Thursday, 27 October 2011

IRAN. Through the eyes of the locals.

Azadi tower
Sorry guys, this will include lots of reading but Iran impressed me a lot, no chance to make it shorter.

I couchsurfed all the time there and probably because of that I didn’t meet even one foreigner during my whole stay. For that reason I had a lot of time to ask all these questions I had about the country because the truith is that in Europe, we don’t know anything about it. Or just accept the easiest version – a land of terrorists and criminals. Before leaving Spain, I remember telling the people what countries im going to go to and the reaction when mentioning Iran, was always the same: “Iran!?! Why? Don’t go there! Be careful!”.  But what I found, was just people like all of us, educated and curious about the rest of the world, and incredibly nice to the foreigners. One common thing was that all of them hated the government and very few of them saw a way out of the current situation. No wonder most of the young, educated Iranians want to emigrate (buying just one way ticket)...Sad but that’s the Iranian reality.
My only inconvenience was the dress code – it was hot, and the fact that someone tells you how to dress up, was even more annoying than the heat.
And the lack of ATMs... There are a lot of ATMs in cities in Iran but none of them accept foreign credit or debit cards, the only option for us is the cash. It was quite frustrating cos i didn’t have much cash left. And I was told that  crossing the Armenian-Iranian border (the most beautiful border i’ve seen so far, but It wasn’t allowed to take photos there), at the Armenian side there was an ATM but NOOOOO, no ATM there. So I had to be very careful how I spend my money, especially going to Turkmenistan afterwards where I knew I would come upon the same problem.
But what I received there, was just hospitality and generosity that Europeans would never show to a stranger (unless they are “imported” Europeans). I got that everywhere and from everyone – buses, trains, street, my hosts, their families and friends....By the end of the bus journey from Yerevan to Tehran, the whole bus knew I was from Bulgaria and they all were so friendly and nice. Even at the border as my shirt wasn’t long enough (apparently it has to cover your ass and half of the thighs at least) I was given an appropriate shirt by a nice family from my bus. Another girl gave me her scarf (she had another one) because mine was falling down all the time. And everyone was giving me their phone numbers in case I need some help...So nice..

Friday, 14 October 2011

Armenia and Radio Erevan :) August 2011

Geghard Monastery
A few facts first
There are only 3 million Armenians living in Armania while 8 million live abroad. The relations with neighbors could definitely approve -peace with Azerbaijan seems as distant as ever and the Turkish land border looks no closer to being opened, Georgians hate them and Armenians don’t like Iranians. Money comes in from all around the world to keep the country alive – sons in USA, daughters in Moscow, cousins in Paris, Sidney and Germany.
The language and alphabet are another story, impossible to figure out if you are there only for a few days. The sad thing is that I didn’t interact that much with Armenians during my stay there. I only met a few locals when I usually spend most of my time with them wherever I go.
People stare at you, just like in Georgia. Most of them speak good Russian so communication is possible. And women don't drive in Armenia, only a very few exceptions.
To me, Georgia and Armenia were really similar – climate, nature, people, culture, traditions…but, of course there is a but…In Georgia everything was more full of life and positive energy.
The Cascada, Yerevan