From mountain tops to under the sea* – Tehran to Azerbaijan
*The surface level of Caspian Sea at the moment is around -27 m below mean sea level.
(If you are interested about practicalities of getting some visas in Tehran and extending Iranian visa – see the end of this article)
We got our visas for Azerbaijan really fast – the same day we applied for them. So, on the same evening of 4th May we also decided to hit the road again. Our departure had already been postponed before so now it was time to leave this concrete jungle behind without further delays. We said our goodbyes to Park Abshar and had the last supper with Simin (“You got to eat a lot because you will need a lot of strength cycling! It is goood for youu!”). Continue reading →
So, all along during our stay in Iran, everyone kept repeating – “Have you been to Isfahan, Shiraz? You got to go there, you got to see!” The thing is that they are quite far away from the route in Iran that we had in plan and also from the route we had to do in the end. To cycle 940 km to Shiraz or even 450 km to Isfahan and then the whole way back would take too much time, and to take busses all the way would deplete our already empty wallets too quickly. But we knew that we had to go – in the end we decided for a one-way ticket to a night-bus ride to Isfahan which cost us each 270’000 IRR and to try our luck in hitch-hiking to Shiraz and afterwards back to Tehran. Continue reading →
Exactly two weeks after entering the Islamic Republic, we found ourselves in the heart of it – Tehran – a metropolis that alone hosts seven times more people than my whole country. Three Latvians (plus one French guy) felt even punier being here because of this fact and because they did not know where will they be staying this night. We hadn’t succeeded to find a CS/WS host but we had heard that you can go to almost any park of Tehran and just pitch your tent up there. So, we had arrived in Park-e Shahr (City Park) which was recommended to us as one of such parks by our last night’s host Hamed.
Turned out that Park-e Shahr is close to the opposite kind of parks where you could camp. It’s not even allowed to ride a bicycle there. We came to the realization that, probably most (or all?) of the parks in the capital would not be meant for camping. Of course, some sort of solution always comes for these kind of problems, especially in Iran. While we were just standing there, scratching our heads, the solution really came, it was a he and he even had a name – Rasoul. A guy suddenly appears and starts telling us about his grandfather’s house where no one lives and where we could stay, maybe. We were guessing that he is telling us that, because, as usual in Iran, his English was far from fluent. But, just following his motorcycle and seeing ourselves was our best option at the moment. Continue reading →
The first two out of seven weeks altogether spent in I.R. of Iran, was definitely an adjustment time for me. Just crossing that one border had made all the difference in the experience. It seemed we had finally gone quite far away from home and found ourselves in a country where many of the everyday activities were done in quite a different manner. And of all things combined there was I – a female – travelling with two (and later – three) guys on a bicycle! And how strange it seemed for many of the locals, that we might be just friends. (apart from when I was wandering by myself, it seemed a little silly that I had bought a wedding band to put on). But what better way to enter and cycle around the country than a two week New Year celebration time? Iran welcomed us open heartedly.
Riding to the Iranian border was quite unpleasant – wet and cold but, of course, we naively hoped that it will all change after crossing – we will enter the hotness of Iranian deserts and will throw off all our warm clothes. Iran – the Middle East – always seemed connected with the Sun (always shining on TV), vast desert-ish lands and camel caravans crossing them. Besides, it is the beginning of the New Year – one day before our entering the year 1394 had started in this country. According to Persian calendar, the new year starts on the day of spring equinox, and usually the weather is pleasant in these days.
Warning sign on the Armenian side – on 8th May 2004 a man was arrested here for crossing the border illegally