Below is a hastily typed report from Maha, who is leading the group tour in Iran. We will have more soon!
My trip to Iran
We left the house Robin and me at 3pm headed to Seatac airport, checked in and went thru customs, everything went smoothly.
After 14hrs on Emirates airlines, a great airline, we arrive Dubai, had 6 hrs layover. We had to change our clothes and wear what we packed in our carry on for Iran, long skirt to the ankle, long sleeve shirt and the scarf that we wore upon arrival. We met Joanne who is on my group, from Bellevue. We then flew to Iran. Upon arrival in the airport at 3am Iran time, on Friday the 16th, met Sandy, Jeanne and Bill Kaimakis, these 2 were supposed to arrive in Iran a day earlier, but Bill fell in Dubai and had to go to emergency, so they had to postpone their trip one day.
All 6 of us went to the non-Iranians line with all other visitors, it took us 3 hrs to get to the security guy who checks the passports, but it all went well, no finger prints and our luggage were right there. We picked up and went out of the airport where Faten from the local office was waiting with a Caravan Serai sign. She is so nice gave me a big hug, although this is the first time I see her.
1st observation: Iranians are warm and friendly.
We drove to the Espinas hotel, checked in and went to our room, that was already 9am.
Went to breakfast and at 10.30 met the whole group and Bahman our wonderful guide in the lobby.
2nd observation: the group looks really nice and seems like they will get along fine.
We then started our tour, we went for a tour of Tehran, stopped at the National archaeological museum, the glass and ceramic museum. After lunch we went to the jewelry and carpet museums then back to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Everyone was tired and still jetlag.
On Saturday the 17th we visited the Saad Abad Palace and the Military museum, had lunch in an Iranian pizzeria it was good.
On Sunday the 18th we checked out early, transferred to the domestic airport to fly to Kerman.
3rd observation: Iranians actually like Americans, and very happily surprised when we tell them we are from the US, they want to know more, men and women are very friendly.
Upon arrival Kerman we were picked up and transferred to the Pars hotel, we have 2 drivers because from now on we will be driving from one city to another and by law driver can only do 8 hrs a day.
On Sunday and Monday we visit Kerman. The Masjeda jamee, amazing colors, fountains, we then walked to the local souk, all kinds of stores were locals shop, clothes, spices, house stuff, walked all over, went in a bath house and a coffee shop where we had tea and hooka.
We also visited a huge court yard and a wax museum, we went to a handicraft store, we also visited both villages of Rayen and Mahan.
4th observation: Iran is not as strict as we thought it was, as long as you are dressed respectfully and women have a scarf on, no body bothers you, walking in the bazaars and souks is easy, the sellers are not aggressive at all, unlike in Egypt they follow you and sometimes pull you in the store and bug you until you buy something.
It’s also very clean and no poor, beggars, or homeless people that we saw.
on Tuesday the 20th, we checked out and started our long drive to Shiraz, we stop in different places to take pictures,visited a castle and a citadel, we had a picnic lunch in a very nice park 5th observation: Iran is surrounded by mountains and lots of clean parks where locals go hangout with friends and family.
NITZA brought with her lollipops that she hands to the kids, parents and kids appreciate it an are very happy.
After 11 hrs drive we arrive Shiraz, check in, the hotel is great. After dinner we go out and walk around, cute town, small shops and again nice people, very helpfull and friendly.
Wednesday the 21st we visited the shahram museum, sonar el molk house, the Quran door and had lunch in a wonderful restaurant called Haft Khan open buffet with all kinds of amazing Iranians dishes.
Then we went to the carpet store where everyone in the group bought a gorgeous carpet, we also visited the fort of Karim Khan, the Nazar garden, the Pars museum, bazaar vakil, and the Vakil mosque.
Thursday the 22nd we had a full morning visit to Persepolis. Amazing site, lunch in a local garden, dinner also was good in a local restaurant downtown Shiraz called Brentin. It was delicious pepper steak and fish. This was a very chic neighborhood with all the famous brand stores. The streets are bustling as Thursday is the start of the weekend.
Friday the 23rd wake up at 6am checkout and on our way to Yazd.
We stopped on the way few times to visit sites we saw the oldest tree and drove thru Taft, a small cute town, also bathrooms stops and lunch.
6th observation all public toilets are only squad toilets, most of them smell really bad, no tp but you can wash your hands always keep tp and soap with you.
The hotel in Yazd was a boutique hotel very cute and cozy, with lots of fruit trees, we had dinner outside.
Saturday the 24th we visited the town, bought baklava and walked thru the gold souk, back to the hotel for another delicious lunch and on our way to Isfahan, we have few stops before we get to our hotel.
We saw the citadel, post office and an ice house, so cool someone was talking on one side and we could totally hear him thru the wall on the other side.
We arrive Isfahan after 7hrs drive, at 7.30pm, checked in and dinner in the hotel.