Now it’s Iran’s turn, together with Germany the 12th country of my journey.
Since the border is being renovated, I found the construction site houses, which serve as an office, and the people everywhere very chaotic. There were some annoying children walking around, who disrespectfully wanted money and always wanted to get on their bikes. While Michael fetched the stamps, I played watchdog. Several times people also wanted to change dollars, I had to refuse every time. Since lunch break was, the procedure lasted altogether perhaps 1 hour.
Then we were finally in Iran! Shortly after the border we took a break and ate something. A car came by with some people who wanted to have their siesta there as well. After a short conversation we had a place to sleep in Urmia, which was offered to us by a worker who spoke German.
We drove on through a beautiful valley, along a river, with hairpin bends, when we were stopped 20 minutes later. A woman wanted a photo with us and immediately gave out her phone number. If we had any problems in Tehran, just give us a call. She spoke fluent English.
WOW, this is supposed to be Iran? So nice the people?
A few km further on there was the first Çay tea. See there, the tea cups are bigger! We hoped that they didn’t want any money for the Çay, because we had nothing. But luckily it was free of charge.
Also interested are the huge signs with among others “USA is the real terrorist”.
Looking for a place to sleep was the order of the day.
We slept in a field. In the morning we had tea from a student who wanted to work in the field next door. He also offered us breakfast, but we refused, were already full.
We drove to Khoy. We noticed directly that between the sidewalk and the road there was a 30 to 40 cm wide and 50 cm deep canal. With the bicycle not exactly great. From time to time there is a bridge or a footbridge.
The traffic, well, squeeze, push, honk, from two lanes to three lanes and the stronger one wins. Luckily the drivers let the bicycles through.
We wanted to change money because the banks are not tied to the international money or something like that. So we had dollars from Turkey.
The currency here is very difficult to get used to. So, we changed to the rate 1 dollar = about 110,000 RIA. But the prices are rarely displayed in RIA. Only in banks halt. There is a non-physical currency, which is called Toman. There is simply a zero deleted. So a dollar is worth about 11,000 Toman. So if something costs 20,000 Toman, you pay 200,000 RIA. Now also many say, this costs 3 Toman. That again would be 30,000 Toman. It will be shortened.
We left the exchange office with a few million. Already there was the next Çay.
We got ourselves SIM cards for about 2 dollars, with 9 GB volume. I had to hand in my fingerprints. Of course, my father’s first name was also very important.
We then ate a pizza. Michael ordered one without meat, so he got one with sausages. Eating vegetarian seems to be difficult for him here.
Since I had an animal headache because of my cold, I went to the park. I just needed some rest. Someone brought us tea and sugar. But how do you stir it without a spoon?
A few days later I saw the answer: put sugar cubes in your mouth, then drink tea.
It went out of Khoy, where we pitched our tents on a small field.
The next day we went to Salmas for dinner. Shortly we entered the city, and already we sat with some workers with the tea on the meadow.
We accepted an invitation to eat, but since some people were looking at poverty, we left it at a salad.
Colourful mosques in Iran, often also gold-coloured
Since it was a holiday, there was only one fast food shop open where we could go out for dinner. In front of the shop we were photographed, approached in the shop by almost all employees and had about 20 Selfies made from each position.
In the park, where we wanted to have a short rest, first a woman spoke to us, then her father, with whom we had a great long conversation in English. The first impressions from life in Iran.
But I tell that bit by bit.
When we wanted to get out of Salmas, we were invited to eat on the street by melon sellers. First we ate melon, then flat bread and tomatoes and cucumbers. Of course also Çay.
Next door a lot of a car into the canal at the roadside.
The vendors said there was a park over there, we should camp there and come for breakfast tomorrow. Nobody spoke English, they talked with hands and feet.
Said, done. There were still 2 hot hard boiled eggs and a very tasty white cheese. Plus melons for the trip as a gift. Great people!
