02 October, Thursday
Erzurum – Agri – Gurbulak – Bazargan – Maku – Marand – Tabriz (609 km)
We woke up really early again. Quickly we were in our superhero outfit.
Hotel Palan also served us early breakfast. The weather is superb again. We're very lucky because in this time of year, it should have been really cold.
The stone bridge at the exit of Pasinler was a nice place for a brake.
Sacdagi Pass was a blast. The scenery and the twists were all amazing. The scenery in this region is very different than we used to see. Simply there's nothing. Endless plains sorrounded by mountains and a very few green. But we liked it a lot.
We were both wondering if we would see the Mount Ararat clearly. The nice weather in the morning led us to high hopes. Finally Ararat winked at us.
It's so magnificent that it seems like 7000 metres high. We're already at 2000 metres.
A little chat with the young shepherd.
After Ararat, we arrived to Dogubeyazit. I didn't like the city that much. When we stop at the Ishakpasa Palace, Mete told me that a boy spit on me during the city ride. I remember a little drop under my eye but didn't notice where it came from.
Ishakpasa was in restoration. It was only allowed 1 hour for visiting during the workers' lunchtime. We have the border crossing on our way so we left Ishakpasa without entering in.
Approaching Gurbulak, we saw the long huge trucks in queue. Waiting for these was a reason to cry.
We quicky recognised that the trucks were just parking and past all of them to reach the gate. We parked the bikes and started the procedures. There were a lot of guys wanting to exchange money.
The process in the Turkish side was going very slowly as always. The officer for the job was always missing or on a brake. Everytime this was taking away another 30 minutes.
I was familiar with the locals thinking that we are tourists from our Black Sea tour back in 2006. Here it was very intense. Two guys approached from the back of the bikes saying "Hello tourist" "What country ?" In Turkish i replied "Are you blind ?" "We have the Turkish plates, A huge Turkish flag sticker, and a huge TR sticker, should i wave a 2 square meter Turkish flag for you to recognise ?" The boys silently disappeared.
After the process in the Turkish side finalized we entered to the Iranian side. Khomeini and Khamanei greeted us.
They stamped the entry in our passports and a fixer took our Carnets and dealed with the vehicle entrance quickly. His service costed 20 YTL. They just looked to the chasis and engine numbers. No searching of luggage.
We have one last procedure, to get Iran insurance. Nobody tells you about this but if you don't want to be in a bad situation during an accident you should do it. 15 days of insurance costed 25 EUR/bike.
By the way, whoever approached us for changing money was treated as a potential hustler. Eventually we decided on a guy and changed 50 EUR. YTL (Turkish currency) is worthless in Iran. USD and EUR is always changable and valuable. International credit cards are not working so bring a lot of cash. We got 13400 Rials (1340 Tomans) for a EUR. On the banknotes Rial is written. But everyone will talk tomans. So, you have to understand what is going on.
The border crossing took 3,5 hours. We still had to eat and fill the bikes up. (We are cheap bastards because we entred Iran with empty tanks from the most expensive gas to the cheapest in the world.) No riding in the dark rule is broken in the first day.
During preparation there was the "gas card" issue. It seems that we don't need the card after all. The government issued quota on gas via the gas card. For cars, you can load 120 lt. for a month to your card. You can buy this 120 lt for 100 tomans/lt. If you want to buy more than 120 lts during the month, you should pay 400 tomans/lt. We always paid 400 toman/lt since we can't have a card. This is still way cheaper than Turkey, so we were happy.
We ate our first and possibly the worst Iranian food in a truck diner. We had 250 kms to Tabriz. The fact that it gets dark earlier in the east occured to us, but not to Iranian drivers. They don't turn the headlights on till it's completely dark. We arrived to Tabriz with a great deal of hardship. I would take some time to get used to the traffic.
Tabriz, is the second biggest city in Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province.
I pulled over and called Atabek. He told us to find the Valiasr District. There is a huge interest in our bikes from the locals. Whenever we stop there is immidiately 5 people around. During the Islamic Revolution, there has been some shooting from the fast motorcycles. It's been forbidden to ride bikes bigger than 200 cc since than. This is the reason for the crazy attention.
At last i foung a fun fair an told Atabek to collect us from there.
This the usual scene of a pull over.
Finally Atabek and friend came and drove us to the Shahryar Hotel. After checking in we swapped clothes and went out to eat. They took us to a good restaurant. We enjoyed the local kebab and rice.
Atabek was a friend of a friend but he was very sincere to us. After dinner we returned to our room.