Lots of people warned me against going to the capital city of Iran: that it was a new city made of concrete, that it’s too big, or that there is nothing to do there. Well I really liked it, and here is where I started feeling that I liked this country, perhaps because there I ate lots of amazingly tasty vegan dishes.
Till I arrived with the train here, sure I found really nice people, but the land itself was not so appealing. But on the moment I got out, everything was different, maybe that it was warm and sunny even thought it was early in the morning, or simply how it looked. I knew I was going to like it here.
It’s true that it’s a huge place, where it took my over an hour to get to where my host lived, without getting lost! There I met him and some of his friends, and I went to visit the city. It was Thursday, so almost weekend, and everything was packed! (I guess this day was a good practice for India!). I entered the bazaar, but immediately went out, there was nothing I needed to buy and it was so crowded that I could barely move.
So I decided to take it easy at the Golestan Palace, a XVIII century palace, where the royal family lived till the beginning of the XX century. Just walking around is really nice (and really peaceful), and there are some buildings you can enter too. Before entering the reception hall, where the Shah met the foreign ambassadors, I read that all Europeans got impressed how this room looked. “Yeah, right” I thought for myself, but when I entered I really was impressed!
Later that day I started discovering vegan Tehran. I met my host and some of his friends and they took me to a restaurant in a really nice park. It’s true that the food was really good, but nothing new. That’s when my host said: “the best vegan restaurant is at my apartment!”. And for the next 3 days he kept amazing me with vegan recipes from the Iranian cuisine. He really was not bragging, he is the best chef in town!
To finish my first day in Tehran we went to a really nice modern park in the evening, and we talked quite a lot about Iranian culture, politics, and how people are.
This park had a skate park, couples holding hands, restaurants, people chatting … it looked just like any European city!
As in Iran there are no discos (and alcohol is forbidden), young people gather in restaurants. My hosts showed me one of the most typical place people go to. It’s a really long building, with lots of food stands in one side, and tables in the other. They call this place “cat walk”, because they get dressed in their nicest clothes and walk around here meeting people. I guess not everything was so European 😉
One of the worst-most fun-disturbing-dangerous things in the city is the horrible traffic. The government is trying to promote the use of the bicycle and public transport, but with the gas prices being so low, not really successfully. That’s why to avoid getting stuck in the continuous traffic jam one of the solutions is to get a motorcycle taxis. No helmet needed of course, here nobody knows what that is (or so it seems). So for up to two passengers (yes, three in a motorbike, we’ve seen up to four people riding at once) is an ideal way of getting fast anywhere you need (not recommended for pregnant women or those with a weak heart!).
A must is the national museum, it’s really nice! Quite small, so you can actually read and see everything in two hours, plus it’s really well explained. You can learn lots and see interesting stuff without getting overwhelmed (till a point when you lose interest), like it happens with most national museums around the world. Bigger doesn’t mean better, learn something from cute little museums!
Javi and I were in the same city, but we were busy doing different stuff so we didn’t meet until the last day, just to arrange how we were going to leave the city and to try the last vegetarian restaurant. In this restaurant they only have a few things (half of them vegan), but Javi said that it was the best pasta he ever tried (the not vegan one, so I can’t corroborate).
So there we were, finally together again and ready to head south. Route decided and with hunger of riding lots of kilometers across the desert! Most Biziklautak back together!