We awoke at 8 this morning, and had some breakfast (Iran sure has many kinds of bread). Then we went to the handicraft district by subway, to do some souvenir shopping. Salar took us to several handicraft shops and even a shop that sells carpets exclusively. These carpets were about the size of a robocup-football-field, but the vendor insisted that he would ship them to the Netherlands. After buying the necessary ascesoires, we had some lunch in Apache, the equivalent of McDonalds mixed with New York Pizza. We all had pizza, hamburgers or chicken wings and fries for lunch, which was a nice change from the enormous quantities of rice the Iranians seem to eat every day.
We caught a lot of attention on the streets and in the subway. Since foreigners are pretty rare in Tehran (in fact, we were the only ones we’ve seen), it’s not so strange that we’re being stared at. When we took the subway back – Fun fact: one of the subway stations’ entrance was in a garage – a man started talking to us. With a few words of English and a lot of hand gestures, he asked us what we were doing in Iran. When we explained we were here for the Robocup he smiled and tried to tell us something we didn’t understand, then started moving his hands in front of his throat, the universal sign of cutting someone’s throat. He was still smiling though, and after some more explaining we gathered that he was a medical student and asked us if were studying medicine as well (apparently Iranian medical students do a lot of throat-cutting). He was actually quite a friendly man. His name was Mohammed and he lived in Tehran. He was 21 years old and had just started his study after two years of English school, though those two years might have been a bit of a failure. For the sake of the people living in Iran, we hope he’s better at what he’s studying now.
When we got back to the hotel we had to pack our bags fast to move to another hotel. This hotel is on the Albroz Mountains, where the main branch of Islamic Azad University is located. The view from the mountains over Tehran is beautiful and the air is also much cooler and fresher than in the city. We set up the Nao’s and network and had dinner with Salar and Moussa. Salar was going to have a busy night, since several teams would arrive between 10PM and 5AM the following day and had to be brought to different hotels. Arnoud and Nick, our professor and a master student from the UvA who we know from our time spent in the robolab, would also arrive this night.
After dinner, we all moved to a single hotel room and worked with the Nao’s (motion, vision, buttoninterface) and tried to use the internet connection provided by the dodgy router that’s installed here. We also went out to watch the view from this mountain at night. To give an idea of how big Tehran is: From where we were, we could see about 1/4th of Tehran, and the lights stretched as far as the eye could see.
Useful lessons #4:
- When going shopping, don’t wear conspicuous clothing (this is practically the same as screaming ‘Look at me, I’m western!’)
- When going shopping, take someone who knows Farsi with you at all time. Not that many shopkeepers know English and you won’t get a discount otherwise.
- When going shopping, go for the little boxes. They’re cheaper than the massive carpets and detailed chessboards and much easier to bring home with you.
- When going shopping, don’t buy a massive carpet. Even if they tell you they can ship it to your home. You’re probably thinking, why would I even go shopping then ? Well, just seeing the latest headscarf fashion might do it for you!
Really, no words or pictures can describe how beautiful the view here is.