Be Arami, Be Arami... A First Trip to Iran - "Someone has moved the Palace" and "The Mountains are calling, I must go"

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Middle East » Iran » North » Tehran
September 26th 2014
Published: October 11th 2014
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Sleep in - 5am, it's nice and quiet. By comparison, at 7am the breakfast room is not. I have to sit at the table under the cups- it's a dangerous spot, significant risk of falling china. Enjoy my last Golestan breaky and make my plan to visit the park and Golestan Palace (Take 2).

The park is only about 800m away- I get there successfully! Park e-Shahr is an exciting little green oasis amongst the busyness of Tehran. There are a few different entrances- I came in by the Si Tir St one. The first thing I see is the central fountains and long rectangular pool, there are benches all around and there are a lot of Tehran's elderly male population relaxing. The next standout feature is about 8 birdcages holding parakeets, pheasants, pigeons, flamingoes, geese, ducks and ... Budgies! There's only me here. Right past this area is a concrete wild animal reserve- seriously - giraffes, lions, elephants, the whole deal. The selfie gen of Tehran is located in this section- much selfie shot action going down. There are also a couple of playgrounds with thousands of little Tehrani kids. The other standout feature is the number of Tehrani
Park e ShahrPark e ShahrPark e Shahr

cats prowling around- I like it- they totally own the park. There is also a cafe - the Sofre Khane Sonnati Sangalog Teashop- recommended in the LP, but unfortunately it's closed. I would recommend a visit; it really is a peaceful spot to sit and read a book, walk around or just people watch.

Ok, that done, time to find the Golestan Palace, it appears though that it has been moved, despite the fact that it has been there since the Qajar Dynasty, because I walk around and around in circles and can't find it anywhere. AND, none of the locals can seem to tell me where it is either. Hmm. Will there be a Take 3? I walk roughly another 2km and find myself back at the park- NO clue how I got there. It is now considerably busier with lots of family groups having picnics.

Head back to the hotel for my 1 pm pickup- Amir is coming to collect me. Detour via an ice cream shop to find the famous saffron ice cream I have heard so much about- for

Anyway, Amir and I head off by taxi for the 2 hr drive to the Polour Camp. It's sitting at 2270m and was built by the Iranian Mountain Federation as a base to acclimatise and then start the Damavand climb, it's also known as Camp 3. But first Amir gets the taxi to stop in the middle of nowhere and we (me, Amir and the taxi driver) sit by the side of a highway and I am introduced to yet another new taste sensation- the carrot juice and saffron ice cream float- SOOOOOO good!

Arrive at Polour Camp and meet the famous Mr Soltani. He shows me around and up to my room ( #7); green carpet, 6 beds, ensuite with a real toilet and WIFI. It's all mine. The 24 Europeans that just arrived are sharing the dormitories. We then have tea and a chat and Mr Soltani offers to take me on a sightseeing trip- first sight is Mt Damavand, you can see it from the carpark. Next stop is the lookout of the valley and then the village where there is a famous festival held every year where the men are kicked out of town and the women have a party!!! Sounds ok. The men then have their own party
Park e Shahr Park e Shahr Park e Shahr

Wild animal zone
filling an ancient well with snow that will provide water for them for the season. We end up at the gravel road where we will drive to tomorrow to begin the trek.

On the way back I spy a collection of bee hives and a tent, I ask if we can stop to get some photos, this is the point where Mr S realises that there's a photo in almost any situation for me. He trudges along with me anyway while Amir decides staying in the car is a good option. The guy in the tent actually lives in it for the bee season and takes care of the bees. The bees have been moved to warmer climes but he's just finishing up the season selling honey, he invites us in for some tea with honey - actually it is honey with some tea. He also shows me his dried poppy head collection and is insistent I take some seeds to grow at home- no amount of explaining Australia's rigid quarantine regulations make any difference as he bags the seeds for me- "a souvenir", "I must take". The reason I stopped was to get some photos to send to
Ice cream shopIce cream shopIce cream shop

En route to Polour Camp
one of my Belgian best friends Mary and I met on the Upper Mustang trek in Nepal last year. The light lent itself really well to some beautiful shots- can wait to send them to him.

Arrived back at Polour for a bit before we drove into the nearest town of Hariz for dinner. There was us 3, a couple of locals and the 24 Europeans. The restaurant was great, lots of local atmosphere with a choice of normal tables or the sitting on carpet ones. Had a great meal of lamb cutlets, rice, flat bread and grilled tomatoes. Introduced to a salty yoghurt drink- very, very good and picked whole garlic cloves- also delicious. Night ended with Mr S checking my gear for tomorrow and telling me I had to have gortex pants, another base bottom later and a polar fleece hat. I don't argue- I'm not going to win- he lends me the gortex pants that are 2 sizes too big and a hat, Amir provides another pair of bottoms base layer- I'll die from overheating rather than hypoxia I think.

Bed at 2230. Big day tomorrow. I feel nervous but no altitude effects at all.

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


My new favourite thingMy new favourite thing
My new favourite thing

Carrot juice with saffron ice cream
View from Polour CampView from Polour Camp
View from Polour Camp

Cloud descending on Damavand
Bee keeperBee keeper
Bee keeper

He lives in this tent, sells from the tent, invites people into the tent for tea...
Dinner drink choiceDinner drink choice
Dinner drink choice

Non al beer, original coke, yoghurt (my choice)

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