Take The Wrong Way Home, Iran 2017

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

  1. NewEnglander

    NewEnglander Been here awhile Supporter

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    Amazing report! Thanks for taking us along for the experience. It’s too bad we can’t all travel freely everywhere.
    #61
  2. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    #62
  3. Roaddawg

    Roaddawg MotoLoco

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    Outstanding journey and fotos, thank you.
    #63
  4. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Today's stage on a good tarmac road from Persepolis to Shiraz was only 30 mls long. We were still drunk from the impressions of what stone masons and sculptors were capable of 2,500 years ago.

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    For centuries all traders and all caravans entered the city through one of these gates, here the Koran gate. Today Shiraz has almost 2 million people and modern 8-lane highways in and out.

    Shiraz is another city of touristic importance. Here we explored the Old Town with its many bazaars, the tomb of Iran's most famous poet Hafis (1315 - 1390), the old fortress and several mosques.

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    The Old Fortress. In 1824 an earthquake tilted one of the towers dramatically...

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    The tomb of Hafis, Iran' best known poet.

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    For many Iranians it's the greatest reverence to touch his sarcophagus...

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    There are many beautiful gardens in Shiraz where stressed people can unwind...

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    ... or dress up in historic costumes.

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    Bazaar impressions.

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    Heli treated himself to a good shave at a local barber shop.

    Shiraz is the southernmost point of our tour. As of now our main direction will be north.
    #64
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  5. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Ayatollah Khomeini

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    Hassan Rohani

    In Shiraz the differences of traditional and modern lifestyle are very evident. Young people don't like to follow the set of regulations given out by religous leaders with their old-fashioned mindset. It is hard to understand, why the wish to dress attractive undermines their authority. Or to listen to modern music. Or to go out as a woman to be seen in public. An older man said to me, what he misses most in Iran is that their leaders have forgotten to laugh. When he said that to me, tears rolled down his cheeks.

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    For women these days it's in vogue to have a nose job. We saw lots of teenagers with bandages in their faces. It's as common as braces in our world.

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    This girl doesn't wear a scarf at all and she has exposed ankles, incompatible with the stone age tradition of the mullahs.

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    More and more young people ignore the ban of touching the opposite sex in public.

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    They circumvent most of the restrictions for modern social media like facebook, instagram, blogspot and others by establishing their own VPN. That way they network as they wish without being detected by the sharia guards.

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    Iranians of all age are very interested in our opinion about any matter of society and politics. The young generation is highly educated, eloquent and eager for knowledge. That's what dictators fear the most.
    #65
  6. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    We started early. With all the detours on minor roads it's 350 mls from Shiraz to Esfahan. So we knew this is gonna be a two-day-job.

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    Very important: extra gas and water.

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    We had in mind to camp outside of the mayor cities and therefore we stocked up some groceries along the road.

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    The farmers in the area around Shiraz grow a whole variety of grapes. To assume, that the wine of the same name comes originally from here, is pure speculation.

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    At a fish farm we ordered a huge trout. During the lunch a group of lawyers from Esfahan came in, saw us, asked for the mandatory picture and payed for our feast.

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    On our way out of the rastaurant Martina shared some nail bed balm with an Iranian lady. We boys never experienced these kind of intimate encounters.

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    The further north we rode the more mountainous the landscape became.

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    This is rice country...
    On our search for a nice place to set up our camp we had to fight some obstacles in our way.

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    Finally we found a good enough campground by a dry river bed. Full of thistle and zillions of no-see-ums though...

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    The night was cold. 43°F...

    Later on we arrived in Esfahan.

