It was cold and raining on way to Esfahan. We stopped at an unfinished petrol station after 60 miles to eat bananas we were given by a man and his son through a moving car window. The watchman/workman made us tea and gave some bread. He offered to let us sleep on the carpeted floor but we pressed on because it was barely lunchtime and would not have had much to do there otherwise.
We found the Amir Kabir hotel no problem due to having coordinates for the satnav this time. A random guy stopped on his bike to show us videos on his phone including an overlander on a bmw f650. This hotel was run by welcoming people with bikes parking 300m away in guarded parking. The hotel was fairly cheap without the breakfast, but we soon discovered breakfast was hard to find outside (unless you like burgers first thing in the morning)
We finally met Merjin and Els (www.2fortheroad.nl) who had stayed at David and Juliets in Kas a fortnight before us. They had hooked up with Thierry from Switzerland. They saw our bikes and parking guard told them Helen was the “little one“! Tierrie‘s life dream was to travel world by bike and not need to work again afterwards. So he set about it 20 years ago setting up a business and was doing well now.
They had same insurance hassle at border we did and paid another different price. It was nice to know we were not just paranoid about it but annoying that it was the first introduction to a fantastic country.
We went to see the impressive Imam Square, second only to Tienanmen square in size. Due to sanctions it is difficult to get money in Iran and credit cards don’t work. we were running a bit low but managed to get some more money from a carpet dealer with an account in Dubai but paid about 20% commission. At the end of the square was the Imam mosque which featured a massive dome. If you stamped your foot in the centre under the dome there was an almost perfect echo.
Then we went to the seh o seh bridge for a few photos. Interestingly this seemed to be where the younger Iranians hung out, cruising back and forth hoping to catch the eye of someone of the opposite sex. A few hung around on 125‘s wearing jeans and leather jackets with hair slicked back like the Fonz.
The following day the others left for Shiraz and we stayed for another night. Again we went to the seh o seh bridge but this time sat to have tea and popcorn in the little tea-house outside.
We walked to Armenian quarter to find the (Christian) church closed early on Friday. We walked back to the bridge again to have pizza in the park with all the picnicking Iranians. a couple of young women chatted to us, it turned out they were studying biochemistry at university. they were aware of a lack of opportunities for this in Iran and i wondered what the future held for them. it seems women get well educated here but it does not turn into employment after marriage if the statistics are anything to go by.
We decided to head into the desert to stay in Garmeh as recommended by some other travellers in the morning…