Second full day in Iran was GREAT! Great largely because our guide, Ata, epitomized the Iranian spirit...gracious, giving, generous, and most informative. He admits he has a great job, loves it, and it shows in his enthusiasm and desire to please. At one point, Bonnie's glasses ended up on the ground in the street where we were trying to cross. As 'luck' would have it, I only noticed them when a motorbike drove over them right in front of us making a crunching sound. Ata said we were lucky! He went on to explain there is a Persian belief that when something like this happens it indicates something was bound to happen and we were fortunate it was just a small thing instead of Ata getting hit by a car or one of us! Well, Bon didn't take it that way since she has no backup glasses! Anyway, we went on with the tour visiting museums and such plus having a fine lunch in the only vegetarian restaurant in Tehran! Towards the end of the day (after we spent 1 1/2 hours in Gold and Gem Museum), Ata suggested we go to a glasses shop and also have some tea. When we got there, Bon saw a fruit stand but not having exchanged $$$ Ata volunteered to pay so now with fruit in hand we headed for the glasses repair place...closed, but a neighboring shop owner said he should be back soon. While we wait Ata suggested his favorite coffee shop just around the corner...closed! Things are looking grim since it's now close to 5 and we need to be at the airport for flight to Shiraz at 6:30. Back towards the glasses place and owner is just opening up! Hooray! In no time Bon's glasses are fixed and again, paid for by Ata. Now to the cafe and hooray again, Ata's friend is also back so we sit down for a special flower petal tea with lemon! While we drank it and chatted, Ata's friend brought out a daf, an Iranian drum-like instrument, which he proceeded to play. Excellent! A most enjoyable ending to an almost perfect day made possible by Ata, our guide! Ata means giver of gifts and he truely was, a most excellent fellow!
Tehran itself has horrible air pollution due to the huge number of cars and motorbikes. It's very spread out with some 15 million people. From the little we've seen I have to say Iran has been given a bad rap in the western press...day, what's new! But really, other than seeing ALL the women wear scarves I think overall, Iran is LESS conservative than UAE, or Oman, or even Kuwait. The we've met are all Iranians too, not Philippino, Indian, or Bangladeshis! I have yet to see any affects of the sanctions...mostly it's business s usual. However, At a our guide, says he's worried because it has affected tourism just in the last month! Very sad since penalizing only Iran for doing exactly what Israel has done is clearly the result of the massive influence the Jewish lobby has on our US Congress!