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Old 3rd September 2015, 13:28   #1
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Default Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

After finishing my MBA, i had a lot of free time i.e from Feb 2013 to Apr 2013. I thought that i would not get the same kind of time anytime in future, so i decided to travel as much as possible.

Also adding in the usual - budget constraints, tickets booking, friends ditching at the last moment.
I think i utilized the time very well -
10 days Rajasthan trip (covered the usual places - Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer)
10 days Bhutan trip (Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa, Bumthang)
5 Days Sikkim trip
4 Days trip to Parvathi valley

and the best of all
15 days Solo backpacking trip to Iran

Reasons for going to Iran -
1. History, i like historical places a lot. The older the place is the more interested i'am, i get awed by how things were in the past.
2. Culture, Iran is culturally so close to ours. You will find a lot of similarities in the food, architecture, language and way of life. As they were not colonialised like us, their culture is still very intact in most cases.
3. People, Iranians are generally very friendly people. In fact many people online claim that they are the most hospitable people on earth, i think there are mutiple reasons for that claim but generally it is true to a certain extent.They are honest in most cases, crime rate is low.
Women are very beautiful . Iran means- the Land of Aryans
4.Movies, i like Iranian movies a lot. Seen many of them.
5. Its exotic, not the usual Eurotrip/S E Asia kind of stuff.
6. Its very cheap at the moment

The trip was decided in just few days, i came back from Bhutan and was thinking about where to go next. Fumbled on to some iranian travelogue and thats it, decided to give it a try.
I did not even apply for VISA, took the risk of getting it on arrival in Iran.
Prepared some notes about places to visit, then booked air tickets, converted forex, packed my bag and thats it i went for it.
Things have changed now, there is no VOA for Indians now. Now there is a long procedure for getting a Visa, i hope things change with the new lifting of Sanctions.

Went there on April 14th and came back on 29th.
Visited 6 cities- Tehran, Kashan, Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz, Tabriz

Some glimpses of Iran, will post a brief report about each city later
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 3rd September 2015, 14:23   #2
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Default re: Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

Nationals of all countries except very few like India, US, Uk, Pakistan can avail VISA on Arrival when they arrive in Iran. I think its available in Tehran, Isfahan,Shiraz Mashad, Tabriz.

Indians used to get VOA when I went there, all the information posted below is of year 2013. Things have changed now. You can get the updated information online.

It costs $40 or 30 Euros for Indians, for others its more some french people were charged 60 Euros some were charged 50 Euros.
You can also apply for Visa at the Iranian embassy in Delhi, its cheaper. It costs about Rs 1100, however it takes time for processing. I went to the embassy for VISA, they said it would take 10 days, as i didn't want to wait i went for VOA.

Now for VOA, you need to have the following:
1. Confirmed return ticket
2. Any one of these -
-Address and contact number of the place in which you are going to stay in Iran
-Invitation Letter from a Iranian and contact number of the person
-Hotel booking confirmation for duration of your stay in Iran, hotel phone number.

At the airport, they call the phone number you give to confirm the above things.
In my case as i didn't have any contact or invitation letter, i booked a hotel in Iran through online. Took the confirmation mail printout as proof. Even when you leave from India without Visa, the airlines people will ask for one of these things.
They airport people called the hotel for confirmation as well. Although i didn't stay in the hotel later.

3. 2 Passport size photographs
They didn't ask for the photos at airport from me, but better keep it.

It takes about 30 to 60 mins for issuance of VOA, also depends on the number of people waiting for it. Generally very few take the risk of VOA.

I went from Delhi to Tehran via Mahan Air(a Private Iranian airline). Its not a Low cost carrier.
From Delhi the only direct flights to Iran are through Mahan Air. There are 4 weekly flights.
The return ticket for Delhi -Tehran -Delhi was Rs 24900, when i went. It could have changed somewhat now, would be usually in the range of 24-26k.
Mahan Air has a office in Connaught Place, Delhi. For booking tickets they ask for your passport xerox copy, visa.
The airlines also has online website but i dont think its possible to book from there.
Iran Air also has direct flights from Mumbai.
The direct flight takes about 4hrs.


Other options for getting into Iran are through transit points like Kuwait, Doha, Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat. They cost more, i checked with Qatar airways it was coming for 30k. Also there is a long waiting time at transit point.

There are 2 airports in Tehran one in the city and one about 60km from the City. Imam Khomeini International Airport is main airport for International arrivals, which is about 60km from the City.

