THE ADDRESS Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 414

After weeks travelling the country, I get the distinct impression that the image of danger is just that, an image. Curious friendly people approach me, not once am I accosted and I never actually feel in danger. Occasionally, I elect to wander alone, exploring Tehran’s gigantic maze ‘Grand Bazaar,’ stumbling into teahouses and generally ambling the streets with map in hand; I feel safe. Is this owing to the dress code, you may ask? Iran’s religious regime imposes the hijab. But my gut intuition is that this is irrelevant. Iranians are generally hospitable, respectful and down-to-earth. Filled with curiosity to learn beyond their borders; an insatiable appetite for knowledge hewed over centuries along the plateau, I actually find that being alone enhances ease of conversation. Travelling solo makes it fantastically easy to meet people, becoming a highlight of my trip. Major cities Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran are steeped in heady eclecticism. Isfahan is sophisticated, graced with arched bridges, wide boulevards and the Unesco world heritage Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, dominating the second largest square in the world, Nagsh e-Jahan; itself a world heritage site. Shiraz is the city of romance with famous gardens and a bazaar loaded with intricate Persian handicrafts. But if there’s one standalone reason to visit Iran, Persepolis is it. Once the capital of the biggest world empire dating back to 500BC, the site is loaded with archaeological masterpieces, elaborate carvings and tombs that boggle the mind. Extremes of temperature belie the region; hot dry desert to very cold snowy mountains. Capital, Tehran, is living proof, as