I was able to embrace the enormous hospitality of the Iranian people whom, which I must admit, truly caught me by surprise. I remember immediately thinking about all the things I had heard about this country especially in respect of its politics and I thought a lot about the controversial information that is generated on a daily basis by the TV, newspapers and social media and which in no way reflected on my actual experience.
While in Iran, I had a mission to carry out which was assigned to me by a friend. I had to find someone, a gentleman named Reza as I had a gift for him, a photographic book. Locating him was not easy but with the help of the locals I was successful.
I realise that riding a bike provides me with many opportunities and as is often the case, I am allowed to pass through places otherwise considered inaccessible.
I stayed in Tehran, an extremely chaotic, immense metropolis, with definitively “important” traffic jams. In my opinion, it is a city that is in stark contrast with its surroundings.
Looking north towards the Caspian Sea, I head towards Darband which in Persian literally means “gateway” or “door of the mountain”. From here, I take a highly tortuous path that runs along a river and at the edge of the path there are numerous restaurants and stalls. The temperature is slightly lower and you can certainly breathe easier than in the city. I am offered the opportunity to relax but instead I decide to proceed with my journey. I am told that the trail continues for many kilometers and if I am not mistaken it is possible to climb to an altitude of almost 2500m. It is definitely not the kind of feat I am looking for and decide to go back and visit the Tajrish Mosque. The latter houses the tomb of the son of the fourth Imam, the outer square leads to the famous Bazzar of Tajrish where you can admire the bright colours of the vibrant fabrics and goods for sale, as well as the pungent and distinctive scents of the spices that surround the entire market.
“… The encounters with people today were numerous and I realise that my journey is much more about situations and events rather than famous places to visit and this I must admit, I like a lot … but ultimately, people always leave something within you …”
It is now time to change destination and leaving the metropolis of Tehran behind I head towards Esfahal. I got to know how it feels to spend the night sleeping in a tent in the middle of the desert, with a small ember used to cook skewers of meat illuminating the sand golden. We ate laid out comfortably on soft Persian rugs and the view of the sunset on the dunes was extremely impressive, an emotion that I am happy to have experienced … during the night we also encountered a small desert fox to which we offered a small morsel of meat.
The temperature was always around a very hot 40 degrees and my motorcycle clothing did nothing to help cool me off.
I then head towards Shiraz to visit Persepolis, or the City of Persia (from Ancient Greek). Its ruins are majestic and demonstrate the grandeur of this city during the Achaemenid Empire, a destination that I had set out to definitely visit and I am really glad I did. After walking along the grand staircase, arriving at the Porta delle Nazioni (the gateway to the nations) leaves you speechless as does the “sala delle 100 colonne” (the hall of 100 columns). It is impossible to describe in words either the sumptuousness of this site or the emotions it evokes.
The last day in Iran was an intense day of non-stop travelling, heading towards Kerman where I continued east after passing close to the airport and through the city of Ban until I reached Zahedan which sits on the border with Pakistan.