From Tblisi via Armenia to Iran
On Thursday morning, May 19, we drove through Tblisi looking for rear tires, as it is becoming increasingly clear to us that we are not going to find them in Iran. Finally we found two second hand tires of the right size and we took them with us for 150 Lari. They look pretty good and new tires are hard to come by. Immediately we bought some straps to attach them to and a funnel for the oil. At the bazaar in Tblisi they really have all the junk you could want and there is also a large department for car parts, tires and other scrap materials. By now it was noon, so we returned the bikes to the hotel and went into town.
It was hot at 26 degrees so we didn't do a big tourist tour anymore. Had a nice bottle of wine opened on the street side and then slowly walked back to the hotel.
Meanwhile, the weather had changed and a storm with rain was predicted. So in the evening we went to eat in the restaurant on the corner of the hotel. The wine was not drinkable, so we had to drink beer.
Tomorrow we will close Georgia and travel to Armenia. Hopefully the weather will be good, because a storm with alarm code 2 is predicted.
On Friday, May 20, we tied the tires on the back of the bike and drove from Tblisi to Armenia. Big but beautiful roads to the south.
The border crossing went smoothly, but all in all it takes you over an hour. At the border we took out insurance and bought a sim card. We also encountered two Spaniards with motorcycles there. One was doing a tour to Armenia in 4 weeks of about 14,000 km. The other motorcyclist had driven from Georgia to the border with Azerbaijan and could tell us that the borders of Azerbaijan were closed because of Corona.
Then we drove on beautiful roads in Armenia. When it started to rain we found a hotel in Ijevan. In the hotel we asked for a restaurant and they sent us to Menua Resort. First we walked around the village, but we didn't find a restaurant there. Finally, we took a cab to Menua Resort. This was a kind of bungalow park, where we got something to eat after much effort and explanation. We were seated separately in a small house with its own stove. However, the food was well taken care of. Took a cab back to the hotel.
Good thing we stopped in time yesterday, because today Saturday, May 21, the sun is shining brightly again. The route was largely along Lake Sevan which lies at an altitude of 1,900 meters. We drove about 200 km continuously around 2,000 meters altitude and by now had gotten cold.
In Vardenis we found a separate restaurant and got a stove to warm us up. Martin also put the inner lining in his coat and put on his winter gloves, Rob put on his thermo underwear. A special white Armenian soup was made for us. Not the best, but it was tasty and warm.
Then we drove on and because of the measures we did not feel cold anymore. In the process we got to above 2,400 meters and later to 2,300 meters. End of the day descended to Goris in the hotel Kirch.
At the hotel we ran into a couple from Austria and spent the evening with them enjoying a delicious BBQ (skewers). BBQ in typical Armenian fashion apparently with branches as fire.
On Sunday, May 22, we drove from Goris to Meghri. In the morning it was already a bit warmer, so we took off our sweaters.
We drove to the suspension bridge and cave dwellings of Khndzoresk, the last part on unpaved road. Bridge and church were nice, cave dwellings are not much to see.
Then we took the passes to Meghri.
We could not drive the plotted route because after a few km's we came across a border post with Azerbaijan and we could not cross it. So we took the larger passes.
These were magnificent with many beautiful views and vistas. The road was very bad in places due to the many trucks, one of which almost tipped over in the bend just in front of us.
De Haer B&B was a bit of a search, but with Google maps we quickly found it. Nice place where also 2 German cyclists were, a Frenchman and a Spanish couple with a motorcycle that arrived later in the evening. The Spaniard was able to tell us a few things about Iran, where he had just come from. He was enthusiastic about the people and the country, but had had a lot of trouble with the wind while riding. We exchanged our SIM card from Armenia for one from Iran.
In the evening we enjoyed wine and beer while we still can (In Iran probably not anymore).
This morning, May 23, we got up in time to get to the border in time. We were at the border on the Armenian side by 8:30, but it was still closed. It took us almost an hour to get out of Armenia and meet Hossein.
Then Hossein got to work. The Carnet de Passage and motorcycle insurance ended up taking something like 6 hours in total, which meant we couldn't pass the last border post until 3:30 pm. Pooh, 7 hours of waiting at the border is quite an assault on our patience.
Another bite to eat with Hossein and some of the people he works with. At the next gas station in 20 km, we were handed the insurance papers, which completed the paperwork. Hossein even stopped by in the car to check that everything had gone well. The weather had changed and there was a thunderstorm nearby, so we quickly drove on. In the end we only had a few drops of rain, but with these high temperatures that's not a problem. From the border it was still 200 km to Tabriz through a stormy wind of more than 60 km/h. It was difficult to drive and you had to pay attention. It was a difficult drive where you had to keep your attention.
Hossein had already reserved the Sina Hotel for us and since the navigation is not yet in order for Iran, we followed a cab to the hotel. It seems like there are no traffic rules at all in the city and everyone just drives through each other and cuts each other off. According to Hossein, there are also two Germans in the hotel who have already tried to cross the border into Azerbaijan, but have not succeeded. Tomorrow I will ask them more about this.
In the evening we walked around the city and ate a chicken sandwich. Then early into bed, tomorrow hopefully less wind.
Tuesday morning, May 24, the two Germans hit in the lobby of the hotel in Tabriz. They, too, wanted to go to Kazakhstan to reach the Pamir highway. They first tried at the border from Georgia to Azerbaijan, but were stopped there. Finally went to Iran for which they arranged a Carnet de Passage through Hossein. Did round trip of Iran and meanwhile had contact with various consulates to enter Azerbaijan. With Hossein's help, they picked up an extra code or something to get across the border. Eventually, they passed the border post near Iran but were turned back at the Azerbaijan border post, which caused them to have to go back to Iran again and thus had to arrange another Carnet with all the costs involved. They were disappointed and were not going to try it again, but take the route back to Turkey towards Germany. Their report can be followed at steinau2china.de.
Drove by motorcycle to the Azerbaijani consulate to inquire about the border crossing. There we were told that only flying is possible and that they do not know how long this will take. They did not know a special code to enter Azerbaijan. In the meantime, we are also working with Hossein to investigate the possibilities.
Left for Zanjan after noon and drove about 300 km of highway until Zanjan. There is still a strong wind, although it is not a storm anymore. But there is dust everywhere, so you can only see a small part of the road in all directions, because everywhere it looks grey of dust. It looks like rain, but it is only dust.
Went to Hotel Sepid, luxury hotel with good wifi, garage and good breakfast.
Walked around in the evening and ate a meat sandwich.
The people in Iran are friendly and always try to help, we ourselves just have to get used to the culture a bit.