Iran Travel Story: A Memorable 15-year-old’s Wanderlust Through Iran

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Traveling to new destinations opens up a world of exploration and cultural immersion. In this post of the Iran Travel Story Series, we get to know Vandita, a 15-year-old girl from India, who embarked on a remarkable journey to Iran with her family, organized by ToIranTour in May and June 2023. In this blog post, we dive into Vandita’s travel story, capturing her experiences and adventures during her visit from the north to the heart of Iran. Let’s join Vandita as she takes us through the mesmerizing attractions and beautiful cities of this country!

Preparations and Arrival in Tehran

Day 1: From Bangalore to Sharjah

Preparing for our much-anticipated trip to Iran was nothing like the methodical packing described in Jerome K Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat”.

After two weeks of anxiety and pestering government officials for my renewed passport, we finally received our visas. Amma (Hindi for Mom) received hers first, while ours came the next day. 

Originally planning to leave on the 24th, we rescheduled the flight for the 23rd to avoid missing a day of sightseeing in Shiraz due to a public holiday on the 4th of June. We booked a flight for 4:30 am IST and began packing clothes, medicines, and snacks. 

After printing out passport and visa copies and somewhat settling down around 7 pm, Papa realized that we needed RT-PCR tests. Although our travel agent, Tahereh, said they were not necessary, we discovered that Air Arabia mandated them for those who weren’t fully vaccinated, which included Sumedh and me.

Day 2: From Sharjah to Tehran

Upon getting to Tehran, we discovered that our suitcase was shattered. After an hour’s wait, we submitted a damage report to Air Arabia and headed to Karoon Hotel, located on a peaceful residential road. Our travel agent, Tahereh, had been waiting for us for the past two to three hours and showed no signs of frustration or impatience. 

After we freshened up, she offered to walk us to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We gifted her with authentic Mysore Sandal soap and settled the payments before heading to Sa’dabad Palace, our main agenda for the evening. The palace is set in a sprawling botanical garden that houses multiple museums. A short walk from there to our dinner halt, Tajrish Square, wrapped up our first view of Iran.

Day 3: Experiencing the Capital of Iran, Tehran

On our first full day in Tehran, we experienced excellent infrastructure, greenery, and an outstanding network of roads, and an easy-to-use underground metro system. We took the metro to Golestan Palace, exchanged currency with a friendly local, and paid for the palace’s entrance ticket. The palace complex, with many trees, flowers, and bushes, is an ideal location for an evening stroll. Each room in the palace had intricate designs and mirrorwork on the walls.

Tabiat Bridge, designed by a 19-year-old girl, was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip. The place was vibing with a skating rink, colorful lights, a bustling food court, and a good view of the city. The 297-meter-long bridge connecting Ab-o-Atash Park to Taleghani Park is the modern symbol of the capital and is designed on three levels with an area of 7,000 square meters.

Exploring Northern Iran (Rudbar, Rasht, and Ramsar)

Day 4: From Azadi Tower to Masuleh

After a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel, we met our guide for the next three days, Soheil. After a short halt at Azadi Tower, we went through scenic towns, including one called Rudbar, famous for its olives. We couldn’t resist buying some before reaching the ecolodge of Rasht in the Gilan province in the evening. After a small break, we left for Masuleh village. The place was bustling with activity!

Masuleh village, which was a natural version of Tabiat Bridge, astonishingly similar in design!

Vandita K. Rao

Day 5: Ramsar

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Photo by Vandita

I think Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, and Salman Khan have more fans in Iran than in India 😅.

We went up a mountain in a cable car to get a view of the Caspian Sea in Ramsar. Then, we arrived at the hotel at about 11 am and were in for a huge surprise. Each room had two floors with five bedrooms and a private jacuzzi just outside the room! We saw beautiful ivory sculptures, most of them from India, fossils of plants, old utensils and weapons, and exquisite palace rooms.

Next on the itinerary was the beach, but it wasn’t very impressive, with too many shells and algae, and we weren’t allowed to wear shorts. We even tried two to three beaches but to no avail. To compensate for the disappointment of the beach, we spent time in the jacuzzi!

From North into the Heart of Iran

Day 6 – On the way to Kashan

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Photo by Vandita

We started our journey to Kashan at 9 am, expecting to reach by around 6 or 7 pm with a few halts. However, we took our sweet time at each of the stops, whether it was for fruits, snacks, or just to stretch our legs. The last halt, which should have been the second if not the first, was Mt. Damavand, the tallest volcano in the Eastern Hemisphere. Soheil, our guide, said that the base of the mountain is still quite warm, though it hasn’t erupted for more than a century.

We finally reached Kashan at 9:30 pm and said goodbye to our guide.

