For whoever followed my cycle journey from Rotterdam to Singapore knows how extremely enjoyable it was to cycle through Iran. From standing at the border with Armenia and not knowing what to expect I cycled into an emotional rollercoaster.
My bicycle almost fell apart in Southern Armenia but in Tabriz master of bicycle repairing Saeed needed just two days to make my bicycle Singapore proof. On my way to Tehran I got stolen of $200,- cash by a fake police officer. In Tehran the amazing Deliyar hosted me for a (!) month. In Sabzevar I got stolen of my smartphone and someone even closed his internet shop to drive me around for almost a day to find the thief.
When cycling to the city Ashgabat and when I almost arrived at the border of Turkmenistan, I came in an accident and crushed down to the road. I was hanging on a car of some young people helping me to get to a mountain top. I damaged my clothes, my rear wheel was stuck en I had a big wound on my arm. They were in shock and brought me to a doctor, gave me new clothes, a repaired wheel and food and drinks.
It was so fascinating, never had so many people done so much for me.
A lot of people had really made a big impression on me. I wanted to meet some of them again. Together with Lisa, I wanted to visit Negar, whom I visited in Delhi for her wedding with Shivam. And to meet Deliyar and her family again.
And so it came that, along with Lisa, I went back to the country where you hear a lot of scary stories in the media from but reality is very different.
A week to meet, revive the culture and have a nice time with Lisa.
Remember this photo?
A reunion. We went to visit Deliyar’s grandmother, who burst into tears when she saw Lisa and me coming through the door. And yes, two years later it looks like this.
Our visit was only six days. Six days for a city might be too long and six days in the countryside is probably too short. We kinda planned a mixture between city and countryside.
Planning in Iran is difficult if you know people that do everything to make your stay as wonderful as possible. A friend of Negar took us to a village up north. Showed us Persian handwriting and learned us to play the Santur.
After we went back we watched people go crazy on the big bazar on gold prices.
We visited the nature bridge.
The wonderful parents of Deliyar invited us for lunch.
And to not forget Deliyar’s friend Mahana. She lives in the Damavand valley and took is in for a day.
Oh, and we could squeeze in a visit to one of the highest tower of the Middle East.
And, we ended the week with Negar and her friends eating delicious Persian food called dizi.
This was perhaps the most interesting vacation we have had. It was Ramadan, we were not allowed to eat and drink on the streets. Lisa had to put on a headscarf where she had to get used to. Fortunately, during the day there were coffee shops and restaurants open where you could eat and drink behind a wooden wall.
For tourists it’s all ok, especially in the city. Although there is a strict Islamic government, the people and certainly young people are at least as modern as we are.
There are no bars and clubs, young people have fun by driving a car around and playing music. You meet your new girlfriend by passing your phone number at the traffic light.
A nice picnic in the park and playing badminton, or getting yourself fit on the many fitness equipment in the parks. It is completely different from how we spend our time in the Netherlands. That might be the reason that Iran has a very social culture.
And for me that makes it so great to be there.