From spontaneous Iran to Georgia
Thursday, June 2, is a rest day for the bikes, as we are going to do a day of sightseeing in Tehran. There is no metro station near the hotel, so we took the cab to the first stop: the former embassy of the United States. When we arrived at the embassy we found out that we didn't have enough Toman to pay the driver, so we drove on to an exchange office. Unfortunately, the first two offices would not exchange euros, why is unclear to us. Fortunately, there were enough exchangers on the street to give us a good price.
The former US Embassy has become a museum, but unfortunately only open from Saturday to Wednesday. So we were only able to see the wall on the outside which is full of cartoons about the US, some of them very nicely made up. Others seem to be nothing more than a death wish to Americans. From the site of the embassy we walked the 3 km to the Golestan Palace. Here we looked at the gardens and the main building, where again it sparkled with all the mirror pieces on the walls and ceiling. A beautiful and large palace to visit.
From the palace we walked for a while through the large bazaar. Today is Thursday, which is equivalent to Saturday at home. It is therefore very busy in and around the bazaar. The logistics men (handcarts full of merchandise) drive back and forth to get everything to the shops. It is a beautiful sight and we have been watching them for a while.
The next stop was the Azadi Tower. Since it was too far away, we took the metro to it. It was a bit of a puzzle how it worked and which stop we had to take, but they helped us out a lot. The tower is in the middle of a mega traffic circle (diameter 500 meters?) and you can also visit it from the inside. Inside is a film museum that interested us less, but the elevator to the top and the view were good. The view showed again that Teheran has not much to offer in terms of things to visit than Isfahan or Shiraz. From the tower you see mainly residential areas, the bus terminal next to it and a military airport. Of course you can also see the big Milad tower (450 m) from everywhere in the city. We didn't visit it though, somehow it didn't appeal to us.
Finally we visited the Tabiat Bridge, again by metro. This is a modern three-story pedestrian bridge where it is pleasant to linger. On the other side of the bridge there appears to be a sort of fairground including drinking and eating tents. Here is a totally different atmosphere than in the rest of Tehran and we like it. Nice and casual, modern and cheerful.
From here we took a cab to the hotel, where we had dinner again in the evening because we didn't feel like going into town. The Indian curry was delicious again.
After dinner I made the blog from yesterday and in the meantime I was annoyed about the slow Internet here in the hotel. We are so spoiled with the connections at home, here they advertise in the hotel with super fast Internet but it falters continuously.
Tomorrow we'll be driving quite a bit with Miyaneh as our destination, so that we can go to the Armenian border the day after tomorrow.
This morning, Friday, June 3, we enjoyed a full breakfast at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Tehran. Because we want to travel a long distance today we left early and were on the bike at 9 am. The first 250 km we drove on the highway to get out of Teheran. Tomorrow is a holiday, so they have 3 days off in a row in Iran. That means that today everyone is going to recreate outside the city by car en masse. Many do that by parking their car as soon as they see a free tree along the highway and have a picnic under the tree. That is pretty much the picture throughout the highway ride. In addition, the road remains busy and there is sometimes a traffic jam. After 250 km, which we still managed to cover before noon, we refueled and had a chat. We also put pressure on the tires again and that proved to be very necessary, the bike steers very well again after this, we waited far too long with that. After noon we took the smaller roads and that worked out very well. The whole afternoon we rode beautiful mountain roads with great views and nice curves, it can be done in Iran. Sometimes parts unpaved, but great to drive.
Martin thought later in the afternoon, after inquiring about the roads to Miyaneh, to outsmart Google Maps. But in the end we had to return and take the road that Google Maps indicated. By the way, it was a beautiful (dead end) road with beautiful views.
Eventually, after driving 400 km on an internal road (and thus a total of 650 km in one day), we arrived in Miyaneh. The first hotel we visited was not to our liking, didn't look clean and shared bathrooms in the hallway. The second hotel was not much better, but the bathroom was right next to the room and seemed cleaner. However, at less than €10 for two including breakfast, this is in line with expectations.
At a sanitary store we asked for a good restaurant, whereupon this good man closed his store and took us by car to the restaurant of a friend of his in the center. There we had a nice meal of a few kebabs with bread and then walked back to the hotel. From the long drive we were so tired that we dove into our nest early. Fortunately we were so tired, because without air conditioning it is just hot in the room and there is no need for sheets. By the way, they were not available either.
Tomorrow the route to the Armenian border, let's see how smooth the way back across the border is.
