After spending a little more than 2 month in Iran we have now left the country. A really beautiful and particular interesting country. It might was the most interesting on our route so far. Maybe that is the reason why it was the most exhausting as well. After 2 month of Iran we are ready for a break. It was not only exhausting because of the countless impressions, but because of the people. This might sound a little negative but truly is a huge compliment to the Iranians. Travelling in Iran means having countless new encounters, countless invitations and a ton of presents every day, because we were guests! Finding a place for the night at a complete strangers house is simply a lot easier than finding a campsite where no fruits and gifts are brought to your door. As an individual traveler it is like paradise as you get all the insights of so many families so easily.
And even politics are not a nogo. We even met quite some Iraniens with an obviously differing opinion than their government. Unfortunately the Islamic republic of Iran is not secularized, but still we have the feeling that most of the population is Muslim by chioce. As christians and agnostics we were of course taken everywhere. Many times you even get free tours at the big places. They answer you just any question about their culture, history and religion. We actually don’t really know how many mosques and holy places we have seen. There are only 2 places not accessible for non Muslim foreigners. The areas around the shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad and the one of his sister in Qom. The crowds of people around there were enough for us anyways. Most of the sights are very good accessible and some even well maintained. Unfortunately as a foreigner you always have to pay a lot more than the locals. We could live with that if we could at least benefit from the English translations. Unfortunately our Farsi is not quite good enough to read most of the displayed information, which makes it a little frustrating for travelers without a tour guide. By now, our Farsi is good enough to answer the most frequent questions we get by the Iranians. The questions were pretty much, where we were from, if we had kids, if we were married and how old we were in the same order. That way we could answer all of them fluently. After that we were out. Anyway, it is enormously helpful to learn at least few words of the language. A lot of times really interesting conversations in a mix of languages popped out of this. Sometimes the Iranians introduced their selves as non terrorists. They would come and say : “Hello. My name is xxxx. I am not a terrorist.” in a serious way. Iranians are told that western media is constantly reporting the worst about Iran. Having the view on the western media, we can say: They are not! There is just about no news about your country. The only news we get is about the nuclear deal which is not of interest for any tourist. Unfortunately Iran and Iraq get mixed up, here and there, which is of course a fatal error and leads to inadequate consumptions. We really believe you guys that you are not terrorists. This makes Iran to a top travel destination if you’re not looking for the all-in beach vacation. Of course there are beaches and of course there is good food here, but it is different. Our all-time favorite in the Persian kitchen is the Kashk-e-Bademjan. An eggplant dish with a special dried cheese… delicious! As a tourist you always get Kebab, because foreigners need something special. It is really worth it to ask for the other dishes as well. The best Kebab we had in Shiraz, the best Kashk in Sabzevar, the best Gheime in Tehran and the best Ghorm-e-Sabzi in Jamkaran. We can provide the GPS data if requestet.
So having all the visa stuff done and beeing well introduced to the kitchen we left the Alamut valley towards the south to discover the remaining spots on our map. Sounds awesome? It was! The Zagros mountains are at least as impressive as the Grand Canyon. The watermills of Shoushtar are unique and the temperatures around Yazd are the highest on this planet. That makes it even more impressive that they were storing ice from winter all summer without cooler of course.
So cruising through Iranian history we met Günther and Rashida (www.globe-discover.ch) with their Landcruiser. Together with them we spent some awesome days in Persepolis and went to this huge playground, called desert. As they had to move on a little faster than we, we split up after about a week. They already had their Turkmenistan Visa and had to move quickly. Unfortunately our Visa was denied twice and we had to find another way to get across. We went to Mashhad to check out our options, visit some friends and and meet some new ones. On the camping we met Marlene, Roderic (www.circumbendibus.org) and Robert. Thanks to all of you guys for the great time! The world is a peanut. See you in …-stan! In the meantime we found a way to skip Turkmenistan and hoping for the best for it to work out…..