Falls ihr es noch nicht wissen sollted -

For those who don't know yet: We both finished our studies. Mascha got a ingeneering degree and Matteo his PhD in chemistry. But, as we will have work enough in the next years, we decided to postpone (as long as our savings last) this beginning. The FIAT Uno project was not practicable. We will try by bicycle.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New chapters on Iran!


How can we explain the Iranian hospitality? Well, at first we intended to stay 1 month, than maybe a week more and finally we are still here after almost two months. Within the last weeks we had a lot of possibilities to experience this hospitality, which is really unusual for an European. It is something really special and it makes this country unique. Here hospitality means a lot of things and it ranges from the people on the street greeting us with all the English they usually know (Hey mister!, How are you?, where are you from? and welcome to our country!) to truck drivers offering us oranges or other fruits, to car drivers stopping us to ask if we need some help and then leading us to our next destination. As well we got a lot invitations to tea or dinner and it is not unusual to be invited to stay for the night from people that you have just met on the street. The best way to discover Iran is just to open yourself to it, and the rest will follow naturally. We did it and we enjoyed the time a lot.
Anyway to write down all our experiences with Iranian hospitality would take ages. We will tell you just few examples, so you can have an idea of we are speaking about:

On our first day in Iran, we tried to meet with Perla, a nice and pretty girl who spoke Italian who we had met on the train to Tabriz and who had invited us to stay at her place for a couple of days in the same way we in Europe are used to invite someone to drink a coffee in a bar. Unfortunately she did not come to the meeting point. As our European mobiles does not work in Iran, we asked some men on the street to help us and to call her with their mobiles. They did it of course and it turned out that she was waiting at another crossing with the same name - and we turned out to sit in the strange car of the men who phoned to her. After a couple of meter the car got broken, and the driver picked up a second person on the street who had a car (I do not know if they knew each other), he explained him the situation and the new guy drove us to our friend!

Another story happened in the city of Na'in. We were supposed to call a friend of a friend (his name is Rohab) who we had never seen nor spoken with,  to meet him to go to the town of Khoor in the desert to spend new year's celebration together with other friends we had met few days before in Esfahan. Matteo called Rohab and after a few minutes he just asked us to hand him the first Farsi speaking person passing nearby. We did it and the first farsi speaking person passing nearby talked some time on the phone, then hung up, and then he picked up a friend who had a small motorcycle and they accompanied us. They drove in front with the motorcycle and we followed them with the bicycles. After some searching and asking they stopped in front of a house. It was not the house of the friend of a friend (Rohab), as we thought, but the one of a friend of him (Mohsen), who was already in Khoor with Rohab. So, we stayed there for a couple of hours, we took a shower, we ate delicious food and chatted with his lovely family, which actually did not know us. In the evening they accompanied us (I mean the whole family of 5 people plus Matteo and Mascha in a car as big as a Fiat Panda) to a square where we took the bus to Khoor. And all that happened even though we did not know nobody of these people before we met them.

This scene is also typical: we were cycling trough a city. Just arriving after a few days on the road. Somebody in a car stopped us and gave his mobile phone to Matteo. The phone call was a little bit strange but at the and it turned out out that the driver couldn't speak any English, but as soon as he saw us he called his friend who spoke English and was a cycle tourist as well, because he was sure that he would have wanted to meet us. After a couple of minutes of waiting on the next square, the cyclist showed up. He was exited to meet some other cycling tourists and invited us to his place. Which was actually his friend's place, but the evening turned out nice and we even went together on a one-day trip few days after.

with Vladimir in Genu

The last story it a proof that fortunately not only Iranians are hospitable. On our third day in Iran, we met a russian couple in a park in Teheran, we started to talk and after a while they invited us to their place if we would ever be near Bandar Abbas. Well, some weeks later we really arrived in Bandar and called Vladimir, who ist working here. His wife, who was here just on holidays had already left a few days earlier. And now we are already at his place since more than a week - our record in one place on this jurney. And we're enjoying the time a lot, relaxing and gathering strength for the next weeks on tour.   

