Iran a welcoming country

Newsletter N°14

From Wednesday August 10 to Sunday September 4, from Tabriz to Tehran

A culture shock and discovery of the city of Tabriz

After a week in Iran, we are getting used to life in the country. The culture shock was great. Iran, a welcoming country, is really a reality.In the street we are surrounded by very relaxed people who live without haste and are always ready to help you.

In Tabriz, a city located in the northwest of the country, we walk through the great bazaar. As always in these places there are a lot of people and everything is sold there. Each span is specialized in a field, if you are in the one where jewelry is sold, you will not find anything else there.

We also discover the mosques, these buildings generally covered with blue and turquoise earthenware. The city being located in an earthquake zone, many historic buildings still bear the scars of earthquakes, such as the blue mosque which has lost some of its colors.

A road to the Caspian Sea

Friday August 12 we leave Tabriz, direction the Caspian Sea. A fairly difficult start, we have to overcome a small climb of 41 km. After three days of crossing desert areas, we reach Ardabil. In these less touristy places, the welcome is wonderful, the population constantly worries if you need something and, as always, wants to offer you food or drink.The city is home to the Mausoleum of Sultan Sheikh Safi ad-Din. The place is beautiful and there are also pretty porcelains.

The Caspian Sea

Tuesday August 16, before arriving at the edge of the Caspian Sea. We descend the valley which takes us to Astara, 2500m of negative altitude difference over 40 km. A rather vertiginous descent in a magnificent setting. The overloaded trucks go down in slow motion because the slope is steep. We are in a temperate zone and the greenery is abundant, in winter the snow covers the mountain and the Iranians come to ski there. At the end of the descent we finally discover the Caspian Sea and the city of Astara. 

For a week we pedal along its coasts. We meet mostly Iranian tourists and a few Iraqis, no European tourists. The only attraction of this place is the sea. When we arrive in small hotels, we are always welcomed with fervor and sometimes as VIPs and benefit from the best services. It is a pleasant but sometimes disturbing situation. For example, in a small hotel called Gilaria, the owner took us to visit the region by car and offered the meal. With these small gestures we can definitely say "Iran a welcoming country".

The Chaloos Valley , an incredible situation

After five days we reach the valley of Chaloos. We will have to pass a pass located at 2700m, with an 80km climb.In this valley we are going to be confronted with an incredible thing. In Iran, it happens that when the traffic is too heavy on a two-way road, the authorities decide for a few hours to make it one-way. As we had been driving for more than 25 kms on this two-way road and without being warned, it was turned one-way and we found ourselves facing a flood of cars. In addition to the fear we had, we had to walk on the side of the road for several kms in order to avoid the accident. We will finally take two days to arrive at the high pass.


Saturday August 27, we arrive in Tehran. A city with huge avenues, insane traffic with vehicles coming out of everywhere to the deafening sound of horns. We travel 40 km in Tehran alternating roads and sidewalks where motorbikes also circulate.We discover a rather atypical city, a constant stream of cars and motorbikes and an unimaginable number of taxis. Here a few minutes and you have your official taxi or not.

A city always on the move with unthinkable commercial activity.
We settle in a youth hostel while waiting for our flight to France.
The metro is a fast and economical transport. We will visit the ancient Darbanb village located in the mountains, a very touristic place. The Imam Zadeh Saleh Mosque, as always in turquoise blue colors and a very neatly decorated interior. Golestan Palace and of course the Grand Bazaar, a must-see place. A covered market of 10 km2 in the middle of the city. You find everything there, even the unthinkable. A human anthill where hundreds of young teenagers are busy transporting goods on small carts.

Did you know

The Caspian Sea is a closed sea which gives access to 5 countries. Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Its level has dropped by 1.5m for 20 years and it has fallen by about 200m.

Encounters and some faces

Iran, a welcoming country is necessarily a place where we meet a lot.

We meet a German Freech cyclist, he travels without a defined destination and particularity without a phone. A traveler we listen to with admiration. 

Alexandro, owner of the Aseman hotel in Kelachay. He was a diplomat for Iran for 30 years.

The Pizzeria Melli team in Ardabil who offered us a pizza. It was without doubt the best we ate in Iran.

The Hotel Gilaria team.

Where are we

During these 21 days we traveled 961 kms.You can find the final route on the map below.

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End of the trip

After 31 days in Iran and 5 months on the road, our 2022 trip ends in Tehran. Will we come back there one day? Perhaps to discover the end of the Silk Road which goes all the way to China. We will have to wait for the answer.

