Indeed Internet is an issue in Iran. My phone also stopped working. I think I did manage to make an outgoing call in Tabriz, but in Tehran it does not work... most of the time. Countless sites are filtered... one could use a VPN. Though I can't be bothered to set one up on Archlinux, and the internet in Iran is incredibly slow to begin with. [My Kindle still works, and seems to get past the filter somehow - Jamie]
So since we can't post Flickr images easily or upload Youtube sites, I hope you'll find words enough!
I just had the name "Bagh Golestan" to find a hotel in Tabriz. No map. So navigating there, finding a hotel and parking was nothing short of a major accomplishment. [More excellent driving ;)] Iranian driving is quite different to Turkey and this is tbh the first time I haven't had Google Maps at my disposal, so I had to talk to locals for directions(!)
The majority of Iranian people are friendly which is great. Other aspects like the tourist sites, accommodation, internet sucking, food, crazy traffic and stuff have made it a bit disappointing at least in my eyes. We did go see the UNESCO market in Tabriz, and then we headed on the long drive to Tehran. Fortunately the road started off really well and it was quiet I assume because it was a toll road. It was a pleasure to drive. [No, it was really boring]
So petrol become a little issue, as it's all Iran state controlled as you may or not know. Petrol stations were surprisingly hard to find and the attendants tended to overcharge us until we requested it at 700 (7,000.00 IRR=0.410966 GBP) per litre (locals get it at 400). [That may be a misunderstanding on our part, there are 17,000 Iranian Reals to the pound, but the locals often use Tomans (sp?) which is 1/10 of a Real, and the number symbols are different. Put all this together and they might have been telling us it was 7000 Reals a litre and we thought they were asking for 1000 Tomans. This seems especially likely as the petrol pumps are pre-set.] We are not sure what Octane the "benzine" is, but we fear it's not great quality judging by the sound of our motor. Nonetheless it's cheap to get around Iran.
In Tehran we navigated miraculously to a contact of ours pretty much in the middle of town. I used a pre-cache of Google maps Tehran, however the pre-cache is a bit unusable since you can't search it off-line. Sigh... bad Google. Interestingly Tehran is cut off into neighbourhoods so you have to stick to these congested expressways and get off at the right place in order to get into the neighbourhood. IIRC Baghdad has been described like this, and I guess it's the same here. I assume it makes it very easy for a neighbourhood to control things as they see fit.
I'm a bit nervous about revealing the identity of our friend of a friend's wife, since she does seem to bend every rule in the Islamic handbook. [Including driving western men around town that she's not even temporarily* married to.]
Anyway she's been very hospitable to Jamie and I and we are learning a LOT about Iran very quickly. [She's been averagely patient with Kai] I'll write that all up in another post, another day.
* Apparently Islamic and Iranian law allows a couple to temporarily marry, the man of course can take more than one full/temporary wife.