01st of August 2017 (10 Mordad 1396), 32°C, smog and no wind. Had a nice bread, cheese, nuts and banana milkshake breakfast with Arta. After which he took me to visit the Sa’d Abad Palace.
Tehran is really huge (20 million inhabitants), it took us two taxi rides and half an hour in the subway to get to the palace. Before entering it one must choose (and pay) for what he wants to visit, the kitchen museum, the tableware museum, the water museum, etc. We decided to visit the main building (where the Shah used to live and work), the Queen art gallery and the Omidvar brothers museum (two famous Iranian explorers who traveled the world for 10 years, filming documentaries).
Travel tip: in order to avoid being ripped off by local taxi drivers in Tehran you can use Snapp (an App similar to Uber).
After a nice falafel sandwich for lunch Arta took me back to the city centre where his mother, Zohreh, who works as an accountant, was waiting to guide me through the Golestan Palace and the Bazaar. The Golestan (flowers) Palace is an overwhelming collection of colourful tiles and shinny mirror works, built during the reign of Tahmasb I (1524-1576) of the Safavid Dynasty.
The Bazaar was once again a delight to my senses, the colours of the carpets, the smells of the spices, the shouting of the vendors, everything “sings” in perfect harmony.
02nd of August 2017 (11 Mordad 1396), 36°C, smog and no wind. Woke up early and left the house with Zohreh to visit the National Museum, a collection of archeological findings since the prehistoric times in Iran. After which went to see the Contemporary Art Museum, which was holding the temporary exhibition “Parviz Tanavoli and the lions of Iran”, depicting the importance and symbolism of the Persian Lion (now extinguished) in the Iranian culture and art. Finished the daily tour with a discrete passage by the former U.S.A. Embassy, where the U.S. diplomats were held captives for more than 400 days following the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
03rd of August 2017 (12 Mordad 1396), 38°C, smog and no wind. As Arta and his mother had to go away for the weekend (which is Thursday and Friday in here) I had to find a new host in Tehran. At 2pm I was arriving at Fatemeh (a warm-hearted architect) and Samaneh’s (a joyful computer engineer) apartment, where a delicious lunch was waiting for me, eggplants stuffed with minced meat and mushrooms served on a rice bed (cooked with lavash bread at the bottom instead of the traditional potatoes. Thinking on you João…). We (Samaneh, Fatemeh, Fatemeh’s boyfriend, Babak, and I) spent the afternoon talking and drinking tea; I learnt about Hafez poems, Asghar Farhadi movies, Mahmoud Doolatabadi books, Arash music and that several Sufi leaders are in jail (more information here). In the evening we went to Tochal Park, a.k.a. the rooftop of Tehran, a mix of green and amusement park on the top of the Alborz Mountains north of the city (3933m).
04th of August 2017 (13 Mordad 1396), 39°C, smog and no wind. Woke up late, had breakfast at home, watched a movie, had a nice lunch cooked by Fatemeh, chicken stew, Iranian rice and salad with yogurt (which they use as side dish in almost every meal). After lunch we kept ourselves layed down on the couches, sharing thoughts about music, books and poetry. I was really in need for a cozy afternoon like that! In the evening we went out to feel the most trendy neighbourhood in town, Darband.
Tehran has it all, traditional and modern, chaotic and cosmopolitan, dirty and fancy… Wish I had more time to experience it…
Curiosity: Iranian currency is called Rials, but on the streets everybody uses Tomans (10 Rials = 1 Toman) and it looks like this…
If you would like to know more about tourism in Iran check Samaneh’s website (English version coming soon).