Iran is one of the most special countries on our journey. Not only because we are furthest away from home.
Most information you get about Iran from media are strange things (head scarve, scharia as law, ...) But before we start: We only made good experiences and can only recommend Iran for travelling!
Our entry in Iran, however, was quite chaotic. New currency, which we did not know the exchange rate. (You get way more if you change on the streets than when you go to an official office), You have to take all money you need in cash (Iran is cut off from the international finance market, so you cannot withdraw money), different clothing (Anja is riding with headscarve and long shirt and pants, Milan and me with long pants only)
On our second day in Iran we were riding down the road to Tabriz, when suddenly we saw a guy with a warmshowers.com T-Shirt. (warmshowers is an internet community like couchsurfing, where you can host people and find people to stay with when you are travalling. But warmshowers is especially for cyclists.)
The guy introduced himselve as Akbar and gave each of us a limonade. Already here we were surprised that he had exactly three bottles with him. He also had several foto albums, in which there were only pictures of him with cyclists. Hundreds of pictures with cyclists from all over the world, at every seasons, with the most unusual bikes. Akbar has met all of them and has taken pictures.
This road through the Iran is like a thunnel for all cyclists who go to India, China or south-east Asia. Only very few go through Russia and almost nobody through Irak and Syria. So they all have to take this road. In 27 months, Akbar has met an incredible number of 385 cyclists. This lead to the development of a whole network of warmshowers users. Akbar has friends o n the road, who call him when they see cyclists. That is why he expected and looked out for us. Then he helps them to find private accomodation, shows places to put up the tent and especially gives them a list of his warmshowers friends in most of the bigger Iranian cities. Everything is perfectly organized and people expect you when you call them. We for example went further to Tabriz, where we met the next warmshowers user Hamed. He showed us the campsite (In every city there is a park, where you can put up your tent. Iranian people love camping and picknicking), showed us around, gave us advice where we can find food and told us a lot about himselve and life in Iran.
When we decided to go for bustrip to Isfahan, he organized that we can put our bicylces at a friend¨s place and took us to the bus terminal. After two months in Turkey we had thought that the maximum of hospitality was reached, but we were wrong.
Also wir uns entschieden haben, einen Ausflug nach Isfahan mit dem Bus zu machen, hat er außerdem organisiert, dass wir unsere Fahrräder bei einem Freund unterstellen können und hat uns zum Bus begleitet.
After we came back from Isfahan, Mesut and Mehrdad, the friends of Hamed, invited us for a picknick in the city park.
When we continued to go to Armenia, we first had to go back to where we came from a few kilometers. So we passed through Marand, the town where Akbar lives. We were driving as usual, when suddenly a car passed by and the driver waved a picture out of the window - a picture of us with Akbar. After we left Tabriz, Hamed had called Akbar to tell him that we are going to come, so Akbar had sent his spies to the road. So we were escorted to Akbar, who had already organized for us to stay with in iranian Family for the night. The warmshowers network works at least as good as the NSA.
After meeting many young Iranians, it was very interesting to see life of a nomal iranian family. As always we were treated with absolute kindness, they cooked for us and we talked to the parents and their children.
In the house, no-one was wearing a head scarve, no-one prayed and people did not fast. (It is still ramadan) Again we learned that the laws of the government does not correspond with the peoples¨ opinions. It might look like that from outside, because all women wear headscarves and you do not see people eating during ramadan, but at home people are free. And in many cases that means they live a non-muslim lifestyle.
Speaking of head scarves: We saw more head scarves than in eastern Turkey, but that was due to more women being on the streets. We also felt, that women behaved more freely in Iran. We cannot remember that in eastern Turkey, Milan or me were talked to by women. In Iran that happened several times.
We also did not meet a single religios obsessed man and onyl vey few mullahs. The picture of Iran as a nation of fanatic Islamistics is definately far away from reality. The government might make it look like that through the media, but we did not experience the people so konservativ at all. The difference of government and people in Iran leads to many young and educated people emigrating to USA or Europe.
We enjoyed our stay in Iran very much, made a trip to Isfahan by bus (As our visa were going to expire, we did not have enough time to go there by bicycle), where we saw some of the most important islamic places of the world.
After 11 wonderful days in Iran we crossed the border to Armenia yesterday and we are going to head for the Caucasus now.
Philip - Goris (Armenia), 28.09.2014