Before I came to Iran I only had a bit a bad feeling whether the border crossing works without any problem. For Iran I need the Carnet de Passage. It is a document for the customs which is mandatory when you want to enter the country with your car. For that I had to place a deposit in Germany of 5.000€ which I only get back when the car is on European ground again. On the Armenian side the officials were very unfriendly. They send me from one counter to the other counter and it was very confusing. On the side of Iran the officials were very friendly and I finished all the paper work faster than expected. We were in Iran!
After few kilometers on the road the police stopped us. Damned what a start! „Hello Sir. Where are you from? Ahh Germany! The road is very dangerous. Please drive carful. Good bye” Wow. We didn’t expected that! Now concentrate to not do the thumps up. This gesture has in Iran the same meaning like showing the middle finger. After my time in Brazil it is not so easy to not show the thumps up 🙂
Our first stop was Tabriz. Already on the way to the city we recognized the aggressive driving style of the Iranians. They don’t pay attention at all to you. A driver normally looks what happens in front of them. They don’t use the mirrors. I had to adapt fast to the driving style to survive. So I honked and used the flash light as much as I could. And I was successful. And also bigger cars are always right. And there were only a few jeeps on the road.
“Are you looking for the bazaar?” That’s what an Iranian guy asked us when we walked hopeless through the street drying to find the bazaar. The bazaar of Tabriz is one of the oldest and biggest of the country. The guy called Mehran and is a freelance photographer. He was on the way to the bazaar to find some nice motives so he showed us the way. I asked him where I can buy a SIM card. He showed me the office and I needed my passport for the procedure. That one was in the hotel. So he just registered the SIM card on his name. Who would do that for an Iranian in Germany?
We arrived at the bazaar and were two minutes alone when another Iranian came and showed us around including some nice Caravanserai and good places to eat. He for sure showed us his shop too, but only because we insisted to see it. That’s when we were less than 24hours in the country and we got in touch with the incredible hospitality of the country. This was also described in my guidebook which was stolen 11 days later together with some other stuff. But I will go to it later.
We started to discover the country. We drove from Tabriz to the beautiful mountain village of Kandovan which reminded me strongly to Cappadocia. From there we went to the fire temple Takht-e Soleiman. On the way we had to do the first stop to get some gasoline. I was afraid of that because I read before that you need a “gas card” for getting diesel. Normal cars are running with gas or petrol. Only trucks and buses are using diesel. So I always had to look for gas stations with trucks in front. Then we went there, asking for “gasoil”, got confusing views but then the service guys takes his gas card and give me diesel. I have to pay almost the double price: 19ct instead of 13ct. Full tank for 10€ – deal!
The landscape around the fire temple was stunning. Underground springs with a high concentrate of sulfate were forming mountains in form of cones which are containing craters up to 100m depth. Before they have been little lakes. The water with all the minerals swapped over and formed over the years the mountains. We could see such a lake at the fire temple.
That night we did camping in the wilderness. We looked for a place far away from the streets and found one next to a crater which called “Zedan” – prison. Its because the crater is deep, it can be used as a prison. We placed our camped on a used orchard and cooked on a self made cooking place some noodles with beans (Here I could use my knowledge from the scouts…). The only thing which was missing was the beer. But alcohol is not allowed in the Islamic Republic. So we changed to juice and tea which worked well. Ben and Konrad were sleeping this night in the car. I placed my hammock in between the car and one tree and tried to find some sleep under the light full moon which was shining on my through the leaves of the tree. I had some problems to fall asleep because there were noises everywhere. And I wasn’t sure if there were wild animals out there…