Dutch traveler believes that Iran is becoming a more and more popular destination, especially amongst higher educated young people who like to travel to more adventurous destinations. I do have some friends who've been to Iran or who tell me that would love to go there.
In the views of a young Dutch traveler, Jonathan ILNA news agency want to discuss about Iran.
Here is what Jonathan has brought us today:
Q: You know the media are not showing the things how they are. Did your impression of Iran was different before traveling?
I actually had quite a positive impression of Iran already before I went there, because I heard a lot of stories from friends who travelled to Iran. The media in the Netherlands don't always paint a positive image of Iran but I try to not let that influence my opinion. Before going to Iran, I watched the documentary by Thomas Erdbrink about Iran which was really popular in the Netherlands. The documentary really lets you see some very human and funny sides of Iran. I thought it painted a very positive picture of Iran and it made me really want to visit the country.
Q: How much European people know Iran?
I think Iran is becoming a more and more popular destination, especially amongst higher educated young people who like to travel to more adventurous destinations. I do have some friends who've been to Iran or who tell me that would love to go there. The older generation sometimes seems to have a more negative opinion about Iran, for instance they might think that it is dangerous to go there.
Q: Do you think Iran use its potential for attracting travelers?
More and more, Iran has already made it easier for many nationalities to get a visa on arrival. The visa was still rather expensive when I came, which might discourage some people from visiting the country. The potential is definitely there. I think it's just a question of getting people to talk positively about Iran to their friends, and that will encourage other people to visit the country as well.
Q: In which range are the European travelers who come to Iran (age, job, education....)?
The people that I saw in Iran where mostly younger people, between 25 and 35, travelling alone or in couples, and bigger groups of older people, around the age of 40 to 60. Probably mostly well-educated people who are interested in culture and history.
Q: What is the Dutch people impression of Iran?
That's hard to say, but I've heard mostly positive things about Iran from friends. Older people who don't travel much and are not well-informed sometimes think that Iran is dangerous or that there is a war going on.
Q: What do the European people like in traveling to Iran? They prefer enjoying foods or adventure sports or Iranian history?
I didn't do any adventure sports in Iran and although I have always heard great stories about the food, as a vegetarian I wasn't able to taste most of the dishes. The best things for me where the incredible hospitality and friendliness of the people, the Persian culture which is very specific and different to any other country in the world, and the beauty of all the historical and cultural artifacts such as mosques and places like Persepolis.
Q: How do you travel? Do you prefer staying in hotels and traveling by plane or camping in a tent?
In Iran I took a more conservative approach to travelling, staying mostly in hotels and travelling by bus and plane. In other countries I've also tried more adventurous stuff, like hitchhiking and Couchsurfing, or travelling by motorbike, which I greatly enjoyed. Next time I come to Iran I wouldn't mind travelling in a more adventurous way, for instance by motorbike and then camp in a tent.
Q: Why do you travel, what do you see in travelling?
For the excitement of discovering new cultures, meeting new people, seeing incredible places that are different from my own country.
Q: What is your impression of Iran?
One of the best countries I've been to! There is so much to see and to discover, people are so incredibly welcoming.
Q: What do you like of this country?
Almost everything... the landscape is outstanding, the historical sights are unique and captivating, people are amazing.
Q: What do you think of Iranian people?
The best people in the world. I've never experienced such friendliness and hospitality as in Iran. People gave me food on the street, invited me for tea, offered to drive me to places for free. The Persian people are so proud of their hospitality and so they should be!
Q:What was the strangest thing that you saw in Iran?
Actually the strange thing was how normal Iran seems when you are there. Of course social rules and regulations are stricter in Iran than in the rest of the world and at first this made me a little nervous about doing things wrong or committing a faux-pas. But actually after a while I discovered that people are generally very laid-back in Iran. Even though people have to follow certain rules in public, they are still people like everyone else, and go about their lives like everyone does within the limits of these rules.
Q: If you want to choose a souvenir from Iran, what is that?
I bought some hand-made bowls and cups from Iran. This was really the perfect souvenir for me as I love cooking and so I can use these things a lot in my kitchen.
Q: What color is Iran? Why?
I guess I associate Iran with green and red, because of the flag.
Q: What places were the most interesting?
I loved Shiraz for the Hafez tomb and the beautiful mosques. Isfahan is amazing as well. I also visited Persepolis, this was very impressive too.
Q: What was enjoying and what was irritating for you in Iran?
It was difficult for me to eat out because I don't eat meat. So I was a little sad that I couldn't taste a lot of the famous Persian dishes. For the rest, I was enjoying everything in Iran.
Q: What is unique about Iranians?
Their sense of humor and their hospitality!
Q: From the impression I have from you, you know Persian culture a lot, where is that coming from?
Persian culture is very specific and typical. I spent just one week in Iran, but after a week you will surely understand a lot about the culture.
Q: If you want to live here, which city do you prefer?
Tehran is great because it's the capital, but I also loved Shiraz and Isfahan. I wouldn't mind to live in either of those three!
Q: What do you suggest for Iranians to come and see in the Netherlands?
The capital, Amsterdam, for me is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For the rest, it's worth to go and see Utrecht, another very pretty city, and for example the many windmills at Kinderdijk. Close to Amsterdam there are many interesting places as well, such as Marken, an old fishermen's town surrounded by water, Volendam, and Texel, our biggest island.
Q: Tell me about your city. Introduce it and how Iranian can come there?
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. There are more bicycles in Amsterdam than inhabitants. If you come to Amsterdam, you will see bikes and bike paths everywhere. I associate Amsterdam with freedom. Freedom to be, do and say what you want. I always feel very laid-back in Amsterdam. Besides that, the architecture is amazing. We have many buildings from the 16th and 17th century.
Q: Do you come to Iran again?
Yes, hopefully this year! I cannot wait!
Interview by Mohammad Sharafi