The first thing to remember about the big city of Tehran is the friendliness and the warm of its inhabitants. They are aware about the western media preformed opinions about Iran, and try to fight it. I had the same feeling in the socialist Romania, 20 years ago: isolated country, very warm people!
Many people in Tehran will invite you for a photo, to a cup of tea or even for a dinner. They are unbelievable friendly and make jokes about mass destruction weapons. How politics and politicians are ruining normal human relations, is simply unbelievable.
The city of Tehran is magnificent and astonishing. It still has nice old buildings, despite the Shah Pahlavi campaign from the 60′s, who build a modern megacity destroying the identity of Tehran. The lack of identity in Tehran could be a problem for the city, but you can still admire in one of the many museums (Golestan palace) some breathtaking crowns, gems and jewels, the fruit of 2500 years of Persian history
Another big problem in Tehran is the intense air pollution. It has many causes: the concentration of Iranian industry in Tehran; the cheap oil doubled by old cars which are not complying modern emissions requirements, and the lack of natural ventilation due to the north wall represented by the Alborz mountains. The situation is similar to Santiago de Chile and Bogota, and causes more than 3000 deaths every month. And you must imagine this thing happening in a city with 800 well kept public parks and gardens!
Tehran is an absolute safe city, the crime rate is one of the lowest worldwide in a mega city ( Tehran proudly counts 15000000 inhabitants). You can walk at any hour in the night with a minimum of decency and common sense. Tehran is a shopping paradise, especially for computer programs. For the classical souvenirs, you must visit the old Bazaar, where you can find almost everything at unbeatable prices. Once there, be sure not to miss the Sharafol-Eslam restaurant which is very cheap, very tasty and overcrowded, of course. Order Felafel if you are there, is absolutely delicious. You will never have enough from it, and you are going to leak your fingers.
If you are sick of Tehran, do what the locals also do: escape. Go to ski at Dizin, in the Alborz mountains. The snow is here one of the world’s best, and the slope difficulty starts from easy, and goes up to very difficult. Another possible escape from Tehran is the shore of the Caspian See, which is only 5 hours away of driving by car. (Iran has one of the best highway network in South East Asia. The highways are referred by the locals as Autobahns, the same as in Germany!)
Tehran with ist attractions and escapes is waiting for you, but you must be aware that you need at least one week for visiting it!
if not, come back tomorrow on journeyetc.com and see what's new :)