Iran – 10 Things You didn’t Know

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

Ok, time has come to handle my famous ‘Things You didn’t Know’ about Iran. I have felt in love with this country from the very first minute if not before!

If I would have to think of one word to describe Iran in would be ‘misconception’. You have no idea what kind of scary, horrifying and weird stories I have heard before my visit.

Even my Mom, who is quiet relaxed about my travels by now, freaked out a bit when I said that after Armenia I’m crossing a border to Iran for 5 weeks. 

Interesting Facts Iran

No wonder. When men such as Ahmadinejad represent your country in international media and interviews for CNN.

But this series is all about learning from my observations. Not about addressing serious problems of countries I travel in. Which I will definitely do in upcoming articles.

Interesting, funny and quirky facts about Iran.

1. Taarof Rules

I see understanding concept of taarof and its larger social context as essential to understand Persian culture.

It may cause misunderstandings between both parties. It can be a source for awkward situations in a social setting. That is why it is important for all travellers to quickly understand what taarof is.

You always have to insist on paying for services, in restaurants, in taxis. Because people will pretend they do not want to accept the payment.

A host is obliged to offer anything a guest might want, and a guest is equally obliged to refuse it.

If people invite you for dinner or to their house. When they offer you a ride or to help you with something do not be sure they really want to do it. You are obligated to refuse many many times before accepting anything, even a tea after dinner.

It does sounds complicated but you quickly should get an idea, at least I did and maybe that is why I had such a great time in Iran.

Interesting Facts Iran

2. Hitch-hiking Issue

Hitch-hiking is the easiest and the most difficult thing to do in Iran. That is an opinion formed from my experiences. Mr Chinese Man (and no he is not Chinese, it is just his nickname) and I have hitch-hiked on many occasions in this amazing country.

It is super easy because Iranians are the nicest people in the world and they always want to help. Especially when you are a guest in their country! We usually never waited longer than 5 mins.

We have experiences so much good from people while hitch-hiking that it was overwhelming! At the end of the ride they always invite you to stay over their place! Your own host will give you a ride to the border of the city and will catch you a ride himself!

People will drive you for hundreds of miles even if they are going in completely different direction. Even better. They will drive you 100km to tell you at the end that they were just on the way to buy some groceries, but guest are guests!

I know which direction your mind is heading dear reader! So why it is most difficult thing to do Marysia? The reason is the same! Iranians are super nice people, too nice sometimes!

And how do I know it? Well, when shop owner who spotted you on the side of the road is so petrified that you are about to hitch-hike that he stops a tour bus; packs your bags, almost push you inside and refuse to hear no for the answer, you get an idea it won’t be easy.

But when people in the bus insist on feeding you, giving you water and start discussing options of dropping you by police station. So that Police can give you money (because Police helps tourists in need) than you know 100%. Hitch-hiking is not an easy task to pull off in Iran.

Of course we explained many times that we have money. That we hitch-hike for cultural and social immersion. But it was just too absurd for them to understand this idea. At the end bus driver tried to put money in our backpacks cos he was worried dead about us! Iranian are just too nice!

Interesting Facts Iran

3. Numbers – Money Issue

It was the most confusing thing from all. Official currency in Iran is rial, but at any possible situations everyone gives you prices in ‘tomans’.

I’m good with maths, never had problems with numbers, and to be frank the calculation system is easy! 1 toman = 10rials. But what I couldn’t get my head around is why oh why they are still operating in currency which has been replaced in 1932? 80 years ago!

I remember redenomination of Polish currency back in 1995. On the beginning my grandmother sometimes gave value in the old currency. We all did for first few months, but after the period of transition and getting used to, it was gone. But not in Iran, oh no!

Interesting Facts Iran

4. Change Issue

Do you think found this toman/rial thing slightly confusing but funny? Wait for this!

In Iran they have another problem regarding money. They are in lack of small notes and coins. And this is super serious, getting a note of 2000rials or even 500 is close to impossible! So when I got one, I was showing it to everyone! Ha ha ha

Ok, but what happens in the shops when they have no money to give you your change back? They pay you back in sweets, yes you heard me well, sweets. They always have some bars next to the cashier and they just trow it in your bag. Seems like heaven? For those with sweet tooth for sure! Meaning all Iranians!

Interesting Facts Iran

5. Sweets Obsession

Do you remember this famous crazy phrase “Come to the dark side, we have cookies”? It is all over Internet but nobody knows where is it from and who started it!?

I have solved this mystery! Iranians came up with, I’m 100% sure!

These people take love of sweets and cookies to another level! You know like in Europe you always have banks and pharmacies everywhere. They have sweet shops on every corner, preferably too on each actually!

Sweets are a big part of culture here! You never come empty handed when paying a visit. Iranian will refuse taking money for hosting you but will be happy to accept sweets. Life and honour savers to all tourist in this beautiful country. Never underestimate the power of sweets in Iran.

Interesting Facts Iran

6. Everybody is a PhD!

Education is super important in Iran. Almost everyone is a PhD. And even though there are rational reason to explain why, it is still impressive how well educated Iranians are.

It is great to see that even though women still experience legal and cultural discrimination at the hands of a patriarchal society, it doesn’t include education!

So why Iranians are so well educated? Three simple reasons.

First it was always an important part of Persian culture.

Second. Currently Iran is a quite closed country, government is censoring Internet and propaganda is flying all over the place. And I believe they see knowledge as something associated with freedom and aspiration.

Third reason is that there is not much entertainment available to youths. Clubs, dancing and drinking don’t take focus away from study. Like it often happens in Poland or other European countries.

Interesting Facts Iran

7. Crazy Drivers

I usually have no issue with people driving like maniacs. It happens everywhere. Of course it may come across as a culture shock to many people from better organised countries. But I have been in so many crazy destinations that I have a culture shock every single time I get into the car in Europe.

