IRAN: THE PERSIAN TRAVELLER
Thursday 21 April - Thursday 4 May 2017
with John and Karen Osborne
PROVISIONAL COST £3115: the price includes return flights, accommodation, breakfast, lunchand dinner each day, all transport, services of the tour leader and a local, English-speaking escort, and entrance fees.
EXTRAS – the price does not include the visa (currently £87 plus £20 procurement charge), drinks or tips, insurance, or any items of personal expenditure. Single Room Supplement £495.
IRAN has had long and distinctive periods of civilization: the era of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes, the Persian kings who made such an impact upon Biblical and Classical Greek history; the Parthians and Sassanians, who earned the continued respect of the mighty Roman empire; the successive dynasties who ruled after the Islamic conquest in 641 AD, including the Mongols, Tamberlaine and Shah Abbas, who turned Isfahan into a brilliant capital city; and, finally, the monarchies of the 19th and 20th century, which has seen the overthrow of the Qajar and the Pahlavi dynasties, and the resurgence of Shia Islam as a political force.
Our tour will start in Shiraz and finish in Teheran, We visit the palace of the Great Kings destroyed by Alexander the Great at Persepolis, where the magnificent ruins include finely sculptured reliefs, and their spectacular tombs hewn into the cliffs nearby at Naqsh-e-Rustam. We stay in the lovely city of Shiraz, famous for its gardens and its lyric poets, Hafiz and Saadi, buried there. We travel to the desert city of Yazd, with its fine mosque, and the Zoroastrian fire temple and ‘Towers of Silence’ outside Yazd. We spend two full days in Isfahan, the city which is ‘half the world’, according to the Iranians, to enjoy the splendour of its tiled mosques and painted palaces, and the lively, colourful bazaars, with their traditional trades and crafts.
Thursday 20 April - We fly with Turkish Airlines from London Heathrow, via Istanbul, arriving in Shiraz early on Friday morning. We have four nights at the Homa Hotel in Shiraz.
Friday 21 April – After a morning’s rest, we begin our sightseeing in Shiraz.
During this afternoon and the whole of the following day - Saturday 22 October - we shall visit three of the lovely gardens for which Shiraz is famous, the tombs of Saadi and Hafez and the Bagh-e-Eram, and also the downtown area, which includes the colourful bazaar, the Ali Kapu Mosque and the fine Nasir-ol-Molk house.
Sunday 23 April- We drive out for a full day visit to the great palace site of the Persian kings at Persepolis and their royal tombs at Naqsh-e-Rustam, En route we stop to see the Sassanian reliefs at Naqsh-e-Rajab.
Monday 24 April – A full day’s drive across desert and mountains to Yazd, stopping at Cyrus the Great’s tomb at Pasargadae and for a picnic en route. In Yazd we spend 3 nights in the lovely Moshir Garden Hotel.
Tuesday 25 April – A full day in Yazd, including a fascinating walk through the lanes of the old city centre to visit the lovely Friday Mosque and the so-called ‘Alexander’s Prison’. We also visit the Zoroastrian temple and their ‘Towers of Silence’, a hennah factory, and the Water Museum.
Wednesday 26 April – We drive a short distance out to the small town of Meybod, where we visit a pottery factory, the old citadel, and a traditional pigeon tower.
Thursday 27 April – A whole day’s drive to Isfahan, via Nain, where we visit the early Friday Mosque and the traditional Pirnia House en route. In Isfahan we spend four nights at the amazing Abbasi Hotel.
Friday and Saturday 28 and 29 April – We have two full days’ sightseeing in the great city of Isfahan, visiting the wonderful Friday Mosque, the Armenian Cathedral and Museum, and an array of wonderful 17th c. buildings from the period of the Savafid monarchy: the bridges, the palace of the Chehel Situn and Ali Kapi, the Imam and Sheikh Lotfullah Mosques and the great bazaar.
Sunday 30 April – We enjoy a free day in Isfahan and the many opportunities for independent exploration.
Monday 1 May – We drive to the mountain village of Abyaneh, stopping en route at Natanz, where we visit the beautiful Friday Mosque. We spend one night in Abyaneh, where we have time to appreciate the very distinctive quality of its inhabitants and their architecture.
Tuesday 2 May - We continue to Tehran, stopping in Kashan, where we visit a lovely garden, the Bagh-e-Fin, and the stylish Amrika House. In Tehran we spend two nights at the Laleh Hotel.
Wednesday 3 May – Our sightseeing in the city includes the very special Reza Abbasi Museum, the Niavaran Palace and the Carpet Museum.
Thursday 4 May – Our return flight from Tehran with Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul, to Heathrow.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Local Custom: the courtesy and interest we will customarily be shown as visitors may be different from our impressions of Iran from the media. Nevertheless, Iran is a strict Islamic country and visitors must conform to this code:
- dress for women includes covering the head, arms and legs at all times in public places (more detailed guidelines will be provided).
- men do not wear shorts or short-sleeved shirts.
- alcoholic drinks are forbidden, and may not be imported - even for private consumption.
Travel: There are long bus journeys on some days, but these are compensated by the rich evidence everywhere of Iran’s history and culture, and by comfortable hotels. There will be a considerable amount of walking in city centres and at Persepolis.
Climate: We are generally at an altitude of 1,000m – 1,750m and the atmosphere is remarkably dry, clear and bright. The autumn weather will be warm or very warm by day, with strong sun, but still cool in the evenings. There is a chance of rain.
Food and Drink: Local cuisine includes a lot of rice. Kebabs and stews are ubiquitous. Fruits in season and herbs can add a lot of interest and variety. Local water is safe. Bottled water is generally available, along with tea, fizzy orange and coca cola-style soft drinks. No alcohol.
Money: US Dollars (1 USD = approx 25,000 Rials at present) are the main medium of exchange. Things are comparatively inexpensive in Iran, unless you are shopping for rugs of good quality or for jewellery. Opportunities to use credit cards are very limited.
Visas and Passports: The regulations for visas for Iran are subject to change. Prestige Holidays will inform intending travellers in good time.
Books: Two guide-books are recommended - Patricia Baker: ‘Iran’ (Bradt); and Helen Loveday and others: ‘Iran’ (Odyssey). For background reading, there are numerous books on Iran, and a book list will be circulated.