What can one say about a city that is 80km north to south and has about twice the population of Greater London? Well, it's big and the road network is predictably complicated and with over 30 million cars, it's busy. A perfect day for Google Earth on ALex's computer, with a map of how to get to our friend's flat, to break down. With our GPS only showing main roads (apparently only two in Tehran) and only a large scale road map for the whole country we were stuck just telephoniing for directions and then relying on ALex asking a long series of very friendly and helpful people for directions every couple of junctions! From hitting the city limits it took us about 3 hours to negociate our way to the appartment, including getting them to guide us by car the last 15 mins or so!
We got there in the end through,(barely fitting into the car port!) and were VERY warmly welcomed and after a chance to shower joined in a large family dinner party with three generations and fantastic food. This set the tone for our fabulous stay in Tehran- amazing food at every breakfast, lunch and dinner, sight seeing, local shopping at the bazzar and large and frequent gatherings of both families and friends at daily intervals. One day a minibus was hired and we went on a full day tour with a mixture of friends and family of our hosts to local, often closed, attractions that they had arranged special permission to go to. It was a very different experience to sightseeing by ourselves and very interesting to gain something of the urban Irani perspective, so different
from that of our less cosmopolitan frends we have made. One of the sights was the shrine of an Imman's wife and I was greatly amused at the completely non religious attitude of the cosmopolitan ladies we were with- refusing the provided chadors and taking lots of photos, even of the more religious people visitors who obviously found the pilgramidge a much more emotional experience. The ladies regrded them as much of a novelty as we did. It was a great day with the sights not as dramatic as those we have seen else where but travelling as part of a group, especially with Iranians, was an excellent and very special experience with picnics and singing and dancing on the bus as we cruised down the roads.