|We left Van on the 12th of September and headed for the Iranian border, unfortunately it startedto rain as we were loading the bike's ( the first rain that we have seen for about seven weeks ! ) . For the next 150 kms we were riding in the rain, when we left Van the GPS showed 5500 feet above sea level, but we were soon riding at an altitude of 9400 ft in pouring rain whilst trying to negotiate Turkish roadworks|
|(10 mph Maximum ) before we finally started to drop down to the Iranian border (still at 6000ft) . All went smoothly on the Turkish side but at first an Iranian customs officer tried to tell us that our visa had expired, but then a customs officer who spoke English arrived and we were able to explain that the visa did not expire until midnight, thereafter we had no more problems, we had tea with the director of custom's then we went on our way.
When we arrived in Orumiyen we had our first experience of trying to find the city centre and a hotel using only signs in Persian, this was not a success but eventually an Iranian with some English came to our rescue and drew us a map of how to find the hotel we were looking for. He also marked two other hotels on his map, oneof which we stopped at and asked the price for a double room - unfortunately, this was too expensive so we tried to leave. This was made difficult by people trying to tell us that this was a very cheap hotel for tourists. We eventually left and found our intended hotel (Lonely Planet Middle East Guide says 40,000 Rials - $5 per night). But we were quoted 120,000 Rials - tourist price. After some haggling we eventually got a room for 70,000 Rials ($9). We looked around for internet but found none and then went back to the hotel restuarant at around 10p.m. but was told that it was shut. We ate horrid smash mixed with corned beef - yuck. We left the next morning for Tabriz.
|Jenny and the bike's on the causeway across lake Orumiyeh|
|It took a while to get out of Orumiyeh but eventually we found the causeway which crosses two thirds of the lake - the last third being a "ferry". We were called past the car in front and squashed onto the end of the ferry - so much so that Cliff had his front wheel resting on the stairs and the back wheel around 3 foot higher and Jenny was further back perched on the ramp that leads down to the ferry. Neither of us could get off the bikes. Once off the ferry we headed on to Tabriz. We arrived here a lot earlier than we had expected and decided to head onwards to to Miyaneh where the map showed a hotel.|
|Cliff on the ferry :- note that the topbox is higher than the screen|
|There was only one hotel in Miyaneh and after agreeing $19 for the room - tourist extortionate price again - we paid and started unloading the bikes. The man on reception came out saying that his brother had said no to $19 and it was now $23. After a rather furious row between Cliff, the receptionist and his brother we left - those of you who know Cliff well will understand ;-) We decided to go for Zanjan which would mean riding in the dark but we had nowhere else to go now. This proved to be risking as a) Iranians can't drive, b) Cliff had no headlight and c) the Iranians had headlights but neglected to use them until the oncoming traffic got in their way when they were overtaking. We made it and arrived around 9.30p.m. We booked into the first hotel we saw - $40 - vastly better than the hotel in Miyaneh. We had leftover wedding kebabs in the room and never left it for the night. Next morning we spent a while telephoning our contact in Tehran for BMW bits and eventually left after receiving the necessary directions. This was not after getting rather annoyed (both Cliff and Jenny this time) with the receptionist who refused to allow us to telephone a hotel in Tehran as it was a bad hotel and offered only expensive alternatives. He would not accept that we needed cheap accomodation. On leaving we encountered people, cars, pushbikes and scooters that all cut us up. This finally got to Cliff and he kicked a fella off his pushbike for cutting him up ( he would have hit him with the bike if he had not kicked him out of the way ). We were followed by his mates and went to the police station with them. On asking what nationality we were they came back saying "go" - the police were not interested.
We arrived in Tehran stressed and thoroughly fed up with Iran. We found Nouriani Enterprises (our BMW contact) with the help of a local on his good old Honda CG125 of which there are tens of thousands in Iran. This consisted of riding the wrong way up a one way street behind him with him waving at the oncoming traffic to move out of our way !
|Having arrived at Nouriani Enterprises we were introduced to Hamid, Amir and Mr Nouriani and provided with tea, during the next hour or two we relaxed a little whilst Amir tried unsuccessfully to find a hotel that was within our budget, finally Hamid informed us that Mr Nouriani had an apartment nearby where we could stay for free, Houshang, Mr Nouriani's uncle lived in this very large apartment, Houshang speaks very good English and has proved to be a mine of interesting information, the next evening a couple of Houshang's friends came to visit us ( they wanted to practice their English) and we had an excellent evening, we were able to get a very good understanding of life in Iran and their views of the world (we even touched on the subject of Israel/Palestine) , we were suprised and enlightened by our discussions.|
|Tehran is like many other large cities - extremely busy|
|We stayed with Houshang for a week, awaiting parts mainly but it was good just to hang around, fix a few niggly bits on the bikes and clean them. Cliff had a problem with his rear suspension - the same problem that I had when we first left England - the bike would not stand any longer safely on the side stand unless the angle of the ground was just right. We decided to insert a spacer into his suspension also. Hamid and the team spent an entire day making up a welded tool to compress the spring, grinding an old sprocket down for a spacer and then removing the "jig" that they had made for spring compression ( this having been made so well that it took an hour just to get the suspension back out of it ! ).
We even gave in and went mountain climbing with him. Although his is 67 he gets up each morning at 3 a.m. and goes running for 20km - mad ! It was midday and hot - he was not getting us up at 3 am that's for sure :-) and the going was hard. We finally made it to the our aimed pointed, exhausted. We opted for the cable car back down and Houshang met us at the bottom.
We also had the pleasure of going out for a traditional Iranian meal with Hamid ( Chief Engineer at Nouriani ) and his friend Abbas and the lads in the workshop ( Hussien - alias Grease Monkey and Mammut - speed freak on a 125 ). The food was excellant and near to something we would eat at home - a stew based dish. There was also traditional music which was surprisingly good.
Although we left Tehran without the sprockets for our bikes - they had not arrived yet Hamid was due to go to Shiraz to help a German overlander with an engine problem he had so we arranged for him to take the sprockets with him and we would meet him there.
|Hamid and Mammut working on Cliff's rear suspension|
|Time for photo's outside Nouriani with Mr Nouriani himself.|
(One thing that has suprised us from Turkey through Syria, Jordan and Iran is the way that people seem to look up to Great Britain and want to go to Britain for a better life and Education, they all want to learn to speak English properly).
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