Expectations where highly raised for Iran. Iran is the most hospitable country you will cross during your whole trip, people say. You can’t miss it!
The story of this trip is that we don’t prepare ourselves for the next part. We always want too, but at the end we don’t manage, as other priorities come along. On 21st of April at 19 pm we put our first cycle pedal steps on the Iranian ground. Before that, the same day we had the dangerous descent from our last mountain pass in Armenia, we met in Meghri a lovely Swiss couple that just came from Iran. While we just wanted to quickly have a late lunch and make sure we cross the border before dark, we started to chat with them for a few hours and soon it was getting late. Time flies when you have fun. Luckily they gave us very valuable information and a scarf for Sara (we were planning to enter Iran with a hoodie J).
The border crossing went very smooth, except that they tried to force us to buy a medical insurance for 5 dollars, which obviously was a scam. The weather was still very bad, raining heavily and after a few km’s only we had to find a place to sleep. It’s never smart to stay at the border towns, but we had no choice. We found an over expensive hotel which more looked like a room from somebody.
On our second day in Iran, we got a ride offered to bring up on the mountain pass. The first and last time somebody offered this themselves. We were having lunch, enjoying the ride and had no reason to so ‘yes’. However the friendly guy insisted to take us, after saying numerous times no thank you, we said yes, you can bring us to the top. At the top he said I can bring you to Tabriz, the road is bad and its very heavy to cycle. We said again no, but somehow he managed to pursue us and say Yes again. The only regret we had on this trip!!! So we continue for a few hours driving. Indeed road was very steep, but it was a pitty we didn’t cycle this part, which turned out to be the best part from the whole trip in Iran. We came to a cross point: Tabriz 50 km to the right, another city 50 km to the left. He turns right. We ask to stop the car, but he doesn’t stop. No I want you to come to my home,which he said was Tabriz, but turned to be not in Tabriz at all. We said no, we want to get out, however he turned left and continued. We asked: ‘ where is your home’? It’s just the next town. We arrive at the next town and he doesn’t stop, he turns into a small road and we were going further and further away from civilisation. At the end we enter a brick-wall village and his home. We didn’t feel unsafe, but it didn’t feel right at all. He gave us food, a shower and invited whole his family that evening. Before we knew Sara was in the kicthing making food and serving the man and Maarten was enjoying himself with the men. It was a very conservative family and Sara had to cover her up completely, being corrected by the grandmother the whole time. The day after, we were ready to leave, however it was raining very bad. The man said I will bring you to Tabriz this afternoon. Since Tabriz was an 100 km away from our direction to Tehran, we didn’t want that. We persistenly said no. In the end he said ok I bring you to the mainroad and we got into the car ago…
Our first experience in Iran, wasn’t a good one. And unfortunately many more stories to tell like this.
I guess we were just unlucky? Or should we have gone to the south? Due to visa application problems with China we ended up staying 10 days in Tehran. Sara didn’t want to leave the hotel anymore after a few experiences on the street. That’s why we took a bus to the border of Azerbajin, we were mentally exhausted and wanted to leave Iran as quick as possible!
We stayed 20 days in Iran, of which we cycled 9 days only and 655 kms. We cycled from Megrhi to Tehran. In Theran we took a bus to the border with Azerbaijan.