Hi, I'm Elspeth from Australia.
You can read the first part of my Iran Trip "South of Iran; Qeshm Island" and the second part
"Kerman, Yazd and the center of Iran" before starting this part too.
In this part, I continue my travel to Iran by visiting Tehran
then go to the north of Iran, Ramsar and beautiful cities in the border of Caspian
We head to Tehran, I had this morning to myself
just to wander around the streets of Tehran. It appears I am staying in
a street dedicated to lighting, in particular chandeliers. I have also
discovered streets dedicated to leather; luggage; hair products; buckles;
materials; ribbons and buttons.
In many ways I could be in any capital city, it
feels much more Western than anywhere else I have been this trip.
I stopped for refreshment at a delightful cafe
where a large cappuccino and a delicious cinnamon cake cost $AUD 4.50.
This afternoon we visited the Jewellery Museum
(sorry, no photos allowed). Museums are never top of my list of attractions
but this one came highly recommended and I can understand why. Opulent,
magnificent, exquisite. Unfortunately, I can never look at the jewellery of
dynasties and royalty without having ethical dilemmas about it. So much wealth
held by so few.
After the Jewellery Museum we went to the former
US embassy. I very much wanted to see the new graffiti. Fortunately, I was
with My guides as I needed them to explain both a football reference and some
aspects of American culture such as Captain America. For me, it was definitely
worth the visit.
Today was a day of travel. We left Tehran
mid-morning and travelled the scenic road to Ramsar. I had heard it was
one of the most beautiful roads in Iran and I would certainly say it is right
up there. We started on the southern side of the Alborz mountains with
their rocky terrain and climbed to a height of 2,600 metres. In the middle of
one of the numerous tunnels we started the descent and emerged on the northern
side of the mountains where the snow was deeper and there was vegetation that
changed into trees with all their autumn colours.
Finally, we reached the Caspian Sea and
travelled through many towns on the way to Ramsar. The coastline is an
interesting mix of some high rise, many shopping malls and standard Iranian
Ramsar itself used to be a royal city at
the time of the last king. It still has a feel of royalty and a sense of self-assurance.
I am now comfortable in a luxurious apartment
just near the cable car and I am looking forward to exploring tomorrow.
After an excellent breakfast on the roof of my
apartment looking towards the World Heritage Hyrcanian Forest we went to
the Marble Palace. It is named after the striped Iranian marble used in its
We walked around the Botanical gardens and
watched the sturgeon swim in their special pool. We went inside the Palace and
saw beautiful carpets and furniture and some wonderfully ornate cornices with
elaborate moldings of birds and flowers.
For me, the highlight of the day was the Ivory
Museum. I didn't have high expectations but to see such incredible creativity
and imagination plus the intricate details of the carvings was breathtaking. It
was amazing to think of the skill involved.
In the late afternoon, We went for a walk along
the shore of the Caspian Sea, followed by ice cream.
The plan for today was to drive to Javaherdeh,
walk around the town exploring, and then continue on to a lake further up the
The reality was there was so much snow that the
road to the lake was closed and Javaherdeh, while scenic, was awash with water
from melting snow but also had many muddy and slippery parts so we went for
The only problem with that was that one of the
local dogs had taken a liking to us and only stopped running along beside the
car when My guide stopped to give it a drink of water and it met a friend.
Plan B will speak for itself with the photos.
Some days, when I've been travelling for quite
some time I need a recuperation day. Today was it. We caught the chairlift up
to the top of the mountain behind Ramsar and went for a walk around.
Roya had tracked down a massage therapist for me. She had learned some
Thai massage and definitely managed to undo some knots.
After that, I treated myself to my favourite
Iranian drink - fresh-squeezed carrot juice with saffron ice cream.
After lunch, we walked along Casino Boulevard
which still has the grandeur of earlier years when it led to the Palace where
the Shah might be in residence.
We went to our respective private spas
where we luxuriated in 37 ° mineral water, every so often standing under the
icy shower before plunging back into the warmth.
The state of my hair after this convinced me I
could no longer avoid a haircut. I figured it was far easier to get it cut here
with My guide there to translate for me than have to negotiate it in my next
As always, these encounters with everyday
Iranians are the stuff memories are made of. Sometimes I feel more warmth can
be exchanged between people of different cultures and no common language than
between people who have lived in the same country all there lives.
Today we started to slowly head towards Tehran.
After leaving Ramsar we did important things like stocking up on the
delicious local walnut biscuits and having a coffee. We then drove to Namakabrud
where after having my favourite Iranian dish of fesenjan I proved to
myself that somehow or other in this trip I have overcome my fear of cable
cars. This was a much steeper climb than Ramsar and the autumn colours
beneath us were beautiful.
Leaving Chalus this morning to head to
Tehran My guide had one final surprise for me - Valasht Lake near Kelardasht.
So many times in Iran I have thought
"It can't get more beautiful than this, it is incredibly beautiful."
impossible to say which of the many mountains we travelled up and down
is the most beautiful. There have been many snow covered mountains, mountains
ablaze with Autumn colours and the spectacular barren mountains with their
multitude of minerals, shells and layers. There have been mountains made of
salt and mountains where the rocks are black and they glisten in the sun. So
I am deeply grateful for my time here.
So this amazing 24 days in Iran has come to an
From the spectacular thunder and lightning storm
on my first night in Qeshm and the sheer beauty of the Persian Gulf
Islands, to the awe inspiring Kaloots, onto Yazd and dear
friends, old and new. Then through many snow covered mountains and having
to change the itinerary due to snow and ice and then final days on the Caspian
Sea in the north of Iran and finally the huge, sprawling city of Tehran.
I continue to be deeply in love with the
mountains of Iran. How I wish I had the geological knowledge to hear their
stories, to understand their many layers and the multitude of colours
indicating a vast array of minerals.
This trip was exploring Iran at a deeper level.
very few places that I return to from last year, and as much as possible I
stayed away from big cities and the more tourist destinations.
There is much that I could say about the
struggles that Iran is going through but surface to say I continue to love
this country deeply, I wish her and her people the conditions to thrive and
to express their deep pride in what it means to be Persian.
To anyone who is considering coming to
Iran I say to you "Come!"
It is a
spectacular, beautiful and amazing country. Whatever your interests - nature,
Islam, art, culture, history, architecture, beauty, people, geology it has an
abundance to offer you. The only warning I would give is that quite possibly
one trip will not be enough.