Bandar Abbas

Fishmarket in Bandar (yes, its blood...)
Bandar Abbas, or just Bandar as the locals call it, is the biggest and most important container port in Iran. It is quite different from the rest of Iran. First it is much warmer, and just like in Europe the people from the south are different. They have more temperament, wear much more colourful clothes (the women as well! It is so good to see some other coloures instead of the all black shadors). The Bandaris, as they are called are quite mixed. They come from Iran, of cause, but you can also find lots of Indians, Africans, Pakistanis, Afghans and many Arabs. So apart from other faces, we observed as well other food - a lot of food stands on the streets - but also other behaviour:
Once we had a strange discussion with a taxi driver. He wanted to be polite and asked us if he could drink. We were quite stunned at first, but then we understood that he had a can of beer in his hand, and not an Iranian 0% beer, but a real one. He, afterwards was quite stunned that we did not want him to drink while he was driving the taxi. And it all ended up with a long discussion about drink and drive...
on the wild boat trip back from Hormoz

Another story happend on our trip to Hormoz Island. According to Iranians, we went there with fabolous wether: it was raining. Hormoz is a tiny island a couple of kilometers from Bandar with a small fishing village and a portugese fortrest from 1500 AD. As we examined the castle we could find a lot of different stones coloured in brown from far away, but if you come closer you'll see blue ones, green ones, orange and red ones. It was quite amazing. Later on we learned that this island is famous for its different coloures of sand.
When we returned to the harbour, we found a lot of people waiting. There were rumours that no boat will be leaving that day bacause of the stormy sea. Actually there were only a few waves, but the boats a small and all open. Finally one of the fishermen agreed to go, but he charged more than double the price (as we found out later). The trip back was like riding on an attraction at the "Oktoberfest" in Munich, but maybe not as save...We enjoyed it, but some of the passengers were quite afraid, maybe they could not swim and of course there were not any lifejeckets on board. Despite some girls were crying of fear, Matteo incited the direver to go faster. We arrived, all wet and shaken, but exited and happy.

More chapters on Iran following soon!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Down from the mountains

Hello to everybody!

stopping to bye some food
also food: camel head and cow head
We are now in Bandar Abbas, on the Persic gulf. It means that we are arrived at our last stop in Persia! We came down from the Iranian high plateau and now we see again the sea. We left it almost two months ago on the west coast of Turkey and it is really nice to find it again. Besides the coast, almost all Iranian is above 1000 m. Shiraz is for instance at 1500 m and Kerman at 1700 m. We have done the 500 Km between Kerman and here in 5 days...not bad!
  To be again at 0 meters above sea level  has several advantages. The immediate advantage we have recognized is that if you cycle to the sea you cycle mostly downhill. Also the temperatures increased and every night we placed the tent in a warmer place than the night before! It is so comfortable to cook your meal after a day of cycling and eat it without freezing the fingers... Actually here the temperatures are fantastic, that is always between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius (at least in January, they tell me that  in summer it is about 45). Another advantage is that fish is fresh and cheap. Our Russian host (I will tell you about him later) bought for 50.000 rials (3.5 euro) 1 Kg of  fresh tuna. I think I will visit the fish market at the port soon again...

well prepared for the tunnel

biggest traffic jam ever after the tiny tunnel on top of the pass

Chapter 1:Weather

As you may know, god does not exist. I mean, if you believe that god exists, then it surely exists. But it exists because you believe it exists, it does not exist before you. To make it short, there are some evidences that men made god, even if a couple of billion of people are quite convinced of the contrary. But, taking for true  the existence of god before the men, under the principle meius abundare quam deficere (brutally translated: more is better than less) it can be assumed that god could be more than one. Before monotheism actually, men were more comfortable to invent more than only one god. Believing also in reincarnation, I think the following story happened.

