Hot and historical Iran
This morning Sunday, May 29, after a nice breakfast, we left the Bishapur Ecolodge. Refilled oil and lubricated the chain before we left and then drove the first part via the back roads to Shiraz. Martin has already put on his cooling vest to test, as the mercury will stay above 30 degrees for the next few days. This seems to work well as long as there is driving wind to cool it down.
We drove the last part via the main roads to Shiraz, driving seems to be a bit smoother here than in northern Iran. In Shiraz we drove to the Karim Khan Hotel to store our bikes and gear. The hotel is a luxury hotel with a swimming pool and parking garage. While Rob goes to the hairdresser next door for a new sleek haircut, Martin goes to test out the pool. There are 2 pools, one large and one small. The small pool gets about 40 degrees and the big pool 33 degrees. Hot, but nice to swim for a while.
After this refreshment for both of us, we headed into town. The first goal was the pink mosque, because according to many, this is the most beautiful mosque in Iran. Well if you like blingbling it certainly is, because the entire mosque is covered inside with a mosaic of pieces of mirror. Also the mausoleum at the same square looks like this from the inside. An impressive ensemble in the same style both outside and inside.
Through the bazaar we walked to the Vakil Bath, where several dolls are set up to show the atmosphere of the former bathhouse. Nice but less worthwhile to see. Walked back through the city towards the hotel, where it feels very hot, it is about 35 degrees here in the shade and the sun is stinging quite a bit. The air conditioning in the hotel works well and in that coolness I updated the administration and watched the Formula 1 race of Monaco.
In the evening, the town comes alive again when we go out for something to eat. Market goods are displayed on the street for sale and this seems to continue for the next few hours (it is now 9:00 p.m.) as people are still displaying their wares. After devouring a chicken leg with a sandwich, we returned to the hotel.
On Monday, May 30, we enjoyed a full breakfast at the hotel and then left for Yazd. First on larger roads, but after about 200 km we took the inner roads. It is striking that here in the south it is quieter on the roads and there is less hectic driving. The inner roads were nice and relaxed, although a yellow road is still four lanes. Sometimes the separate lanes are a kilometer apart, they must have thought they had enough space. Many drove through the desert, but at a reasonable height (2000 + meters), making it pleasant to drive. Sometimes there were nice mountain roads with good asphalt, which takes some getting used to. Near Yazd, however, the roads were slippery again, so we had to drive constantly on eggshells and not brake too hard. We made good progress today, we covered the more than 500 km to the hotel in Yazd by 16:30. During lunch we were a sight again and the restaurant owner wanted to be photographed with his son with one of those big motorcycles.
In Yazd it's hot again and you don't see many people on the streets in the afternoon. We took our time to have a drink in the coffee shop on the roof of the hotel and plan the route for tomorrow.
In the evening we walked into town, the hotel is in the old part of town so we didn't have to walk far. First we went to the Amir Chakhmaq Complex which is a great landmark and always busy in the evening. In the mean time we exchanged money at a clothing store, because the exchange office was already closed.
Afterwards we walked back to the old part of town and enjoyed a delicious Iranian pizza with a Cola Zero on a roof terrace.
Finally chilling out in the coffee shop on the roof of the hotel and then dozing off in our lovely bed.
Tomorrow we continue our journey to Kashad (again about 500 km), a city with many large mansions. We don't imagine too much of it, but the trip to Tehran is too long. The tires are still holding up well, we think that with these tires we can make it back to Tblisi where we bought the tires that have been on the back for a while now. This is because of the smooth roads in Iran which also ensure that there is almost no tire wear.
On Tuesday morning, May 31, enjoyed a delicious and full breakfast at the hotel. Then left in the direction of Tehran, but today the final destination is Kashad about 250 km from Tehran. First we had to get rid of 300 km of big roads with many trucks because of the sun and heat. There are no nice roads on that route, so we have to push on. As soon as we can we dive into the mountains. At our stop for lunch, an Iranian with a 250cc sports bike (Hyosung or something) spontaneously comes to help us and talk to us. He joins us to help us in the supermarket to buy food and then looks for a quiet place for us in a park. Of course there are a lot of spectators in the park. Near the park is also an old mosque, where he gives us a tour. After that it is not over yet, because we have to go with him to a caravansai where we also get a tour. This caravansai has been converted into a beautiful and also a chic hotel, prices start at € 100 per night. Afterwards we had a photo session in front of the caravansai, so that everyone's Instagram account could be fed again with photos of our presence. We were told that we should definitely go and see Abyaneh, an old mountain village that is still in its original state with all its small streets. A detour of 2x 20 km, but with good road surface and beautiful winding roads. Nice to experience that again!
We did the village our own way by putting the camera on the helmet and driving through the village. Believe that not everyone was happy with that, but it was fun.
Then we drove to Kashan and booked a room at Morshedi House, a historic building where our hotel room is half underground. The hotel has a lovely courtyard where we could chill out for a while.