I though that after Benin I have seen everything and there is no surprising me in this field. Oh how naive and wrong of me that was.

Iran is by far the most crazy place to drive in the whole world! Official!

There is no rules whatsoever! Not even one. Maybe somewhere on some ancient piece of paper in the archives! And Iran has the highest rate of accidents in the whole world!

Interesting Facts Iran

8. Iran – Nose Job Capital of the World

That goes without saying when face is the only feature ‘to show’. Iranian Girls are known for using a lot of make up, they are 2nd importer in the world; just after Saudi. So I’m not surprised that nose operations are so popular here.

But there is a funny way how I learned about it. One day when I was travelling I have seen a teenage boy with a plaster on his nose and though yes accidents happens. Than the next day I saw another one and I started to think that men in Iran are quick to hand to hand fights.

This was all in deep countryside of Kurdistan and those were Boys. That is why the idea of the nose job didn’t cross my mind. Until exactly a day later, in the restaurant in the big city I saw a young Girl, like 20 years old, with the same plaster on her nose. Eureka!

When I saw her it all became clear. She told me that they keep those plasters longer than they should just to show off they had an operation!

In Iran everyone pays attention to noses. It is national obsession, just after sweets. Many times I had to explain that I did not have a nose job myself!

And many times there was picture taking involved so they could show it to their doctor. Who would think that my nose is so good looking.

9. The Hijab Rule

Yes, it is mandatory in Iran to cover your head. Even when you are a tourist. As a tourist you should always dress modestly in Muslim countries but it is a first country I had to cover my head, even in Oman where women were full chador. 

We all know that I’m way too independent and a rebel to wear a chador. And I must admit I haven’t met many woman travellers going for this option; but there were many with hijab.

I went just for modest dressing and a scarf. I did all that with my own sense of fashion of course! Colours where flashing all over my clothes, and it was not a problem for anybody.

Woman in Iran are very stylish and they try to express themselves with clothes as much as possible. Colourful scarfs, stylish “manteau” which are kind of an overcoat. It is not uncommon to see hair exposed under small loose fitting scarves. And after observing women in Iran I went that way as well, with almost all my hair uncovered.

I had no problems with wearing a scarf and I kind of liked the whole thing. I’m a tourist and it was interesting experience and I knew it has an end date.

But if I would live in Iran and would have to; I would be biggest protester against this rule. Woman should be able to decide about their own clothing, and that goes without saying!

I would be definitely fighting the cause with My Stealthy Freedom! Feel free to support them by liking their page!

As Mr Rouhani said on Twitter “#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviours caused by joy.” Kudos Mr Rouhani! Can we please follow up with this attitude in the future legal changes?

Interesting Facts Iran

10. People in Iran are just too nice!

Those Iranians are just too nice. I used this statement like 15-20 times every day! People in Iran are so nice, so hospitable, so welcoming and so helpful that it is over-whelming.

It is partly an effect of taarof and guests being ‘friends of God’ but I believe that it goes way beyond cultural and social restrains.

I travelled around the world and people are amazing everywhere. I always say that I’m The Luckiest Girl in the World, because I receive so much good from people on my travels. Iran was a surprise even to me, it really stands out from other countries. Even to me.

I knew that people in this region are hospitable. And I never thought it will be easy to find a place where people will be nicer than in Oman, but I did and it is Iran!

It is the the most amazing country I have travelled in and I have millions examples to prove my point. People go great lengths to host you, to help you to have the best experience possible.

Every single time I was heart-broken when I had to leave. I have met some wonderful souls in Iran. I’m sure I will continue coming across some superb people around the world but Iranians will always stay in my heart!

Iran you have stolen my heart! As much as Israel did few years ago!

Interesting Facts Iran

If you want to read about Iran from perspective of a friend of mine check those articles: 10 funny-interesting things about Iran – Part 1 and Part 2

Some of the pictures in this article have been taken by an amazing photographer Boris Le Montagner from Boris Lemon Photos.

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110 thoughts on “Iran – 10 Things You didn’t Know

  1. Hey Marysia. Nice post, easy to read and I recognize all of it since I have been in Iran for three weeks myself. I wrote something about it too, it might be a nice addition to yours! Have a look at it and tell me what you think!

    • Ok, I’m off to read it :) Will be back to share my thoughts!

  2. We always knew that Iran is our dream destination. And your article made it, that we want to go there even more! We should hate you for it ;). Thanks for this amazing content Marysia!
    AguaDeCoco.PL recently posted…On Portuguese street marketMy Profile

    • Ha ha ha, I have the same sometimes, I read articles about countries I know I will love and it makes me even more impatient to visit them!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #91My Profile

  3. Wow, I didn’t know about all these things! Nice post and good to know. Who knows, I might use it some day when I’ll go to Iran!:)
    Koralina recently posted…Na weekend: Morawy i WiedeńMy Profile

  4. This post comes very handy before my trip to Iran in 2.5 months! Now I’m even more excited for it! Any place in particular you would or would not recommend there?
    kami recently posted…Sunday with Pictures: picturesque Paraty, BrazilMy Profile

    • Oh you are going in winter Kami? North will be quiet cold, so pack some warm clothes! I wouldn’t miss Tabriz, amazing city!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #91My Profile

  5. Wow, I must admit, I didn’t know anything about Iran until I red your blog:) I’m especially shocked at Iran being no2 nose job place in the world – I have thought it’s South American thing:)
    Danuta recently posted…El ritmo negro: SAYA afro-boliviana & CaporalesMy Profile

    • Ha ha ha Danuta I have been quiet shock about that as well, but once you think of it, it is very logical, they can only show their faces so maybe South American countries are first but I bet more in like breast and bum operations :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #91My Profile

  6. Hirbod

    Hi, thank you very much for this great article about Iran. I remember that I have visited as a kid and loved Isfahan and Shiraz, would love to be back soon!