Matteo in the middle of all his clothes
Head wind - as mostly!
In one of my previous lives I could be a drug dealer. I had good connections with Afghanian smugglers who provided me premium quality opium. I sold this premium opium quite cheap to the god of rain, who really liked it  a lot. In this life he is recompensating me with only two days of rain in more than two month of travel. That is actually good only for me, because the Persian people is suffering since a couple of years a strong drought which seriously treat the local water balance and the agriculture. All river we passed were dried, also in this season when they should be full of rain, and here there is really fear for the summer, which will be almost surely characterized by water shortage. On the other hand I think I did something wrong to the god of wind. I do not really know what , but some data suggest that I fucked several times his daughter without condom living her affected of gonorrhea, pregnant, and without any economical support. Other evidences show that the opium I sold to him and his wife was so bad that they are both severely sick and his wife became even more crazy than she already was. Only in this way I can explain me why the wind is blowing always against us. From south on the west coast of Turkey all Iran from south. Exactly from the direction we wanted to go!My father says that all cyclists of the world complain about the wind in face, but in my case it is true! The strong nationalism makes possible that in Turkey there are more Turkish flags than trees. In Iran it is the same. Because of that, I have the prove of what I am saying!
Besides the wind, until now the weather was good. But if you travel in these regions in winter, expect warm days around 10  to 15 Celsius and night around zero within cities, definitively below zero outside them. Fortunately we had all the necessary with us. By the way Mascha is half Russian and she could have done that in T-shirt. My Mediterranean soul convinced me to bring some wool. It was the right decision!

Next chapters follow soon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yazd to Kerman

Hi, we hope you are as fine as we are.
As in the Islamic Republic of Iran facebook and the upload of fotos is forbidden, our blog is suffering of a lack of visual material. We are sorry.

Yazd at sunset
Anyway; we've spend some nice typical Lonely-Planet-like days in Yazd where we finally met a lot of other travellers. One of them from New Zealand. This poor fellow spends already one month in the Silk Road Hotel, and will be there for another 2, because when he arrived in Yazd and stepped out the bus he was rolled over by a car. Still he was lucky, because this broke only his two legs and did not put him 6 feet under...and he received the unbelievable sum of 20.000 Dollar of blood money. Usually it would have been 10.000, but within the holy month of Moharram it doubles...crazy rules.
By the way, we are convinced that traveling in Iran (maybe besides the traffic) is by far less dangerous than to travel in any part of Europe.
Matteo (windtower in the back)

On the roof of this hotel, where we had our little room, far away from the noisy crowds (unfortunately as well far away from the toilet), Mascha cut Matteo's hair with huge scissors,  we borrowed from the kitchen. Now he has about half a kilo of hair less and is looking like a punk from the 80ies. (Mascha likes it!! Matteo accepts it....)

Cycling from Yazd to Kerman we passed an area with a dense wild life. At least we could imagine that from the huge amount of warning signs of animal crossing: sheep crossing, camels crossing, cows crossing, deer crossing and  most exitingly Asiatic Cheetah crossing! We only saw camels...almost boring in this area....

Because of some snow and rain, we were pleased to stop for one day in the small village of Ahmad Abad, where most of the people never have seen an European in their lifes before. This area is famous for pistachios, which we got in huge amounts for free from local farmers. One of them was so kind to bring us with his car to one of the oldest stone villages in Iran: Meymand, which is the winter's base of an nomadic tribe. Like in Cappadocia people dug holes into the stone to live in them.
Meymand and its cave hauses
They still produce almost everything theirselves including carpets, medicine and different kind of food. By the way, if you think it is impossible to drive a car, most probably without winter tires on tiny mountain roads while holding a drink and a cigarette in one hand and a snack in the other, YOU ARE WRONG. If we would have known before that our driver was even severely addicted to opium we might have considered the possibility to go by bike....Well, we survived and enjoyed most of the time.
Mascha's new Afghanian love
In the meanwhile our stuff was kept in a small shop in the village. The shop owner and his two cousins were really nice. Mohammad, a student of law, being the only one who spoke English was a perfect help translating everything for us. His cousin, who finished his studies of law already is the owner of a food shop now. Every evening he teaches Farsi in the tiny room behind his shop to a group of Afghanian migrants. It is common in Iran that people with university degree don't find an appropriate job for their qualification. This is a big problem in this country as well as the brain drain of thousands of highly qualified young people, who leave the county for mostly Canada or USA. We hope our two friends will be able to become lawyers as they wish.