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    #66
  7. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

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    that whole iranian thing is just about as bad as the n. koreans..... w/communication as it is today, you can't restrict people like that, muslim beliefs or whatever..... and the 2 faced part of that all is just ridiculous.... had a friend in the Navy w/an Iranian wife/nephew, he had some interesting stories, and that was back in the 80's, iran/iraq war ..... this computer has totally opened the world, and as cool as Xerxes was, you can't live like that anymore, it's just the Iranian leaders can't figure this out.... they will, tho..... awesome pics, i'm really enjoying it..... :thumb
    #67
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  8. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    You are totally right. You have no idea how many times I keep telling myself: the people in and of Iran - like any other human being in this world - want only to lead a worthy life for themselves and their families. Period. And when I ride on my bike to the most remote corners of the planet and see, how they struggle and fight hard to survive and still give me a smile or an apple or shelter for a night, I feel deeply humbled.

    Harti
    #68
  9. oldenuf

    oldenuf Been here awhile

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    Good report, thanks for the work.

    Art
    #69
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  10. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Before we enter the big city, we prepare ourselves. Ok, snow chains not needed yet, but it gives you an imagination of what the cold season could look like...

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    Make up is always important.

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    Esfahan. A city full of tradition with one of the largest squares in the world. A Persian proverb says: Esfahan is half of the world. It is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. Let's take a walk.

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    Martina slipped over a lane divider in the midst of the heaviest traffic. Immediately helping hands came from all over and 20 seconds later the scene was cleared.

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    Our first random attempt to find a guest house was not successful. Fully booked.

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    The next Hotel was located in a pedestrian zone of downtown Esfahan. We had to strip down our bikes, because the traffic bollards were a little closely spaced...

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    The huge square invited us to an extensive walk.

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    Souvenir shops present a totally different assortment of gifts.

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    We went for tiles. Esfahan is famous for tiles.

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    And for carpets. This carpet costs 5,000.- $. In Germany the same carpet is worth 25,000.- $.

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    Lots of drapery is printed by hand.

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    Kiwi, banana and carrot. Iran.

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    A typical money change situation.

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    Si-o-se-pol is the name of this bridge on our walk from the city to the Armenian quarter in the south.

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    Almost 1000 ft. long and built in 1599, it's designed with two rows of 33 arches.

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    While the drying-out of the lower reaches of the Zayandeh River has been attributed to drought, the main reasons are man-made. Poor planning and populist politics have led to years of mismanagement and overuse which resulted in seasonal dry-outs and ultimately caused the river to dry out completely before reaching Esfahan.

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    And as always, little businesses have to suffer the most.

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    The Vank cathedral in the Armenian quarter.

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    New Julfa, the Armenian name for this quarter, was established in 1609 as a refugee camp for Armenians, who had to flee from Ottoman persecution. Here we see the monument, erected to honor the 1.5 million killed in the genocide exactly 100 years ago. The Armenian genocide, although well documented, is strongly disputed by the Turks, which resulted in international irritations between Turkey and many other countries, including Germany.

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    What a lovely cafe in the Armenian district.

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    Looks like Miami Beach...

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    Analog air condition...

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    After a tour through the music museum we enjoyed the free concert afterwards...

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    Persia has really a lot to offer...
    #70
  11. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    I don't know if you heard about the earthquake at the border between Iran and Irak. Despite political conflicts and completely different interpretations of what is good and what is bad for the people, nobody deserves to lose a loved one in an earthquake or to see his house collapse. Neither in a hostile region like this one nor anywhere else. We passed the epicenter just a few miles away.
    #71
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  12. kojack06

    kojack06 Long timer Supporter

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    This is an excellent ride report! Thank you!
    #72
  13. Merfman

    Merfman Cape truster... Supporter

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    OUT-STANDING! Thank you so much for taking us to places many of us will never experience!
    #73
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  14. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Great Ride Report! Thanks for posting.
    #74
  15. stilcrazee

    stilcrazee Been here awhile

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    Read about quake on Accuweather.com immediately thought of you folks. Hope you weren’t affected and are safe.
    Thanks for the reports and stunning pictures of the architecture and citizens. We all bleed red.
    Safe travels...
    #75
  16. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    Enjoying your RR and especially the positive camaraderie. So often people mention how "They were the nicest and most generous people" which really speaks to the curiosity and joy that comes from breaking down needless barriers and accepting people of another diverse culture. Continued safe travels and thank you for taking us along!
    #76
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  17. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    The no-see-ums at our last camp outside left some painful and itchy marks...

