I am Sayyed, an Iranian-American living in the United States.
My dad called me one day and told me “Sayyed Jan, you can't afford a vacation of your own so if you like to come to Iran I will pay for your ass.”
So having been in Iran before and having liked Ghormeh Sabzi and Kabab, and really wanting to go to Kish to stay at that fancy Dariush Hotel on Baba's expense, I said I will come.
I packed up my laptop and $800 Canon PowerShot G5 camera and headed to Dad's house to go to Iran.
In Iran I did not get to go to Kish because my Dad liked to go to places where he had relatives. I traveled to Sari, Isfahan, Shiraz and obviously Tehran >>> See
Last time I was in Iran I was 14 and had good memory of cheap Ab Talebi (fresh melon juice) and pizza and here I was 22 going back to renew the memories of teenhood.
Every time I spoke in English people asked my dad, “Sayyed doesn't understand Farsi?” My dad in response would say “nah, mifahmeh, behesh fosh bedid?” (No, he understands. Swear at him and see.”) Then everybody would say, “Naaaaaah ekhtiaar daarid.” (“Noooooo! We would never be so direspectful.”) >>> See
We took the Firooz Kooh route to go to the north and eventually to Sari where many of my father's relatives reside. I mostly took pictures of the Bazzar and the fruits in there. The deformed carrots seem to be my favorite. Sari is small a community but so much cleaner and nice than Tehran and that's why I really loved the place. My dad loved Sari so much that he wants to buy a house over there so he can go hang out with his relatives >>> See
We took a plane down to Isfahan. I noticed a sign in some Isfahani Bazaari stores that said something like no bargaining: “no chooneh”. I tried to make a bargain having heard from my Iranian friends that in Iran bargaining is more complex than most political dramas. So I offered 3000 tomans to a guy who was trying to sell me a ring for 4000 tomans and he said “baasheh” (“Ok”) >>> See
Later my dad tried to make bargains in Isfahan stores. Every time we gave a lower price the guy said “nah aghaa, khodaa vakili baraaye maa sarf nemikoneh” (“God is my witness, I won't make a dime, sir.”), yet he lowered the price when the skillful cousin of my dad threatened a walk out after twenty minutes of chooneh.
Some other shopkeepers took out their calculator every time and calculated to see if our offer is worth it; I was like you know the price stop acting dude!
On a positive note, Isfahan is the most organized city of Iran. Generally it does not have ditches full of waste water. For me the Chaharbagh river walk and Meydan-e Naghsheh-e Jahan are the three most exciting things about the city. The downtown of Isfhan is arguably the Chaharbagh Avenue itself. It extends from Shohada square to Darvazeh Dolat and then to Enghalab where Sio-seh Pol bridge stands.
For visitors I have a warning: Do not wonder around Darvazeh Dolat and Shohada in the evenings because god knows they are really busy.
Isfahan's Nazhvan Park is an interesting place to go for a pick nick. It is a park which you can drive with a car for miles into it from both side of the river.
The most fascinating place though is the river walk; it extends basically from near Nazhvan Park to Pol-e Mozorgmehr. It covers many miles of parks and sides walks adjacent to the river on both sides. There are bridges like Pol-e Vahid, Po-e Felezi, Sio-seh Pol, Pol-e Ferdosi, Pol-e Choobi, Pol-e Bozorgmehr and Pol-e Shahrestan on the river.
In Dizin where I had my snowboard from America, I found myself looking at Iranian rich boys and girls. I snowboarded from the top to the halfway and went back up for a new rounds and that is why my dad sitting on the bottom could not take good photos of me >>> See
I hanged out about two weeks in Tehran. I really did not find Tehran streets straight forward. So I just had my father write down an address for me and I would tell the taxi driver to take to this address. I basically went out with friends of my own Iranian friends who reside in the U.S.
I ate lots of food and lots of burgers which tasted like Koobideh. What I hate about Tehran is its pollution and really lack of any environmental measures in the city. I also disliked Tehran restaurants because they did not serve “Ghormeh Sabzi” my favorite Iranian food. In fact I don't know why everybody eats Kabab and pizza outside of their homes.
I visited this American guy who was forced by his dad to live in Iran for a year. Tony had an apartment with a very nice view and he had found ways to get his hands on alcohol and grass so he was sort of not extremely unhappy.