This post is part of series documenting travel in Myanmar, Cuba and Iran: Introduction.
Arrival to Tehran has been nothing of usual affair. Came last night to one of bus stations at city outskirts. Haggled for a while with taxi guys, started driving to the street that supposedly had many hostels (according to WikiTravel). As a side note, Iranian taxi guys are lively folk to watch, especially when they have disagreement who can drive the next customer. Burst to argumentation is a norm, and I’ve seen even fists taken into use when making a point to disagreeing colleague!
Jokers in Qasvin bazaar
After arriving, all that was awaiting me was dark and empty alley where car repair shops work daily. And I had no idea where to head in this city of ten million. After wandering at streets (probably looking pretty helpless) for 15 minutes, an older man with motorbike stops by and waves me to hop at the back. I could not understand what he said, and he didn’t understand me, but since he looked normal enough and I had nowhere else to go, on we went!
After riding awhile, we stop in front of a hotel and with a help of receptionist I now understand the my helper is trying to find a hotel for me! First place was full and every place where we stopped by, at 11pm, was either full or beyond my backpacker’s budget. After once again being turned away, we both started get hopeless and I felt being quite a burden to him. Man then talks to clerk again, who tell me that my friend offers to accommodate me to his home that night!
Not wanting to be even more of a burden, but still having nowhere else to go, could not do anything else but gladly accept the offer. So last night was sleeping at his place. Sadly his wife had passed away recently, and the place was where he had moved recently. All his stuff was still in boxes. But slept well and got fresh start today. Iranians are hospitable folks! Thanks again Abrahim from Tehran!
I’ve written in separate posts about travel practicalities in Myanmar and Cuba. Iran is more easy and there were less surprises that would warrant similar post. Money is one thing that deserves a special mention though:
— Iranian currency is Rial, one US Dollar being around 30,000 Rials. As foreigner, better get used to all those zeroes in bank notes. What complicates things is the Toman, 10 Rials being one Toman. Iranians count and quote everything in Toman’s, but the bank notes that changes in hands are Rials. Combine this with possible translation mistakes, and foreigner can easily be rolling his/her eyes about how much something actually costs.
— Cash is king. Iranian banks are closed from outside world, and foreign credit cards are useless least for the time being. Bring your whole travel budget with you.