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Persian Odyssey

Did you happen to see
Joanna Lumley on her Silk Road Tour?

On Week 3 she travelled through Iran.

The most marvellous programme about Iran screened recently was
the BBCs
The Art of Persia.
You can still find it on Iplayer.

It marries the Persian past with Iran of today.

Both programmes show the Iran we see.

The one we visit year after year.

(Not this year of course, sadly.)

Joanna focussed on its people and
the breathtaking sites.

Nass and his nephew on a stroll in the desert.

Visiting Iran

"I'm going on holiday."
"Oh, lovely! You deserve a break. Where are you going? "
" Iran."
The friend goes silent and physically blanches.
Happens every time.

These camels are by the roadside, Yazd

made by a local artist

Then quietly,
"Will you be OK? Will you be safe?"

It happens a lot.
But not all the time. 
Some friends have been to Iran and know the country and it's people well.

"Oh! How exciting," they say breathlessly, their eyes lighting up, 
" I wish I were coming with you."

Lonely Planet on Iran 

"Welcome to what could be
 the friendliest country on earth."

Check it out if you are thinking of making the trip.


There are a few things that unnerve me.

The traffic mostly.

Imagine the lanes around the Arc de Triomphe on a bad day.
Then multiply that by 5 and you are getting close.

Many people don't wear seatbelts.
Mobile phones are clamped to ears of drivers speeding through traffic,
one nonchalant hand on the wheel.

Five people on a motorbike is not a rare sight, though crash helmets are.
I saw a man wearing one last year.
I pointed him out.
The first I had ever seen.

Crossing the road can be terrifying.
You have to walk, and not feel scared by the traffic hurtling towards you.
They will go round you.
Unless you run.
Which is instinct.
Then you would run directly into the path they are taking to avoid you.

If you get me.

The only way I can cross a busy road is to hang on to someone who knows what they are doing.
With my eyes closed.

This is the lovely Farhad.
Once the smallest, quietest person in the family.
Now the most gregarious.

When he was a little boy he used to say,
"Aunty Berennie I will take you."
And he would put his tiny hand in mine while I closed my eyes.

I laugh with him and say he could just carry me now.


It's not just historical sites that make the visit so memorable
It's the people.
As a foreigner, I'm regularly stopped in the street.

"Welcome to our country"
"What do you think of Iran?"
"Do you like Yazd?"
"Welcome. Please come to dinner at our house."

And its always a genuine offer.

By the way, here is a link to some wonderful Persian food recipes

and my most favourite books on Persian cooking

all by Sabrina Ghayour

and Persepolis
and Snackistan
by Sally Butcher

Saffron Tales
by Yasmin Khan.

It constantly surprises me how many friends I've made in later years have all been to Iran.

They had mostly gone pre-revolution.
Some just getting out in time.

I first went when I was 17.

Strange, to meet and marry an Iranian man
later in life and return to a country, I never thought I would see again.

Oh to be 17and slim and carefree again

A few friends have discovered the country in more recent years.
Going on tours mostly.

All will tell you the same.
"What a beautiful country."
"What welcoming people."
"How kind people are to strangers."

This is an interesting read


meet the family....Yazd...that's Nass and I far left.

We always try to go to Meymand.


This is how it's described in 
The Loney Planet

Continuously occupied for millennia – the lowest estimate is 2000 years – Meymand is a unique troglodyte village of kiche (cave-houses) burrowed into gently sloping composite rocks and backed by a wild-west scenic skyline of eroded crags and mesa-like rock formations. Set around a small stream-fed orchard, this Unesco site makes a memorable stop between Kerman and Yazd (or Shiraz) and offers a rare chance to sleep in a semi-restored ancient kiche.

one of my favourite places

and we love to explore the desert around Yazd.

and watch the sun go down

Coffee shops are springing up all over Iran.

Family dinner

A surprise birthday dinner for Nass.
It's a clever idea.

A restaurant purely for birthday celebrations.
You bring the balloons.
The gifts.
The birthday guest.

They supply the rest.

A singer.
The food.
The ambience.

The whole restaurant sings Happy Birthday.

We went to a funfair first.

Here's a few random photos.

Nass and his brother take a bit of time out...bottom right.

After we had lunch out one day, we came upon these two old buddies.
They were exercising in the park.
Outside free gym.

I look forward to returning one day.