With all the recent news surrounding the détente between the west and Iran, and the downgrading of Foreign Office Advice, I am chomping at the bit to get back out there…And excited to be offering two small group tours to the country in Spring and Autumn 2016. These will be small groups - so that we can stay in the smaller, more charming hotels (of which there are very few), visit the lesser known sites, and greedily accept any home visit invitation proffered to us - if only to sample the delicious Iranian fare which the country is so well known for.

Exterior of naqsh-e jahan square

Heading Back to Iran

My last visit was in 2009 and prior to that I had taken three small groups around the country - all of which have merged into one vivid experience dominated by the overwhelming hospitality and kindness of Iranians. A particularly memorable moment was meeting Reza and his family at a Caravanserai in the desert. We were lounging on cushions eating grapes and pomegranates and listening to members of the Belushi tribe pluck away at various instruments for our pleasure when he invited our little group to his house for supper… A feast of epic proportions was laid on whilst I was led to some stables, handed a pair of reins and took off riding a beautiful horse into the nearby mountains for a few hours.

Spices in Iran

Oh the food!

The subtle melding of sweet and savoury - such as walnut and pomegranate. The myriad delicate flavours of ice cream like saffron and rosewater. Sour cherries, gaz nougat, barbari bread, sugar wafers, doh, dizi… and on it goes. And then there is, of course, the extraordinary wealth of history and culture, the craftsmanship, the poetry and calligraphy, the rose gardens and nightingale song. After being bedazzled by 'half the world' (otherwise known as the city of Esfahan) you need some time to filter it all and to contemplate the sheer beauty of everything . One-dimensional portrayals of Iran are about to change rapidly, and I can't wait for this fascinating country to open up and show people the reality.