My daughter and I had the trip of a lifetime….so,so enjoyable, with surprises at every turn. The people are most courteous, friendly and welcoming and will go out of their way to help.
I found travelling around by taxi, subway and train smooth and hassle free. Whatever we wanted to do, it was easy to arrange, even without a word of Farsi!
There is no scary element , that is sensed in the west… it’s a myth. Overall I liked the peace and calmness of Iran. Hope to return soon insh’allah.
P.S. Learn how to say hello, please, how are you and thank you before you go.
It was a huge success. Everything went perfectly and, although exhausting, there were no hitches at all. The children loved it and the guide was great. Thank you for organizing a wonderful holiday for us all. I hope for your sake that lots of English people are now travelling to Iran? I must admit we did not see any when we were there!
Just a quick note to say we reached the top of Mt Damavand (5,671m) in Iran! It was a windy, overcast ascent and we got caught in clouds of noxious sulphur at the top (and a whiteout on the way down) but the views were also extremely beautiful. I’ve added a writeup and lots of photos at: http://www.sevenvolcanoes.com/Damavand
As you know, the Seven Volcanoes project was created in memory of my father, who passed away very suddenly from esophageal cancer in 2008. He would have been 70 today. I plan to give this last expedition my 150% – it is the last project for a long time and the least I can do to honour a brilliant father.
Sophie Lee Taylor
We had a great time and all the travel arrangements went extremely smoothly. We were welcomed everywhere we went by local people and felt very safe all the time.
The hotels were better than expected (as we had been warned they may be poor) and we especially liked the Abbasi, the Rock Hotel and the Espinas. The roads were also good so the hours in the car were not too bad.
we did enjoy wandering on our own and particularly liked Isfahan. As each place was very different together they made a very interesting trip and there was nowhere we wished we had not gone.
Your arrangements were just what we were hoping for so thank you for organising it all for us….in fact you were the only agent that said it could be done in May, so well done!
Everything was great and I had a wonderful time there. Mansour was really helpful and we had some great chats about politics and religion between the sightseeing.
I loved Isfahan and was sad that I didn’t have longer to explore Tehran. Everyone was so helpful and friendly and my BMW was the biggest attraction on the roads ever. So many guys were fascinated with it, had families videoing me in traffic etc. Was very interesting.
I will for sure go back and do let me know if you ever arrange 250cc dirt bikes there as I would be keen on that.
Other quotes since the year 2000
As one of our local tour guides put it:
Some people come to Iran just so they can tell their friends they’ve been here, behind the veil as it were. Some just come to add it to their list of countries visited. Those who enjoy it best come for the history, the culture and the people …
Iranian life seemed full of little pleasures: summer restaurants (carpeted platforms set among trees, always with a bubbling stream or fountain nearby); glasses of sugary tea; rice laced with butter and five sorts of herbs; drifts of fresh rose petals in the bazaar; stalls selling gladioli for every occasion.
Dates were beginning to sprout in orange showers, sacks of pistachios were on sale and bakeries turned out long sheets of bread to be sorted, aired and carried on the arm of shouting boys.
Daily Telegraph travelling with MCT
Iranians love gardens and build them everywhere: they bring their two passions together – football and picnicking. On every available bit of grass there is a veiled woman cooking over a charcoal stove for her family and friends. When there is no grass available, they use carpets on pavements for dining tables and roads for football pitches……
High Life travelling with MCT
Mosques, minarets and mullahs I’d expected. Ancient Persian ruins and exotic palaces I’d looked forward to. But what came as the biggest surprise was how friendly and hassle-free a country Iran is today…
I’ve never signed up for a tour before, but felt I needed a proper introduction to this vast and diverse country. I booked with Magic Carpet Travel, run by the enthusiastic Zohreh Majidian. Born in Tehran, but educated in Britain, she knows all there is to know about Iran past and present.”
Livewire travelling with MCT
later we caught up with a group of Qashqai families who had just pitched their black, goat hair tents in a valley ready for a wedding celebration. Stacked at the back of one tent were brightly coloured carpets, cushions and dresses together with huge hand woven bags holding the bride’s dowry. We were offered sweet, sugary tea boiled on an open fire by the women, and a display of traditional rifles by the men….
