Iran - Alti ustu macera (...an adventure after all) 2 x KTM 990

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by meto, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. meto

    meto Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Izmir, Turkey
    Iran - Alti Ustu Macera

    It's been a tradition for me to take at least one long bike journey every year. This year it wasn't looking good because i have spent nearly the whole year bikeless and was waiting for a thing to get my new KTM 990 ADV. There wasn't much time for the schedules to fit. So if i miss the season there would be no tour for 2008.

    As always everything started with a "what if...". Next thing i know, i was looking up stuff about Iran. Gathering maps and guides. This was 5 months before the trip. There's something moving about this trip. For example, there' s nothing adventurous in a trip to Europe. Last year i did the Dolomites tour in Italy. It was fantastic but you know what's going to happen before you leave home.

    About the line up. Mete said "I'm with you the next time, whereever you go." Couple of guys also wanted to come. After few months it was obvious and it was Mete and me who is going.

    The preparations sped up but there was a major question mark. I still haven't got a bike. :wink:
    Meanwhile, people start to hear about the tour and everyone was anxious about safety and so on. The classic reaction was "Are you nuts?" It was tiring at this stage to explain everybody that there isn't a single concern and it was as safe as to travel in Turkey. We leave that to our return.

    As time past by, in the mid August i bought my brand new 990 ADV and quickly started gathering equipment like alu side cases, Wings exhaust,....30 September was our d-day so, we only had september to be prepared. Mete was also adding some farkles to his Transalp. Fortunately, our Dalyan and Kiyikoy tours came in a great timing for my physical condition to grow.

    There was a little time left and the pre was on its way. We had a lot of things to do on my garage every day like changing tires, oils. Mete also wanted a 990 but in his head he has pushed it to 2009. But just one week left to departure we found a superb 2006 990 for sale. The price was right and it has akro tubes and alu cases on it. There were a lot of pros and cons about changing the bike in the last week and going with the same bike. On the same day we sold the Transalp and bought the 990. A black and an orange looks fantastic together.

    The reality struck quick and things were in a deadlock. Because we are in Izmir and we bought the bike from Istanbul, there was no time for Mete to get a new licence plate and registration. Your name has to be on the registration to get a Carnet. We got a powering document from the ex-owner to get a Carnet and Mete will be travelling with his bike officially. Of course he paid the bikes money.

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    Other Preparations...

    There was a thing that was bothering us for some time. If we enter Iran and they stamp our passport, will it be a problem later to obtain a US or Shengen Visa ? Thanks to the Security Department they have a bylaw that lets us give our original passport to depozit and get a new, fresh one. After return we are going to give the new one back and get our original.

    We went to the Touring Club for the bike's documents. You have to get an international Licesce and a Carnet. Carnet costs about 100 USD and we depozited another 200 USD to the bank. When we return we give the Carnet back and take the 200 bucks back.
    #1
  2. meto

    meto Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Izmir, Turkey
    30 Semtember, Tuesday
    Izmir - Afyon - Ankara - Yozgat (806 km)


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    Kivanc and Kaan who stopped to see us on their way to Bodrum from Istanbul, stayed the night and woke up at 05:30 to send us off.

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    Somehow we couldn't calculate the weather and started the ride with our summer gloves. We stopped after 60 km for the warm glove swap, but it was too late. They were like ice and the heated grips was the medicine.

    We quickly passed Ankara with a good ride. While we were filling up the bikes in Kirikkale in started to rain a bit. But it was very light looking up the clouds.

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    God save the inventor of Airhawk. It was a long day without a soar ass. Hotel Camlik was a replica of the chateau in the movie "Shining" by Stanley Kubrick. We put the bike indoors and got the last drops of alcohol. :freaky

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    A little hanging around then sleep...
    #2
  3. meto

    meto Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Izmir, Turkey
    01 October, Wednesday
    Yozgat – Sivas – Erzincan – Erzurum (674 km)


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    We woke up at 06:00 to a superb weather. Sunny and not so cold. The hotel prepared early breakfast for us. We hit the road and rode in thick fog for a while.

