If you like people, you will love Iran. This country, despite or due to its dubious reputation in the world, simply overwhelms the visitor with its endless sense of hospitality and qualms of beauty. I was travelling on my own, yet never found myself alone. Instead, I discovered the country's startling architecture, explored the cities' bustling and colourful bazaars, and trekked through hot deserts and high mountain ranges. I constantly found myself in traditional tea houses following the invitations of locals and was welcomed with open arms and faces full of curiosity.
I shared strangers' lunch boxes at bus stations, slept at family's homes I had met just hours before, partied by the Caspian Sea playing football until the early morning, and enjoyed picnics in the lush countryside. I discussed the political life of Iran and the West with the people I met, able to converse in English, German or Spanish and accepted countless offers for future visits. I could not help but walk around constantly with a smile and sense of wonder. I felt safer there than any other country I have visited. And best of all? I had the place to myself. Few tourists, no hustling. Just genuine and authentic generosity.
If you can, look beyond the political turmoil and pay this country a visit. I know I'll be back.