  7. What a great article! I genuinely enjoyed reading every sentance you wrote. Iran is one of those wonderful mysteries to many of us so this provided well needed insight for me, and many others. Thank you :)
    Sean recently posted…No dinero, no problemo!My Profile

  8. Chloe

    I loved this article! And I think everything you mentioned in this article is true. I am an Iranian myself. Born and raised in Tehran, I was never proud of my nationality though. I don’t go out much, I’ve spent my life in my room just chatting with my Internet friends. They were mostly American. I always felt ashamed of sharing my nationality with them so I just always tried to hide it which was really hard. This article kinda changed my mind, so thank you! It’s nice to know when people around the world that travel here do understand that Iran is not even that bad.

    • Oh Sweety! Of course Iran is not that bad! Apart from all the problems which your country face politically, Iran is still an amazing place! Chloe you have nothing to be ashamed of! And no matter how cliche it sounds it is You who makes You, so smile and be proud of being Iranian :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #89My Profile

  9. Joe Prince

    One of the best articles I have ever read, it does expressed everything I feel but in much better way than I can. And, since less is more, I’ll let the article speak for itself…

  10. Mostafa Akhlaqi

    Hi. I read your article about my country and all comments too. I just want to say THANK YOU for your honesty. I read “now-mansland.com” too. I didn’t know you were together till I read the part 2 going: “The first days we arrive in Iran with Marysia we saw some young boys with plasters on the nose….”. Before that I was just wondering why these articles show the same experiences with different words!

    • Hello Mostafa, thanks for your comment and just to clarify we are not together, we just travelled together in Iran. Ha ha ha And article more or less talk about the same as we had similar experiences :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #88My Profile

  11. Reza

    Hey Marysia

    Well, Actually I’m international tour guide and I faced with lot’s of Tourists and real Travelers in IRAN! I rid all of Ur report and Ur conservation specially with Amir! first of all thanks about Ur nice point of view about our country, that’s because Cristal Clear it is ;) Maybe it was better change Ur report topic to “IRAN at a glance” or like this ! we have a lots of things that nobody don’t know about us!!

    I think most part off our worry (the youth) is about misunderstanding about real Iran! For example when somebody study Ur report, yes, maybe their idea change but if not u show just some not important things in their eyes!!

    I saw many reports like u, i mean with nice point of view about Iran but always u have something less in Ur report and this is a not comprehensive understand about now of Iran! So, i m sure with cross path again in our country u can find the deep understanding about Reality of us!

    anyway, I’m looking forward to meet you some day for share our experience in this way meanwhile I am friend of Cristian family(Ivan), and i try to help them for achieving our goal :)

    Na zdravie ;)

    • Hello Reza,

      First of all I really dislike this comment about tourists and real travellers, what kind of weird semantics it is, we are all tourists, and we are all travellers. There is no better way to travel, there are just different ways.

      Another thing is that you can’t possibly expect from me to do a comprehensive report about Iran in one article! I think there is no country or a nation that can be excplained in one article. It is always so much more complicated and such much more than meets an eye.

      Please understand that my article is not intended on listing every single thing which is unknown about Iran, as I mention in my article, those were things that surprised or amused me the most on my trip, this is a sum up of my subjective observation. There will be more article about different parts of Iran and people I have met.

      Aiming for trying to be an Iran Guru now is not my point. My blog is a personal travel blog and I write about what I have experience and observed on my travels. Hope it is good enough for Iranians but if not I’m sorry I have been in Iran only for 5 weeks.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #87My Profile

      • Reza

        Hi again

        I feel you are sad from my statement ! Well obviously I told u just my point of view about Ur report and i respect and appreciate u about Ur nice report ;)
        Generally I’m Landscape Designer and my profession is about the Archaeological open air museum design and of course my field is direct relate to industrial tourism! I should tell you I really distinguish between tourists and travelers! There are a number of underlying differences here. I don’t want tell u a story but in generally a tourist USUALLY come for relaxation like go to the beach , visit sightseeing ,they want luxury, stay in Hotel with variety of stars, don’t meet the native people(real interaction), go to upmarket shops, lively bars and restaurants and so on! but for real travelers like u they try to traveling with background knowledge about their destination, respect to the host community culture, they want to the touch the native people and their culture and start to interaction with them, the quality accommodation is not really important for them, MOST of them are backpacker and they travel on a shoestring, make ends meet and they travel solo!

        Additionally, generally it’s my belief that sometimes we want to attract the audience for our statements and use some advertising topic for our goal, its not bad but sometimes this kind of topics, don’t show the reality of our statements! I just told you my view and not any more ;)
        take it easy and smile to the life :D

        I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will live as one
        All the best
        Reza

        • Reza I always smile to life and your comment didn’t saddened me, I like to talk with my readers but I really do not understand what are you trying to tell me. First of all no matter what I will never agree with those tourist/travellers thing, no matter how many people believe it is true. As I said there are no better ways of traveling. Maybe I like to interact with locals and someone else love to stay in luxurious hotels and both things are great as long as they make particular person happy. We are all different and we travel for different reasons.

