I left Agri on Sunday morning and headed towards Dogubayazit. When I came closer to the city I could see Mt. Ararat amongst the clouds. I passed through the city and spent my last Turkish Lira on some food and continued about 20 km further towards the border before setting up my tent for the evening.
And when I woke up all the clouds where gone and the view of Mt. Ararat at 5,137 m was amazing. This morning I only had 20 km left of Turkey and with a nice breeze in my back I was there ready to cross over to Iran. And after passing 2-3 km line of truck waiting there where not many people at the border. But I had some problems getting out of Turkey and the border officer went away with my passport two times and asked me some more questions. I guess it was because I had entered the country two times in a short period of time. First when I came with the ferry from Chios and then later arriving from Cyprus. But eventually he let me through and to the Iranian border. And they were very nice and curious about my trip and after a first visa control I was taken to an office where they asked some more questions, and while I was waiting for them to finish they gave me candy and bread full of chocolate cream. It didn’t take very long and they all wished me good luck on my journey and a good time in Iran.
And after changing some of my dollars to Iranian Rials I was ready for my 15:th country on this trip. I first passed through the city Maku who was squeezed in a valley. Many people where waving screaming hello and cars honking at me. I was invited for some tea and something to eat by some brick makers outside of the city. They invited me to sleep there, but it was only lunch time and I wanted to continue on for a little longer. In the evening I found a nice camping spot and I had a view of Mt. Ararat this night as well, even though it was far away in the distance and I could only see the top of it and the last sight of Turkey.
The next day was holiday here in Iran and they celebrated 13:th of Farvardin when everyone goes out into the nature. So everywhere people where having picnics and when I cycled past many of them invited me in for tea, bread, fruit, nuts, cookies and more tea. At one place I stopped five times within 3-4 km and after a while I had to say no so that I could get somewhere today. At lunchtime I met a nice man who spoke English and he invited me in for a delicious and very nice lunch with his big family.
I continued on and stopped at some more picnics along the way. After eating some tasty cookies and tea with some nice people in Shahr I decided to search for a place to set up my tent for the night. But on my way away from the main road I met Dariush who said that I could set it up in his garden. I followed him there and he showed me a good place for it. But after a little while he said that I should instead sleep in his house. I couldn’t turn down an offer like that and cycled after his car to his house. I parked my bike and then he wanted to show me around so we got in his car and drove up into the mountains. There was a very nice place next to a volcanic mountain where everyone seemed to be going. Up there we met his family and relatives and ate a great dinner. His niece and nephew spoke very good English and I had a great time there until the sun went down and we headed back down to the city.
And after a nice warm shower me and Dariuch went over to his brother in law’s house and met with the rest of the family. It was a really nice day and perfect for cycling with great weather and many meetings with wonderful people. And I have never drunk so much tea in one day before with probably 25 cups trough out the day.
I set out early the next morning, and I hadn’t really gotten used to starting cycling at 7:00 in the morning since I got into Iran. Because the day I crossed the border the clock was moved forward for day light savings and entering Iran meant a new time zone with + 1,5 hour. So in the beginning here in Iran getting up at 7:00 felt like getting up at 4:30. But now I’m used to it and the days are long with the sun setting at 8:30 witch is great when camping.
I had my sight set on Tabriz for the day and started by cycling uphill for about 20 km. And at the top I sat down with two friendly shepherds for some tea and bread. It was perfect with a break then and it was exactly what I needed before continuing onwards to Tabriz. I arrived there in good time which was good since it is a big city with a population of 3 million and some crazy traffic. I made my way into the center and contacted Ali from couchsurfing. He couldn’t host me but helped me find a really cheap guest house and showed me around town at night.
The next day I left the city and continued on. And after a bit of uphill I was greeted by dark rain clouds when going down on the other side. It rained a lot but for very long and after lunch it had stopped. By then I had cycled into a really nice valley where the road leaned just slightly downwards and I was just gliding through as the sun peaked through the clouds. I set up my tent in the valley and the next morning I continued down the valley, and the road was leaning downwards for almost 50 km to the city of Mianeh. When buying some food outside of the city a met some nice people who spoke English and where very interested in my trip. We talked for a bit and when I told them I was going to Tehran they invited me to stay with them there once I get there. I had posted my itinerary on couchsurfing and had received more than ten invites from people there. But I think I’m staying with the nice people I met before since I’ve been in contact with them and they seemed to be good people.
I cycled on towards Zanjan and stopped for the night about 70 km from the city when it started raining heavily and thunder and lightning was closing in. I found an old barn by the road and decided to set up my tent inside where I had cover from the rain. Or so I thought. Because the roof started leaking and the muddy floor splashed dirt on my tent. But I managed to set it up so that none of the water dropped down on the tent and I had a good night sleep. Before I fell asleep I heard a couple of men walking by, they looked in with a flashlight and said something about tourist, laughed a bit and walked away.
The next day I had a short ride into Zanjan where I met Behnam from warmshowers nd I got a warm welcome to the city. Yesterday we went to the very old bazar and at night we drove up to the hill for a great view of the city below.
And I stayed here another day and me, Behnam, Behrooz and their uncle went for a trip. First we visited Soltniyeh dome, one of the world’s biggest brick building. And after that we drove on to Katalehkhour Cave. It was a beautiful place full of stalagmites, stalactites and other amazing rock formations. Tonight we went out and met some more of Behnam’s friends over some tea and water pipe.