Tak Tak and Arras

I have arrived in Tabriz in northern Iran after riding through Turkey in four days. It was a lot bigger than I thought!

I am dog tired, but thought I should write to you all. I got up at 4.30 this morning.

I stayed last night in Dogubayazit high up in the plateau in eastern Turkey. Dogubayazit is at the foot of the twin peaked Mount Ararat. It looked wonderful with its peaks covered in snow.

I should have stopped at the first hotel I saw on the main highway, but I was worried about exchanging money at the border – another 34km further on.

So I rode around town until I found a cashpoint, but everytime I stopped I got pestered by street children. The region has a strong Kurdish population, but there doesn’t seem to be many schools, lots of tanks though.

I finally went back to the first hotel I spotted. And of course they could change money; had a bar, and cable TV.

So I got up at 4.30 this morning and at first light rode in to get some money. After breakfast I changed the money and rode on to the border.

Borders can seem very daunting. Am I going to get stripped searched? Will they refuse to let me in? Will I be able to change money?

I met a money changer on the Turkish side who took me around five different offices for as many stamps and signatures then it was into Iran.

I waited, and I waited, and I waited. Finally a guy from the office came out.

The Turkish gate was opened then the Iranian one and Asha and I squeezed through. The border guard then chatted away to the Turkish guy.

He was sure I was from Ireland. Well it does say so on the front of the passport.

I was then sent into the immigration hall where everyone was so helpful.
 
I was sent to the front of the queue and had my passport stamped in no time at all. I apologised profusely to the people waiting. But they just smiled and so did I.

I then had to go and see about six different people to get the Carnet for Asha signed stamped then signed again.

Finally I had to get a chit signed to be let out of the border area at the bottom of the hill. In all it took about 45 minutes and was good fun!

I am now in Tabriz. I found a hotel in the Lonely Planet Guide which allows bikes in the foyer. So Asha is safe and sound.

The hotel owner is an old kind looking gentleman.

A family stopped on the road into the city and told me how to get to the hotel. Oh’ and everyone waves to you as they drive by.

I left my bags in my room had a quick wash

 and went out to find something to eat. The first place I spotted was a hamburger bar.

I tried ordering a Tak Tak and Aras – a beefburger and a coke.

However, the owner was praying and I felt terrible. I waited outside and a guy came up and asked me what had happened. I explained the situation and he just laughed. He told me he would be finished in a minute.

I asked him if he was a Muslim, but he said only at home and he sold cosmetics.

The burger was wonderful! The children were so polite after they had finished giggling and mocking the burger bar owner.

We chatted for about five minutes. Bright enthusiastic youngstgers. The future of Iran.

The city is about 1.6 million – a sign told me when I rode in.

The centre is full of shops straight out of the 1970s with cars to match – Hillman Hunters.

Nobody takes a second look at me and I feel very safe.

The young women all wear head scarfs and make up. The scarfs are pushed back to about the middle of the head and the hair brushed up and sometimes dyed.

A confident prosperous town. It reminds me of Bangalore in southern India with its broad tree lined avenues and fashion shops.

Tehran tomorrow. 

When I get time I will tell you all about my lay-by encounter in Italy, and on the ferry to Greece the German bus driver who is scared of flying.

I will also tell you about the Milan ring road – which is like the M25 on steroids.
 
The guys who changed Asha’s oil in Istanbul who introduced me to Adil who has ridden from Istanbul to Burma.

He told me to ride slowly and to phone him everyday, and I did.

One Response to “Tak Tak and Arras”

  1. Penny Says:

    Well done Fergs, you’re flying the Scottish flag proud. Keep up the blogs, sounds amazing. Keep safe. LOL

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