          As for other part, please explain cos I’m not sure I understand. You say I shouldn’t write about Iran cos it is subject that attracts audience? What kind of advertising topic for my goal are you mentioning? You know I have made the whole series of those posts, about Iran, Benin, Jordan, Kazakhstan and they all get the same audience, they are not meant to advertise anything and as I have mentioned before I write a personal travel blog about my subjective experiences on my journeys not really sure how can I be hold responsible for my experience. I have seen what I have seen in Iran, 99% of those things were amazing and nice therefore I written about it.
          Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #87My Profile

          • Reza

            I think we have a lots of things in common!
            I use some Capital word in my last post, plz attention to them. There arent any border between Tourists and travelers but the behavior of them show for us, who are they? and we can dividing them!
            I never told you that don’t tell sth about Iran i just told you the containing of the report its not conform with topic of report, in first post i suggested u that it maybe better the topic changes to” Iran at the first Glance” or sth like this. but its OK, i would like to put the comment for u and tell my view. u can be agree with me or not, both of them its respectful for me.

          • Reza I really think that it is matter of principles rather that dividing. I just dislike this tourist vs travellers distinction, that is all.
            As for the tittle I really do not think it is that inaccurate, those are 10 things most of people outside of Iran wouldn’t know and those are 10 things that made the most lasting impression on my during my stay there. Of course there is other million things I myself and other people have no idea about Iran, but as I have mentioned before this is a personal blog and I write about my experience, and this is what I have seen in Iran and I can’t change that. There will be more posts about Iran and maybe they will touch different subjects and make more Iranian readers happy :) Have a great day. Marysia
            Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #87My Profile

  12. What a fascinating post! I didn’t know any of these things really – so surprised to hear about the nose job thing but I’m glad they are a nation of sweet lovers as I’ve tried Iranian sweets on a couple of occasions and LOVED them! Great to hear some interesting facts about a place I’ve never been to :)
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…Why I started Travel Blogging – Reflections One Year OnMy Profile

    • Shikha Iranian sweets were great, there are ones that I could eat every day, but they were so so sweet! I will say one more time! Iran is truly great country!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #85My Profile

  13. Jia Ying

    Hi, I like your article about Iran. Definitely you know more than I do about Iran. My Iranian classmate didn’t even mention to me about Taarof rule during my Iran trip…

    • That is a big shame Jia, but didn’t you observed that? Nobody mention that to me, I just understood from people behave and than asked to be explained :) But I have been there for 5 weeks and still sometimes I was still confused what was taarof what not :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #85My Profile

      • Hahaha… Yup, even I don’t know the term “Taarof”, but I know how to respond them and how to handle well with this rule…. I just spent 10 days in Iran….
        Jia Ying recently posted…One more time~~~ Graduation!!!!!My Profile

        • If you knew how to respond and how to handle it I guess it is not so important to know how it is called :)
          Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #85My Profile

  14. mahnaz

    I am from IRAN and your text make make me happy, please write more about Iran.

  15. Amir

    Hey Marysia, How are you doing?

    For awhile I’d not come here, until I saw one of your twits. I thought it is a good idea and checking up on the comments. I saw some comments insisting on you showing the beautiful parts of Iran instead of showing such humble pictures!

    And you was wondering why Iranian people insist on this and why they think these pictures are not showing the reality!! Actually for a moment I laughed loudly because it is very cute when you want to show that these pictures are beautiful and we (Iranian people) cannot apprehend you!! ha ha ha

    Ok, let me tell you what it is going on in our minds! I know as a professional tourist you’ve read a lot about Iran but maybe I can tell you a little more.

    Marysia, Iran or Persia has been such an important country for long years in Humanity’s history. This people (We) are somehow over-proud about our history. You may not believe but Iranian people still think they are a very important country in the world. Unctuously, we think all the world are beholding us and we play a significant rule in the world puzzle. On the other hand this people think our race is Aryan and we have same race with Germany people. We overestimate ourselves! This people cannot believe out of Iran nobody even knows “where Iran is” or what is the difference between Iran and Iraq!

    If you want to kill an Iranian person, it is very simple. Just tell us “You are Arabs”! We will get pail and get angry! Why? Because we think we are Aryan, Persian and from the Empire of Persia!

    So, look what happened to this nation! Now, these people are well-known as bombers! Terrorists! Wilds! We want to show we are different and in this way we ignore some realities. When you talk about deserts in Iran, we may get sad since for Iranian people desert=Arabs and Arabs are some uncivilised guys (In our wrong minds). So, in your beautiful mind, the rural places, the cultural stuff and crafts are amazing.

    You are looking for historical places, for you women with scarf, deserts, jungles, old places, some people with different dresses are attractive and such new experience but for this people these things are signs of mustiness. They are asking you to show the world that we have coffee shop, we have BMWs, we have Skyscrapers, to show the world that these people are as good as their past !

    And you think “Oh, why these people frequently are asking me to show urbanisation stuff? I am here to see something different.” So, this is the reason.

    • Hello Amir,

      Thanks for reading and taking time to explain so widely. I really truly understand from where Iranian people come from on this subject and I understand how hard it is too be so misunderstood by the rest of the worlds. And I fully realise Iranians are not Arabs, and just to state being Arab should never been taken as being worser than any other nation, we are all different but equal so Arab or Persian or Polish, you can be a great person.

      As I have said in many comments before I will show beauty, modernity and amazing cultural sites, but in other posts, as I’m very busy with travelling they will be coming soon :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #83My Profile

  16. Very interesting read Marysia.
    Iran is a country I have never considered travelling.
    I don’t think I would fit in well with wearing a Hijab, but we won’t go into the reasons why.
    Sam D recently posted…Six classic streets from famous European citiesMy Profile

    • Sam I actually though it will be my biggest problem but really it wasn’t. I kind of liked wearing the scarf.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #81My Profile

  17. TAM

    Thanks for sharing this great & very interesting article! I really enjoyed reading it because it’s full of information! Keep up the great work! I will definitely keep reading all new stuff written by you!

