Iran with MIR Corp.

By Arlene Mikkelsen
This item appears on page 28 of the November 2016 issue.
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Arlene (in the middle) with college girls in front of the Golestan Palace complex in Tehran.

I had the opportunity to travel to Iran with 15 other intrepid travelers, Sept. 8-25, 2015. We were in the country for 18 days, traveling from Tehran through the mountains to the Caspian Sea, then heading south through the desert and more mountains to visit many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Iran has to offer. 

The tour, “Ancient Persia, Modern Iran,” was run by MIR Corporation (Seattle, WA; 800/424-7289, www.mircorp.com) and involved long days and a significant amount of walking at the sites we visited.

The price was $6,495 per person, double occupancy, with the single supplement $1,295. This included a MIR tour manager, local guides, transfers, baggage handling and gratuities but not international air. Internal air cost $130.

Iranians are some of the warmest, most hospitable people I’ve ever met. Everywhere our group went, people were excited to learn we were from America. Locals we met on the street would say, “Welcome! We love America.” I was one of two blondes in the group, and people often wanted to have their photos taken with us.

The 14th-century Friday Mosque in Kerman. Photo by Arlene Mikkelsen

We were having lunch in a park, and a man told us to wait until he came back. He returned with a carload of family members and a big bag of pistachios! People sometimes gave us bags of tea, cookies and fruits, and we gave them gifts as well.

English is considered the primary international language in Iran and is studied up to 12th grade. Students can then attend a foreign-language school to study other languages prior to attending a university. Needless to say, the young people wanted to practice their English with us. There were no restrictions on where we could go or who we could talk with while there. 

We found the people we met to be well informed about current events in the world. As for the nuclear agreement with the P5+1,* Iranians are hopeful that the deal will have a positive impact on their country. 

Much like Americans, Iranians are Internet savvy and enjoy socializing with friends and listening to music. Young Iranians are highly educated. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is high, and many can’t find jobs in their chosen fields.

Group of kids on steps at Dowlat Abad Garden — Yazd, central Iran. Photo by Arlene Mikkelsen

The roads and infrastructure in Iran appeared to be in excellent condition, and the tunnels going through mountains were well lit. In the center of the country, we saw rice fields, tea plantations and groves of apple and pear orchards plus dates and pistachios.

Most of our meals consisted of chicken, lamb, rice and a variety of vegetables, finished off with lots of sweets and wonderful saffron ice cream. The people liked to eat late at night and socialize.

Hotels ranged from acceptable to the exotic Abbasi Hotel (Amadegah St., Isfahan; www.abbasihotel.ir), built on the site of a 17th-century caravanserai. 

I found Iran to be a very safe country to visit. We toured museums, palaces, temples, mosques and legendary bazaars. The highlight was Persepolis, the ancient ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings.

 I’ve traveled with MIR Corp. in the past, and they did an excellent presentation of Iran.

Shop owner pouring tea in a small town north of Tehran. Photo by Arlene Mikkelsen

ARLENE MIKKELSEN

Dayton, NJ

* Editor’s note: “P5+1” refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
Arlene (in the middle) with college girls in front of the Golestan Palace complex in Tehran.

I had the opportunity to travel to Iran with 15 other intrepid travelers, Sept. 8-25, 2015. We were in the country for 18 days, traveling from Tehran through the mountains to the Caspian Sea, then heading south through the desert and more mountains to visit many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Iran has to offer. 

The tour, “Ancient Persia, Modern Iran,” was run by MIR Corporation (Seattle, WA; 800/424-7289, www.mircorp.com) and involved long days and a significant amount of walking at the sites we visited.

The price was $6,495 per person, double occupancy, with the single supplement $1,295. This included a MIR tour manager, local guides, transfers, baggage handling and gratuities but not international air. Internal air cost $130.

Iranians are some of the warmest, most hospitable people I’ve ever met. Everywhere our group went, people were excited to learn we were from America. Locals we met on the street would say, “Welcome! We love America.” I was one of two blondes in the group, and people often wanted to have their photos taken with us.

The 14th-century Friday Mosque in Kerman. Photo by Arlene Mikkelsen

We were having lunch in a park, and a man told us to wait until he came back. He returned with a carload of family members and a big bag of pistachios! People sometimes gave us bags of tea, cookies and fruits, and we gave them gifts as well.

English is considered the primary international language in Iran and is studied up to 12th grade. Students can then attend a foreign-language school to study other languages prior to attending a university. Needless to say, the young people wanted to practice their English with us. There were no restrictions on where we could go or who we could talk with while there. 

We found the people we met to be well informed about current events in the world. As for the nuclear agreement with the P5+1,* Iranians are hopeful that the deal will have a positive impact on their country. 

Much like Americans, Iranians are Internet savvy and enjoy socializing with friends and listening to music. Young Iranians are highly educated. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is high, and many can’t find jobs in their chosen fields.

Group of kids on steps at Dowlat Abad Garden — Yazd, central Iran. Photo by Arlene Mikkelsen

The roads and infrastructure in Iran appeared to be in excellent condition, and the tunnels going through mountains were well lit. In the center of the country, we saw rice fields, tea plantations and groves of apple and pear orchards plus dates and pistachios.

Most of our meals consisted of chicken, lamb, rice and a variety of vegetables, finished off with lots of sweets and wonderful saffron ice cream. The people liked to eat late at night and socialize.

Hotels ranged from acceptable to the exotic Abbasi Hotel (Amadegah St., Isfahan; www.abbasihotel.ir), built on the site of a 17th-century caravanserai. 

I found Iran to be a very safe country to visit. We toured museums, palaces, temples, mosques and legendary bazaars. The highlight was Persepolis, the ancient ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings.

 I’ve traveled with MIR Corp. in the past, and they did an excellent presentation of Iran.

Shop owner pouring tea in a small town north of Tehran. Photo by Arlene Mikkelsen

ARLENE MIKKELSEN

Dayton, NJ

* Editor’s note: “P5+1” refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.