Here are the emails I sent to friends while I was in Iran for all those who want to know how it went. I might upload the emails as a blog later because so many people are asking me about what it is like to visit Iran.
21st October 2007
Well here I am in the Axis of Evil.
Arriving here did not even feel half as scary as when I arrive in most third world countries.
Probably because people are so layed back. Around a third of the staff at the airport were asleep at their desks.
Even the internet lady at this place was asleep when I got here.
And also there was not a single tout or anybody else to bother me when I arrived and people were welcoming me to Iran before I even left Istanbul.
I was pleased when I arrived to see that there were only 6 people in front of me in the queue, until I realised that the guy spends 10 minutes looking through each persons passport.
I now have 3 Iranian stamps in my passport.
One to enter Iran, one to leave and one from the immigration office at the airport allowing me to reenter. And all that because somebody did not understand that I wanted to change money. For some reason they thought I wanted to leave Iran.
My outfit for Iran is not as conservative as I thought it would be.
I am probably the most adventurously dressed person here. Most of the Iranian women are wearing big black sheet type things that they wrap around themselves to cover everything except face and hands.
22nd October 2007
I went to Imam Square today and then sat in the park..
Got pestered by carpet sellers and lots of people were asking if I am not afraid to come to Iran because of the danger. I told them I am not planning to do anything dangerous, so I dont think there is much danger for me. They seem to think the US is on the verge of invading them. I told them I dont think they are.
There is an English language newspaper here, which they produce especially to give us the news. It says that Iran is in the top 20 most developed countries in the world. It puts Iran above the Netherlands, so looks like there will be flocks of Dutch coming here soon for a better way of life.
The hotel guy is holding all our passports because some night the police come around to check that we all have visa and did not enter Iran by hiking accross the desert or climbing over mountains.
A couple staying at the hostel have 3 big dogs. We they first came here the husband was walking the dogs. A policeman grabbed him and tore his shirt, but then stopped when he found out that he is a foreigner. Iranians are not allowed to have dogs in the city. They were given a police escort to go out with their dogs because so many Iranians were looking at the dogs and taking photos and the police said the dogs might be kidnapped.Sometimes I think the police love escorting tourists. Some fun for them for the day.
23rd October 2007
I went to a tea house by the river today and indeed the waterpipes are gone.
I asked a women who works for the UN who was sitting at the next table why the police took them. She said that the government said they are to be taken, becasue women were smoking. They are now only allowed in tea houses where women are not allowed. At least we can now sit in the tea houses by the river for as long as we like. Without the waterpipes they are no longer so busy, and we can ignore the sign on the wall saying we can only stay for 15 minutes.
The UN womens family left Iran when she was 6 to live in Paris. She says that Iran is driving her nuts. She said she is counting the days until she can leave and she hopes the UN never send her here again. When her family lived here it was unter the old regime. She said that a lot has changed and even though she speaks farsi she has culture shock.
I also met a 20 year old married Iranian girl who was there with her mother.
She was asking what I wear in Europe and if I go to discos and if I have whiskey in my room. She was fascinated by my green eyes. She was even more amazed when I told here what my boyfriend looks like. She showed me pictures of her and her sister at home dressed up in makeup etc with blonded streaks in her hair. She is in Esfahan to see a doctor because apparently she is not right in the head. She seemed happy enough to me. Maybe being interested in make up and discos makes one not right in the head, in Iran. When I opened my bag she saw some cigarettes in there and asked me if I smoke them. I told her I only do it at my hotel. She asked me for one. Her mother imediately stated tut tuting. I was surprised because she is Iranian and pregnant too. When I took out my lighter to light her cigarette she said dont do that becasue it is bad for her baby. I said, but u said u want a cigarette. She said she wants it as a souvineer of me, becasue she loves me. She invited me to her house, but I refused the invitation. Then off she went to the head doctor.
24th October 2007
On my way to the post ofice to mail a postcard to the prisoner, I came accross a hotel with crystal chandaliers, ornate ceilings and mirrors everywhere. I went in to find out if they could feed my coffee addiction. I had not had a coffee since on the flight to Iran. They had Nescafe, Turkish coffee and Expresso to offer.
I had a couple of expressos and a read of the newspaper the government produces to keep us up to date on world affairs. The Iranian president says that Iran is going to prosecute the US internationally for war mongering, and they are also going to take action against the Iraqis for using illegal chemical weapons during what they call the Iraq induced war.
The Iranian president says that he will discuss Irans right to produce nuclear weapons in Rome, but there will be no negotiating because when one negotiates about ones rights it always involves giving up some of ones rights. Annoying that he says that, while having no respect for the human rights of the Iranian people.
Speaking of which, the clothing police were swarming around the city yesterday evening looking for women to needle about headscarfs and make up. Most of them are gone now. The police I mean. Now there are lots of traffic police looking out of their dept.
25th October 2007
Today I went the teahouse by the river again.
An Iranian guy asked if he could sit at my table and ask questions.
I told him he can.
He said he does not like Iran and has an opportunity to live in Europe next year.
He says there are too many restrictions in Iran.
He then went on to ask me questions about sex and if I ever smoked grass.
He said he went to Istanbul for holiday recently and tried alcohol, but did not think it was so exciting.
He said if he likes a woman and wants her to be his girlfriend he would not want to have sex with her. He said he would like to have sex with only prostitutes.
He wanted to know if this would work if he has a girlfriend in Europe.
He then started making coments like women should not smoke because it is bad for them.
He smoked a couple of cigarettes himself, during the conversation.
Somehow I dont think he is going to be so popular with European women.
A guy I met in the hostel went to the Iranian Natural History Museum yesterday.
He showed me the photos of some of the exhibits.
There was a 3 eyed sheep, a 2 headed cow and a plastic dinasaur.
27th October 2007
I am now back in Germany and totally exhausted.
The flight to Istanbul was at 3.30AM. At least they managed to get me to Istanbul from Iran, which I did not take for granted. The airport was as crazy as the rest of Iran. When I found my seat on the plane somebody else was sitting on it. The air stewartess took our boarding passes and was marching me out of the plane. She said she was putting me on the plane for Milan. I said, but I want to go to Istanbul. She said I cant and I am going to Milan. I asked her why I cant go to Istanbul. She said my ticket is for Milan. I showed her that it is for Istanbul. Then she looked at the ticket of the guy who was sitting in my seat. It was for Milan. She told him to get off the plane and told me to sit down now, so the plane can take off.