  18. Being from Saudi Arabia, I can relate to many of these, and I love Taarof lol. It’s funny how we have to refuse so often, or when paying at a dinner table, how everyone has to insist on paying. I had no idea they were so big on nose jobs, though lol. I saw the same thing in Lebanon, but it was whole families walking together with their nose plastered!
    Rashad Pharaon recently posted…Should You Move to Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City?My Profile

    • Ha ha ha yes Lebanon is huge for all kind of beauty operations indeed. But didn’t see so many noes ones, but I have been long time ago so things could change :)

      And I would love to visit Saudi!
      Marysia recently posted…Victoria – Exploring Melbourne AreaMy Profile

  19. Sibtain Rizvi

    Marysia I couldn’t agree more on your views on Iran I’ve been lucky to visit twice and the people are really as nice as you state they are kudos to them. I’m from Pakistan neighbouring Iran in the east. We love our guests almost as much as Iranians and we would be honoured if u payed us a visit too you will be blown away (in a good way) by our exuberant culture and lifestyle along with our most diverse geography. Hope to see you soon…

    • I would love to visit Pakistan and yes I hope I will get blow away strictly in a positive way :) LOL I have heard a lot of good things about Pakistan and Pakistani people, and actually I have heard they are as nice as Iranians, but will have to see for myself, hopefully soon!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #80My Profile

  20. shadi

    I am disagree with second part of PhD section 6. Everybody is a PhD!. As matter of fact one out of Fourth Persian- American has PhD in United States. while clubs, entertainments, fashion shows and etc, are highly available , and affordable. This gives Persian highest rank among other population group in United States.

    • To be frank, not sure what you disagree with me about? I’m not talking about Persian people in general but about Iranians living in Iran and most of those who I met were super smart and doing their PhD’s. So the impression I have got about the nation is that they are very smart people. You disagree with me by saying that they have the highest ratio of PhD’s in whole US, that actually proves my point, no?
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #80My Profile

  21. Nassim

    Hi. You obviously have try to say something good about Iran and Iranians but
    I really feel sad when I see these picture. Of course they are real, and there is no doubt about it, but there is also many beautiful places and views in my country, that I can’t see non of them in your pictures. It is so unfair that you show only dark and primary side of Iran. I just can’t believe that you have not been north of Tehran or Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz, especially Persepolis…

    • Nassim I have been to all those places and there will be much more posts about Iran coming and they will include pictures from all those cities you have mentioned.

      I really do not understand why so many Iranians, same as you, think that those pictures are bad and showing bad parts of Iran. Those pictures to me shows delicious cookies, beautiful tea cups and amazing people I have met on my way, who have been super nice and wonderful to me. People who host me in their houses, women who showed her beautiful scarves.

      Not sure you have noticed but non of people who comment on that post, and there is many of them mentioned that they think those pictures are dark or primary. I think it is mentality different between our cultures, those pictures are great and nice!

      And just to calm your nerves, I will post tomorrow an article about beautiful Persepolis.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #80My Profile

  22. Shodja

    Thank you Marysia :-) Not only for your article but for your patiently replying to everyone. What an excellent source of information about Iran!

    • It is not a full source of information, just things I have noticed and observed. And I think that replaying to everyone is just right, after all people took time to tell me what they think, I can’t just ignore that :) I wouldn’t in real life so I do not here either.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #80My Profile

  23. Amir

    Hey Marysia ,
    It was amazing. There are some points i’d like to say as an extra information.
    Iranian people know that “Taroff” is funny and they completely know this is an odd habit. Moreover as i know the young generation (18-40) don’t follow most of the traditional habits or rules, Hijab as well (They are doing some social activities objecting this law).

    Mmmm, actually it was great when I was reading your experiences but I have some another points too. First I think mostly the pictures are related to the rural or remote places since I’v never seen a person like the man at #9 in the cities.

    Retroactively, I think it is very rare to find Taxies like those ones have been shown at #6, because these kinds of old taxies are not allowed to be used. I guess these pictures are for 6-7 years ago.

    I have a suggestion, I know for a tourist visiting the traditional and historical parts of a country is more important than visiting the big modern cities but it will be very good if you could show the modern life in Iran too.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Hello Amir, I’m glad you liked my article so let me address your comments and points.

      As for ‘Taroff’ I have actually experienced people of all ages following this rule everywhere in Iran. I like such kind of traditions and would hope it won’t die any soon.

      As for Hijab, I mentioned in my article than woman try to fight it or go around it and that especially young Girls do a lot to change this.

      Those pictures are taken in different places, some in big cities, some in more rural places. And yes this picture #9 is taken in an amazing part of Iran, Kurdistan. Even though you can not see Kurds in many cities, there is whole region where people dress like that and if you have never been I would highly recommend you to go for few days there, truly an amazing place and amazing people!

      As for Taxis, this picture have been taken last year, like all of them, I have only been once in Iran. Last year in October and November and this picture have been taken in Tabriz which is 5th biggest cities in Iran.

      As for your last comment, when I travel in the country I try to see everything, both modern and rural, both small and big cities. And I did. I loved Iran. I indeed haven’t been impressed with Tehran but not because it is modern but because it is way too big and not that impressive as I would expect. From big modern cities I loved Rasht, Shiraz, Kerman, Isfahan, and many many more.

      I get this comments a lot recently that I do not show modern parts of countries I do travel in, maybe it is because all those big modern cities are nothing special for me, maybe because being from Europe I’m bored of big, modern places and I’m actually up for seeing sth I can’t see in my own country. Of course tourists are always for seeing culture, tradition, history but as well modern parts of the country, but I can’t do anything about my personal likings.

      And I do not try to show to other people that Iran is not a modern, developing country. I just show what I liked and what I think people should not miss. I loved Iran every minute of my stay and every place I have visited, there will be more posts and for sure I will show there different sides of Iran. Both modern and ancient.

