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    Details: Travel to Iran - Star Tribune

    Iran - Details: Travel to Iran - Star Tribune

    Overview:

    Details: Travel to Iran - Star Tribune
    By Jeremy Iggers
    Publish Date: OCTOBER 7, 2016 — 7:30AM

    Why Iran?

    Iran is a fascinating, complex society in transition. It's a country of pilgrimage sites and Lexus dealerships, smartphones and prayer beads, religious zealots who cut themselves bloody to demonstrate their piety and fashionable women who undergo plastic surgery.

    Don't like the Iranian government? Most Iranians I met didn't, either — and they want you to visit. Here are reasons you should:

    • Iranians like Americans. Really. They also like hamburgers, pizza, fried chicken and fast-food restaurants with names like Pizza Hat and Kentucky House.

    • In the Middle East, Iran is relatively safe: No suicide bombings, no recent hostage-taking, no random knife attacks on the street.

    • Iranians are incredibly warm and hospitable. In Tehran alone, more than 30,000 people have signed up to be Couchsurfing.com hosts so they can meet visitors to their city. (The government frowns on couchsurfing, but hasn't blocked the site.)

    • There is great food. Those fire-roasted kebabs may look familiar, but Persian cuisine highlights flavors that are less common in other Middle Eastern cuisines, including saffron, rosewater, walnuts, pomegranates and the ultra-sour pickles known as torshi. Platters of fresh fruit greet you in every Iranian home.

    • There are lots of options for the adventure traveler. Ride a camel, sleep in a nomad's tent, climb snow-capped mountains, or (most adventurous of all) go for a heart-pounding ride with an Iranian cabdriver.

    • You'll encounter great conversations. Iranians will want to talk to you. I was asked, "Where are you from?" and "How do you like Iran?" And I was told, "We are not our government" and "We are not terrorists, like they say in your media."

    Getting there

    U.S. citizens must have a visa to travel to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Because the United States does not have consular relations with Iran, visas are issued through the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. (1-202-965-4990; e-mail: requests@daftar.org).

    Because I have dual citizenship and a German passport, I was able to obtain a visa quickly and easily, and travel freely. I traveled around, mostly on buses, and met a lot of people along the way. I had a few contacts before I arrived: An Iranian friend from Minneapolis connected me with his family in Isfahan, and an American professor put me in touch with an old friend in Shiraz.

    Most Americans can visit Iran only on a guided tour, with the itinerary approved in advance. But even on a guided tour, you'll have lots of opportunities to interact with locals. You can also design your own private tour for one or two people, and choose your own itinerary.

    Many tour operators offer trips to Iran, especially since the lifting of sanctions against the country in January. Among them are Mountain Travel Sobek (mtsobek.com), Wilderness Travel (wilderness­travel.com), both California-based companies, and North Carolina-based Iran Luxury Tours (iranluxurytravel.com), which offers private tours with luxury accommodations ranging from $1,995 to $6,495 (plus airfare). Some of ILT's tours are led by Prof. William Beeman, chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, who is an internationally recognized expert on Iran.

    Those private guided tours aren't very restrictive, Beeman told me by e-mail: "People were free to wander out during their free time, and also during the tour — they wandered the bazaars and the shops and went independently to restaurants on occasion. ... As for encounters with ordinary Iranians, there is no way to avoid it. ... The tour 'guides' are mainly concerned that people don't get sick or lost. They are not 'minders' like in North Korea or in the old Soviet Union, and they don't 'report' on the activities of their guests."

    Iran-based travel agencies also offer tours in a wide range of prices. Key to Persia (en.key2persia.com), for example, offers options ranging from an eight-day economy tour using public transportation and two-star hotel accommodations for 750 euros to a 16-day luxury tour using private cars and four- and five-star hotels for 2,590 euros.

    Isn't it dangerous?

    The State Department has issued a travel warning. Find it by going to travel.state.gov and entering "Iran" under "Learn about your destination." The warning highlights "the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans, in Iran." There have been a few incidents in which high-profile American journalists and Iranian-Americans have been imprisoned, but unless you fall into one of those categories, the risk of arrest is low. In 2014, around 5 million tourists visited Iran.

    The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran.

    Jeremy Iggers

    Abridged From : Star Tribune

                                 http://www.startribune.com/details-travel-to-iran/396234771/


    About Us

    The word Persia gives the image of a magical and mysterious land of far away and long ago, of ancient monuments and beautiful works of art – carpets, tiles, fine ceramics and miniatures. It also reminds us of legendary and tragic love stories and epic poems about great wars. And Persia is indeed a world ancient and contemporary, a bridge between heaven and earth. We want to show you around. Discover things to do on your next trip to Iran and plan a trip of your lifetime. Yes, it is that easy! This website gives you the tools to plan your trip to Iran: detailed information on destinations; inspiring ideas on what to see and do in each city; where to stay; where to eat; travel guides and let’s say everything you need so you can dream up a trip to Iran.

    Patrimonito

    This workshop is designed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to give young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of our common cultural and natural heritage. It seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow’s decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation and to respond to the continuing threats facing our World Heritage. The idea of involving young people in World Heritage preservation and promotion came as a response to Article 27 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention). Furthermore, Patrimonito means 'small heritage' in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme.
    Date: 29th December
    Number of trainees: 7
    Duration: 3 hours

    The workshop of "Patrimonito" was held on 29th of December. Participants arrived around 10:30 and they were welcomed by hot chocolate and Persian cup cakes. After a little introduction by trainers and trainees, the process started by making two groups and letting them choose a name for their group, each group was accompanied by a mentor then each group was given some images of world heritage sites in Iran and some descriptions, each group was asked to match images and descriptions, the mentor was guiding them throughout the activity. All trainees were participating actively and trying to remember their experiences about their travels to these places. When they were done with the activity, the mentors started giving the answers and a brief explanation about each site; mentors were using trainees’ ideas and experiences to complete their tasks.

    Shortly after that, the second part started which was a presentation done by two of mentors. The aim of this presentation was to define the value of these world heritage sites and duties of each person as a "Patrimonito", and what happens if there is no "Patrimonito" and nobody cares about our tangible or intangible heritage. In this part trainees started questioning and understanding the whole concept of being a "Patrimonito", they also added their own suggestions on how to protect our heritage and by the end of this part, they were completely aware about their role as a "Patrimonito".
    Now it was a best time to have a short break, during the break trainees were introduced to some of intangible heritages as they were served by traditional food and snacks and even they way of serving was according to traditions and everyone had this opportunity to discuss about intangible heritage while enjoying some traditional food and snacks.
    When the break was done, everyone was asked to choose a heritage either tangible or intangible and they had to introduce their chosen heritage to a tourist by making a postcard using what they have learnt. They were given all of necessary tools such as color papers, color pencils, glue, scissors, images of heritage and a mentor was with them in order to help them completing the task.

    When they were done, they handed out their postcards and with the mentors they sat together and spent a few minutes asking and answering about what they have learnt. Then they were told to say their vows for protecting their heritage and caring about it, the mentor said the vow and the trainees repeated after her and they officially became a "Patrimonito".

    The last but the best part was when they were given the certificates, and they were told that since they are aware of the value of the heritage and they know how to protect it, they are chosen as "Patrimonito" and they should continue their mission by introducing the value of heritage to others. They were granted certificates and labels and the workshop of "Patrimonito" was finished by taking some memorial photos.