Saturday, June 4 is our last day in Iran. Breakfast at the motel in Miyaneh consists of fried eggs and bread, a good way to start the day with a cup of tea.
This morning we first fill up with gas, again 30 liters for € 3. Then we take the larger road to Tabriz and a little bit before Tabriz we go inland on the smaller roads. Along these roads you can see that many people do not yet know prosperity, sometimes they are along the road at the public water supply (open gutter in places) or in the river doing their laundry.
Today is a public holiday in Iran and again this results in everyone finding a place to picnic under a tree, near a river or in the mountains. It is also a bit busier on the road, but it does not bother us.
We cross the mountains, where we drove around the mountains when we entered Iran. What a difference in nature and views, we recommend everyone to drive these roads and not to take the main road around the mountain to Tabriz. Is much nicer and more fun to drive. In the last village before the border we filled up the tank again, there are lines everywhere at the gas stations today. This appears to be because everyone is leaving by car, luckily motorcycles can pass the queue to fill up.
At 2:30 we were at the border. The Iranian side took one hour, which was a windfall. We had to go through 4 counters to arrange everything and get the stamps. At the last window the customs officer, who is also a motorcyclist, did a little tour on Martin's bike. He thought that was cool and speeded up the process.
The Armenian side takes more time this time. I think we visited about 10 counters before everything was completed. They also wanted money for the stamps to be put through the bank and by asking for money to make a copy of the passport. All in all, this took us 1.5 hours before we passed the last checkpoint. Just arrange the insurance and buy a SIM card and we are ready.
In Meghri we slept in the Family Hotel on the main road. A quick shower, waiting in the heat in motorcycle clothes is not good for freshness. Then off to the bar, because we can finally drink a beer again after almost 2 weeks of total abstinence. Still tastes good, especially when it's over 30 degrees. In the evening a nice dinner with a glass of wine and then to bed where the air conditioning has already made it wonderfully cool. Tomorrow we go to Lake Sevan, a route of about 350 km to hotel Oazis which we already booked tonight. Here booking.com is working again, which is still very handy.
On Sunday, June 5, we drove up the mountains from Meghri towards Lake Sevan. Soon enough we are at 2500 meters altitude where we had tea with an Iranian truck driver. Then we drove through the mountains again. The tarmac is good, but again there are many holes and broken pieces in the road. Around half past four we arrived at the Oazis hotel where we chilled for a while until dinner arrived. Delicious fried fish and then (when we finally succeeded) a video call with comrades in the Netherlands. It was raining hard in Horst, we have had it dry for 35 days now.
In the evening sat chatting with and Russian who fled Russia because of the war. He is afraid that he or his wife will be drafted into the army, which is why he fled Russia. Both work in IT, he as a manager and she as an engineer, in the testing business.
Tomorrow we will go to Georgia and make a first attempt to cross the border from Azerbaijan. Fingers crossed that we will succeed.
Monday, June 6 we left Sevan, Martin still with a heavy head from the wine and cognac.
We thought we had found a nice winding shortcut on the map, but it turned out to be a cart track through the mountains. After several miles of bumping over rocks and the wet path, we just turned around and took the main roads towards Tblisi anyway. The border crossing from Armenia to Georgia went smoothly, we were across the border within the hour.
Then we made an attempt to enter Azerbaijan, that border was only about 50 km away. At the border we were stopped on the Georgian side saying that the border was closed. We mentioned that we had called the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan and they had indicated that we would be able to cross the border if we just went to the ferry. Photos of our passports were then sent to the other side of the border, whereupon the answer came shortly afterwards that we would then need a special code issued by the Azerbaijani embassy in Tblisi. Thereupon we drove the 50 km to Tblisi and went straight to the embassy. He had already received the photos of our passports, but said that we could not cross the border (not possible). It looked like it could be done, but we can't get it done. Tomorrow we will try to call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan again to see if we can get something done.
Another option is to drive to Kazakhstan via Russia, for that we do need to apply for a new visa for Russia and hope that there is a rush procedure that takes max a few days.
The third option is to fly to Uzbekistan with air transport with the bikes, for that we have contacted OceanNet to see if they know more yet. Tomorrow hopefully a call via WhatsApp with Stefan.
The fourth option is to sell the engines here and get on a plane to Tashkent and buy other engines there. Tomorrow I will ask what they give for our bikes here in Tblisi, we have to change tires anyway.
If these options are impossible or take too long, there is nothing else to do but to plan the route back via Turkey.
In the evening we had some dinner in the neighborhood and walked around. It is still very hot in the city.