Our last stop in Iran. We took a 4.5 hour bus ride (which was only 200,000 rials per person) where we got stopped gain by police sniffer dogs. Needless to say we were pretty glum after the bus ride.
We had a really hard time booking a room in Esfahan. I tried calling 4/5 of the hotels on LP/ Tripadvisor but they were all full. I gave up and went to a travel agency where even they had trouble finding rooms until they found the Sunrise Hotel for $70USD/ night. We were desperate so we said yes. It turned out to be clean and decent near Jameh Mosque.
So we went to the Jameh Mosque.
Then we went all the way to Soi- bridge.
The we went to a restaurant highly recommended in TripAdvisor called Grandmas Kitchen. It was all tourists and it tastes exactly like what an Iranin Grandma would could. Too sweet, too fat, too rich. We couldn’t finish the plate and left. Boo. Iran has seriously not restaurants and everything they eat is super rich except for kebabs and rice.
The next day we woke up to go to the travel agency so we could buy a flight to Shiraz to catch out connect flight to Dubai. Of course, the flights were full. Faced with the horrible idea of having to take a 7-8 hour bus ride back to Shiraz, we decided to cancel the Shiraz-Dubai flight and buy a ticket on some unknown sketchy Iranian Airlines called Taban Air for around $110 USD each and sleep in style and live it up in Dubai.
So with that decided we decided to wander the sights of Esfahan when we were stopped by a young Iranian girl of 17 who was intending to go to University to study tourism and was needing to practice English. So she took us to see some other bridges. I was very impressed by her attitude and straightforward way of practicing English. Actually we learnt a lot from her:
1. Iranian men can’t wear even 3/4 length long shorts
2. Unmarried people of opposite sexes can’t talk to each other much less hang out. We actually witnessed the police question a young couple hanging by the bridge. Apparently if they can’t prove they are related the police will call the girls parents and get sent to police office.
3. The river of Esfahan only gets filled up when there is enough water.
4. As a unmarried 17 year old, she wasn’t even allowed to talks to M unless she had a tourist guide permit.( clearly breaking the law with us)
5. There are really no restaurants in Iran. Everyone eats at home. There is one restaurant street is Esfahan, that’s about it.
6. It’s not weird that 11 year old girls marry 20 year old guys. All you need is parental approval.
We treated her to Melon juice and said goodbye to her after a nice long stroll and chat. Really mature young lady. Afterwards we did some souvenir shopping because we had too much Iranian Rials left. Actually since it was a friday, after lunch all the currency exchangers shut down and there were none at the airport. And no one exchanges Rials outside the country, even in Dubai where they accept Iraq and Syrian money! So I still have $2.6million rials left. Maybe the next time I go, I can buy half a loaf of bread due to the depreciation.
So we thought a week in Iran was enough; every other traveller we met were there for 2-3 weeks. But we have travel ADD and can’t stay anywhere longer than 2-3 days. We were mosque-d out and kebab-ed out. But it was a very eye opening adventure. Don’t know if I will go back for a long time but it was definitly worth going at least once.
The entire trip we spent for both of us:
Exchange rate: 33,000-34,000 rials: $1USD
Hotels: $35-$70USD/ night
Meals : 300,000-600,000 Rials/ meal
Ice Cream: 20,000 Rials each
Half day car and driver: 1,500,000 Rials
Persepolis Tour: 1,000,000 Rials
Taxi: 100,000-200,000 Rials each
Long distance bus: 200,000-300,000 Rials
All in all. Before souvenirs for 6 days we spent $600 USD.
Since I had changed $1000 into Rials. We spent around $220usd on Esfahan – Dubai flights. $100usd on saffron, spices, dried fruits, hand painted plates.
All in all it was a wonderfully interesting and eye opening trip. I have never felt so safe walking around a country. (Even in very deserted and dark bazaars) Everyone is so nice, saying hi and trying to help you. Truly, the media and propaganda is totally blasting Iran but the reality is that Iran is opposite. A land of peace, safety and friendly people.