Landing in Iran is like time travel. Suddenly we back to the year 1395 and it isn’t because Iran is a backward country. That journey through time is a result of different calendar. Persia uses jalali calendar, which starts counting years from the migration of Mohammed to Medina in 622 CE. A Count start is something that Persian and Islamic calendars have in common. Unlike Islamic calendar, which is lunar one, Iranian is the solar calendar and similar to Gregorian calendar has 365 days. The New Year (Nowruz) is celebrated on the vernal equinox. AP (Anno Persico or Anno Persarum) means that date is in Iranian calendar.
Travel to the one thousand and one night’s country is not only time travel but for some time makes us millionaire. It’s because of Iranian currency Rial (IRR). Although Rial is official currency we have to get dividing by 10 under control because almost all prices are quoted in toman (1 toman = 10 rials). My experience from travel to Iran shows that it is better to ask if the price is in tomans or rials. Unfortunately we can be easily cheated especially by taxi drivers.
More often we can meet incredible friendly people who are always willing to help and curious about travelers. For me it was especially amazing when they found out that I’m from Lachestan (farsi name for Poland), they referred to polish volleyball’s successes or mentioned some well-known polish names or cities.
Contrary to popular belief, Iran isn’t country of terrorists or place incredible dangerous. I’m good example that travel to Iran can be safe and I’m not only one person who thinks the same way. I met lots of travelers who shared my opinion about safety in Persia.
Before travel to Iran it’s worth preparing properly. First of all it is better to learn some basic expressions in farsi. It isn’t Arabic unlike lots of people think so but still it has some loanwords from this language. Many of young people can speak English but sometimes this ability is limited to the words “Hello”, “How are you” or “Hello mister/lady”. That’s a perfect moment when we need to switch to the body language. But be careful – in Iran thumb up is equivalent of the middle finger and better not to use it. Personally, I used it couple of times but not on purpose, just unintentional. In my case it didn’t have some bad consequences but it is better not to borrow trouble.
When we travel to Iran it is really important to have an appropriate outfit. By law, women and girls over the age of 7 are required to cover their hair and wear loose clothes. Also tourist (women) should cover everything but their face, hands and feet. For men it is a bit easier. T-shirts are acceptable, shorts and three-quarter length pants only acceptable on the beach. Travelling to Iran by plan it is possible to find out when we reach Iran. All women at this time put their headscarves. Hijab, that is the name of mentioned headscarf, should cover hair and shoulders. “Privilege” of not covering face it is used by Iranian women and girls quite often. Some of them have really strong make up. Especially eyebrows and lips are strong highlighted. What was for me quite interesting, Iran is in fourth place when it comes to highest rates of plastic surgery. The most popular plastic surgery in Iran is nose reshaping. Trend of having small nose concerns not only women. In the Iranian’s streets it is possible to see also guys with small bandage on the nose.
I was talking with some Iranian women about hijab and lots of them treat it like restriction of liberty and even the reason why they don’t want to live in Iran anymore. I’ve met also women who said that hijab makes them feel safer. For me it was really problematic, often headscarf has slid from my head what caused consternation on the faces of the oldest people and amusement of young people. I remember one situation when I attended some home party and I was so relaxed that I forgot to put my scarf while leaving. I still hear girls shouting: “scarf, Aga, put your scarf”:D