Take The Wrong Way Home, Iran 2017

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Harti, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Hi there.

    Harti here... again. I took a little break of two years after my trip to Morocco in 2015 and now I´m back with my report of an adventure trip to the Caucasus and Iran.

    This venture might be even more interesting since my wife Martina accompanied me with her own bike. Iran and foreign women is something special, riding their own motorcycle is truely from another planet.

    Here is a sneak preview of what to expect.

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    And there is more where this came from.
    #1
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  2. mmoore89

    mmoore89 Adventurer

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    Subscribed! Cant wait to see more! :)
    #2
  3. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    [​IMG] Andrea

    It all began about a year ago, when a friend of mine, Andrea, who joined us on various occasions to South America and Morocco, proposed our new destination for 2017: Iran. Soon 10 people gathered together and signaled their willingness to accompany us. Needless to say, that we would not be able to get any contact to the people in Iran if we showed up in masses like that. So we formed two groups and the closer we got to the departure date, more and more of our friends faded out of the travel party. So I ended up with my wife Martina and my friend Heli. Both very experienced and I could not ask for a better crew.

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    Heli and Harti

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    Harti, Martina and Heli

    Our preparations started in late 2016, when Heli got himself a second hand BMW F 800 GS, Martina a used BMW F 650 GS and I went for a BMW HP 2.

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    Hartis BMW HP



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    Martinas BMW F 650 GS

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    Helis BMW F 800 GS


    All bikes were exactely made for that kind of trip. Now we had to pimp them for better appearance. No problems with the volume models 800 and 650. I found out how hard it is to find accessories and spare parts for a rare bike such as the HP 2.

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    windscreen, panniers, engine guard, tank bag and a Garmin Zumo 395 LM were added...

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    For the visa affairs we hired a company specialiced in handling even the hardest cases. Iran has a bad image mostly mirrored by western politicians, Azerbaijan has trouble with Armenia and vice versa about Karabach, Armenia has problems with Turkey about the ethnic cleansing 100 years ago, Georgia has differences with Russia and Iran is the evil in the entire region. And the Kurds are all over the place without a sovereign state... Not easy for tourists to answer questions like: how do you like Armenia? or Iran?

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    #3
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  4. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Okay. What else needed to be done before we took off?

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    The author describes authentically, how he roamed the country by means of hitchhiking and couchsurfing. Great book, lots of important insight. According to that book Iranians do drugs, drink alcohol, throw sex parties and do many other things young and educated people in the western world would do. We wanted to see for ourselves.

    The Carnet de Passage is the international passport for the temporary importation of vehicles. Not required in most country, but Iran is one of the few states that require one...

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    Money. Since Iran is cut off from every international trade market by the embargos, they can't except major credit cards. Cash is required. $$$ or €€€.

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    We booked our flight tickets from Berlin to Tbilisi early for a better deal.

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    The shipping company we found over the internet raised their price practically weekly. In the end we payed 1.480,00 € for a return trip from southern Germany to Georgia. At least, we didn't have to deal with customs, storage and transportation.

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    This is our intended route:

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    We will start in Tbilisi, Georgia. Then we go to Baku in Azerbaijan, from there it goes to Iran through the Elburz Range and later along the shore line of the Caspian Sea. Between Teheran and Mashad we branch off to the south through the huge desert to Yazd. After Shiraz and Esfahan we enter Kurdistan at the Iraki border. After Tabris we ride to Yerevan in Armenia and back to Tbilisi. What you see here is about 4,000 mls long.




    In late August of this year we started our adventure.
    #4
  5. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Why did I choose the HP 2?

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    Martina had no other choice. The 650 GS is the only bike she can easily handle. It comes with a stock low frame and is light enough for her to maneuvre even in rough terrain. Heli upgraded from a 650 GS to the 800 GS. Makes sense. More power, more comfort, more carrying capacity.

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    a test ride to Ireland earlier this year

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    I underwent beautiful trips with my 800 GS. South America, the Balkans, Scotland, Corsica, Marocco, just to name a few destinations. This time I thougt, less weight would come in handy as I get older and the challenges rougher. Hot climate is an important reason for this upgrade. It's a heavy burdon to travel in temperatures way above 90 degrees with a workhorse of 500 pounds and more. The downside is the fuel capacity of less than 4 gallons. I had to work around that handicap with 2 little jerrycans to increase the distance from 130 mls to about 230 mls. But the extra canister solution is way cheaper than a supplementary tank for 1500 $. And finally, the HP 2 has more power and can drag itself out of trouble easier when needed.

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    We got ourselves a foldable table. Finally. We raised our action radius from ground level to a comfortable table level. All due to our progressing age...

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    The SPOT tracker was also on board for safety reasons.

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    I always take my guitar with me, a Taylor 710. Other travelers have their I Pod instead...

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    #5
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  6. RoomRestriction

    RoomRestriction n00b

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    Really looking forward to this. Iran is probably not someplace Ill ever be able to travel freely, at least given the current political climate.
    #6
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  7. OdyBandit

    OdyBandit Been here awhile

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    This looks great. Everyone that goes to Iran says the people there are the most hospitable in the world. Love that guitar. Good luck.
    #7
  8. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    I don't know if I run into trouble by saying this... but most of the Iranian people I met do not like the Mullahs and their regime. Judging by what I experienced myself, many of the young people want to have fun. So they found ways to circumvent all the rules and restrictions. Not only have they to deal with the embargo, they on top have to bear the government laws and guidelines. I will point out as many as possible in my report.

