Reyhane joined me in Kashan. Throughout the next weeks we met again in Esfahan and Shiraz. In Kashan we explored the old town which was the first place in Iran how I always imagined the ancient Persia. Many houses look from the outside like its days are numbered. However, as soon as you go inside they show their real beauty. Walls and are decorated with colorful hand crafted tiles, ceilings show plaster designs and the colorful windows turn the inside of the rooms into a rainbow.
My favorite place in Esfahan was definitely the Naqsh-e-Jahan Square and its bazaar. Naqsh-e-Jahan means something like "Image of the World". Considering that it was built between 1598 and 1629 and its nine hectare area, it really must have felt like the world to the locals and traders coming from Orient and Oxidant back in the days. Like in many places it seemed like that I was the only western tourist in town. Many locals but also Asian tourists took it as an opportunity to take photos or a quick selfie with me. At times I felt like a celebrity and thought that I'd become a rich man in no time if I'd charge just one Euro per picture. :D
I pedaled through the desert to Yazd - whose old town reminded me of Tatooine from the Star Wars movies - and then in direction Shiraz. It was almost impossible to stealth camp here since it was mainly flat desert land with some little scrub. If I was lucky then there was a small pile of dirt to pitch my tent behind. If there was nothing to hide behind, I simply pushed my bike as far off the road that I felt like nobody would see me or pay attention to me. It worked out very well. I mean, which car driver pays attention to a tent or a person which is at least 500 meters aside of the road!?
I came through the city Abarkooh in which is the third oldest tree in the world - The Cypress of Abarkooh. And like in Yazd or some other places in the desert there's an ancient ice house. Yes! Ice house! People produced ice in the desert already thousands of years ago. Unbelievable! I find it mind-blowing.
"There's none", he said.
Shit! I really don't want to camp tonight. It's just too cold.
"But you can stay at my house tonight if you want", he said. "You only have to wait until I close."
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Or as they say in Farsi: "Merci! Merci! Merci!"
Saeed closed his shop at 11 pm. We loaded my bicycle into a friend's car and a few minutes later we stopped at a restaurant. After having dinner together we stopped stop at Saeed's brother's cafe and another friend's place for tea. Within no time I was included in his circle of friends. Thank you again for your incredible hospitality my friend! That was absolutely amazing! You were a real life safer that day!
So I kept pedaling. At some point I saw a road sign which stated: "Shiraz 60 km" and thought: Screw it! I'll just keep going until I'll arrive in Shiraz and find myself a guest house there.
After 12 hours in the saddle and 186 kilometers I arrived in Shiraz at 11 pm.
Reyhane and her family invited me to spend Christmas and New Year's with them although it means nothing to them since they're Muslims and Iran even uses a different calendar. For instance, the Iranian New Year starts with the spring season. They simply didn't want me to spend these days alone so far away from my family. I took a night bus from Shiraz and spent a few wonderful and relaxing days with them. Thank you guys for this wonderful time! Words really cannot describe how much I appreciate it!
After New Year's I returned to Shiraz and continued my way to Bandar Abbas at the Persian sea side in the south of Iran.
I was about to leave the restaurant in Bandar Abbas and to head to the ferry terminal as another cyclist came inside. We started the standard cyclist talk and it turned out that Patrick was also from Germany and that he was also on his way to the ferry terminal and to Oman. So we teamed up, got our bicycles and luggage checked in and cruised over the Persian Gulf to Sharjah near Dubai. The following weeks we would cycle together through the deserts and mountains of the Emirates and Oman.
Approximate scrible of my route
If you enjoy reading this blog then please support my fundraising campaign to equip two school class rooms in Darfur, Sudan. Thank you!
And if you enjoy reading it a lot and you want be part of the creative process of future blogs and other content, then you can buy me a coffee on here. ;) Cheers!
Click here if you want to take a look at my equipment.
Click here to find out more about Chris.