Author Archives: Ivars Brencis

About Ivars Brencis

Despite studying electrical and power engineering, being an electrician was never Ivars’ calling. For the past five years he’s been the IT administrator of the Latvian War Museum and an avid fan of geocaching, which more than explains his passion for adventure.

Isfahan and Shiraz/Persepolis – hitchiking in Iran.

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

Finding peace in chaos in Tehran – from Park-e Shahr to Park Abshar

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

Islamic Republic of Tea – Iran

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

Warning sign on the Armenian side – on 8th May 2004 a man was arrested here for crossing the border illegally

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Hitch-hiking in Russia – empty resorts

Despite all the warnings directed at us and rumors about all that could go wrong with our intended ferry trip from Crimean peninsula to Russia, all was well and simple. The ferries run all night long with regular intervals (we arrived to the port around 11pm) and we didn’t have to wait in any queues because we were ‘pedestrians’ (and one cyclist). There was a queue for cars but it didn’t look tremendously long. Since the annexation of Crimea in March, the number of ferries operating between Port Crimea and Port Caucasus has been increased and now there are in total about 10 vessels (including train ferries) navigating back and forth from these destinations.

The only thing that took longer than expected, was the ferry ride itself. It was supposed to take 30 minutes but we ended up floating in the Kerch Strait for at least an hour. So, as the Greek ferry “Γλυκοφιλουσα III” was slowly drifting about, the main deck filled with Russians, a few foreign tourists and at least one Ukrainian, it finally felt like we are closing in on the real Russian Federation. Continue reading

Hitch-hiking in Crimea, Part 1

12th November was again a day of leaving a city, warm bed and shower behind but today it was a whole lot different because of “The Curious Incident of the Bicycles in the Night-time”. It was a completely new experience because I and Laura had to carry our stuff on our backs and we hitch-hiked instead of cycling. For both of us this was the first hitch-hiking experience abroad. You can read about Dainis’ cycling in the previous entry. Continue reading