What we saw, what we came back with, is a deeply confusing story. Because the Iran you see from the inside, once you walk the streets of Tehran, meet Iranians, is a very different place than the Iran we know from the news. He said to CNN on 2014 when came back his trip to Iran.
Anthony Bourdain in Iran
Bourdain and his crew take their long-awaited inaugural trip to Iran exploring Tehran and Isfahan, and sites that include Imam Square, the Borje Milad, mosques, and ancient caravanserai.
On July 1, 2016 when Travel + Leisure asked Bourdain what off-the-grid destination surprised him the most during his travels, he was quick to respond with Iran.
“I was really knocked sideways by how well we were treated in Iran and how delicious the food was and how hospitable ordinary people were to us,” he told T+L. He echoed this sentiment many times in his Parts Unknown episode to the Middle Eastern country, too.
Iran much bigger picture” than what you see on TV
“Iran does not look, does not feel the way I expected,” Bourdain said upon landing, noting that there’s a “much bigger picture” than what you see on television.
The warmth with which he was greeted by locals was completely unexpected.
“I am so confused,” he admitted. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
Many intrepid travelers are now discovering this beautiful country, which landed on the list of the year’s best places to travel. Elaborate mosques, contemporary art, the gardens of Shiraz and (as Bourdain would tell you) the food — fluffy saffron rice and meatballs stuffed with eggs — are more accessible than ever thanks to improved relations with the U.S. and new-found political stability.
Watch: Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Iran (2 November 2014)
For more insight from Bourdain — including the one hotel he could spend the rest of his life in (willingly) and the one dish worth traveling for — check out the full interview with him. And if you’ve got Iran on your radar, here’s everything you need to know about visiting the country.