Livewire travelling with MCT
Yazd has a fine mosque and an old bazaar, which, as well as selling its famous silk, deals in brocades, carpets, glass and pistachios…it is full of atmosphere, and sharp geometric angles of light unexpectedly illuminate its narrow alleys……..
Harpers & Queen travelling with MCT
My preconceptions of Iran had been wrong and the last thing I had expected to find was a country with such a romantic heart…
Wanderlust travelling with MCT
There is a small café in Isfahan’s 17th-century square – variously known as Naghsh-e-Jahan Square, the Maidan, or Eman Khomeini Square – where you can drink tea up on the roof.
The view is so inspirational that within a couple of minutes you stop wishing your tea was a vodka and tonic and lapse into silence. It is at the noisy end of the Maidan, where the shahs used to play polo, yet there is an atmosphere of peace…it is still unspoilt.
On the pavements amble spruced-up locals on their nightly passeggiata, a habit they may have picked up from the Venitian Marco Polo who visited in the 13th century. This aimless yet charming perambulation only emphasises the similarities with the Piazza San Marco….”
He who has not seen Isfahan has not seen half the world,” goes the famous Persian proverb. You can easily spend two or three days here just exploring the regal architecture around the main square with its unique concentration of beautiful mosques, palaces and bazaars…the square served as a polo ground for Shah Abbas, the famous 17th-century Safavid ruler.
Today, fountains tinkle, people read, talk and sleep on the grassy verges and children play football across the pathways. Unmissable sights include the complex tilework and calligraphy of the Masjed e Emam mosque with its twin minarets; the ceiling and dome of the smaller Sheikh Lotfallah mosque; the old wooden terrace of the Ali Qapu palace with its sweeping views and the labyrinthine Great Bazaar with a vaulted roof punctured by shafts of light…
One of the Shiraz highlights was a visit to the shimmering, seductive ‘King of the Lamp’ shrine. Inside, thousands of minute mirrors twinkle away, while outside elaborately patterned tiles cover the typically Persian onion dome…..tucked away at the back of shady gardens criss-crossed by bubbling water channels is a charming open-air tea house.
Here you can watch the world go by while sipping tea, eating orange-blossom ice-cream (a Shiraz speciality) and smoking a water pipe in cushioned and carpeted alcoves to the sound of Sufi music.
On the plains and foothills around Shiraz we encountered migrating nomads riding camels and horses loaded with food, clothes and carpets….
Shiraz, pleasant as it is, pales in comparison to its ancient neighbour Persepolis. Started by Darius the Great in the sixth century BC, continued by Xerxes the Great and destroyed two centuries later by Alexander the Great, it brings home to the visitor not only the greatness but also the sophistication and sheer antiquity of Iran…
The stairs alone are lined with reliefs depicting ambassadors to the court of Darius and it is by studying them that archaeologists can explain just how great Darius was.
There were Indians at his court, Libyans, Egyptians, Bactrians and even Ethiopians – all desperate to stay in favour with a king who was feared thousands of miles away from his home, 500 years BC. Persepolis was not meant to look pretty. It was meant to look powerful.”
There is still much to see [in Tehran]. Go to the museums or take in the Shahr or city park, where there is a traditional chai-khane or tea-house.
Reclining against cushions on carpet-covered divans with doors opening onto the park, we were served kofte (minced lamb and chickpea meatballs, spiced with cinnamon), fragrant rice, garlicky yoghurt, torshi (pickled vegetables) and fried aubergines – all accompanied by traditional Persian songs and music.
As the only foreigners there, we were treated with lively interest and courtesy…
Finally, back to Tehran for a two-day orgy of museums and shopping. My favourites were the beautifully presented collection at the Glass and Ceramics Museum and the much larger Carpet Museum.
I left with a suitcase crammed full of lemon-salted pistachios, saffron sachets, pomegranate paste and dried limes ready for a spot of Iranian cookery back home…