We were recommended not to go to Urmia, where we had received an invitation on the first day. The city would have an old church, but nothing more. We had better go directly to Tabriz.
On the way we stopped under a tree. As we drove on, there was a car on the side of the road. Then a family got out there, the people spread out a blanket directly at the brook and invited us. They waited for us for 20 minutes. They spread out their food and we talked in English. They just wanted to talk to us. They gave us fruit for the road.
A few kilometres further on a car stopped in front of us and there was even more fruit. Our bags were full to the brim!
Often questions are asked: what do you think of Iran in Europe, how to find Iran yourself, what kind of work you have. Questions about the family and gladly photos are shown.
The Iranians like to picnic just like the Turks. Blanket or carpet, grill and the whole family eats together.
Often we eat hot bread here, directly from the oven. Sometimes from the stone oven, where a few stones have to be knocked off the bread.
With white cheese, tomatoes, honey, etc. Or whipped cream with honey, WOW!
The next day I wanted to get fresh bread and it was given to us. In addition there was a Çay, a few hundred meters further on even more fruit. Again and again cars stop, because the people in them want to be photographed with us.
We decided to go to Kandovan, then to Tabriz. Kandovan has similar cave buildings as Capadocia.
It went over a steppe-like landscape and we were happy to see something like this.
The distance to Kandovan went relaxed uphill, waving was announced again in the second cycle.
Kandovan is full of Iranian tourists. The caves are still used today as houses, you just live in them. According to Wiki there is such a thing only in Spain, Capadocia and here halt.
We drank fresh sheep’s milk and Çay before we went down to Tabriz.
In Osku we ate our first falafel. But it wasn’t very tasty. Some taxi drivers still wanted photos with us, before we finally went into the megacity Tabriz.
Before Tabriz we looked for a place for our tents. Just behind a village five / six men approached us to help us.
As a first summary we slept between fruit trees. It was winding, but not bad. The place Habib showed us, which we followed on the scooter.
3 hours later around 22 o’clock he stood with his friend at the tent and said that he could not sleep quietly because he had a guilty conscience because of us. He asked us to pack up the tents and follow him to a friend’s garden house. We were given some fruit at the garden house and went to sleep on carpets in the hot room. In the morning we would have breakfast together.
Placed scene 😀
It is hard to just say thank you, because you have the feeling that it is too little.
We got on the way still approx. 1 kg cucumbers given to us and were allowed to eat cucumbers afterwards often.
At 11 o’clock in Tabriz we had an appointment with a Warmshowers host who wanted to show us the city. At a museum with a German clock in its tower, we met.
Tabriz has about 2 million inhabitants and is the capital of East Azerbaijan. The metropolis offers a lot of culture and history. What impressed me personally the most was the bazaar. The carpets are famous.
We ate Abguscht, that is vegetables and meat. The soup is filled into a small bowl with pieces of bread and crushed. This is eaten. Then you eat the rest. Very tasty.
We tested Yeralma / Yumurta, either a baked potato or a grilled potato. It is crushed with hard-boiled egg and butter.
We stayed there for two days. In the evening more friends came, so it was really funny. It was a very nice and unfortunately short time.
With a heavy heart we went out of Tabriz, direction Ardabil.
Waving and with many Çay – invitations we went on an expressway, where we got 2 melons for free from someone.
Off the expressway we went on a beautiful parallel country road with wonderful views and hardly any cars. Here we were happy again. No exhaust fumes and peace. There was also Çay tea from shepherds.
We enjoyed every meter and picnicked at the end at a great vantage point.
During many conversations at first we learned that far more than half of the population is not interested in the government. They are so desperate that they even hope for Donald Trump to finally bring the system to its knees.
Many have had enough of the forced religion and do not even go to pray. Again and again the topic is addressed. Some also hope to come to Europe.
Unfortunately the people are not able to fight together against the government. Thus only on change is hoped.
