As I’ve been sick the past week, with only my TV and my dog for companionship, I found myself watching Anthony Bourdain tour Iran. Despite the “Death to America” propaganda one can see on the streets of Tehran, the people are incredibly friendly. Tony talked about this for some time before he got into how good the food is in the country. I began to think, why not? I discovered that Rick Steves made a 1hour program about traveling in Iran and has a guide book. His overwhelming message is visit Iran and meet the wonderful, hospitable people.
There are a few problems with a visit to Iran. First of all, our countries do not have normal diplomatic relations with each other. The reason for this began in 1953 and came to a head In 1979 when our embassy was overrun by revolutionary Iranian students. The embassy staff held hostage for 444 days. The US Embassy remains closed. Here are a few links that tell the story from different points of view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WVtpao0KSM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat
The US and Iran do not have embassies in each other’s countries. The interests of Iran are seen to by the Pakistani Embassy in the US. Americans in Iran must visit the Swiss Embassy. Citizens of the US who want to visit Iran must obtain a tourist visa and cannot travel in the country unless on an organized tour or with a guide.
I am considering a 4-5 tour of Tehran and Isfahan with a guide. The cost to travel in Iran is remarkably inexpensive, even with a guide. I would like to visit some of the monuments and museums, but most of all I would like to meet people and just visit. Perhaps I can arrange sit in on an English lesson at a school. Tourists are required to abide by the dress code, but this is not difficult. Iran appears to be a cash only nation. Tourists cannot make purchases with credit or debit cards. One must bring enough cash with them to pay for all expenses while in the country.
I am looking at Iranian tourist agencies to find one that will best suit my interests for the visit. In the end, I may decide not to stop in Iran, but it is fun to at least take a look.