After arrival you need to convert some forex for the taxi to City. Airport forex conversion rates are higher, you should convert forex in the City at Ferdowsi street for best rates. You can also try going to the first floor of the airport to convert forex, they give better rates than the one in the ground floor of the airport.
I converted $50 to take care of my initial expenses.

Iran currency is Rial, which is like paisa. But all the prices are generally quoted in Tomans. 1 Toman = 10 Rials
As per todays exchange rate, $1= 3600 tomans. When i was there it was 3400tomans. And 1Rupee is approxmately 60toman.

The taxi cost from Airport to City is 40000 tomans, flat. You can go by bus and then metro, but it will be complex and tiring.
In Iran the traffic is chaotic, they usually dont follow traffic rules.
Metro service is very good and cheap.
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by AtticusFinch : 17th January 2016 at 16:38.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 14:55   #3
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Default re: Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

City Report 1 - Tehran

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Tehran is a modern day metropolis. It has a population of about 13million. It has Alborz mountains in the north and its in the Central northern part of Iran.
The climate is very good during spring season, it snows sometimes in winters and in summers the temp reaches upto 43c.
The city has good public transportation it has Metro, Bus,BRT, Taxis. As i already said traffic is a big mess though.
The local language is Persian or Farsi as locals say. The medium of education is Farsi. They also learn Arabic, however they dont like Arabic. Arabic is learnt and used mainly because of the Muslim clerics, forceful stuff. Many people dont speak English, the few who speak would have learnt English at the University or through some Eng learning centre.

Farsi or Parsi or Persian is easy to learn. It has a lot of similarity with urdu as Urdu was adapted from Farsi. In restaurants the menu would be in Farsi, even the number system is in Farsi. You will have to learn the number system, if you plan to stay longer. I did learn the number system. The calendar they follow is also the old Persian calendar.


I used couchsurfing for my stay in Tehran, i stayed with a couple for 3days. For other places i stayed in hostels/cheap hotels recommended by locals.
My hosts home was in the centre of the city a place called Darwaza Dolat.
On the first day in the evening, i went to a local park known as Art House Park with my hosts.

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Afterwards,I took them out to a local fastfood chain for dinner.
Dinner for 3 - 35000 toman, it was sandwiches & steak.

Next day, i exchanged my $$ at the Ferdowsi street which is near to Darwaza Dolat. Ferdowsi street is famous for currency converter shops.

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Then bought a local sim card, call charges are even cheaper than India .
Local Sim - 5000 toman
Recharge - 20000 toman
Local Call charges & SMS - 20 to 50 toman
Tourists can get sims at some specified locations only, i got my Irancell sim at the Imam Square Metro station. You can get a sim at the Airport also, but i heard they overcharge and the service is not good.

Went to the Melak Museum and Gallery. The Museum was very good. Entry fee - 300 toman
Generally at Museums all across Iran you have differential pricing like in India. Its 10 to 15 times expensive for tourists. Since this was a private museum they charged me the usual fare. Museums are generally closed on Mondays and they close by 5pm or 6pm.
Some pics of the Museum

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Used the metro to reach Tajrish square on the north side of the city near the alborz mountains.
2 Way ticket -1000 toman
Visited the Tajrish Bazaar, afterwards had lunch at the main circle of Tajrish.
Tajrish Square Metro station

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Tajrish Bazaar

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The food in Iran is generally in large portions, check out the burger size as compared to Pepsi can. I ordered the combo deal and the guy at the counter looked at me weirdly, i understood why when the meal came. The combo deal is at least for 2 people.I thought it was like our Maharaja mac meal in India.
Meal cost - 13000

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Then afterwards visited the Niavaran Palace & Museum complex. Each museum complex has different museums and entry fee is different for each one. You can take a All entry ticket or just entry ticket for the museum you like.
Entry fee for all the galleries, museums - 60000 toman
Some pics of the museum

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Old 3rd September 2015, 16:01   #4
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Next Day,
Since it was my last day in Tehran, it was very hectic. Visited a lot of places.
I went to the Aazadi Square in the morning, got there by Metro. There were some local school students visiting it, got mobbed by them for my autograph.
At Aazadi Square, there is a museum below the monument. The museum has all kinds of metals & minerals samples. You get to see a lot of things that you must have read in the periodic table. You can also go to the top floor of the monument.
Ticket cost -12000 toman

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Then went to the Tehran Bazaar,

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Attachment 1410164

After that Golestan Palace, as i said there are multiple museums inside the Palace complex. I visited some six of them. It was good and quite famous.
Ticket cost - 40000 toman

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Imam Square is like the center of the city from there you can go to multiple places of interest nearby like Tehran Bazaar, Golestan Palace, Iran National Museum, Museum of Nations Jewels, Melak Museum, Ferdowsi street.

