gets rid of things before a certain date. I would repost it here but I can't seem to find it in my files...oh dear!

WE had a wonderful time, Tehran, Isfahan, then overland to Shiraz stopping overnight with a nomadic family. Persepolis, Kerman, Bam and Yadz. People were so welcoming and very friendly.

We went with a local tour company www.irangashttour.com and I can't recommend this way of doing it highly enough, For less than half the cost of the US tours we had a private tour with a charming guide. He took us to such interesting places, including an army officers club! We met his family, he couldn't have done more for us. Booking directly costs about half what you'll pay with a US group and frankly these groups (with the exception of the scholar guide) outsource everything to the local operation anyway.

In 2003 we visited just after the beginning of the Iraq debacle and the visa wasn't difficult. We agreed the itinerary with the tour company and they process things on the Iranian end before we applied to the iranian interest section of the Pakistan Embassy. I would suggest contacting Gashttour, they will give you an honest assesment of the visa situation. I highly recommend them, Mr Ghadjar the owner had us around to his home in Shiraz and his wife cooked us a feast.

Though I can't find the trip report we do have wonderful pictures posted online, I think you'll find them interesting www.eyebright.com/travels click on Iran.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask me any questions.

FYI I'm a Brit and my husband is an American
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 02:30 PM
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Thanks so much welltraveledbrit. I will check them out but I have a feeling I will be going alone (at the moment no one I know would consider a trip like that or if they would want to go can't afford it) so I have a feeling I'd be more comfortable on a tour of some kind just for company. I usually avoid tours but this may be one time I would take it. The Distant Horizons trip for 2008 isn't horrible -- it's under $5,300 including air fare and a Persian scholar for an 18 day trip. But I know that 50% of it is their profit/marketing etc as a middleman so I will definitely check out your tour company and see what kind of services they offer.

Kathie-- I'm cautiously optimistic that as of Jan. 2009 our foreign policy will make travel easier to places like Iran.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 03:03 PM
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Gloria,
I understand perfectly the pleasure of a group for company. We're also not inclined towards groups but we took a small group tour to Mali and met wonderful travel companions. When one travels to very out of the way places you have the advantage that the others on the tour are also adventurous and generally very well travelled.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and trip report.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 03:31 PM
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welltraveledbrit-- did you find your trip report? I'd love to read it.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 04:09 PM
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Gloria,
I did find it, you can find it by going to the Africa/Middle East board and click on Iran or
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4

I had a look at the NYT article and I was surprised to see they recommended Gashttour too!
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 04:12 PM
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Sorry the above link just takes you through to the Africa/ME board. Just to let you know there's a second part to the trip report which you'll find if you scroll down after you've selected Iran.


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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 04:36 PM
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found it-thanks!
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 10:31 AM
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I would love to visit Iran, but think it will be a few years before it can happen.

I'm pretty conservative (in dress, actions etc), but because of recent events I've heard about, worry that the Iranian government may seek to make an example of me and my American passport. I have no worries at all about regular Iranian people, but do have concerns about the 'decency police' or whatever they're called.

I've come to the decision that for the forseeable future, I will not be visiting countries that have no official American representatives/consulates.

Interesting question, and one I've had to wrestle with many times.
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