Last bus ride in Iran through Damghan where we saw lots of pistachios for sale in stands along side the road. The countryside was quite green around Shahroud and through Damghan perhaps due to a better than usual amount of spring rains in this region. Further S. where we traveled earlier in the tour to Shiraz they've been experiencing drought for the past 5+ years. Semnan was next and I did feel the increase in altitude (to 1,138 meters)...I get a toothache where I had my tooth capped 3 years ago. We see the Alborz mountain range all along the way to the N., lots of evidence of mining going on with many operations periodically showing up at the base of the mountains. This area and onward through Garmsar is pretty much desolate skirting along Dasht-e Kavir, Iran's largest desert. Our bus arrives in Tehran in the heat of the day (40° C=100+°F), but luckily we can take the metro to within wlkingdistance of our Khayyam Hotel where we stayed when we first arrived in Iran. It doesn't seem that long ago yet it's one of those times it also seems we've been here forever, ha! We (literally) cool our heels in our AC room until restaurants open again at 8pm. Went to an Iranian pizza place and had a very good veggie pizza!
We've discovered that one reason so many people were out camping in Shahroud (right in the city parks even) and off and away in the Abr forest is because this is a holiday weekend celebrating the anniversary of Imam Khomeini's death which includes tomorrow as well so we shall see if any sights are open before we head to the airport at 3pm.
No hurry today...a holiday and most everything is closed to 'celebrate' Khomeini's death day. Huge pilgrimage to his memorial site, on way to the airport I counted 300 large size buses and quit counting. Before we took the taxi there we took the metro first to the Pavlavi palaces complex even though Mehdi said we could see nothing but Bon was glad we did to get an idea what it was like in the area. She said it was completely different than she expected, but I don't know what that means. In the wealthy part of Tehran, high up above the smog, lots of the embassies and governmental people live in this area (including Pres. Armedi?..spelling), cooler up here as well. Getting off the metro we went up 4 flights of escalators, it was that deep in the ground kind of like in Russia/Moscow's. Afterwards we took Mehdi's advice and went to Jamshidiye Park, also high up on the mountain side with great views (tho smoggy) of the city below. Tons of people, especially families there and more arriving every minute bringing all their belongings for an outing/picnic! Beautiful park, lots of tall trees and water rushing through, birds singing, a great place to get away. Back down the 'hill' and, metro to a restaurant and our last meal with Mehdi before returning to hotel, showering, and taxi thru tons of buses to airport. Fond farewell to Mehdi, out trusty guide who put up with us AND the the Pars Agency which never sent him more $$$, he borrowed from friends to finish the tour!! Love ya Mehdi!