Went to the Museum of National Jewels after Golestan Palace, a must visit place. You will see the best collection of jewels anywhere in the world, truly blown away by the collection. It is open only for 4 days in a week and that too from 2 to 4pm only. Plan your visit beforehand. The museum is in the Central Bank of Iran building in front of the German Embassy, walkable from Ferdowsi St or Imam Square.
Museum entry cost - 3000 toman

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Then visited the Iran National Museum, its about 1km from Jewels Museum. Its also very good, with a lot of historical content. Got a quick glance and left for Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
Ticket Cost - 10000 toman

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Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has a very good collection from Picasso, Dali, Monet, Giacometti etc. Definitely worth a visit.
Ticket - 6000 toman
Taxi to Museum of Contemporary Art -7000

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Visited the Laleh Park next to the museum.
Laleh Park

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Afterwards headed for the Milad Tower Complex. It is the 5th tallest tower in the world. You get a very good view of the city from the top. Just visit the observation deck, thats enough. Skydome is not worth the money. Preferably visit the tower at around 6pm so that you can see the day view and night view. There will a introduction lecture in Persian before taking you to the top, you can skip that. There are revolving restaurant at very top, heard that its one of the most expensive restaurants in the world with a entry fee. There is a food court, convention center in the complex.
Ticket to Skydome and Observation Deck - 22000 toman
Taxi to Milad Tower - 8000 toman

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Views from Milad Observation deck

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After the long day, reached my hosts home at 9:30pm. As it was my last day in Tehran, my hosts arranged for a small party and invited their friends.

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In many museums, Photography is prohibited. In some its allowed without flash. Hence less pictures. In fact photography of public buildings, places is prohibited. I didnt have any problem as much, but i heard that some were reprimanded.
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Old 25th March 2016, 13:34   #5
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Default re: Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

Bus station in Tehran
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A traditional house in Kashan
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A traditional house in Kashan
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A pro-Hijab advisory
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Fin Garden, Kashan
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Fin Garden, Kashan
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Aga Bozorg mosque, Kashan
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Aga Khan bathouse, Kashan
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Top of Aga Khan bathouse, Kashan
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Imam Square, Isfahan
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Imam Square, Isfahan
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Imam Square, Isfahan
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Jameh Mosque, Isfahan
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Chehol sotoon Palace
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Sei se Pol bridge
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Sei se Pol bridge
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Sofee Mountain, Isfahan
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Vank's Cathedral, Isfahan
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Vank's Cathedral, Isfahan
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Vank's Cathedral, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Lotf allah mosque, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Walkways in Isfahan
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Some road in Isfahan
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Park in between roads, Isfahan
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Park in Isfahan
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Park in Isfahan
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Park in Isfahan
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Last edited by GTO : 7th July 2017 at 10:53. Reason: Spacing :). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st July 2017, 23:16   #6
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Default re: Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

More pictures of the Trip.

Couchsurfers gathering in Isfahan
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Lotf allah mosque, Isfahan
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Jame mosque, Isfahan
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Jame mosque, Isfahan
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Lotf allah mosque, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Jame mosque, Isfahan
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Jame mosque, Isfahan
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Jame mosque, Isfahan
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Jame mosque, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Inside the dome of Lotf allah mosque, Isfahan
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Inside the dome of Lotf allah mosque, Isfahan
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Inside the dome of Lotf allah mosque, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Imam square, Isfahan
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Jewellery market, Isfahan
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Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan
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Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan
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Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan
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Sio se Pol bridge, Isfahan
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Sio se Pol bridge, Isfahan
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Sio se Pol bridge, Isfahan
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Cooling towers, Yazd
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Tower of Silence, Yazd
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Last edited by AtticusFinch : 5th July 2017 at 22:58.
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Old 1st July 2017, 23:27   #7
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Default re: Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

Some more pictures of the Trip.