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    Feeding and syncronizing our navigation system...

    We kissed Esfahan good-bye. Okay. We haven't been in Teheran and Mashad, but with Yazd, Shiraz, Esfahan and later Tabriz we got a pretty good impression of the Iranian lifestyle.

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    Now to something completely different. From Esfahan we turned west into the mountains to Khorramabad and Kermanshah. After the desert and the cities a highly appreciated change.

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    The smaller the roads the less traffic... also a highly appreciated change... balm for the soul...

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    This is definitely the heartland of Iran's agricultural activity. At the high peak of the harvest season nomads offer their manpower, because the damand for labor is immense. They set up their camps wherever help is needed.

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    A marble pit.

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    In a little town off the beaten track we found a 2 bedroom apartment. Empty and just cleaned up. The landlord, who lived in another house, gave us his phone number, so we should contact him the next morning, when we were ready to check out. We were lucky that Martina was familiar in reading Iranian numbers...

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    I've set up my tent. Just in case... mosquitos and other critters...

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    Another martyr along the road...

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    In Kermanshah we stayed in a hotel, run by Abdo, a very nice man, who lived in Germany for many years and who spoke excellent German. He showed us around in his city.
    #77
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  18. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    The Vank cathedral is amazing! Is there still a significant Christian community in the city? It is very nice to see that the iconoclastic aspect of Islam was not extended to include this building.
    #78
  19. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    Hi Blader,

    it is indeed interesting. Armenians migrated in the early 17th century to Esfahan. Some say they had to flee, some say they got deported. However, they knew a lot about the silk trade. And that made them very valuable for the Persians. They were also very influencial and active in the modernisation of Iran during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today about 20,000 Armenians live in Esfahan and many more in Teheran and Tabriz. They are the largest christian minority in Iran and seem to be well accepted. Only a few churches or cathedrals stick out and became tourist magnets, mostly they blend in with the local architecture and are hard to find.

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    This is the Maryam church.

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    Harti
    #79
  20. Harti

    Harti Been here awhile

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    As promised, my wife Martina - aka Fatima - gives you her insight of a few situations as a woman in Iran.


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    Riding a motorcycle in Iran as a female




    For more than 25 years I have traveled quite a few places riding my bike, but from day one of planning our journey to Iran it was obvious that on this trip I would face different challenges than ever.




    First of all I had heard that riding a motorcycle for women is illegal in the Islamic Republic, so the first time I got nervous was when the visa application form asked for my means of transportation. But -suprise!- I was not rejected!




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    Secondly: the sharia (religious law) is being strictly enforced as far as proper clothing is concerned; and the religious police are known not to spare tourists. So I was very worried about how to wear the required “manto” (a piece of clothing covering my butt) and the hijab (under the helmet?!)...


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    As it turned out things went well; I figured a way to pull up the head scarf while taking off my helmet, and the stares I got definitely did not relate to my cycle outfit being inappropriate.




    I had a few culture-clash related encounters that didn't go too well, like when a man refused my payment of our lunch bill or when two women fled from me as they obviously didn't expect a woman under the helmet I hadnt' taken off in the rush of the moment (and in the dark!).


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    But what I did enjoy (and I hadn't seen that coming) were the interactions with strangers by the road: in Iran men talk to men and women talk to women, so whenever we would stop somewhere, as soon as the present girls or women realised my being female they came up to me and (aside from the ubiquitous “selfies”) asked me all kinds of questions. The conversations with them were much more diverse than the usual “gas talk” I've known from random encounters anywhere else. An enlightening experience!


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    #80
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