Iolanda from Portugal recently travelled to Iran for the third time. Having been to Iran twice before on organised tours she decided to try a different approach this time. She had started to learn Farsi so wanted to meet more Iranians to practise with. Staying in a homestay allowed her to be in close contact with local people (her hosts, their friends as well as their neighbours), which ended up being one of the aspects she liked most.
Staying with Saba and Isaac over a period of 12 days was one of my best travelling experiences so far (and I do travel a lot). If I were to describe some of their personality traits and what makes them special, there would be an endless list of things worth mentioning. One can't help feeling they are there for the guests at all times, irrespective of working hard outside the home.There is a permanent feeling of availability on their part. They are reliable, extremely kind, warm-hearted and well educated, just to mention a few essential characteristics. In the course of my stay we realised that Portugal and Iran had quite a few "similarities" and that made us feel closer. I am particularly honoured to have met them and lived with them as "family". I know I will go back next year simply because the bond has been strong and I want it to keep on being steadily strong.
I learned quite a number of "tangible" things - from cooking some typical plates together with the host to a number of words and expressions in Farsi but the most important things I learned can't be "translated" nor made visible - the specific bond I created with the hosting family and Iranians in general.
A shared meal at the neighbours.
I spent lots of time just roaming the city and relaxed in the various number of gardens and green areas. I visited the Museum of Music and Decorative Arts for the first time and thoroughly revisited every historical monument I had been to before.
Iolanda with a Kurdish family she shared some moments with in the Garden of Flowers.
Because I am Art oriented my top tip would be the Chehel Sotoun Palace and the Vank Cathedral because of the frescoes, though the Iman and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosques are in my opinion an absolute "must", as just anything - from the simple strolling or sitting along the river to walking in the Bazaars.
Chehel Sotoun fresco
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