Hello from Iran! 🇮🇷

We have been driving around in Iran for almost 2000km and every day has been fantastic. The Iranians are welcoming us with open arms, chai and big smiles wherever we are!

We are having a great time chatting with the people, driving around the many mountains, enjoying tasty meals, tea, fresh juices, the daily watermelon, going for a dip in one of the many lakes, visiting historical sites, chilling at river sides, discovering stunning camp spots, getting dirty driving off-road, getting lost driving off-road, keeping up with the incredible heat in the desert and just enjoying our trip in this beautiful country!

Besides the hundreds of selfies and pictures taken off and with us, also we have taken many pictures and documented our trip however we can’t upload these as the photo and data upload for some reason is blocked. We are still writing the blog and once we are in a place the upload will be possible again, will be back on here in usual manner!

Click here to see where we are and follow our route!

Until then a big „salam“ from Shiras, in the South of Iran where we are at the moment.

Madloba Georgia

Having serviced the bikes we were ready to keep going further Southeast. However before we decided to stay a few more days in Georgia, enjoying stunning mountain roads, beautiful sights and the incredible hospitality from the people living here.

Leaving Rustavi we drove about 250km through the mountains up to 2500m above sea level to visit Vardsia a UNESCO world heritage site. The monastery was built into a mountain in the 13th century included a fresh water spring, a church and offered incredible views and interesting history.

On the way we were quite amazed by the beauty of the mountain range and enjoyed driving the perfect curvy roads up and down.

We had a quick lunch break at the lake Paravani and a bit of off-road driving around it.

About 20km before Vardsia it started raining quite heavily so we looked for a place to get shelter and stay for the night. Luckily we saw a sign guesthouse Mtkavi. We followed the signs riding through a muddy road up a hill and were lucky enough Koban a very friendly and funny guy had a room for us to stay. Even more we got a fantastic dinner all made from „the house“ and all organic. Even the wine was homemade and Natalie just didn’t stop serve more dishes accompanied by wine and fresh water from the spring to drink.

What a feast, we rolled into the bed after and had a very tight sleep in the quietness of the valley.

After visiting the monastery we were heading for Armenia. Going to spend our last Laris at a gas station a Mercedes car showed up next to us and we were invited to have a coffee. Surprisingly the driver spoke German. Merujan, a super friendly Handwerksmeister who lives with his parents in Schwerin and is visiting his family in Georgia invited us to follow him to his grandmothers house. Gladly we did and met his parents, grandmother and friends.

We’re so grateful for the hospitality and the wonderful time in Ninozminda we had. We learnt a lot about Armenian traditions and history, enjoyed incredible tasty food once again, nice Cognac too and were even offered to stay for the night. Thank you so much – hope to see you guys in Hamburg!

The next day we drove to direction Armenia and got check how our bikes and new tyres are working on muddy and difficult road conditions up to the Armenian border. The check out leaving Georgia went smooth, however we faced a 2 hours delay at the Armenien boarder – lots of paperwork to be done – but were once again rewarded for the hassle by stunning views, fun riding, sunny weather on our way to Yerevan, the Armenian capital. We checked in to a guesthouse, did some laundry and had the first Armenian beer.

Now it’s time to discover Armenia for a bit before heading to Iran.

See here where we are and how we got here.

Back on track

3 weeks of rest for our bikes, 3 weeks of time-out for us.

We are happy to be back in Georgia, happy to be re-united with our motorbikes which stayed safe and sound at KTM Georgia.

Today we got the tyres changed, new break pads mounted, oil changed and the bikes are ready to go. