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.
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.