      Thank you very much for taking the time and showing that you actually read the article instead of skimming over, I love such kind of comments and conversation, I wish all readers be like you :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #79My Profile

      • Amir Jalilifard

        Hey,
        Thanks for your considerations. Actually showing the modern life in Iran is important for Iranian people and they like it because unfortunately nowadays the political propaganda tend to show just bad things about Iran (every minutes BBC and CNN) and show that Iran is located in a desert and people are using camels! (While I guess Iranian people have never used camels in their history and most of us have never seen any camels, maybe just in the zoo). This is why Iranian people may ask you to show the modern life too.

        Before 37 years ago, Iran had a secular government and our parents and grandparents dressed normally, without Hijab, even Bikini! (You can search in Google : Iran before revolution). Then, I think this people think differently in comparison with the other Islamic countries, however, this was a mistake our parents did 37 years ago and now the majority of them are regretful!

        I am living in Brazil. I strongly believe Brazilian people have the most shared behaviours with Iranian people. They even have “Taroff”, ha ha ha. I hope you have taken a trip to Brazil too. I hope I can meet you a day since I wanna make friendship with those ones who dedicate their money and time to fulfil their dreams!

        • Amir I know very well from books and different sources that in the ‘Shah Times’ Iran was a completely different country with much more freedom. I even personally met people who fought against Shah and now they regret it very much. So I do not need to Google Iran before revolution, I know many stories from what actual people in Iran told me.

          Yes, I have been in Brazil that was a long time ago so maybe at some point I will be back, you never know.

          As for modern Iran, I actually do not know people who think that in Iran people ride camels, propaganda is propaganda, but it is mainly political one, to be honest people outside of Iran do not know much about this country except crazy things and ideas of people in power. And Iran is located in the desert! I for example love the desert so that was great. Do not worry about what others think of your country, you can’t change that. But what people should try to change is the way how Iran is ruled and by whom. Good luck with that.
          Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #79My Profile

          • Amir Jalilifard

            Yes. When I talk about “desert” I mean the kind of desert with sands (like central parts of Iran) and without rain and snow, while Iran is a mountainous country, with jungles and very elevated mountains and chain mountain.

            You may not believe, but all of my friends (European or American ones) thought we don’t have snow and we are living in tents! And when I showed some cities in Iran, they were looking for camels and they asked me “Where are camels?”! After years of friendship, 2 days ago, I showed our house to some of my friends. They saw the pictures while surprised and said : “Woow ,Amir, you have LCD TV and sofa!”. Or when they see my old photos with snowy climate they say, “wooow, you have snow”!

            About knowing Iran, you are right. Most of the young and middle aged generation don’t even know the difference between Iran and Iraq but the old generation (like grandparents) in Europe (specially in Germany and Italy), they know Iran very well from before revolution, Iran was a well-known country for tourists because of its rich history and cultures. However nowadays it’s more known as a bomb!

            Actually it is very painful. When I am in a party and there are some people who don’t know me, when they ask me “where are you from?” and I answer “Iran”, they say : “Bomber country??!”. It is painful but we created a community and until now, we have changed the preconceptions of lots of people about Iran however it was not easy.

            I am following you in Facebook. Hope to learn more from you. Thanks

          • Amir I’m truly sorry to hear about your experience. Believe me, there are many people around the world who really knows history and rich culture of Iran and Persian Empire. We Polish learn about it on the history classes. Iran is a beautiful place, with all climates as you say, with mountains, desert, two sea, with rain and sun etc etc It is a huge country with very rich culture.

            I support an amazing project run by one family, in the sidebar on my site you can see a picture saying ‘Iran is great’. Click it and you will find out more about it. They are trying to grow awareness about Iran as well.

            Best of luck with everything.
            Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #79My Profile

        • Aria

          Maybe “your” parents or grandparents wore bikini! But not ours and many people’s (I would say most people). Please give correct info to people who don’t know much about Iran and be more careful about that.
          That’s for sure that most of the people are not regretful about the revolution, they are unhappy about some issues nowadays though.

  24. Martina

    Well, Marysia, I’m also Polish and stay right now in Iran!
    Almost all of the things you wrote here are so much truth! I see them in my everyday life! I’m incredibly glad that thanks to articles and reports like this one you are breaking the actually existing superstitions about Iran that rule especially in European countries with great success. People need to see real face of Iran!

    And coming back to the “almost”, that I mentioned at the beginning….
    Crazy drivers? Ok, maybe a little bit, with breaking all the rules and so on…
    But please go to Armenia, to Yerevan, and compare :) I’ve never felt so scared in car in Iran as I was in Armenia! Check this out, really :) Good luck with the next journeys!!!

    • Martina I have crossed to Iran by land from Armenia where I was traveling for a month. This trip I was 5, 5 months, started in Azerbaijan, through Georgia, Abkhazia, Armenia and Nogorny Karabach. And yes I think that drivers in Caucasus region are super crazy as well, Georgia the worst. I actually felt much more sure in the car there than in Iran. As I have mentioned I’m not easily scared and didn’t have any dangerous situation in Iran. Simply think they are much chaotic and do crazy stuff on the road. And you know, so many opinions as many people ha ha ha

      As for Iran I couldn’t write anything else, it is truly an amazing country!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #79My Profile

  25. Reza

    Well Marysia, your experience does not count. You are Polish! You are practically the all-time guest of honour here.
    If you went to the right place you might even have met some of your country folk. See http://www.printmag.com/imprint/polish-refugees-in-iran/
    In fact, I think those adorable Polish noses started the nose obsession year ago! Cheers, thanks for kind words about my homeland and happy traveling!

