Tehran is a place of controversy and contradictions. Many people have a strong opinion about the city without ever placing their feet on the pavement. I’m here to find out the real story.

The capital of Iran is bordering the Alborz mountains, visible from many places in the city. Tehran is the largest city in the Middle East and it really lived up to the name as we passed lots of blocks and it just never seemed to end.

Even though foreigners are a rare commodity in the city, people mostly tend to leave us alone (with a few notable exceptions). We walk along the streets, find our way in the metro tunnels and buy coffee for an mind-boggling number of bills. People are of course very curious to who we are and why we are in Iran, but most keep to just staring and gazing.

Azari tea house, Tehran Azari teahouse in Tehran.

We went to Azari tea house near the train station. Of course we were the only foreigners and got a lot of attention. Had delicious kebab while we enjoyed a performer on stage who was very skilled with a hand drum. The happy waiter dropped tons of tea on our table until we had to ran away.

Sheep head chef in Tehran restaurant The proud chef.

I wanted to try the infamous sheep brain, so we found a nice place where the stare-downs we received implied that not many westerners had seen the inside of the walls.

Brains in Tehran restaurant Sheep brain for dessert.

First we got a bowl of the water that the sheep head had been boiled in. Next was a plate with tongue, followed by a plate with eyes and chin. The final plate was the brain, making me feel like a zombie as I let loose on the pieces.

I can fairly say that the meal was more “interesting” than “good”, but that’s why I’m here in the first place. To explore a different culture and learn new things about the world.

“This is worth some extra time in the thunder bucket.”
— Anthony Bourdain


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