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    Yozgat - Erzurum road is fantastic. With good asfalt, fast twists and endless skies.

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    Dancing a little bit to beat the cold in Kizildag Pass.

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    We arrived to Erzurum around 17:00. After deciding to stay at the Palandoken Ski Resort, on the way i saw Mete's rear had a flat. Since we were in the city center, i looked for a tire shop but no chance. We rolled up the sleeves.

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    We were on the road in 40 minutes, including 10 minutes answering ridiculous questions of the children passing by.
    We checked in the Hotel Palan and head back to the city for cag kebab. There are alot of places but we were told to eat at GelGor.
    I tried to beat the record of Sinan who ate 33 skewers. It was not so long i understood that they hung his photo for a reason. I could only eat 6.

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    Kadayif Dolmasi was delicious too.

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    We made a little interview with the owner.

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    With stomachs full we returned to the hotel and to bed.
    #3
  4. samuraider

    samuraider eurasia-riders

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    86
    meto,
    Let's gooooooooo:lurk
    #4
  5. Pastor John

    Pastor John Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    121
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Terrific! More! More!

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    #5
  6. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,031
    Awesome trip!! Let's see the beauty of Iran!! :clap

    Thanks for a great intro!

    :lurk :lurk
    #6
  7. ozarkrider

    ozarkrider Discombobulated Sociopath

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Oddometer:
    5,628
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, AR
    I'm going along. Looks like a good time.
    What caused the flat? Nail? Sabotage?
    #7
  8. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,512
    Location:
    Diamond Bar, CA.
    Very nice!. :clap

    The pictures are really good, and the landscapes are enticing.
    Thanks for posting.

    Waiting for more. :lurk
    Q~
    #8
  9. dr.vedat

    dr.vedat Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    balikesir, turkey
    awesome pics.hadi gari yenilerini gönderin.
    #9
  10. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
    862
    Location:
    Off route, recalculating
    Mouthwatering bikes, ride, and food! :clap
    #10
  11. arres

    arres Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Samsun/TURKEY
    You guys are great. I've read your previous trips on a Turkish forum. Thanks for sharing. By the way 'KTM hayirli olsun':clap
    #11
  12. Digger Deep

    Digger Deep Keep 'er Lit

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    in an ever deepening hole...........
    Guys, excellent report, I hope to ride in Turkey some day. Iran will be great.
    #12
  13. meto

    meto Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Izmir, Turkey
    A mighty nail.:evil
    #13
  14. meto

    meto Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Izmir, Turkey
    02 October, Thursday
    Erzurum – Agri – Gurbulak – Bazargan – Maku – Marand – Tabriz (609 km)


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    We woke up really early again. Quickly we were in our superhero outfit.

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    Hotel Palan also served us early breakfast. The weather is superb again. We're very lucky because in this time of year, it should have been really cold.
    The stone bridge at the exit of Pasinler was a nice place for a brake.

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    Sacdagi Pass was a blast. The scenery and the twists were all amazing. The scenery in this region is very different than we used to see. Simply there's nothing. Endless plains sorrounded by mountains and a very few green. But we liked it a lot.
    We were both wondering if we would see the Mount Ararat clearly. The nice weather in the morning led us to high hopes. Finally Ararat winked at us.

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    It's so magnificent that it seems like 7000 metres high. We're already at 2000 metres.

    A little chat with the young shepherd.

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    After Ararat, we arrived to Dogubeyazit. I didn't like the city that much. When we stop at the Ishakpasa Palace, Mete told me that a boy spit on me during the city ride. I remember a little drop under my eye but didn't notice where it came from.
    Ishakpasa was in restoration. It was only allowed 1 hour for visiting during the workers' lunchtime. We have the border crossing on our way so we left Ishakpasa without entering in.