Mohammad, His cousin, Ali and two scholars

Signori e signore, ecco a voi i Pelmelloni

With Salman and his mother
In Kerman we were lucky to stay with Salman and his family, which Guido, a friend of Matteo already met two years ago. And we are lucky to say that now he's our friend as well. Although he had a lot of work to do, he managed to be a great host, with interesting discussions in the evening. He even went with us to his grandmothers house in a Village nearby were we spend a wonderful night with delicious food. Today  we tried to give something back, by cooking for the family. After long discussions we invented "Pelmelloni". It is the marriage between the russian Pelmeni and the Italian Tortelloni. Although cooked with Iranian educts, we were satisfied by the outcome and hope that the family enjoyed the meal as well.

Tonight we'll leave our bikes in Kerman an take a bus to Shiraz to see the last missing highlight  of our trip in Iran.  If you are curious, we'll report afterwards. Pictures will be added once we arrive in the sultanate of Oman.

Monday, January 3, 2011

In the desert

Dear friends and casual readers, we wish you an happy 13th Dey 1389!

Yes, it sounds not very exciting, but this is actual date in Persia. They have an other calendar, with 365 days and 12 months too (they found that much before than us in Europe...), but it starts on the 21th of March. So, after Christmas, also the new year's celebrations were a little bit low-fi. The persian calendar has nothing to do with the arabic one, which is definetively the most stupid one, with only 355 days in a year. Anyway in Iran they use it for the religious stuff and festivities (quite a lot though) as in all the islamic country. That is because here every day has three dates: The persian one, the arabic one, and our date, which is by far the less important.

Anyway, we wish you an happy new year, and if you have forgotten, we wish also happy birthday to Kraus (he was born in Rovigo on the 3rd of January 1982). Everyone knows who Kraus is, so we do not have to explain it. If you have doubts, ask Riba, he was born just 362 days later, and his birthday was on the 31st of December.

Ok, I start to write something interesting too, which concerns with the titel of this post.
We were in the desert.
If you have never been in a desert, you should take the next opportunity to go in the desert. We can only advertise the central Iran desert, because it is the only one we have ever seen, but I think you can try with any other desert. We were in the oasis of Khur and we visited the villages of Garmeh, Mesr and Beyazeh. What for a fantastic experience! An Oasis it is really how you have ever imagined an Oasis is, with palms, water flowing in small channels irrigating the fields, peace, silence, farmers, camels, goats, donkeys and so on. And a desert is exactly how it was described at the school, warm in the day and fucking cold at night.
We slept one night in our tent, and the next morning we were completely without water... because it was frozen! But jumping from the dunes is so much fan, and follow the water path from the spring to the fields was so interesting. In Iran there are not so many foreign tourist, (we met really less than 10 not iranian people in almost one month). Therefore you feel not so stupid when you do really touristic things like ride a camel for 500 m for 50.000 Rials (almost 5 $).
Unfortunately we cannot upload any picture, because of some problems in all the interent cafe we tried untill now. We will try in future again.
By the way, now we are in Naein and we will cycle to Yazd on Tuesday morning. It is a 175 km trip, almost flat and we should be there on Wednesday in the afternoon.
Maybe there there is a better interent connection. Ok, goodbye, stay tuned.