    • Ha ha ha Reza, indeed Polish Girls usually have small noses :) But I’m not sure we are ready to take responsibility for this new fashion in Iran :)
      As for being Polish and therefore being special in Iran, I had this feeling whole my stay! Polish are the biggest tourist nation in Iran…. and yes everyone should check this link!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #79My Profile

  26. Wow, interesting facts! I did not know half of those. I’d love to go there, reading this has furthered it up my destination list… :)

  27. Tina

    This is very interesting post about Iran, I’m not an Iranian but really appreciate this.. thanks.. :)

  28. Els

    Great article, Marysia! The taarof principle seems quite exhausting though :-)
    I think countries that people “fear” the most often have the most friendly inhabitants. I experienced this in Albania and heard the same thing about Pakistan.
    Really curious about Iran now!

    • Oh you are so right! I have heard such good things about Pakistan, I really want to visit this country and Afghanistan as well! :) I have never been in Albania, I think I should look into it now :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

  29. Loved this article! My husband and I are planning a trip to Iran next year, and everything you mentioned makes me want to experience the country even more! I’m Iranian-American, and it’s great to see travelers shine a positive light on the country.
    Crystal recently posted…Comidas con Onda: Xoco Por Ti Chocolate BarMy Profile

    • It is my pleasure to write such amazing things about Iran, because it is all truth :) You will love you time there!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

  30. Hadis

    I’m a proud Iranian when I read your post. We have an idiom in Iran: Nice people meet always nice people…. So this nice experience comes from your heart… Good luck Marysia :x

    • Thank you Hadis! And I truly believe that Iranian saying, but in Iran everyone meets nice people all the time :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #77My Profile

  31. Very interesting facts indeed! I think I like the one about hitchhiking the most…I don’t know if I could accept them giving me money though; that’s just too nice! Haha
    Ron Robbins recently posted…45 Amazing Photos of Tibet’s Kumpa StupaMy Profile

    • Taking money more me would be too much as well, I was super amazed that this man was trying to give some to us. It only shows the way Iranian people think and how great with guest they are! And hitch hiking was a great experience in Iran, same as couch surfing which I never have done before :)
      Marysia Maciocha recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  32. Peter

    Hey Marysia, It’s a lovely post about Iran and its culture. It gave me complete overview of this country. I love this post. Really thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Peter, glad to hear that. I really hope more and more people will get to experience what I have in amazing country.
      Marysia Maciocha recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  33. Great article, Marysia! Thank you so much for sharing it, I hate when the medias make a country looks horrible. I know Iran has its problems (like every country really) and it’s good to know that Iran and its people are still a lovely place to visit and discover :)
    Franca recently posted…Why ‘Couchsurfing is free’ Is A MythMy Profile

    • I truly believe in not making your mind without checking the country first :) And Iran is one fascinating place!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  34. Mehrdad

    I always liked Polish people and I have some friends on the web and You know Poland is one of the place that I want to visit it someday :). I really enjoyed that the writer of this article is Polish. I hope the next time that you come to see Iran we have a better country. Can I ask which cities did you visit?

  35. Rahman Mehraby

    Great observation Marysia! I appreciate your realistic attitude toward Iran. I’ve been working as a national tour guide for more than 15 years in Iran and I can say that you’ve pointed out the most outstanding features of tourism in Iran. Some of my clients travel to Iran several times and it’s mainly because of the people that they appreciate.

    I hope you come back here again and continue experiencing the beautiful aspects of Iranian’s culture.
    Rahman Mehraby – Destination Iran

    • Thanks a lot for stopping by and your nice words. I would definitely visit again and will for sure sooner or later, there are still places in Iran I would like to discover a bit more.
      Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

  36. You had me at the sweets. If that is truly the case, I’m totally in.

    All kidding and politics aside, Iran seems like such an interesting place to me. As an American, it seems a bit of a stretch for me to go there any time soon. So, I will just have to live vicariously through my travel blogging friends!
    Greg recently posted…Toledo, Spain: City of WonderMy Profile

    • To be honest Greg I do not really think that is it such a problem. Of course via is much more difficult but you can make it happens. And about the sweets it is totally true! I have gain like few kilos there for sure from all the food and sweets ha ha ha
      Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

    • Saeed

      Hey Greg, saying hi from Iran. Man do not worry, I have some friends coming from USA.
      They get Visas, not so much easily but they got it. Of course after elections it is much more easier.
      Come and see our country, I am sure you will enjoy it ;) If you need any help , just contact me via E-mail.
      Saeed

  37. Great article, Marysia! We are going to Iran soon and it’s interesting to know all these things! We have some really good Iranian friends and all Iranians we have ever met outside their country were super friendly so I have no doubt we will have a fabulous time!
    Hitch-Hikers Handbook recently posted…Hitch-hiking in Croatia: advantages and disadvantagesMy Profile

  38. SoHe

    Hi Marysia , glad to see you enjoyed visiting our country. I have a comment about “Crazy Drivers” , mostly the craziest drivers are Taxi drivers , they really drive bad. But others are better and I could say Normal (mostly). And a lot of normal personal cars are being used as taxi , which are not mentioned as taxi on it (the informal ones) and they are in “Most Craziest driver’s category” too ;)
    Happy travelings ;D

    • SoHe I know where you are going and I know that taxi drivers are totally ‘crazy’ but I have been hitch hiking a lot in Iran and have seen some truly terrible things on the roads. I know that cities are better and that local authorities are really trying to make a change but yes it is a bit insane nevertheless.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  39. Razia Sheikh

    Great Post Marysia. Great to know all those things about Iran. I’m a bit confuse with currency. You mean to say, tomans and rial both currency working their?