Before Ardabil it went down then from 2100 m slowly. But since it was so beautiful on the side roads, we decided to take a detour with 450 meters of altitude.
On the way we spent the night at a small river. In the night the police came to see if everything was ok. I wish Germany had something like that instead of so many bans.
Hard working women. Some wash their carpets and laundry in this way.
Tube change in Iranian way, I stood mostly in the way, although it was my tire!
Many women wear only half of the headscarf, in a few places it sometimes falls off and serves as a scarf, all in protest. The women are really very pretty here, but unfortunately often too much make-up on it. A few probably want to look brighter. They can also dye their hair. Dear women, please don’t pretend like that!
So far I have hardly seen any women in burkas.
Women also sit in the back of the bus. In Tehran there are women’s areas in the subway, but often they are also among the men.
They are not allowed to move out of their homes until they marry a man. Even then their life is only limited because the man is in charge. Nevertheless, there are men here who then support their wife. I do not know any exact numbers, but they should be the fewest. It makes me sick to puke how you can treat people that way, but it is the same here.
Some people don’t get married at all so that they can at least complete their studies. The man can forbid them if necessary.
Arrived in Ardabil, Amirali, a warmshowers user who wanted to show us the city, picked us up. We spent two days together and he showed us not only the city, but also local food! Please all eat black Halva when you are in Ardabil. They are only available there and are made with honey instead of sugar. I have rarely eaten anything better sweet. The soup Ash tastes more sour than the one in Tabriz. That’s where it’s supposed to come from originally.
Ardabil is very cheap and one of the coldest cities in Iran. We noticed that in the evening.
Thank you Amirali!
By the way: what kind of breakfast do you have in Iran? Good question Luke! Similar as in Turkey. So a flatbread, naturally hot and fresh. Here some breads are even thinner, like paper. But also some approx. 1 cm thick. In addition tomatoes, cucumbers, honey, nuts, white cheese etc.. Sometimes a kind of whipped cream, which keeps its consistency and doesn’t lose it, in addition honey and warm bread, WOW! Generally the Iranians eat quite sweet.
Out of Ardabil we drove towards a forest or jungle. It went in the direction of Astara.
On the way a few goats waited for their death. I refused to be there. They are excluded then outside.
Our route led us to a country road where everything was green. Trees were also everywhere. A completely different world suddenly.
We jumped along our route on the stones when a jeep stopped and a man approached us. Unfortunately only Farsi. With hands and feet and the smartphone we learned that he wanted to take us with him. He is the watchdog here in the national park and knows his way around. After a long persuasion we gave in and loaded the jeep with the edges. He then took us here:
We were very happy, listened to some music from his phone and enjoyed everything.
That night we wanted to photograph the Milky Way. Michael showed me free running horses as we stood in a cloud from one moment to the next. So no photos.
Even cows were running free, they could romp, laugh, hunt or whatever cows were doing all day.
I slept better than most.
The next morning it really hurt me to leave the place and drive down towards Astara, which is located at the Azerbaijan border at the Kadpian Sea. It went down from 1600 m up – 24 m until we arrived in Astara.
In Astara we looked for a fruit shop, ate something and then drove to the lake.
Astara, the place is half on the Azerbaijani side, half on the Iranian side. We were on the beach, about 500 m from Azerbaijan. Well, how do people bathe here? Some only in swimming trunks, a few in T-shirts. Only what is the mess with the women? In buses they sit behind, the men in front. They are only allowed to bathe in such funny costumes. What are these restrictions for? We do not live in the Middle Ages!
We bathed in the murky water, which is hardly salty. It slowly got deeper, but we were only allowed to go as deep as the chest, for whatever reason. The beach was also not really full.
The promised Astara, we didn’t find anything interesting there. Out we went near the lake on a country road. It was quite flat. On a covered bench we ate dill cucumbers (they taste the same as the Polish ones), which Michael had been carrying around with him for a few days. Were very tasty.
