Hidden No More: The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

The exterior of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

If you’re planning a trip to Tehran you should consider spending a few hours at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA). Built by the Shah’s wife Fara Palavi in 1977, two years before the revolution, TMOCA is a holdover from Iran’s pre-Ayatollah days. The museum’s collection is estimated to be worth over $3 billion. Sadly most of its works have remained hidden from the public for the past forty years, not because the museum lacks wall space but because […]

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A Food Tour of Iran

Isfahan bazaar spices

It’s a shame that America’s relationship with Iran is still in the dumps after all these years. There is a food universe over there just waiting to be discovered.  I recently returned from a culinary tour through Iran, visiting food workshops, bazaars, and having meals at the homes of Iranian families. I enjoyed a variety of foods foreign to my palate and discovered a new world of cooking possibilities. My journey cut a path through the central part of Iran, […]

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Iran Part 3: Into Tehran

Milad Tower Tehran

This post follows Part 2: The Heart of Persia Kashan and Qom Kashan, a city of of a quarter of a million people halfway between Isfahan and Tehran, has a enchanting bazaar and several centuries-old merchants homes that have been converted into traditional hotels and restaurants. I made the mistake of choosing a highly-rated but modern hotel on the outskirts of town, so missed out on the chance to to stay at one of these beautiful homes with courtyard gardens, […]

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Iran Part 2: The Heart of Persia

Yazd islamic art

This post follows Part 1: Testing the Persian Waters Yazd While Yazd, a city of over 1 million people in central Iran, has all the trappings of a modern metropolis, its old quarter is almost 2,000 year old and contains hundreds of mud brick buildings. In fact, it doesn’t look that much different from Tatooine, the desert city in the first Star Wars. Through this maze of yellow buildings run winding alleyways that cut like veins though the city. These […]

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Iran Part 1: Testing the Persian waters

Shiraz Nasir-ol-Molk stained glass

So this was Iran. It was 3am, and I was in a dark cab alongside a driver with two word of English in his vocabulary, driving me in complete silence through the dark streets of Shiraz. Thirty years of animus, amplified by unending media coverage, has led us to believe that Iran is our enemy. Maybe they are. I don’t know, but things are seeming to warm up a bit. That’s why I went. I wanted to see Iran for […]

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Rediscovering Persia: Iran awaits

Amir Chakhmaq Complex

Iran, former member of the “Axis of Evil” and a country still deeply mistrusted by the United States, is not generally known by Americans to be a tourist destination. The Islamic revolution of 1979 and the subsequent hostage-taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran basically killed that idea. But those of you who follow the news have probably seen that there has been a warming of relations (however small) between the two countries as of late. These developments got me […]

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Kabul, Afghanistan (2007)

Kabul Afghanistan MMMC circus

I was going through my old photos on Google and Flickr and realized that I had enough pictures from my trip to Afghanistan in 2007 to create a blog post. Looking back, going to Afghanistan for a graduate school thesis research was probably not the best idea–I admit it, Mom–but it was an exciting and eye-opening trip that I will always remember. In the winter of 2007, Afghanistan (at least Kabul) was generally at peace. The Taliban insurgency had not […]

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Hatra, Iraq ruins

Hatra Iraq ruins 2003

One of the most memorable and exciting travel experiences I’ve ever had was the hour I spent walking among the ruins of Hatra, an ancient city in the desert of northwest Iraq, about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad. Our visit A UNESCO World Heritage site, the 2,000 year old Hatra was a major city in the Parthian Kingdom. If you recognize the scene in the pictures, you’ve probably seen the movie The Exorcist, which used the city as a backdrop […]

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Vietnam

As a U.S. Army veteran, part of the reason I wanted to go to Vietnam was to experience in a way some of what our soldiers experienced being deployed to a mysterious country 12,000 miles away, a country so foreign in every way possible, from the weather to the language, food, terrain, etc.  On our 12 day trip, we flew into Ho Chi Minh CIty, saw the central part of the country next, and then flew to the northern part. […]

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