    • Thanks a lot Razia. Sorry for the confusion. Money are only in rials, so no matter what you will only have rials in your pockets and will be paying and given change in rials. But prices given and whole operations will be made in tomans. You always to have to remember to cut or add one zero.
      Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

  40. Well Marysia, you got me all excited for my upcoming trip to Iran! I can’t wait to practise the ‘art’ of taarof! :) But, how do you actually refuse something. How did you really say no?
    Sarah recently posted…Why I travel solo even when I’m in a relationshipMy Profile

  41. Wow, I truly learned a lot from this post! Traveling to Iran seems to be more and more popular these days. I have a question, how difficult was it to get a visa to go there? And was the visa expensive? This country is getting higher and higher on my list of places to see everyday!
    Hannah Wasielewski recently posted…Top 10 Things to do in Rio de JaneiroMy Profile

    • Hey Hannah, I traveled in Iran in October and November 2013, and it was super easy to get a visa. But I’m Polish and you must be aware that easiness of getting a visa depends from your nationality and current political situation in Iran, for example before the elections and shortly after they usually stop giving visas. But in my case I have applied online, after a week I got an email that the visa code has already been send to Iranian Embassy in Yerevan, I went to Embassy and got my visa the same day. It was quiet expansive, most probably the most expansive visa I got in my life. It was 75 euro because I got the visa at the spot, normally it is 50. So they say.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  42. Giedrius

    Hey, Marysia, I’m just wondering if you speak any other language besides English? Was it hard to communicate with local people?

    • Hey English is not my mother tongue, Polish is. But to be honest I had no problem with communication with people. Many people in Iran can speak very good English.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  43. So enjoyed this post Marysia. Iran sounds like an incredible place to visit. Amazing. Culture is entirely different, when you only hear things on the news about places like this.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted…This Time Next Week….My Profile

    • Couldn’t agree more. As cliche as it sounds travel broadens your horizons and strip you off from any prejustice.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  44. hahah I know you do, and lots of respect to you for doing so. There should be a media outlet that only shows positive, compassionate and inspiring stories instead of one story in a mix of mayhem. Been reading about taarof all morning, very interesting that social hierarchy also plays in to the negotiation.

    • Always, that is super important, who first to whom and when :) I can easily say that taarof is a kind of thing why I travel. To understand, to observe, to make my own mind about nations and countries. And what is beautiful about travel it is never ending school of life. And yes you have my full vote on the Good Karma Channel!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #76My Profile

  45. Talon

    I wish it was easier for Americans to travel there. Still, it’s a country that is high on my travel wish list to visit. It was fun reading your experiences.
    Talon recently posted…My favorite Paris attractionsMy Profile

    • Thanks Talon. Indeed American experience more problems with visa but it is not totally impossible. And Iranian people and government don’t really see eye to eye on this subject. People are super friendly there!
      Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

  46. Complete misconception! So glad to (finally :P) hear about this trip. I hate how our media will demonize other countries.
    Taarof sounds like a fun game.. until it becomes too much but super interesting how much they go out of the way to accommodate a guest. I couldn’t agree more about the freedom you mention in #9 but you have to respect the rules and culture of the country that you’re in. Things can change but have to be done in an enlightening progressive way.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Shaun recently posted…Istanbul’s Not So Grand BazaarMy Profile

    • Shaun I always respect rules and cultures of countries I travel in. And I’m not telling anybody they should follow our Western ways but as you said it has to be people making a progressive change. And they do, there are many women in Iran that try to change the hijab rules and hopefully for them one day things will change for the better. What I only underline is that governments should accept a progressive change that comes from its people but this is much bigger discussion about a role of governments in our societies. Maybe once over a glass of wine!

      It is not only your media, it is all the media around the world. You know drama and nasty stories sells. Documentary about visiting school for young geniuses in Tabriz do not!

      As for taarof it sounds more difficult than it really is, but it is worth reading a little about it before visiting Iran.
      Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

  47. Very interesting post Marysia. Funny reaction to hitchhikers but I can almost understand and it is touching that they would want to take care of you in this fashion. They obviously want you to have a favourable impression of their country and that is nice. Crazy drivers – no surprise there! Have a friend in Qatar who says THEY have the craziest drivers. I saw the same in Indonesia. Sometimes I think it is because of religion and the fatalism of ‘what will be will be’. Nose jobs – that’s something I never would have expected!
    Good post, Frank (bbqboy)

    • Yes nose job was a big surprise but when I think of it is seems like a natural step in this culture. And to be honest I do mot think they want you to have a good impression of them they are just super nice for guest. But believe me when the driver is checking the map to understand if he has to change the directions to drop you in the place most comfortable for you, you really start thinking that those Iranians are just too nice! And of course it is great to experience good from people but I will have to work out to repay all the good karma I have received in Iran.
      Glad you liked my post.
      Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

    • Rahman Mehraby

      About the code of driving, another reason is that people don’t have sufficient and proper education about how to drive and care about others’ rights.

      • I’m not sure if it is only about education, I think there are many more factors involved it this ‘crazy driving’ :)
        Marysia recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

        • Rahman Mehraby

          Surely it’s not the ONLY reason . However, I’m sure it’s not the craziest in the world. India, Egypt, and other countries shouldn’t be forgotten. Besides, one must see how they would drive if the fines were way too high like in the developed countries. I agree it’s one of the worst in the world.

          A traveling soul like you should have definitely seen a lot of bad drivers in the world.

          • Ha ha ha, I did. And I have been in India and Egypt and Benin and Georgia – where driving is totally crazy. But from my experience Iran was the crazies, and by saying that I do not mean they are always bad drivers, simply not following rules which we are taught in Europe. Like lanes, horns, traffic lights. Everyone seems to do whatever they feel like it. And as I have mentioned in the article I’m not lighthearted so I was fine and often laughed and made jokes with Iranians about their driving style :)
            Marysia Maciocha recently posted…Iran – 10 Things You didn’t KnowMy Profile

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