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Tabriz - Ardabil - Bandar e Anzali

We extended our stay in Tabriz for one more day, as we planned to visit the rock-houses of Kandovan. Shahdeh, a woman we met in the Aserbaidschan museum and who kindly offered to translate the information the guide was giving in Farsi into English for us, invited us to join her for this trip. We were pleased and accepted the offer, especially because we hadn’t visited the rock houses of Cappadocia in Turkey. Before we leave for Kandovan, we have lunch with Shahdeh, her mother and her aunt at the Bazar of Tabriz. We eat one of the traditional Iranian dishes called dizzy, which partly got prepared at your table. We already did hear many times of this speciality but so far we hadn’t found a restaurant where it was served. It was just delicious😄

The visit to Kandovan was very impressive. Even though the village exists since more than 800 years, people still live there. For us it  seems impossible to spent all your life in such a place. On the way to the village, Shahdeh gave us a lot of interesting and informative background information about Iran.

On short notice we decided to adapt our planned routing to Teheran. Instead of passing the sparse and hot inland with 40°C and more we decided to take the road along the Caspian Sea. There is only one mountain range separating us from the coast. That should be manageable. That’s at least what we thought. But there were very strong winds blowing in Tabriz for two days and the weather forecast didn't’ look any better. It predicted strong headwinds for the day we would have to bike uphill, that  was not exactly what we were looking for! After more than 6500km on the bike we organized a transport and a taxi who should bring us to the next city 200 km away. 

 

At 9am the taxi driver picked us up at the hotel. First we had to store the bikes and the luggage. One bike was on the roof, one was in the trunk together with all our bags. It was not possible anymore to close the trunk, we had to use an elastic band to fix the trunk lid. Everything else was stored on the backseat. Finally we left the hotel, heading for Ardabil. We hardly could enjoy the ride, even though the landscape was beautiful to look at. We always asked ourselves: wouldn’t it have been better to ride our bikes instead of taking a taxi? Did we take the weather forecast too serious? Whatever…

After 3h we arrived in Ardabil. We stopped in the center of the city, unloaded the luggage and the bikes. It didn't take much time to get ready and to continue our trip. We bought some fresh fruits and water and off we were again. Next destination was Astara. A long descent to the Caspian Sea was ahead of us!

One can hardly imagine what we have seen within one day; many different landscapes like mountains, dry and brown yellowish fields, rocks, mountain tops covered with snow, mountains forests, lakes, potato- and wheat fields, but also rice plantations, dunes of the Caspian Sea. In regard of temperature and weather it was similar; hot temperature to start with, which made us sweat like hell, foggy areas, fresh temperatures, so that we even considered putting on a jacket, tropical heat and thunderstorm with rain...

Weekends in Iran are very busy. The main occupation of the Iranians is having a picknick. It feels as if all of people are on the road, then put up their tent or at least spread out a carpet. After having settled down, a barbeque is a must. No space is left whether it is along the street, on the lawn under a tree, on the beach. The traffic is accordingly heavy and we are cycling in the middle of it! We are the attraction of the day. All along we can hear the honk of a horn, cars are passing by and slowing down to exchange some words. And many women appreciate my biking in Iran, as for them it is officially forbidden. Many pictures are taken. We don’t count how many selfies or group photos have been taken so far. In the  evening we arrived completely exhausted at the hotel. The traffic, all hello’s, the concentration that was needed for the downhill ride was just enough for one day.

  

The next two days were easy to manage. It was flat as we were riding along the sea and the distances weren’t really long. On the way we meet the 2 Irish bikers again. They had also decided to take the route along the Sea. On Sunday we experienced again a highlight. We saw, that a car in front of us was slowing down and then stopped. Markus asked me already, whether we should stop or not if the man wishes to take a selfie. But this time it was different. When we got closer to the car, the man was waving with 2 plastic bags, each containing a bottle of cool water, some nuts and sweets. How thoughtful of him. Of course the selfie was part of the deal😄    

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