So I'm back in dear old dirty Dublin and have had a chance to reflect on the trip.
The last day in Tehran was great - I got to visit the Shah's palace and see the wealth in which he and his wife lived. Funnily enough the remains of a large statue of the Shah - toppled during the revolution - stands outside the palace and all that remains are his boots and jodphurs. I'm reminded of the poem Ozmandias.
Carpet shopping in the market place - an amazing warren of alleys over 200 years old. Negotiating a deal - 'tag negotiating' really - I negotiated the first discount and then sent in the event organiser Sepehr and his dad to negotitate the second discount.
The market would be an anxious place to be as a foreigner without local back-up. Huge crowds of people in which one could easily get lost.
The trip was what I had hoped it would be - a chance to see a new country that wouldn't usually be on the travel map. I was impressed with the people and the enormous potential and resources that exist there. I was impressed with how Western the society - despite its repressive elements - actually was. People adapt. Change has happened in these last 10 years I was assured and change would continue.
Air travel there and back was a struggle - especially the long delays at Instanbul airport. That was the hardest piece. However I was very well looked after by our hosts while in Iran. They have a great hunger for knowledge and a great sense of hospitality to guests.
Would I go back? Yes. I would - just not through Istanbul airport next time (the airport was fine - just the waiting...). But the trip itself lived up to its expectations. Special mention to Alan Cummins and Elsie at the embassy in Tehran for making me feel at home.