23rd May 2018
This blog was written by Kit and Luke Argilla who travelled on our Saffron Tales culinary tour earlier in 2018.
In the face of uniform “are you kidding me” reactions from our American friends and family, we signed up for The Saffron Tales, a new Wild Frontiers tour to Iran. With the 2017 Iran ban against American tourists no longer in effect we decided this was a wonderful opportunity. Of course, there were and are, still, enormous diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Iran. And, we knew that Trump’s decision to re-certify, or not, the multi-lateral nuclear agreement was due to be made right in the middle of the tour. Cause for worry?
Part of our confidence in making the trip lay in our trust of Wild Frontiers, having traveled with them several times in the past. I would just like to share what the experience was like for two Americans in this Islamic country, a reputed enemy of America.
This is an easy, uncomplicated and short story to tell. Our personal encounters with Iranians were uniformly warm and friendly. Indeed, no matter where we went, Iranians would approach us (I guess we were conspicuous), ask us where we were from; and when we told them we were American, they excitedly welcomed us, treated us warmly (even lovingly) and expressed their happiness that we were visiting their country. They reassured us that the people of Iran had no malice for us (or anyone else) and that any negativity emanating from the theocratic ruling government did not accurately represent the feelings and attitudes of the nation, particularly those of the younger generations.
Although initially a little anxious about safety, we quickly relaxed into total comfort as we walked the streets of Shiraz, Isfahan, Kashan, Tehran and, later, Yazd. Frankly, we felt as safe in Iran as in any other country we have visited. Even when Trump announced his decision to back out of the nuclear agreement half way through our tour, we saw no ill effects in the attitude of the Iranian people. Bottom line, our Iran trip with Wild Frontiers was one of the most gratifying cultural experiences of our lives. We loved Iran, we loved the people. The history, antiquities, ruins, mosques and culture are endlessly fascinating. We highly recommend the trip to our American friends.
So, fellow Americans, we encourage you to go to Iran. Personal understanding of culture and one-on-one diplomacy may serve to grow the opportunity for peace between our countries.
Was it difficult for an American to get a visa?
We would say no…easier than getting one for some African countries. But since there are no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran, you must send your application for a visa to Washington DC. We chose to use a visa expediting service, which added about $100 each to the cost. We felt it was worth it. It took about 3 weeks door to door.
Want to stay in contact back home?
Email, wi-fi and texting are no problem.
What about female attire?
Definitely a headscarf all the time outside your hotel room, even in cars or buses. It’s Islamic law. But bangs can show, the scarf can be loose. Open toed shoes are fine, and tops should be long enough to cover your backside and arms must be covered with at least ¾ length sleeves. Restrictions for men? Just no shorts.