On the way I still wanted to buy beer, alcohol-free, with alcohol there is none, but the salesman wanted no money. In Iran people offer something out of friendliness, but maybe they mean it differently. So the best thing to do is to go back twice. If the salesman still does not want money, he means it seriously. He really didn’t want any money from me and gave me biscuits.
We wanted to sleep on the beach that day, but before we had Çay or even twice.
We bought vegetables and went to the beach.
When we wanted to sleep, a car ran into us and three police officers got out. They wanted to see our passports. They were supposedly worried about our safety. Then another one came from the Çay bar and an acquaintance. Another one joined us. We stood there now with six people. You could see that they knew each other. They were all joking with each other. In the end the Çay – man seemed to have said that everything was ok. They all drove away and there was peace.
Then we wanted to sleep in the jungle. So we went up a bit, everything around us was green and many cars were on the way. When we held a small talk with a beekeeper, there was first fresh honey.
It went on up when someone asked us what and where we wanted to go. He showed us the only good place. Otherwise we would have had to drive further and higher.
The next day we drove along a boring road along the lake. We slept in these huts.
We wanted to go to Masouleh, this is supposed to be a nice little village at an altitude of just over 1000m. So we went up waving. A lot of cars passed us, so it had to be really crowded up there.
The weather was warm and humid and we didn’t know it was sweat or water.
Finally we arrived at the top and looked for a nice place to camp on a meadow and visited the village. They are closely built houses, sometimes the roof is also used.
It is a small village, but with many tourists and their cars.
It was quite foggy and in the evening the clouds quickly disappeared again.
The next day we went down. On the way we met a cyclist named Ali. He persuaded us to stay for dinner and later even to spend the night in Rasht with him. A good-hearted person. But first we all wanted to visit the Rudkhan Castle. In the evening we were there, but the castle was already closed. In the tent we were not allowed to sleep in the forest, because the guards worried too much about us tourists. Ali managed to get us a place to sleep in a restaurant on the seats where the Iranians also eat. So we slept on the big benches covered with carpet.
In the morning we climbed the more than 1000 stairs and looked and marveled at a castle that had been built on a mountain in the middle of the forest.
Later we went with Ali, to Ali. The next day we went to his birthplace Licha, where we were taken from one Çay bar to the other. But first the most important thing, namely food! That was with his brother. This of course included rice and later fresh pistachios, which are cultivated in this village. Both very tasty.
With his brother
There were still so many photos, it was very funny. Again and again new people came and some left.
Out of Rasht and the daily rain, it did not go as planned right Chalus, instead we took a beautiful and also dangerous route. We wanted to get out of the rain, back into summer.
So on the 4th rainy day we drove over side roads back to the jungle.
Be that as it may, waving in permanent condition was the order of the day. On average we waved to every second car and there were not just a few on the way. Some people screamed Hello, some drove next to us to ask where we came from. Every day even two cars stop on average, for a selfie.
So we waved and drove happily along the road, when suddenly behind us a car turned, overtook us, stopped and the four people in the car pressed rice with chicken into our hands. There were holidays and food was free on these days.
One day, according to my taste. I love food! And apple pie and fish and, oh, there’s too much good food.
Even more grinning we went on until we noticed that we were driving wrong and had to take a smaller country road over the mountains instead of the planned route over the jungle. That in turn brought us even more food. A family gave us rice. The rice in this region is really very tasty. There are also many rice fields, so the food is local and fresh! White fish and tea are, besides the already mentioned pistachios, also very popular!
Pretty women waved at us, screamed something while driving by, families too, a really great atmosphere. I don’t talk about the Çay invitations anymore. That would go beyond the scope here.
Through the dense and damp forest I slowly went up. It should go altogether on approx. 1600m high, from zero stop.
On the way we met a couple who live near Tehran and invited us there after our planned visa extension. We accepted gratefully.