Students at local Astronomical club, Yazd
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One of the best Pizzas i ever had.
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Zorastrian Fire temple, Yazd
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Palace of Cyrus the Great, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Persepolis, near Shiraz
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Gate of Shiraz, Shiraz
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Night view of Shiraz city
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Hafez tomb, Shiraz
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Hookah bar, Shiraz
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Blue mosque, Tabriz
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St Stephanos monastery, Tabriz
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Inside Grand Bazaar, Tabriz
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Morning breakfast in Hotels
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Lunch at Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan
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Haleem, Isfahan
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With local Astronomy club members, Yazd
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On the way from Yazd to Shiraz
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A KFC copy fast food chain in Tabriz
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St Stepahanos monestary, Jolfa
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Azerbaijan Border, Jolfa
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Azerbaijan Border, Jolfa
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Bridge to Azerbaijan, Jolfa
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Kandovan
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Restaurant in Kandovan
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Last edited by AtticusFinch : 5th July 2017 at 23:18.
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Old 1st July 2017, 23:36   #8
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Default re: Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food

Some more pictures of the Trip.

Kandovan village
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Kandovan village
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Bus Station, Tehran
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Aazadi square, Tehran
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Aazadi square, Tehran
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Students group, Kashan
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My guide in Kashan
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A 10000 year old Tomb
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Restaurant in Imam square, Isfahan
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Chaheel sotoon palace, Isfahan
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Banks of Zayandeh river, Isfahan
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Vanks Church, Isfahan
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Vanks Church, Isfahan
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Park in Isfahan
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Park in Isfahan
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Dinner at a Restaurant, Isfahan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819567520054.jpg

Students group in Jameh mosque, Isfahan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819570380054.jpg

Lotf Allah mosque, Isfahan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819574365054.jpg

Abbasi hotel, Isfahan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819580380054.jpg

Chaheel sotoon Palace, Isfahan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819576815054.jpg

Main mosque, Yazd
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819582195054.jpg

Chandelier in a Church, Isfahan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819584150054.jpg

Last edited by AtticusFinch : 5th July 2017 at 23:43.
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Old 1st July 2017, 23:41   #9
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Some more pictures of the Trip.

Jewish temple
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819584450054.jpg

Tomb of Cyrus the Great
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819584775054.jpg

Persepolis
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819587850054.jpg

Walls of Persepolis Palace
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819588030054.jpg

Tomb of the great Poet -Hafez
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819590240054.jpg

A Cat in Tabriz
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819591145054.jpg

Inside the Blue Mosque in Tabriz
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819592120054.jpg

Enroute to Tabriz
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819594165054.jpg

Eli Goli, Tabriz
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819597000054.jpg

On the way from Azeri border to Tabriz
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819600020054.jpg

Hotel room in Kandovan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819602925054.jpg

My co travellers from Tabriz to Kandovan
Iran - Amazing People, History, Cities & Food-10152819602990054.jpg

Last edited by AtticusFinch : 5th July 2017 at 22:32.
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Old 7th July 2017, 10:56   #10
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th July 2017, 11:30   #11
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Splendid photolog of one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Been there around 2002. Had visited port cities like Bandar abbas, Bandar Mashahar & Chabahar port was being revamped as my ship had called there.
Had got chance to go out in Mahshahr & Chabahar but of course it was not so open to foreigners at that time, especially to Seamen. People were friendly though.
You started this in 2015 & then seem to have taken a 2 years break.

I must finish by saying that you are ONE FREE BIRD THAT CANNOT BE MOCKED.
I simply love that book.

Regards-Sonu
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Old 7th July 2017, 11:32   #12
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Great pics! On one of my all time places to visit!
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Old 7th July 2017, 12:00   #13
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Lovely travelogue AtticusFinch.

My uncle was posted in Iran for a few years and he travelled extensively across Iran on his Paykan sedan. I remember he showed me pics of Isfahan, Teheran, Shiraz, Tabriz, Mashhad and the Caspian Sea. Since then, Iran has always been on my bucket list alongwith the Central Asian Stans. Hope to tick these places off the list someday !
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Old 7th July 2017, 12:06   #14
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Awesome travelogue, Atticus. Somehow you forgot to mention about the terrific Iranian movies and moviemakers. Perhaps you are not a movie buff, I reckon...

..And this is the country the Saudis want the US to bomb and bomb.
I know politics is taboo in TBHP, but can't help saying this.
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Old 7th July 2017, 12:35   #15
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Excellent travelogue. What a pristine country and a great civilization. In Post #9, it does not look like a Jewish synagogue; it is more likely a Zoroastrian fire-temple. The people look friendly and it is does defy the Hollywood perpetuated stereotype of Iran.
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