Day 7 and 8 – Two Days in Kashan and Isfahan

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Photo by Vandita

We had half a day to finish our sightseeing in Kashan before leaving for Isfahan. We started with a historical house belonging to the Tabatabaei family, which was a huge construction that could have housed at least 30-40 people! We even bought a carpet for Smarty and my U19 teammate, Reema.

Seems like Isfahan means “half of the world”, and I think this city was a mini version of Tehran. We visited Khaju bridge and met Mirlo, who was a part of “To Iran Tour”. 

We had breakfast and went to Naghsh-e-Jahan bazaar, expecting to see scores of Chinese goods like the other two bazaars in Tehran and Kashan. Fortunately, we were wrong as there wasn’t a single non-traditional store to be seen!

The shops looked very colorful, and the bazaar was filled with Iranian handicrafts, copper utensils with enamel work, hand-made brass plates with intricate designs, several carpet shops, and a saffron store. We bought many things, including saffron.

In the evening, we spent our time at Khaju Bridge again, where we dipped our legs in the ice-cold river.

Visiting Yazd – a city of rich cultural heritage

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Photo by Vandita

Day 9: a Touch of Iran’s Desert City

Another 10-hour drive awaited us along with two halts. Our first break was at Varzaneh desert, where we took a few pictures and got on the road again. 

The next halt was Narin Qale, a fort more than 1000 years old. There were three divisions very similar to the big city forts of the Indus Valley civilization. We could see small passages possibly leading to dungeons.

After a less impressive halt at Meybod Pigeon Tower (Kabooter Dovecote), we geared up to reach the hotel in about 3 hours. 

If we thought cars couldn’t fly, we were wrong! Our driver flew through the highway at breakneck speed. What should’ve taken us 10 hours with stops took about 7 hours even with some traffic nearing the city. He got cars and even a truck to move out of his way! 

After we landed at Hotel Firoozeh in Yazd, we were welcomed by a Hindi-speaking receptionist of Indian origin. After helping ourselves to some free snacks from the minibar, we asked the receptionist for some suggestions for dinner. She told us about her mother’s restaurant. We wore some casual clothes and reached the restaurant only to see that it was more like a palace! Amma was worried that she wasn’t dressed for the occasion while we were adding up prices in our heads. It didn’t turn out to be as expensive as we thought, and the food was outstanding!👌🏼

Day 10: Second Day in Yazd

On our second day in Yazd, we did a quick visit to Amir ChakhMagh Square and Jame Mosque of Yazd in the morning. In the evening, we visited a fire temple which was a nice experience. There were placards all around the place, explaining the history and fundamental rituals of Zoroastrianism. 

The Tower of Silence was shut by the time we reached, but we climbed up a nearby mountain and got a very good view of it as if we were inside!

Iran Travel Story Comes to an End

Day 11: Yazd to Shiraz

We left for the last city we visited, Shiraz!

The Tomb of Cyrus was our first halt, followed by Pasargadae and Persepolis. We were reminded of Bangalore traffic just as we entered the city! I think most of the towns we went to except Tehran had narrow roads, but the traffic made these roads feel narrower. The city was preparing for the death anniversary of Khomeini, which was the following day.

Day 12: Exploring Shiraz Attractions

There was lots of traffic again as we approached the famous Pink mosque, which was unfortunately shut. So, we moved on to the Narenjestan garden, a beautiful and relaxing example of Persian gardens. We also visited the Eram garden and the tomb of Hafez, a famous Persian poet, which was not that easy as it was shutting just as we reached, but trust Papa to reason his way in! After much explaining that we had come from India and deserved to see the tomb, we were let in.

What is traveling to Iran like?

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Photo by Vandita

Hidden behind all the prejudices and assumptions lies a beautiful country with extremely friendly people.

On the map, Iran might be shaped like a snail, but life here isn’t as slow as one might expect. The capital city of Tehran, bustling with activity, is well-developed with excellent infrastructure. With rows of green trees and bushes, one might forget about the desert. An outing to a single palace or museum can take about half a day if we were in a rush. Beautiful walkways, neat roads, and an amazing layout along with the cultural heritage of the place make it a truly memorable trip.

Traveling to the interior parts of the country brings out a warm and friendly local experience in small towns like Rasht and Kashan. If the design of the lively Tabiat Bridge was not spectacular enough, one cannot miss the small village of Masule in Gilan province with its flat roofs converting to a walkway for the level above. The striking similarity of this village to Tabiat Bridge is hardly a coincidence!

Any number of days is not enough to explore this Land of the Nobles with its rich culture, fresh fruits, great hospitality, and beautiful scenery.

Vandita K. Rao

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Photo by Vandita

Last Words

Want to know what our sweet, adventurous, 15-year-old guest said about her trip to Iran? 🙂

“Wonderful country, wonderful people and above all, a wonderful experience!” 

Vandita K. Rao

Customize your Iran Tours and enjoy an unforgettable trip

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