Early in the evening we walked into town and visited the Kashad bazaar. Nice and big bazaar as you see on the picture, but with the same trinkets as in all the other bazaars. In the bazaar we get talking to someone who tells us more about the bazaar and the history of Kashan. He shows us the nice spots of the bazaar and gives us some tips for Kashan. It turns out that our hotel has the best restaurant in town, so we go there later. He turns out to be a tour guide who leads tourists with his car through Iran, for € 150 per day for 2 people you only have to pay for lunch.
In the restaurant Morshedi indeed we had a delicious meal and afterwards we had a drink on the open roof. There were also two Germans with a backpack tour were busy. A conversation started and we caught up on politics, war and Iran. We got some extra tips for Teheran. They usually look for hostels, sometimes with private room, but often in dorms. That is not our thing. They are going to travel through Iran for a few more days and then take the ferry to Saudi Arabia, partly because the border of Azerbaijan is still closed.
Tomorrow the journey to Teheran awaits. Everyone says that the traffic is so hectic, but we think that this is not so bad now that we are used to the Iranian traffic.
After breakfast on Wednesday, June 1, we took a short walk into town to see some of the historic houses in Kashan. These are the large houses built in the Qajan dynasty for the wealthy families. The houses cleverly make use of the thickness of the walls, the wind and the shade to create a pleasant climate. By building the thickness of the walls and many rooms half in the ground, this provided coolness in the basement rooms. Each house had a wind tower that acted as a kind of air conditioning for the air flow through the houses and thus provided cooling in all rooms. Finally, in the courtyards there were always small water basins that compensated for the lack of moisture in the atmosphere and also stored the sun's energy in the form of heat. This water was used for both the gardens within the houses and also for cooling the residents and their guests. We viewed about two of these houses and our hotel Morshedi House is also of this type of historic house, where we have our room in one of the basement rooms.
After this cultural outing, we started the engines again for our first stop in the desert at some sand dunes at Caravansevai Maranjab at the bottom of Lake Narmak which has now become a salt lake/plain. For the last 40 km you even have to pay an entrance fee even though it is an unpaved road. Sometimes there were stretches of loose sand that were difficult to ride, which was easier for Rob than for Martin who had been sweating a lot (and not only from the heat). Along the way we met some camels, who willingly wanted to have their picture taken with us. Finally we arrived at the Caravansevai Maranjab, but it turned out to be closed.
After that we only drove a little further until we reached the sand dunes. Rob drove a little further towards the sand dunes, Martin left the bike on the road. After the photo shoot at the sand dunes Martin's choice turned out to be the right one, because it took a lot of pushing and pulling to get Rob's bike out of the sand. We finally did it, but it made us even hotter, luckily we still had some water with us.
Het voordeel van door de woestijn rijden is dat er veel ruimte is om naast de weg te rijden, dus gebruikten we die ruimte om dwars door de woestijn naar het zoutmeer te rijden. Het lukte echter niet helemaal, want langs de rand van het zoutmeer begonnen we diepere sporen te maken en het bleek dat dit niet ging lukken. Dus reden we op de donkere en hardere stukken langs het meer tot we bij de weg naar het meer kwamen en volgden die. Na een paar kilometer bleek de weg een kuil te bevatten die nog vol zout water zat. Rob's toplaag hield het nog, maar Martin kreeg veel water over zichzelf en de motor toen hij er doorheen reed. En het water was nog heet ook!
After a few km's on the road we turned around and took the route back to civilization. On the way back Martin got stuck on the side of the road with his bike and the help (Rob) also had to lay down his bike in the loose sand (nice photo). Once on the paved road we saw a car wash which we visited immediately to rinse all the salt off our bikes. Finally a clean engine, it was not easy to get rid of the thick layer of salt.
After our adventure in the desert we drove another 250 km to Teheran, of which everyone says that the traffic is absolutely horrible there. Since we are now used to some traffic in Iran, we are not so worried about it. We were right to be, because without any problems we reached the Taj Mahal Hotel that we had selected on the Internet. The price of $50 per room was not correct, they said $150 per room. In Iran, however, there is a site like booking.com called apochi.com where we found the hotel for $52 per night (although for 1 person). In the end we were able to get a room for €75 per night, which was still almost half the original price. It is a very luxurious hotel with a swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and gym in the basement and both an Iranian and Indian restaurant. In the shower, Martin immediately washed the salty clothes, which should now be able to withstand the elements and not be so stiff anymore. The salt and sand was everywhere, so now fresh motorcycle clothes. Then both dived into the lovely pool to get clean and freshen up.
In the evening we didn't feel like going into town, so we had a nice dinner at the Indian restaurant and another drink at the bar. No alcohol, so we had cola and coffee.
In the evening we read a message on Facebook where someone managed to get access to Azerbaijan to take the ferry. We immediately sent a message to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan to try to do the same. Now fingers crossed that we will succeed as well.
Tomorrow we have a day of sightseeing in Tehran on our program.