I had been looking forward to this trip since 2007 when my interest in traveling to Iran started. I had just traveled to Turkey earlier that year, and after finding it to be one of my best travel experiences, I vowed to see more of the Middle East next time. However, it did not materialize until four years later – I had constantly been putting it off in favor of nearer destinations. But this year, with all the uncertainty and the revival of the nuclear programme issue in recent months, I decided it was now or never. It had been pending in my travel list for far too long.
With only a limited number of days in Iran, I decided to depart from the usual practice that most travelers have of arriving and departing through Tehran. Fortunately, Qatar Airways started flying to Shiraz recently, which was the southernmost city in our trip so we could just make our way northwards and skip a potentially hazardous domestic flight. The actual flight to Shiraz from Doha turned out to be more like a short hop over the Persian Gulf, and before I knew it, I was in the waiting area of the airport terminal negotiating for the fare with the cab drivers. Despite all the horror stories I heard with the immigration procedures, I got my visa in a few minutes after presenting my reference code. Then, I was off to Shiraz!