Tehran in the Daytime

Exhaustion replaced by excitement - a new city, a new day.

We got a later start than usual, giving our bodies a little time to rest this morning. We are here in the middle of Ramadan, but there are enough foreigners (and enough traveling/non-fasting Iranians) that we are able to take all of our meals. The only difference is that, instead of breakfast in the lobby, it is held on the thirteenth floor, giving fantastic views of Tehran and the Alborz mountains.Ramadan also means earlier closing hours for many museums, shops, etc., so our sightseeing was a little limited. We spent most of our time at the National Archaeological Museum, which covers Persian pre-Islamic history. That's a mere 3000 years. Once again, the independent Iranian character struck me. The perseverance of the Farsi language through many invasions (Turk, Greek, Mongol, Arab...) is testimony to that.

There was more pottery than we knew what to do with, bas reliefs to great kings and rulers of millenia past (including some of Biblical note, like Darius, Cyrus, and Xerxes), and strange discoveries; the most unique to me was the glass window dating from 2500 B.C.E. Because it was so difficult to stretch glass, they rolled it and placed it in a frame. Ingenious.

On our way to the Museum, we drove by the old U.S. Embassy. For Iranians, the place is a symbol of past unwelcome foreign intervention in local affairs. Its walls also make a convenient place for murals.Our itinerary also included the Glass Museum, but the key phrase for our trip is "Stay Flexible." The Museum was closed early today due to Ramadan. A needed early nap was our reward, thankfully!

As I found some spare time for the computer, I had yet another in a long line of surreal moments in foreign lands. I glanced out the window to see an Orthodox Jewish family strolling down the street. The boys all wore yarmulkes, the girls simple suits. The father stood out quite dramatically, with his long beard, earlocks, and his large, round fur hat. Of all the things I expected to see in Tehran, this was not one of them! The family was being followed by a camera man, so apparently I was not the only one noticing that this was something out of the ordinary. No one seems to know what the story is, unfortunately, though I did my best to investigate.

After a nap, we had some tea in the lobby and some L.S. time which continued into a traditional dinner nearby. We also got to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday, making yet another in our list of exotic places to mark the passing of another year. Birthday cakes are not a local custom, so we had to improvise.