Flew out of Dubai at 1.15 am and landed in Tehran at just after 3 am. To my surprise I flew through passport control and customs. Of course it helped that I had an entry visa. If you try and get one on the spot, you will often be turned down.

Got to Paul’s place around 4 am, and caught up on some sleep. Then just after lunch, I headed into Tehran.


This is the NZ Embassy. Not quite on the same level as NZ House in London!


And in the reception area, a photo of the supreme leader 🙂


We then headed up to the Saadabad Palace, which was the Shah’s summer palace.

This is a statue or Arash. A mythical legendary archer who was reputed to fire an arrow 1000 leagues!


The décor is very 1970s, despite being a palace. The most valuable thing in the room would be the carpet.


The Shah’s bedchamber


The Shah’s carriage


This was a statue of the last Shah, but it got chopped off in the revolution


These are the old city gates.

The city of Tehran is huge – around 10 million people if you include the outlying area. Surprisingly it looks more like a western city than any other so far in the Middle East. The cars, the streets, the cleanliness, the architecture etc. However what is noticeable is the lack of any global franchises.

The highlight was going to see the Iranian Crown Jewels. This collection of gems and treasures is unsurpassed in the world I would say. The British Crown Jewels do not compare. If you ever are in Iran, this is a must see. They are displayed at the Central Bank of Iran.

No cameras allowed in, so photos are from Wikipedia.


This is the Kiani Crown. It has 1800 pearls, 300 emeralds and 1800 rubies. It was used in coronations from 1796 to 1925.


This is known as the Globe of Jewels. It consists of 34 kgs of gold and has 51,636 gems in it.


And this little diamond is the Darya-ye Noor or Ocean of Light and is the largest pink diamond in the world. It is 182 carats. That would impress the fiancée!


And the legendary Peacock Throne. Again you could not even begin to try and calculate its worth. The jewels are actually used by Iran to back their currency up.

Locals have been very friendly. Several, upon hearing you are from New Zealand, mention the All Whites beating Bahrain to make the Football World Cup and how pleased they are. This is more because they hate Bahrain than love New Zealand, but was still very nice and amusing.

There was a large group of school girls visiting the Crown Jewels at the same time as Paul and I.  I think they were from outside Tehran as their reactions indicated they don’t see a lot of western men. Lots of pointing, staring and giggling.

Even in Tehran, there are very little noticeably foreign people about – quite different to the other Middle Eastern countries. No surprise to a degree. It is hard to get in – you have to list in the visa application everyone you plan to meet etc.