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    Approaching Gurbulak, we saw the long huge trucks in queue. Waiting for these was a reason to cry. :cry We quicky recognised that the trucks were just parking and past all of them to reach the gate. We parked the bikes and started the procedures. There were a lot of guys wanting to exchange money.
    The process in the Turkish side was going very slowly as always. The officer for the job was always missing or on a brake. Everytime this was taking away another 30 minutes.
    I was familiar with the locals thinking that we are tourists from our Black Sea tour back in 2006. Here it was very intense. Two guys approached from the back of the bikes saying "Hello tourist" "What country ?" In Turkish i replied "Are you blind ?" "We have the Turkish plates, A huge Turkish flag sticker, and a huge TR sticker, should i wave a 2 square meter Turkish flag for you to recognise ?" The boys silently disappeared. :lol3
    After the process in the Turkish side finalized we entered to the Iranian side. Khomeini and Khamanei greeted us.

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    They stamped the entry in our passports and a fixer took our Carnets and dealed with the vehicle entrance quickly. His service costed 20 YTL. They just looked to the chasis and engine numbers. No searching of luggage.

    We have one last procedure, to get Iran insurance. Nobody tells you about this but if you don't want to be in a bad situation during an accident you should do it. 15 days of insurance costed 25 EUR/bike.
    By the way, whoever approached us for changing money was treated as a potential hustler. Eventually we decided on a guy and changed 50 EUR. YTL (Turkish currency) is worthless in Iran. USD and EUR is always changable and valuable. International credit cards are not working so bring a lot of cash. We got 13400 Rials (1340 Tomans) for a EUR. On the banknotes Rial is written. But everyone will talk tomans. So, you have to understand what is going on.

    The border crossing took 3,5 hours. We still had to eat and fill the bikes up. (We are cheap bastards because we entred Iran with empty tanks from the most expensive gas to the cheapest in the world.) No riding in the dark rule is broken in the first day.
    During preparation there was the "gas card" issue. It seems that we don't need the card after all. The government issued quota on gas via the gas card. For cars, you can load 120 lt. for a month to your card. You can buy this 120 lt for 100 tomans/lt. If you want to buy more than 120 lts during the month, you should pay 400 tomans/lt. We always paid 400 toman/lt since we can't have a card. This is still way cheaper than Turkey, so we were happy.

    We ate our first and possibly the worst Iranian food in a truck diner. We had 250 kms to Tabriz. The fact that it gets dark earlier in the east occured to us, but not to Iranian drivers. They don't turn the headlights on till it's completely dark. We arrived to Tabriz with a great deal of hardship. I would take some time to get used to the traffic.

    Tabriz, is the second biggest city in Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province.

    I pulled over and called Atabek. He told us to find the Valiasr District. There is a huge interest in our bikes from the locals. Whenever we stop there is immidiately 5 people around. During the Islamic Revolution, there has been some shooting from the fast motorcycles. It's been forbidden to ride bikes bigger than 200 cc since than. This is the reason for the crazy attention.
    At last i foung a fun fair an told Atabek to collect us from there.

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    This the usual scene of a pull over.

    Finally Atabek and friend came and drove us to the Shahryar Hotel. After checking in we swapped clothes and went out to eat. They took us to a good restaurant. We enjoyed the local kebab and rice.
    Atabek was a friend of a friend but he was very sincere to us. After dinner we returned to our room.
    #14
  15. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University

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    Christchurch, New Zealand
    subscribed!!!!:clap
    #15
  16. Gultekin

    Gultekin Endurocu

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    Aug 13, 2006
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    İstanbul
    Devam devam. :thumb
    #16
  17. sideXside

    sideXside Boy Scout

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
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    Location:
    Philippine Archipelago
    Subscribed!! Waiting to hear more.:wink:
    #17
  18. meto

    meto Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Izmir, Turkey
    03 October, Friday
    Tabriz – Kandovan – Tabriz (142 km)


