Here you are – our first post from Iran! We must confess – everything is fine with our website and we have no problems with posting. The truth is that we became extremely (but pleasantly) lazy. Every single post requires at least 3 hours of choosing, editing, uploading and describing the photos we take. And if you have to cook your own food, find a good spot to put up your tent, find information about visas and other regulations; spending hours in front of the computer in a noisy, sweaty Iranian internet cafe is the last thing you want to do!
Anyway, as you can see, we are in Iran! It is a good place, a bit different than we thought before we came here. We feel very welcomed and already after almost three weeks we are sure that we will come back here one day!
Comparing to Turkey, also Islamic, Iran is more strict and the religious rules dominate the everyday life. To be able to travel here, we had to adjust to the local conditions – stay rather discrete as a couple, be less direct when talking to the opposite gender. Anna had to add a new piece to her wardrobe – a veil covering her hair.
Shortly after we crossed the border we realized, that Iran will be a new experience for us. Finding vegetarian food became not easy, finding a nice and cosy restaurant in small towns we passed – impossible. Luckily we could find plenty of good people keen to help us! Wherever we went there was always a group of young men wanting to help us or just to have a short chat in English. Iranians are very curious and they love to learn, so finding two foreigners on bikes is an opportunity to develop the communication skills and get to know new things from a foreigners perspective. They also care a lot about what we think about Iran, so they all want to make the best impression.
Iranians love picnics! In their free time and holidays especially, they like to put up their tents (anywhere it is flat, including a pavement or a piece of grass next to a busy highway). We had the chance to watch them arriving at the camping zone – 5 minutes and an empty field was packed with tents, motorcycles, cars and families drinking tea, having barbecue and enjoying the time with each other!
We have got surprised by the landscape on the North of Iran, by the Caspian Sea. If you think of Persia it probably brings deserts or a rough landscape to your mind – the North of the country is rather opposite and looks more like China or Vietnam! Its green and full of rice and tea fields – the locals speak of the Iranian jungle.
Otherwise all our expectations and visions of Iran were correct – we already could admire plenty of architectural masterpieces as the several mosques, bazaars or traditional old houses that we have visited so far. These impress with their beautiful blue coloured mosaics, big and round shaped dome roofs and precise artistic details as the structure of the wooden doors and windows or the picturesque compositions on the walls. Besides the architecture we fell in love with Persian hand crafts and especially with the carpets, kilims and rags. Our new Persian collection is growing and soon we will have to send a parcel back to our parents home…
What we do not like so far, what makes us really tired is the traffic. Cycling on Iranian roads is very hard, since the drivers here have no respect towards the bicycles. It looks like there are no rules here, especially in big cities. If you have a big car – you are relatively safe and have a lot of power, but try to be small and vulnerable and you are easily lost! Lanes? Forget about it! On a two lane road you will find 4 rows of cars, constantly changing their position without indicators! Motorcycles are everywhere – even on the pavements and in the parks you have to keep your eyes open!
The hospitality here is amazing! We never really feel alone or lost because there is always someone who wants to talk to us, show us the city or invite us into his home. We try to spend as much time as possible with the local people to get a real impression of Iran and the Iranians. Except few nights in our tent we mostly live with people we have met on the street, sometimes with hosts from WarmShowers or CouchSurfing. Thanks to Saied we learnt more about Iranian poetry and traditional music.
By the way – we are not travelling by bike at the moment – we are waiting for the visas to next countries on our way, and since Iran is a HUGE country, to see all beautiful sights we swapped our bikes to stinky buses. Please, forgive us!