We arrived in Tehran by bus from Rasht. It is already dark and we still have thirty kilometers to cycle from the bus station to Ali and Saman. They host us this evening and our bikes can stay with them so that we can take the train to Shiraz.
We put on our vests and turn on our taillights. We immediately start on the highway. I cycle in front to navigate, Iris and Dominik behind me and Quirijn behind because we have vests and they don’t.
It’s stressful, the cars speed past, it’s busy, there are a lot of stimuli, the lights, the horns, the big illuminated billboards and the potholes in the road. We stay on the highway for a while but I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay here and decide to get off it so we can cycle on smaller roads. But it doesn’t get any better, the roads are in worse shape and the cars are still tearing past. In the end we are cycling for more than two hours because we occasionally come across a dead end.
When we arrive, the tension is still completely in our body. We take a deep breath and get ready to socialize with our host who we’ve only spoken to online as usual.
We are warmly welcomed. The hindewane (Persian for watermelon) awaits us, we get something to drink and enjoy a delicious home cooked meal. We could use that after a long day of travel.
Although they are not cyclists but friends of someone we spoke to at Warmshowers they know very well what we need. A shower, a washing machine and a good night’s sleep.
The next day we take the train after doing some sightseeing with Ali and Saman and eating an ice cream. They help us at the station to our train and then we head south towards Shiraz, where it is incredibly hot and not suitable for cycling at this time of year. The train is very luxurious! We have our own cabin for the four of us. It is spacious and we can make beds for the night. We play games, look at the views, chat and after dinner we try to get some sleep. However, we arrive early.
Shiraz is a beautiful and religious city. I get the feeling that it has risen from the desert even more because of the use of local materials and the colors. For the first time in what we feel like months, we meet tourists. We visit the highlights and relax in the various parks and gardens. One of the mosques we visit is called ‘Masjed-e Vakil’. It rarely happens to me that I feel like this in a religious building. A calm comes over me and meanwhile a lifted feeling. It is a beautiful place right in the bustling center of the city. Next to it is the Bazaar. A bazaar where many local people buy their products. You see that the sellers bring their best and most beautiful products and that people feel, smell and look to make their choice. There are pieces of cloth, tools, spices and wooden objects. We also see influences from India for the first time. That’s the fun of traveling overland. You see everything slowly changing, the landscapes, the cultures, but it always overlaps.
After five days of discovering Shiraz and the surrounding area, we are going to heading off. We say farewell to the south of Iran and farewell to Iris and Dominik. They go further south and we go back to Tehran. Because we have a flight to catch. Because yes we are going to fly but I will tell you more about that in the next blog.