As we landed in Tehran, Robyn joined all the other women putting on a veil. On the advice of our travel guide book, Robyn was also wearing a very conservative 'Shalwar Kameez' that she had gotten years ago in Pakistan. As it turned out, she attracted a fair bit of attention in Iran for being the only person wearing such an old fashioned costume — all the women in Tehran looked very hip with nice shoes, jeans, black coats that went just below the butt and fashionable head scarfs. In any case, the veil got a little tiring after a couple weeks, Robyn had to get dressed head to toe every time she stepped out of our hotel room, even to go 5 feet down the hallway to use a shared bathroom.

The people in Iran were extremely friendly. Unlike many muslim countries, the women often approached Robyn when I wasn't around. Like many countries, they always wanted to know where we were from. On this trip, the correct answer was 'Australia', since I wasn't traveling on my US passport and didn't want to attract any undue attention from the police.

We visited the museums of Tehran, the traditional houses of Kashan, the mosques, tea houses and bridges of Esfahan, the desert city of Yazd and Darius the Great's ruins of Persepolis near Shiraz. Everywhere, Iran's signature blue tiled mosques were unique to us and some of the most beautiful that we have seen. In Tehran it was erie to walk around the old US embassy, you can still see the US eagle on the front gate. Across the street is a disturbing museum dedicated to all the 'martyrs' of the Iran-Iraq war. It consists of dozens of display cases, one for each 'martyr'. Each display case contains their personal effects, usually including the bloody shirt they died in. On a less depressing note, we visited the massive mausoleum complex being built to house the grave of Khomeni. I was surprised we were allowed in, but no one paid any attention to us. They were all too busy picnicing, napping, playing (if they were kids) or praying!

When leaving Tehran, an English speaking cab driver drove us to the bus station. He explained that he worked as a Hawk missile instructor with the American military in Iran for 8 years prior to the revolution. He continued to work for the Iranian military in the same capacity throughout the Iran-Iraq war. I asked him if they ran out of American missiles I was interested to know if they continued to get them from the US after the revolution. However, he laughed and said 'no problem, the Shah bought a lot of missiles!'

Esfahan is everyones favorite city in Iran. It has a spectacular central square ringed by 2 beautiful mosques and a palace. We also had a great time wandering along the river between tea houses based at each of the cities famous bridges. On average, I drank about 45 cups of tea a day in Iran because (obviously) there is nothing alcoholic to drink (even Coke is hard to find) and there is zero else to do after sunset. We slept and read a lot!

In Esfahan we also visited the Armenian Orthodox Cathedral. The interior of this 400 year old church was covered with gruesome paintings depicting various kinds of torture from the cliche (disembowelment and eye gouging) to the novel (inverted water enima).

The food in Iran was terrible! We read that Iranian food in the home is excellent, but the only thing available in restaurants was fatty kebabs with no spices and bland soups and stews- Iranians apparently don't like spice. :( Robyn cried one night when we got a dinner she couldn't eat!

One of our favorite mosques in Iran, Mosque Jameh in Yazd.
Persepolis, near Shiraz, build by Darius the Great.
Door of the active Zoroastrian fire temple 50kms from Yazd.
Christmas dinner at the trendy Silk Road Hotel in Yazd. Two nights before the Islamic police (morality police) raided the place just after we went to sleep. They were unhappy with the young Iranian people who were there. Boys and girls were mixing and women were smoking sheeshas. As a result, very few Iranians came the rest of the time we were there and several very serious looking Islamic policemen watched us have our Christmas dinner- we felt like we were in a zoo!


Windtowers are a common feature of the desert city of Yazd, which must be smoking hot during the summer. The towers direct any wind into the house below.
The mouseleum complex of Aytaollah Khomeni in Tehran.
Sitting on a Zoroastrian 'Tower of Silence', another one is to the right of Robyn. Until 40 years ago, the dead were placed in these towers until the birds ate everything but the bones- hard core! Zoroastrianism is the traditional religion of Iran, linked to the Parsies in India. About 30,000 people still follow the religion. The majority live around Yazd.
The central square of Esfahan, with the main mosque on the end and the palace on the right.
Tea and qalyan (water pipe) in a tea house at the base of one of the famous bridges of Esfahan.
The traditional houses in Yazd have two knockers that make different sounds, one for women and one for men.
A teahouse in Shiraz at the shrine of the poet Hafez.
One of the provocative paintings on the wall of the old US Embassy in Tehran.

page created on October 14, 2014