Through hairpin bends, waving in permanent condition, on the left a small river in the forest, on the right a green forest wall. Every now and then one saw hilly wooded mountains half covered by clouds.
While searching for a place to sleep in the forest at the river, we met 7 people at a campfire, out of which directly a small dancing party developed. Everything only with Çay. An invitation to Isfahan was also there.
We pitched our tents near the fire and at dusk people went to their cars and drove home.
In the night it rained and thundered. A thunderstorm brought heavy rain and hailstones the size of a fingertip. Our China tents quickly had some water inside. Besides, in the rain I had to go to the toilet several times in the morning, my stomach didn’t want to keep anything.
Late in the morning we packed our muddy tents and wet sleeping bags and went up 1200 m to a total of 1600 m under clouds.
Innumerable Selfies and wink-insoles were included. When I felt the weakest, a family called us to dinner. How do people know what you need right now? I don’t believe in coincidences.
At the top finally arrived in the fog, a few boys stopped and persuaded us to come with them. We went after them. Shortly afterwards there was a check by the police and the mayor of Deylaman because they were so concerned about our safety. They wanted to show us a safe place. But the boys came to our aid.
In dense fog it went pushing through a mountain landscape.
In a cozy little room on a farm, which is heated with wood and laid out with carpet, we ate together and spent a great evening.
A beautiful place, which unfortunately only rarely showed its most beautiful side. There were clouds on the mountain. Thank you for the great evening!
We looked at the further route towards Teheran and it was shit. Either through the mountains or, as the boys said, over very bad roads.
So we drove down the mountain again and then on the old route that we had missed to take. It really takes hours to get up and in about half an hour it’s down again.
We went along the old road along the highway, where there were cars with fresh pancakes every now and then.
After two days we arrived in Qazvin, where we wanted to sleep in the park. An older man really wanted to help us and it was difficult to come to an agreement. We were too nice again instead of just saying no.
We took a look at the city for a while. Unfortunately we only had visas valid for 4 days and therefore we could not see Qazvin extensively.
We didn’t have far to go to Tehran. Two days about.
The supervisor of a company pulled us into his hut, where we were first fed corncobs.
In Hashtgert we slept in the park, where we always caused a stir. Unfortunately, some children had fun throwing stones at us at late hours. But they didn’t hit our tents.
We had a lot of fun with a few young people. The people here are really very inviting.
Before Karaj we accepted the invitation we were offered on the way to Deylaman. We were provided with local and very tasty food. Thanks for that!
In the morning, after four hours of sleep, we drove the last 45 km directly to the police for foreign affairs in Tehran. The traffic, well, is just big in Tehran.
Two passport photos delivered, something filled out, which is probably unimportant anyway, 350000 RIA paid and after approx. 40 minutes we were outside and may spend now further 30 days in Iran. In the office we met Max. He was born in Herne and lived in Dortmund. He is since 10 months in Iran and since 2 years with the Karavan on the way. Have a good trip boy!
We looked for a hostel and stayed three days in Tehran. Ali also came to visit us. He will drive a few days with us, he wanted it absolutely.
The city itself has many museums, but I don’t like it that much. Traffic and scooters without end, smog is a problem in Iran anyway, but that is violent.
The north has nice corners, you can also go up to 4000 m with the cable car.
Next to the subway, the taxis are very popular here. With the app SNAP you get them cheaper, so without tourist surcharge. Start and end point indicate and a few minutes wait. You can choose between, scooter, scooter for several passengers, woman or man at the wheel.
We also changed money again, only this time in the hotel. In Khoy the dollar cost about 11 000 Toman, now, after almost 30 days 17 700 Toman.
In the morning we start again. Out on the piste!
Will Lukas and Michael make it without Çay? Is the Iranian desert really hot? Should Lukas rather wear a headscarf? This perhaps and much more in the further part…
All photos of this chapter http://lukasadrian.net/index.php/nggallery/alles/12—Iran?page_id=2436&lang=en