“Welcome to Iran!” was a phrase I heard often after finally making it into this much anticipated country. Not many people spoke English but most people seemed to have mastered this reassuring statement.
Arriving at the port of Bandar Abbas I was quickly singled out by immigration for an interview. But after a thorough scrutiny of the differences between my head and my passport photo, a single fingerprint of my right index finger was taken and I was free to go.
Customs, wasn’t so easy. It became quickly apparent that the process for Iran would be more complicated than usual. This was exacerbated further by the fact that no one spoke English. I never expect people to be able to speak English but there’s always one person or at least some signs in English. Unfortunately here it was Farsi everywhere and with the process being a long and complicated one, I hired a local guy to do it for me. 7 hours later I was back on the road heading north.
The roads in Iran were well paved and a welcome releif to the last few months. The Iranian people turned out to be incredibly friendly and I was slowly getting into the rhythm of Iran, happily discovering that petrol was only 40 cents a litre whilst conversely finding most of the internet blocked.
After a night in an overpriced hotel in Darab, I headed further West to Shiraz. Here I explored the Arge of Karim Khan and Bazar-e Vakil.
Leaving Shiraz I stopped by Persepolis. Knowing very little about Persian history I stopped by on a recommendation and luckily got the chance to see the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Persian empire around 2,500 years ago.
From Shiraz it was further north to Isfahan – considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I stayed a few days here to explore the Iman square, Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and Bazaars.
From Isfahan it was north to Tehran where I stopped to explore the cities museums and was overwhelmed by local hospitality with many people who spoke English speaking to me. I enjoyed a traditional dinner with an Iranian English teacher who stopped to say hello.
Leaving Tehran I was stopped and given directions by another local biker who led me out of the City and was keen for me to take home a positive experience of Iran. Everywhere I had been so far the hospitality and friendliness had been amazing. I had often been given glasses of tea whilst on my bike waiting in line at the petrol station for fuel by generous locals.
Nearing the border with Turkey and Iraq I passed through Tabriz and camped on a dry lake bed short of the Turkish border for an early start the next day.
Leaving through customs was a lot easier than getting in, but I will definitely need to come back and spend more time in this Country in the future.