Gardens in the Axis of Evil.
Having an extreme travel itch, I’ve fantasized about every kind of wandering: a year-long round-the-world port-hopping coastlines by boat, my Iceland midnight-sun obsession, ecotourism off the beaten track, spa destinations, African safari, an encore Euro-backpacking (this time the Eastern half), US cross-country roadtrip, Zurich shopping, Bordeux wine & culinary tour, Red Sea diving, Rio Carnevale, Nepal, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Galapagos islands …….. the list is limitless. Anywhere I cant name, Ive dreamt about. Literally -the seretonin kind. Usually its an aerial experience, speeding over sky and oceans, very topographically-oriented. Ive set 2011 as the deadline for a suborbital takeoff, and 2026 for Mars. Total travel whore, I will go anywhere with anyone who drops the word “trip” … not to mention impatience to revisit favorites like my golden triangle (Barci, Paris, Venice), ever-beloved Amsterdam, and that heaven formerly known as Siam.
The only place totally overlooked on my hyperactive globe radar has been a default error: country of residence>> IRAN.
Suddenly Im looking at the map, actually seeing provinces Ive heard of but been woefully ignorant (and worse, indifferent to learning) of their geographic positioning. Id never considered what ethnic diversity exists across our borders: Kurds, Turks, Tajiks, Arabs, nomadic tribes ….. what range of climes, from cold mountanious to desert hot. Landscapes: Caspian greens, Azarbaijan mineral springs & Urumieh salt lakes, Astara’s waterlily lagoon & Hamedan’s subterrenean cave, the sultry Gulf ……. and lots of things Im sure Im not even aware of.
Who are the people outside the metropolitan island that is Tehran? More importantly, what do they eat? (footnote: I love FOOD). Joojeh Navduni, roasted wild hen with pomegranate stuffing in Gilan; local fish a la Marsailles in Bandar Abbas; goat milk; kabab torsh; all kinds of freaky ash (thick soups). Sistan-Balouchestan hash shirni (im sure theyre holding out on us). Armenian bacon washed down with raisin aragh. Charbroiled shishlik lambchops smoking on manghals. Mmmmmmmmm … I would follow my tastebuds alone.
But theres so much more I now crave to see: Yazd fire temples, the old Isfahan bazaar, Massouleh (a picturesque hilltop village I visited ten years ago once and really want to see thru la vie en gris eyes), KAVIR (the “it” place for group campings among young SUV owners) …….. obscure places in weird states like “Ilam” ……… And: Qom! Definately cant miss mullahtown (wouldnt mind taking some homemade bombs with me to blow up a couple mosques …. [incoherent mutterings] ……..). Hell, I want to go camel-trekking in the goddamn brownish sands of Almighty Allah’s green earth gifted as my birthplace. To be of Persia, and not have travelled the empire?
Fortunately, I have a good reason to do some Irangardi right now: a visitor who wants to see it all; a cohort. I vow to keep a devout grublog for all you shekamoos (I prefer the term “of a discerning palate”) who want in on the local specialties. And perhaps, this might be an initiative to start photoblogging instead of pasting silly icons.
If you have any good tips on places to stay, eat, see, or own a copy of Lonely Planet Iran, plz do point me in the right direction ………..
p.s. the official new iran tourism website, revamped with some nice pics and headings such as “Spiritual Attractions” : ) and UNESCO heritage sites: www.tourismiran.ir