While we cycled over the last Turkish mountain pass (2250m) before reaching the Turkish/Iranian border we were imagining how welcoming Iran would be and how much would change. See all photos West Azerbaijan Iran
The border crossing was a bit hectic. As they are building a new border the traffic is redirected around the building site, mini busses are cramped together and people are running around. We were lucky as a guy took us under his wings and showed us where to get stamped out of Turkey and enter Iran. Susanne had to change to long pants and a headscarf. At the border control of Iran we had our passports checked of course and then the officer looked at Susanne and said “Miss Susanne, you need to cover your hair”. In the stress we had missed that Susanne did not wear a scarf. Quickly Susanne fixed the mistake, we got stamped and could continue trough the border area. Soon we were met by a herd of men “money exchangers”. Well we had Turkish Lira we needed to exchange. Before hand we had checked the rates and knew that on the black-market we should get a better rate. Not sure if it was a good rate we opted to exchange anyway. Instantly we were multi millionaires.
Woow in Iran, we were a bit tired from the heat and the border stress, found a small place to eat serving food during ramadan 5 km further up the road from the border. We had 2 hamburgers and a 1 litre Pepsi, surprised to see pepsi here in Iran, total price 150000 Rial. We decided that we were ready to find shade and a place to sleep. Up the road we found a nice fruit orchard and stayed there the rest of the day and night.
Now we have reached Takab a small town on the edge of western Iran and iran cycling is an experince. The days have changed a fair bit since Turkey as the scenery is now much more Middle Eastern and villages seam even more remote. Traffic is hectic not yet dangerous but we needed 2 days to understand the Iranian drivers. We were lucky with a few days of flat roads, what a change from the last weeks of cycling in the Turkish mountains. Then we met our first Iranian mountains which were as steep and hot as in Turkey. We topped the highest pass at 2360m in one day with a total of 90km cycled so we are getting back in too it. Susanne is feeling stronger and more motivated which is really nice for both of us.
People of Iran have proven to be very helpful and hospitable as no day has passed without people asking us to stay with them. Unfortunately this has not been on the right moments for us, people honk their horns as they pass us on the road and yell ‘HELLO MISTER’ 🙂 If we stop in a town to buy something or have a look around we have followers within few minutes. Some times it is a bit much but still really interesting to meet this new culture. We have been eating more peaches than ever as this is high season for peaches in this region and people offer them to us every day, who would say no to fresh peaches!
From Takab we continue to Tehran which is another 450km and with a 2000m+ pass in between. In Tehran we will start on our visa spree for the Central Asian Stans.