Sunday, May 28, 2017

From Teheran to Esfahan

Three weeks in Iran by bicycle - May 2017

I traveled by plane to Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport, 50km south of Tehrans city centre. I boarded a 5 hour Lufthansa direct flight from Munich to IKA and my bike was loaded on the same plane without any modifications, no wrapping, no need to lower the air pressure, even the pedals and handlebars were accepted "road ready".
Have a look at pages like Auswärtiges Amt, if you need a visa and if you can get that visa on arrival. Get some money changed at the airport, some water and you are ready to hit the road.

My target for the day was the city Saveh well known for its wheat, cotton, pomegranates and melons, so I left the suburbs of Tehran quickly. Historic note about Saveh/Saba: Marco Polo - the Venetian merchant traveller - writes about the tombs of the Magi (The Three Wise Men/Kings who visited the infant Jesus) in his travel book, Il Milione:

"In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out... and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments, side by side. And above them there is a square building, beautifully kept. The bodies are still entire, with hair and beard remaining. (Book i)."

Landscape between the cities, mostly steppe and some agriculture. In cities like Saveh, Arak, Khomeyn, Golpayegan you can stay in hostels/hotels, inbetween you better bring a tent. Khonsar and other cities in the mountains were surrounded by a bit more green and I enjoyed the lower temperatures up there.

Even small roads are paved, but to get from A to B you have not always the choice to use small backcountry roads.

My diet on that trip: water (lots), melons, Sangak (bread), pistachios and some Zamzam soft drinks (sugar).

After a long day (235km) I arrived in Isfahan and stayed for two nights at Saadi Hotel, Abbas Abad St., not far from the bridge Si-o-seh pol, that I visited not only on the first night, to enjoy some ice cream at that enchanting place.

Early next morning I visited the Naqsh-e Jahan Square and the Ālī Qāpū.

Dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

Ālī Qāpū

Bridges crossing the Zayandehrud river, the day before I cycled along that river towards the city center and for many miles the river banks were packed with picnic-ing people, a very popular sport in Iran.

I did not visit the cinema, but was nevertheless interested what kind of movies they show.

Cycle lanes in Isfahan.

And of course Imam Mosque

and I got new sunglasses for myself at the Qeysarriyeh Bazaar, after I found out that the one I brought with me were broken.