Leaving home in the UK at 08.00am on Sunday morning we faced a long journey by road and air before we would arrive at our house in Iran the following morning but armed with plenty of books and with I-Pod fully charged I am well prepared. Tom and Tessa (our cats) are not happy that we are leaving them behind and sulk all the time we are getting ready to go. Tom heads for the top of the kitchen cupboards where he watches our preparations with disdain whilst Tessa prowls between the front room windowsill and stairs hoping that we will change our minds. They certainly know how to make you feel guilty but we know that Jenny, our next door neighbour, will look after them during our absence and at least they don’t have to go away from home and can fret in their own surroundings.
The flight from Heathrow to Tehran via a refuelling and crew-change stop at Yerevan in Armenia was a trial of constant turbulence all the more noticeable as recent flights to Iran have been smooth and pot-hole free. I found the repeated vibration and noise very disturbing and extremely stressful. I can’t maintain such a high level of anxiety for long before the adrenalin rush subsides and exhaustion takes over and it is at this point I calm down, simply too tired to care anymore and I am able to complete the 4 ½ hour flight to Yerevan without further ado.
Refuelling and changing crew at Yerevan took a surprisingly efficient 45 minutes before we took off again for the short 90 minute hop to Tehran. Iran only allows a few airlines to refuel in Tehran due to the economic sanctions and without these “technical” stops many planes flying this route do not have the range to travel there and back without a top up but in fact the short break was welcome and an opportunity to regroup before completing the flight to IKA.
No wind and no clouds meant a lovely smooth flight and landing at IKA and progress through customs was, as ever, smooth, efficient and hassle free, unlike the ridiculous check-in system at Heathrow Terminal 1 we had endured earlier.
Saeed and his taxi were there to meet and greet us as arranged but as we found out later he was only just on time. Earlier he had parked his car in a restricted zone outside Arrivals and after only a few minutes it had been lifted by crane and impounded. Thankfully he had the time (and money) to retrieve his car before we arrived so our departure from the airport wasn’t delayed. Amazingly he didn’t seem at all perturbed by this minor diversion and laughed it off good-naturedly. I can’t imagine that I would be so sanguine. Perhaps I need to be more “Iranian” and chill out more. Then again I wouldn’t have parked in the restricted zone in the first place.
We found the car, parked properly this time, and as usual, a welcome basket of goodies containing tea and food as well as blankets and pillows for our 4-hour drive home was waiting courtesy of my thoughtful sister-in-law. I drank my tea and snuggled down on the back seat for a snooze, the perfect antidote to Saeed’s driving which I know from previous experience can be erratic at best! I woke in time to see daylight breaking over the mountains and to realise that we were only 30 minutes from home. The roads were quiet but the town was clearly waking up for a new day when we finally arrived in Sede at 06.30 local time (03.00 hrs English time).
Now the fun begins.