Iran was one of the countries we really wanted to visit, a country with so much negative media, yet so many positive stories from those who had actually been there.
We entered the country from the north along the Caspian Sea, and followed the lush and densely populated coastline for a few days before crossing the Alborz mountain range onto the arid Iranian Plateau. We spent a few days in the capital Tehran, after which we continued south to the cities of Qom, Kashan, Isfahan, Yazd, and Shiraz (in that order), stopping by the ancient cities of Pasargad and Persepolis just before Shiraz. With our visa running out, we took the train from Shiraz to Mashhad, from where it was just another two days of cycling to the Turkmenistan border.
While the cities have some of the most important and beautiful buildings in Iran, it was in the small places in between where we found some of the most interesting sights. We spent most of our time cycling on quieter secondary roads, with expansive views of the dry, mountainous landscape, passing through oasis towns with old castles and caravanserais. We were lucky to see the deserts in bloom this year because of recent rains, though these are the same rains that caused devastating floods in many parts the country earlier this year.
Along the way, we have experienced the warm hospitality of the Iranian people, having been hosted many times, and offered food or drink while on the road. However, we have also been overwhelmed by too much meaningless interaction, as we are constantly honked at, stared at, stopped for photos, or asked where we are from. We have developed an interesting love-hate relationship with this country and its people. Iran has been a fascinating but intense country, and after 2 months, maybe it is really time to leave.
Entering any new country, the first thing we always need is the local currency. So far, we have been taking money from ATMs, but in Iran, credit cards→ Continue reading
To avoid cycling into Tehran's traffic altogether, we decided to take the bus from Karaj to Qom, based on the recommendation of our host in Karaj. Imm→ Continue reading
While we're still cycling between the big and interesting cities of central Iran (Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz - more about these in a future blog post), peo→ Continue reading
Entering Isfahan, the first thing that struck us was the lush greenery everywhere. Blessed with the Zayandeh River that flows through the city, the ci→ Continue reading
We were unsure about what to expect when cycling in Iran during Ramadan. Iran being an "Islamic Republic", fasting during Ramadan is mandated by law.→ Continue reading