When we arrived at the outskirts of Quazvin we asked for directions at a petrol station. A local woman in taxi got her driver to lead the way to a hotel. Unfortunately it turned out that hotel marmut was most expensive one in the town at 80usd a night. Perhaps she felt sorry for Helen having to come all this way on a bike and thought she deserved it. Either way we could not afford it but at least we had the guidebook now so we could look up others.

On the way in we were found by a local on a generic 125 who proclaimed “i love you“. The only hotel with parking was Hotel Iran. We tried another place which was cheaper but had no parking. With the experience of street parking in Zanjan and Helen hot and bothered with the walking we agreed to stay.

We met Tim and Pete who were cycling overland on the silk road. We had proper respect for these guys doing this on a bicycle. Any complaints about riding a motorbike seem pathetic in comparison.

We went out for dinner together and while wandering aimlessly we were discovered by hoard of student girls. Tim and Pete were overwhelmed by the attention which I was spared (due to being married and moreover having Helen clinging strongly to my arm and baring teeth). A few hearts were broken when they explained they were already spoken for. I guess landing a foreign husband is one way out of Iran to what they might perceive as a better life. I wondered if any of the women who do marry a foreigner and leave are happy afterwards.

The story from the guidebook of the German tourist who was sentenced to death for having ‘relations‘ with an unmarried Muslim woman would do little to allay the fears of most men considering meeting an Iranian woman. These girls were just the same as women of their age anywhere, one (seemingly the pack leader) waving her mobile about while talking in proper diva fashion. It did make us uncomfortably wonder about who might be watching and taking notes though.

Nonetheless they took us to a great Turkish eatery and we had kebaps at (there‘s one everywhere isn‘t there?).

We left for Esfahan in the morning, not knowing at the time that we were destined not make it…

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