After having travelled for a while, we have sometimes started to wonder about what true adventures actually are. It seems that the word is being used far too often, and whenever I hear it now, it has an echo of a well-worn cliché and also I am to blame for it.
I suppose we have been quite safe and lucky in our journey and been sort of sheltered in a way, whether it’s because we have been playing safe or whether it’s because travelling is not actually as dangerous and adventurous in the times of GPS and modern technology as some may think, I do not know for certain (but I think it’s a bit of both). However, even after a good few months, if people ask me “what is our biggest adventure?” or “what has been the most adventurous time/event in our adventure?” I say “Kazakhstan!” and so does Dainis and Ivars and it has probably also been The One Adventure.
So it came to be that, instead of crossing Turkmenistan, we will have to travel back to Europe, cross Azerbaijan as fast as possible and board a ship which will take us from Baku to Aktau in Kazakhstan. Somehow we managed to transit through Azerbaijan in three days and leave the country before we even started to realise that we had arrived. We had learned from our previous mistakes and this time we did not have any expectations towards Azerbaijan – probably the only things we knew about this country were connected with oil and Nagorno-Karabakh. We think that you should let yourself form your own opinion and let everyone else form theirs. Truth be told, there was one reason why we wanted to cross the Iranian/Azeri border as fast as possible – after the dry law of Iran we finally had an opportunity to test real Azeri beer (preferably from two liter plastic bottle).
We had planned to find a way how to cross the Caspian Sea with a ship
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.
Iranian visas in our pockets and our bikes screaming to get back on the road, we left Yerevan late in the afternoon (some time after 4 p.m.) on 15th March. Obviously our time management could have been a little bita lot better, but by the time we had organized all the little bits and bobs and said goodbyes it was somehow already late. Since we had set this as our absolute last leaving date (we wanted to make it in time for the Nowruz celebrations in Iran) we stuck to the plan and were hoping to cycle the flat distance till just before the first big uphill.
As usual, unexpected events occur along the way and we found ourselves some 20 or so km outside of Yerevan city border joining an Armenian picnic which mainly consisted of crispy lavash, freshly grilled fish and a lot of vodka. After a few toasts on Janapar (journey in Armenian), good health and happiness we managed to excuse ourselves, saying we still have some distance we planned to cover.
We had decided to go to Armenia without any expectations (not to repeat the same mistakes we’d made when entering Georgia) – no premature opinions, not expecting anything really, we would wait for Armenia to show its colours itself. This turned out to be the best decision we could have made.