I've just come back from a (rather long) holiday from, of all places, Iran. Now this was my first ever visit to Iran, and it definitely was an eye opener. I didn't visit many places; only Tehran and a northern city on the Caspian sea called Chaloos.
General stereotype of Iran is that it is a place filled with hateful, religiously zealout, and crazy mullahs, while at the same time having a very friendly (and very good looking) population. Basically Saudi Arabia, but with a funny-sounding language.
My stereotype of Iran (before arriving) was a place much more liberal than what people expect, while at the same time having a very friendly (and very good looking) population. Basically Bahrain, but with a funny-sounding language.
After visiting, I think that both viewpoints were partly right (definitely on the good looking part), partly wrong, and way oversimplistic. Over the next few days, I'll (hopefully, fingers crossed) post my views and impressions on this vast and very interesting county. Hopefully other people will find them interesting!
First, let me run through the obvious, stereotypical stuff, which any person can tell you about Iran. Yes, the girls there are amazingly beautiful, but (unfortunately) the guys there are considered by girls to be just as good looking as well, so to find a good looking girl you'll have lots of competition from other guys! Just as beautiful is there scenery and landscapes, which ranges from snowcapped mountains (where you can ski or go mountain trekking) to forests to sunny beaches.
Yes, they are extremely friendly and generous people, and if you are fortunate enough to get to know an Iranian, he'll immediately introduce you to his family and make you feel as if you're in your own home.
Yes, they have a long, interesting, and complex history and culture, spanning more than 5000 years and encompassing ethnicities as different as Turkmen, Uzbeks, Arabs, and Baluchs. They are also extremely proud (verging on arrogant) of their history, just as any other country I guess.
Although these ideas are extemely interesting in themselves, I'm going to make more of a social commentary on the place. The above traits are fairly well known, and in depth writing on them can be found in a lot of places. I'll confine my writing to what I thought was surprising, peculiar, and unexpected to Iran, along as well to similarities between Bahrain and Iran.
Disclaimer: I, being naturally a very skeptical and critical person, will naturally tend to mention more of the unusual and less positive features of Iranian society. If there are any Iranian readers (I sincerely doubt it) of this blog, please do not take this as a direct attack in Iran. In fact, it has been one of the most beautiful, interesting, and amazing countries I've visited. My skeptical nature, however, will make my commentary seem (maybe) rather negative.