    The guitar is one great door opener. Policemen, custom officers, ordinary people... they see the guitar and smile...
    #8
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  9. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Folks,

    I have a technical question. How do I minimize the images?
    #9
  10. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    :clap Now this is what I want to read and see in a ride report. Subscribed!
    #10
  11. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    timely. this report.
    looking forward to more.
    #11
  12. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    For getting into the target area we had several options. Option 1 was to ride on our bikes all the way from Berlin to the border of Turkey/Iran. That would have added about 5,000 mls both ways and God knows how many more driving days. Not a good idea...

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    Option 2 was an offer by a shipping company, that would deliver our bikes to Thessaloniki in Greece. The price was okay, Greece is in the EU, so no problems with customs, and half the way is done. But yet 2,500 mls.

    And than we stumbled over a shipping company spezialiced in motorcycle transportation to Georgia. Georgia is close enough to Iran, also no visa or Carnet needed and the price was very compatible to the other options.

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    So we trailered our bikes from Berlin to South Germany, where the transport company is located.

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    I have so no idea, what these clocks want to tell me...


    With the help of a forklift the front wheels were quickly taken off for better storage into the wooden crates. It was a huge advantage, that we could stuff all our bike gear, tools and camping gear into the boxes. Even my guitar found a little room in there.

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    Martina faced a very unique challenge: she had to wear an outfit in Iran that no one could be bothered by. Covered head, long dress, long sleeves. Not easy in a country that hot.

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    This all happened 4 weeks before we flew out to Tbilisi.
    #12
  13. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

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    looks AWESOME !!! i'm in for the RIDE ..... :thumb
    #13
  14. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Departure day.

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    Our flight was at comfortable 1 p.m. from Tegel, Berlins inner city airport. With only one little bag each this trip was extremely comfortable. These days educated people want to avoid everything, that has to do with Turkey for political reasons. But Turkish Airlines is one of the few carriers that fly to Georgia at all. We had a stop over in Istanbul and landed at around 10 p.m. in Tbilisi. It felt like 8 p.m. though, because we flew against time.

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    Our hotel sent a shuttle and soon we brought out a toast to the good start of our operation. You can buy beer by the way in Pet bottles. 2 liters of local draft beer is about the right amount for a little welcome party.

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    Our hotel and the airport in Tbilisi, Georgia

    In these modern times you can prepare all your adventure travels online. I knew exactly, where the hostel was, where the warehouse was for picking up the bikes, what bus line we had to take, what the exchange rate to the Lari (Georian currency) was and so on.

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    [​IMG] At over 100° F every labor is exhausting.

    Heli would come a day later and so Martina and myself freed our bikes from the crates and had no problems with customs whatsoever. I never saw a customs officer at all. My experiences with the temporary importation of my bike to South Korea, South America or Kasakhstan let me expect a little bribe here and there or at least a little sweet talk. Nothing in Georgia.

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    We reassembled our bikes and were lucky, that one biker, who needed one of the boxes we arrived with, helped us with the exchange and rode Helis bike to our hostel. Thanx Egon.

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    Helis arrival at the airport at 3 a.m.

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    Us, partying at 4 a.m.
    #14
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  15. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    The next day we got ourselves organized. Unnecessary baggage went deep down in our bags and panniers, the bag with our kitchen needed to be in reach and the toiletries had to be easy accessible.

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    Later we went for a first walk downtown Tbilisi.

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    What a surprise. Tbilisi is a charming city. We visited the architectural highlights and had our first encounter with the caucasian cuisine.

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    Katchapuri (cheese pizza) and Khinkali (close to Samosa) tasted excellent, the beer is absolutely top notch...

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    The oldtown was flooded by Irish fans, who came to watch the soccer game against Georgia.

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    High temperatures made us look for any relief.

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    They say, Tbilisi today is the Berlin of the 90's.

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    btw... Stalin was from Tbilisi...

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    Tomorrow we wanted to start early because the monastry Davit Gareja could only be reached on unpaved roads.
    #15
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  16. FenceJumper09

    FenceJumper09 Been here awhile

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    Amazing RR so far! Thank you for taking us along!
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  17. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    After a good breakfast according to Georgian standards we took off. 50 mls east of Tbilisi we branched off south towards a little town called Udabno.

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    As I have a bike with an air suspension I needed to adjust the pressure for the higher weight of me and my luggage. Most of the tire workshops are unable to offer 140 psi as tires for cars need only 30 to 40 psi. I had a little compressor with me that was potent enough for the job.

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    I don't know why, but most of Georgian drivers wait for a traffic situation to become life-threatening before they take action, like passing right into oncoming traffic or changing lanes from the far left to a right turn in 50 yards and so on. We bike riders have to anticipate this behaviour way before it happens because we are not accepted as full members of the traffic community.

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    The road condition varies every other minute. Good paved roads alternate with potholes and sleeping policemen to avoid speeding. Minor roads are often in better state because they are not as frequented as major roads...

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    Or they become dirt roads without any warning. Neither my navigation system provides these valuable informations nor the otherwise very accurate map.

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    The "Oasis" is the hotspot of the region. It's run by an international group of young people, the food is good and the beer ice cold. We opted for camping in the backyard further away from the noisy pub business.

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    Tomorrow we want to pay the monastry a visit on bikes without luggage.
    #17
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  18. Hayastani

    Hayastani Adventurer

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    You are extremely fortunate to be able to get a visa to undertake the journey to Iran, as much as I would like to follow your tracks, my passport makes that impossible.

    Could you please give details or a link to the company that shipped your 'bikes to Georgia?

    Many thanks.
    #18
  19. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    #19
  20. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Great trip! Does not Iran have NO beer? Would that not be hell for a German? Sure would be for me. Safe trip sir.
    #20