Revered AFF member RooFlyer is off on another adventure. This time, the destination is Iran!
While in the region, our member also took the opportunity to briefly visit Athens, Greece. No trip to Athens would be complete without visiting the Acropolis, which dominates the Athens skyline! Our member stayed a total of three nights; enough to see the main sights and get a feel for this historic city.
The trip from Australia to Greece was somewhat difficult in the planning. RooFlyer had planned to redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles to fly Singapore Airlines in Business. No seats became available, so seats were instead booked on Asiana and Turkish Airlines, via Seoul and Istanbul. These airlines turned out to be good choices, and the impressive Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul made up for a somewhat lacklustre lounge experience in Seoul.
SYD-ATH was supposed to be on SQ J, using Aeroplan miles, but a bit under a year ago when I was stalking the SQ site day by day counting down to the day when my flights should have been released … nothing! Nor the next day. &[email protected]$#!? ! Nothing for it than to go to plan B – that is, the flights that were available on the Aeroplan site for the day I wanted (which, by the way is bloody good for redemptions – it gives lots of Star Alliance options etc).
But the main purpose of this trip was a 15-day tour of Iran. From Athens, our member flew to Tehran on Qatar Airways. Despite a dicey Doha connection and some visa troubles, RooFlyer arrived punctually and met fellow AFFer JohnM who would also be joining the tour of Iran. (JohnM is also writing a trip report, which you can read HERE.)
The tour began the following day. Commencing in Tehran, it headed south and included stops in Abanyeh, Mahan and Shiraz, home to the wine variety of the same name.
Iran is rich in culture and history, but visiting is not without difficulty. A visit to Iran can result in US visa complications by making you ineligible for a US visa waiver.
I hesitated initially as it means foregoing my ESTA to the USA, but I decided that a ‘manual’ B1/B2 visa to the USA would be OK. I have obtained that visa (not difficult, just time consuming) but obviously have yet to have the pleasure of entering the USA with an Iranian visa in my passport!
Credit cards are not widely accepted in Iran. Instead, you need to obtain cash on arrival. But finding a good exchange rate is easier said than done, as the official rate appears to be rarely followed.
A bit about money. You can’t use credit cards, travellers cheques or anything except cash in Iran, so you have to bring everything you intend to spend in euros, US$ and maybe pounds and get it exchanged in the country. Taxi drivers – especially to/from the airport will take US$/euros.
I exchanged 100 euro at the airport at a currency exchange place and was surprised to get a better exchange rate than XE reported. Mug! NO-ONE uses the official rate; its just a matter of how much better you do.
RooFlyer’s trip report is packed full of photos, commentary and other useful information. Read all about the trip to Greece and Iran HERE.