Welcome to Irani couldn´t read it anywhere, maybe it was just I couldn´t really read anything at all… Farsi is the Language of the Country and they have also an own Script. Crossing the Border was easy, except that i hat to put my Luggage into the X-Ray on both sides of the Border. The iranian Officer asked me some Questions about my Family and Occupation and after that i entered the Country. I followed the River Aras that divides the Countries until i reached Jolfa in the West. First part was a cut in deeply Gorge but after 50km it´s opened on the Azerbaijanian Side and offers beautiful Views into that Country.
In Jolfa in got my first experience with iranian hospitality. After i exchanged money i turned Southwards but before i could leave the City a car stopped, the Driver jumped out and asked me: „do you need anything?“ i replied that I am fine and so he drove his car to the next minimarket and bought 2 Bottles of Lemonade. He gave me one and said: „Welcome to Iran!“ this is the legendary Iranian Hospitality… It not only happens once, it´s like this since i am on the Road in Iran.
The next City on the Way is Marand, where Akbar is waiting for me. He is a very active Member of Warm-Showers and welcomed 557 Cyclists in he last 3 Years. After a tasty breakfast i went on to my first Goal in Iran: Tabriz. In the Center of the City there is a protected and free Campsite for Travellers. On my way there i met Hamed, who, after we recognized that the Site was full, invited me to his House. In his Appartement i stayed for 4 Days and used the Time to fix my Bike and visit the beautiful parts of the City.
Hamed takes care of me, he showed me the nicest Places, the best Food and thanks to his Translations i got some things done and learned a lot about daily life and Cuture of the Iranians.
In the City i met again Pedro, a Motorcyclist from Portugal. Our ways crossed in Armenia before. Together we got the unique Opportunity to visit the Seasons Finale in the Local Football-Stadium. Ali, who hosted Pedro has good contacts to the local Club and so we could meet Toni, the portuguese Coach (and a Legend in his Country) and the whole Team of Tractor Tabriz before the Game. The best of it was that Ali got a Press-Ticket for us so we could be portuguese Journalists to enter the „forbidden“ Areas of the Stadium. Very Special thing…
The Stadium is embedded into the sourrounding Hills and is sold out with 100.000 People watching. Never been at a place with so many Men! The Party starts early before the Game and as the Teams came in it´s exploding… After a Prayer before the Start (The Cloud answers with „Allah!“ to the praying of the Preacher) it starts.
The People were totally crazy about us, everybody wants to take a picture with us and the iranian Television does an interview with Pedro, with me standing next to him nodding at the right place and trying not to smile… I am curious if it will be broadcasted.
At the End of the Game when it was clear that Esfahan and not Tabriz is the Champion the Atmosphere tips over. Seats were ripped out and thrown on the Field, Fans storming the Field and the Police is hunting them with their nightstick. They ripp the Shirts of the Bodys of the Players and they can reach the Dressing room only by a hairs breadth. We came out of all and an hour later the Atmosphere in the City is totally relaxed with people dancing in the Streets while the Traffic is totally broken down… What a Finale!
Next Day i left the City for Takht e Soleyman, a pre islamic Temple.
My way there leads me along Mainroads and later smaller roads, where i could stop every 500m to answer questions or follow invitations for Chai or more.
On Day 4 i reached the Temple and been really impressed. Not the more than 2000 Years old ruins but the Mood around the central-Pool of the Temple. It has the Form of a Emphore, is groundless (not really it´s 110m deep) and if you reach the Edge you are already on top of the Lake. The volcanic and toxic Minerals of the Water formed a crust on which you are walking. With the Vulcano in the Back it is a very scenic place. I could camp just in front of it so i enjoyed the Evening at this special Place.
From there my way takes me more South to Sanandej, the Capital of the Province of Kurdestan. There i met Sahand, who invited me to his house to take a showers (it seemed that i looked a little bit fucked up in that moment…) After the Shower we started talking and at the End i stayed 2 Days in the City. Sahand is Member of the Nationalteam of young Mountain-Climbers and offer me to accompany me to climb Damavand, one of my Goals in Iran, perfect! I slept in the House of Mohammed who showed me the City the next day. He is a very gifted Musician and so we met a famous kurdish musician, Sadollah Nasiri, who showed him his skills. At the End i had a very special private Concert from him. Wonderful Music that is coming directly from the Heart… A very special Moment. In the Evening i got the Opportunity to accompany Mohammed and Sahand to their English-Course. There i had to answer a lot of questions about my travel but also could learn a lot about the biographies of the other Students.
The Road from Sanandaj leads me to Kermanshah. I crossed the City through the Outskirts to get to Bisotun, where you can see ancient Rock-Reliefs. But more than the Reliefs the Karawanserey next to it impressed me. Freshly renovated they transform it into a Hotel and seems to get very nice…
On my way to Khorramabad the Weather changed. Desert dust is coming in from the Iraq and the air was very dizzy cause of that. As i reached Khorramabad the city almost got lost in the Dust and so i decided just to ride through and find a place to camp just behind the City. After i exchanged money i took a ride through the olds town and got stuck in the Roads around the Basar where i had some very nice conversations (even without a common Language). After three hours i left the City on the Highway with a smile on my face.
From Khorramabad the way took me to the Zeros Mountains, where not only the views but also the steep roads took my breath. It took me three days to cross it and i was invited to the House of a local family in Sepid Dasht where i was treated like a king… In the Mountains i crossed a 2800m high Mountain pass and reached after two more days on Highways the City of Esfahan, but this is another story!
I met three of the 4 big Minorities of the Country on my way and learned something about their culture.
The North ist home of the Azerj, the Region called Azerbaijan. Like the Country in the North and so the culture is more connected to the Neighbor-State than to Iran. They also speak a local dialect called Turk that is very near to the turkish…
The Kurds in the West are counted to the 4 fragmented Parts of Kurdistan. Here it was possible to talk in english and so i could learn a lot about the history and the Culture of this People.
The Lore-People i could meet while i was crossing the Zagros-Mountains.
The all have their own Language and so my Step into persian was very bumpy. Every Time i learned new local words that does´t work anymore after a few days…
As a german you are very welcome in the Country. The Connection our both Countries to be „Arians“ is highlighted by the most of the People and is the Base for the adoration of the germans. At the beginning it was a little unsetting for me if the people greet you with „Heil Hitler“. The negative Things of the third reich are not so important down here…
The Climate gets hotter every day. The landscape gets dryer and dusty while the valleys stay green cause of the irrigation of the Farmland.
Behind Esfahan the desert begins and i am really curious about that experience… But from this i will tell you more the next time…