The impact with Tehran was definitely impressive due to the heavy traffic, the cars that we would call vintage, the strong smell of smog that gets into your throat, the people (entire families) on mopeds without helmets, the run-down houses… the time that seems to have stopped in the early ’80s. Then, you start walking through the city and you find yourself absorbed in its huge bazaar: a crossroads of merchants who come to stock up on supplies from all over the country, of people who buy any sort of stuff or cross it to go to the mosque or simply to the public toilets.
Tehran’s parks are also striking. Those are the green lungs of the city and meeting points for couples, groups of friends, and families; there they can display their love, play any type of games, and have a chilling picnic.
What to see in Tehran?
- The bazaar, to get lost in its narrow streets, its floors and its products.
- A park (such as Laleh park, out of tourist destinations), to live everyday life away from prying eyes.
- The Golestan Palace, to get away from the chaos of the city, see the grandeur of its halls full of mirrors and fragments of mirrors and take a tour of the paintings of the Qajar families, famous for their long noses.
- The US Den of Espionage, that is the former US embassy, now called Museum Garden of Anti Arrogance, to have an insight of the anti-Western propaganda and the spying which went on there, such as CIA machinery and the shredded documents.
- The Holy Defense Museum, – 1km to celebrate what we call the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), to have a different point of view on history and an insight of the official propaganda and rhetoric used by the Islamic Republic, back then as well as today.
A practical tip: Use the underground. It’s convenient and cheap, connects the main city attractions and is quite frequent. The first and last wagons are women-only, which is positive during rush hours; however, if you decide to get on the mixed wagons, it won’t be long before a man gives you his seat.