Week 15 Iran
Rest day in Patnos, watched some TV series, and did some typing. Also, searched for a new cable for my watch, which I had little success with so far. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find. Tried some new soup and learned that I don’t need to order the stomach lining soup again. It’s not my thing, haha.
Heading towards Ercis! Departed early, a long boring road with hills, and around noon, I reached Lake Van! Unfortunately, I had to go around it. I cycled along the lake in the afternoon, where I ended up seeing a sign indicating a German campsite. It seemed too good to be true, of course. And naturally, there were only Turkish people, and there was little camping. However, there was a beautiful beach and a nice spot to watch the Dutch F1 race! In the end, there turned out to be no campsite. After chatting with some locals and having dinner, I pitched my tent on the beach and slept peacefully. It also saved me some money.
Day 3: Van!
The last major city before Iran! After about 65 kilometers of climbing and descending, I reached Van. I had to decide whether to continue towards the border that day or stay here for a day. Iran was calling to me, so I decided to cycle a bit further after a short visit to the city and more unsuccessful searching for a watch cable. I bought some euros and was ready to go. I cycled out of the city and met the first fellow bicycle travelers since Cappadocia, from Iran. Unfortunately, they were heading in the wrong direction. In one of the last towns, Ozalp, I set up my tent next to a small forest and slept well, preparing for my last day in Turkey!
Day 4 IRAN!!!
Around 8 in the morning, I set out to get some food in Saray, and I noticed that it was starting to storm quite heavily. So, I quickly headed towards the border. At first, I had a headwind, but after having some food, I had a tailwind. I could see the storm catching up with me, and I felt a few raindrops. Luckily, I managed to evade it until the border, where there were some steep descents, and I could cycle freely. After about 60 kilometers, I reached the border post at around 12 o’clock. The border was quiet, with some people standing around, probably traders, etc. I could walk right through, and it went smoothly until I saw that the other side of the crossing was completely packed, making it difficult to pass with the bike. But when I got out, it was fine, and I walked to a small line for the final check, where some wrestlers with cauliflower ears were cutting in line. But it’s better to leave people with cauliflower ears alone. I noticed that it was already half-past one, and I was in Iran! It felt very strange and surreal how easy it was to enter. Not that it didn’t take effort to arrange everything beforehand. I exchanged some euros there, and I was immediately handed millions of Iranian rials with a little extra because of the exchange rate. Then, there was a steep 60-kilometer descent, and I reached the first city, Khoy, where I could look for a SIM card. The view was magnificent, and descending was truly enjoyable. I quickly noticed that everyone here asks for a cup of tea! Around 5 PM, I arrived in Khoy and searched for a store with Irancel. After some searching, I found one, and everyone and everything wanted to take photos with me right away. It was crazy, and I quickly realized that fewer tourists come here than in Turkey. I was helped well with a SIM card and VPN, as everything from social media to Google is blocked in Iran. I slept across the street in a hotel for 6 euros, although it was a bit noisy due to its location on a busy street.
The day before, I had sent a message to a host, and I knew I had a place to sleep with someone 70 kilometers further from Khoy. I departed early and cycled through quiet neighborhoods with small houses. After 40 kilometers of peaceful valleys, I reached a flat road leading to a small village before the city of Marand, where the host was. I chatted with some people while waiting for the host to finish work and come back to his workshop.
Day 6 Rest day in Marand
The host invited me to visit his office, and I relaxed and ate with some people from Marand. The host said I could stay for another day at his workshop, and so it happened.
Day 7 Tabriz
After a brief visit to Marand, I could head to Tabriz. After some uphill cycling out of the city, there was a straight highway to Tabriz with beautiful mountains and plenty to see along the way. Just before Tabriz, I stopped for some water and asked someone if it was drinkable. The man said, “Come with me,” and to my surprise, there was a BBQ with about 15 people. I was invited as a guest, and I couldn’t say no to that. Only the sleeping place was still a question for the evening. They knew of a park in Tabriz, and after a short bike ride with the bike in the car trunk and bags on the back seat, I found a peaceful spot in the park around 10 o’clock.