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    We were lazy this morning and slept till 08.30. There was no riding today, just wandering in Tabriz. Shahryar Hotel's breakfast was delicious. Especially honey & cream.
    We jumped into a taxi and told him to take us to the centre. We learned that there are a lot of centres in Tabriz and after a while he just dropped us somewhere. When we asked a teenager where to go, he invited us to their car. Bryan Adams was playing on the tape. I don't understand Farsi but i guess his father told him "What the fuck is this, change this crap" and suddenly an islamic tune started.
    First thing we want to see was Arg-e Tabriz. A citadel from 14th century which was used to hang criminals. Of course it was in restoration. Like this is not enough, we learned that some other attractions on our list were in restoration too. Also because it's friday, everwhere was closed. Friday is sunday to them. We figured out that there's no point hanging out in Tabriz and decided to go to Kandovan.
    We got back to the hotel and prepared. It was already 12:00 and we don't want to be late. Finding the Kandovan road was difficult, so complicated but the road was very good.

    Kandovan is a mountain village at 2200 metres. It's highlight is the troglodyte homes, a reminiscent of Cappadocia (Turkey) but a very small replica of course.

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    We started to climb like goats.

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    The place had become a touristy attraction. It was a little crowded because it was friday. Azeri Turks live in these ice cream cone-shaped houses regardless of the curious mass.

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    After conquering the narrow and steep streets i was exhausted and want to continue in plain grounds across the -once- river.

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    Locals set up a small bazaar selling chestnuts, almonds, dryed apricots and grapes.

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    We were hungry but couldn't find good food in Kandovan. After chatting with a lot of people (because again we were the centre of attention) and taking a last photo of Kandovan, we were on our way back to Tabriz.

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    Wandering around Tabriz, i saw a burger shop and we stopped for lunch. We chatted with the two kids inside. They were constantly peeking on our bikes. I said "Come on jump on". You should see the joy and excitement on their eyes.

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    We hung out in the lobby a while. I kept my journals.

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    It seems like our hotel is a little modern. There was a thing in the ballroom and men were wearing ties in their suits. Wearing a tie is forbidden in Iran. The ladies were very elegant too.

    Our hotel

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    Following the tips on Lonely Planet guide we went to Karim Khan square. The taxi driver was complaining about the gas quotas.
    The square was insanely crowded.

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    It was packed with cars and people. Seems like this is the place where girls and boys checks out each other. Girls are 18 - 20 years old max. with tight jeans, converse snickers, head scarfs that will fall if you blow a little and the nose jobs. All the girls are crazy about nose job. We ate at Fanoos Pizza with Coca Cola.

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    Ta'arof

    This is a thing that you will recognize at the end of your first taxi trip when the driver says "kabili yohtur" means "no, i can't accept money". The funny thing is the driver still expects to get paid. This is Ta'arof, a system of politeness among eveybody which can be confusing for foreigners at first. The solution is to insist on paying three times. By this time if he's still rejecting money, you can accept it. This is not all about money. A dinner invitation or a stay at a strangers house. They always want to give. But first you should reject in order to give them the chance to back out. If they're insisting, accept.

    On our way back to the hotel i decided to test the system. :wink: The taxi ride costs 3000 toman approx. When we got to the hotel i asked the price and the driver said "Whatever you give ?" I gave 2500 toman and he replied "ooh this is not enough, give 500 toman more" :lol3 :lol3 So, he understood that i'm a foreigner and we laughed it away.

    This is the room.

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    While searching for water in the minibar we found these but our joy and shock lasted till we read the writings.

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    #18
  19. WIBO

    WIBO Will it buff out?

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,859
    Location:
    64800French Pyrénées
    OK...I`m in too.....

    Excellent report so far.....


    More please!!
    :clap

    :D
    #19
  20. Damir

    Damir AKA Pudla

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    379
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Fantastic ride and report! :clap :thumb
    #20