It is funny how things we pass by every day in our surrounding environment without our due attention can be of great interest to the discerning visitor. Here are the options:-
Interestingly for me and my roots two years ago in the factory office I found old letters with stamps carrying the figure of the last Shah addressed to my grandfather’s textile shop in Tonekabon. When I asked further I found out that because in those days there was no post in the village anyone living in another part of the country be it on a visit or doing their national service would send letters to my grandfather who used to cycle to visit his tea plantation every day and hence take the letters with him…..for many decades my uncle delivered fresh tea leaves to the factory until cheap imports from south east Asia reduced the production to a bare minimum but still the quality is unsurpassed, this is the tea we serve at Khoonegeli.
The local black smith still makes axes, scythes, shovel, scissors and other instruments as they did millennia ago he is a charming character who has many stories to tell.
The local rice processing factory run by Mr Kaveh, and old friend of my grandfathers. Here he processes some of the most aromatic rice you will have ever tasted, the factory is open from the end of the summer until early spring depending on the harvest. He is extremely knowledgeable about the traditional and artisanal way of processing the crop in the old days.
The local fish market in Tonekabon from October until late March when fish is in season is a bustling market with all sorts of fish from the Caspian and some farmed fish also where fishmongers buy on an auction basis.
The local pottery workshop some half an hour’s walk or a 10 minute drive from Khoonegeli is something from the very past, European travellers talk about at least half a century before pottery was made this way on this scale in Europe, churners, furnaces, pots and pans amongst other object made out of clay, a charming family of three generations live and work together in absolute harmony just like the old days using the most basic tools like food operated wheels and the wooden furnace.
Ramsar Palace Museum overlooking the emblem of the glorious past of Ramsar, the promenade leading from the old hotel next door constructed by the Germans, the French and the British over 70 years ago was where the first Pahlavi had his temporary residence in this famous resort. Long gone are the bars, the discotheques and charter flights to the French Riviera but the palace, a modest marbled villa with European ornaments and fine Persian carpets stands to tell the tales. Well worth a visit before a dip in the VIP private bath of Ramsar Thermal waters belonging the very Shah now open to public.
A 2 hour drive towards Guilan will bring us to Fooman with its famous walnut and cardamom cookies and where the road bifurcates into the forest gaining altitude, to the left is Ghale Roodkhan a spectacular red bricked castle from God knows which era ( you should take any official history on anything old in Iran with a pinch of salt as it is likely to have been written by some English or Russian traveller and not authenticated by any independent scientific research), it is an hour walk to reach the castle which sits on a ridge surrounded by dense forest. I like it.
Yes you read it right! It is a popular sport in our neck of the wood and you may well enjoy a ride in the calm and warm waters of the southern Caspian Sea if you visit between May and October. Boat, skis, life jacket and instructor all provided!
Cooking Lessons in Northern Iranian cuisine. Ask any Iranian about good gastronomy in Iran and they will tell you “shomal” meaning the north. Northern Iran is blessed with the most varied seasonal plates that is its best kept secret. Why not go to the local market with our cook, shop and come and see her cook, It promises to be an unforgettable experience, a French couple and a dozen Aussies and New Zealanders have already tried and they LOVED it!
During the rice planting and harvesting you may see how rice is planted, still by hand, one by one and how it is harvested, again by hand, using sickle. Traditional sheep and cow farming is close in the village during the autumn and winter months when you would expect snow in the pastures.
You may savour the best of Persian spiritual rhythms by one of the masters of percussion in Iran.
Yes indeed! If you are interested in learning or improving your Farsi why not to a quiet place where you can easily socialize with the locals and improve your spoken Farsi at the same time eat well and do some trekking. There are good teachers in Tonekabon who could help you out with the grammar also and probably much cheaper than in Tehran let’s say.
!به ایران خوش آمدید
We are proud to offer you the possibility of getting away from it all. A simple hut with a wooden stove for cooking and heating in a remote mountain village, deep in snow from December until late February where you may spend as many days as you wish all on your own, there are no roads, no phone signal and no other human being. You are likely to see wildlife namely bears, wolves, cheetahs. You will be supplied with rice, flour, honey, cheese, tea, coffee and some dried fruits and you will cook for yourself. The only thing we need to know is when to come and walk you back to civilization. The hiking is about 5-7 hours depending on the amount of snow. It is out of this world!
“A great test of mental & physical fortitude which would reap immense reward to the mind, body & soul upon completion.”
Do nothing. Simply be. Breathe. This is a good place for this, in harmony with the surrounding ambiance, contemplate life, your trip, be it to come or gone already…….