5 minutes of Zapping in Turkey

Here we are again, following a technical problem the publication of Iran has disappeared from our blog. We are working to put it back in order so that you can consult it again and see the following publications (still a few days of patience).

In the meantime, I offer you a little bonus on Turkey. I let you watch 5 minutes of zapping in Turkey

Iran, another world!

Newsletter n°13

From Friday August 5 to Tuesday August 9, from Dogubayazit to Trabiz in Iran

Easy this entry in Iran

This Saturday, August 6, we are leaving Dogubayazit, a city located in a desert area in eastern Turkey and heading for Iran, another world. We still have 30 km to go before crossing the border.The road that takes us there is frequented by hundreds of trucks. The latter, about 6 km before the border are parked in huge car parks awaiting customs formalities. It is terribly hot there, their waiting time must seem very long and painful. 

By bicycle, it is easy to reach the border post between Turkey and Iran. Pedestrians and cyclists pass through the same airlocks which are very narrow and it is difficult for bicycles to enter. The Turkish customs officers are not very pleasant and they stare at us for a long time, no doubt to detect possible problems. In the end they end up affixing the stamps which allows us to access Iranian control. Unlike Turkey, it takes less than 10 minutes to clear Iranian customs. Here all photos are prohibited and to avoid any incident it is better to respect the ban.

That seems complicated

At the exit, a rather impressive crowd of people awaits us and offers us various services: accommodation, various aids and change. In Iran, there are three different currencies: the Rial, the toman and the new toman. It’s very complicated, especially since for 150 euros you receive almost 60 million rials. There are no coins, only banknotes, some of which have almost no value, the largest banknote of one million rials is worth 3 euros. We agree to change our money although it is illegal, it starts badly.

We leave the border area, but on the road like phenomena, we are constantly stopped either for a photo, or to offer us something to eat or drink. Our progress is relatively very slow and it must be admitted that it is disturbing.Sign that we are in Iran, the national flag flies everywhere.

Three holidays and a very local soup

To complicate our entry into this rather mysterious country, for our first three days in Iran, it is a public holiday throughout the country. Everything is closed including the restaurants. Difficult to find accommodation and food. The first night we sleep in the city of Maku. An unofficial guest house that a guy recommends to us on the street. The comfort there is quite basic, but it is not expensive. As it is a national holiday, Iranians are in the street and are singing loudly there, most of the night there will be noise, not easy to sleep. 

Sunday second day in Iran, we drive all day in a desert setting under very high heat. Only an isolated village on our route, and always difficult to find supplies. Fortunately an Iranian offers us a soup, it is thick and green in color. Without really knowing what was in it we swallowed it in one gulp. In the end, she wasn’t that bad. A very friendly owner will welcome us in his official Guest house and will prepare us a good meal to recover from a very difficult day. 

Monday is the last public holiday in the country. The heat is terrible, almost 45°C. We literally dry out on the spot and swallow more than 15 liters of water and soda during the day, a few drivers stop to give us fresh water. Everything is closed, we have to travel more than 110kms. It’s too hot to camp in the wild. We end the day exhausted with a private individual who will host us. 

Iranian hospitality

Tuesday, a beautiful day and the temperature was a little milder (35°C). On the other hand this morning the country woke up after this bank holiday weekend and the traffic became intense. The framework of our progress is always so exotic in the middle of these desert landscapes and magnificent mountains in red colors. We arrive quietly in Tabriz, a city with 1.5 million inhabitants. Traffic is insane, no red lights work, it’s anarchy. On a bicycle it is difficult to change direction because the cars want to pass at all costs. The signposts are in Persian and therefore incomprehensible to us.

An Iranian will help us to buy a Sim card because it’s a bit of a hassle when you don’t speak Persian. It will be a great help, to find the suitable store it will take no less than three hours.

Another world

After this holiday period, we discover life in Iran. A universe that we cannot imagine in Europe. Old cars, mostly Peugeots, people drive phones glued to their ears and pay no attention to pedestrians crossing.Of course the wearing of the veil for all women including foreigners, the crowd in the streets in an indescribable din, the buses with two compartments for men and women. We are really in a country with another culture and a total change of scenery.

Did you know :

In Iran, foreigners cannot pay or withdraw money with their bank cards. They must arrive in the country with sufficient cash for their stay

Did you know

Northern Iranians speak Azeri, a Turkic language. They use Persian writing which is unreadable for us Europeans. I let you look at the photos. 

Met :

Where are we

During these 6 days we traveled 334 kms.You can find the route on the attached map.

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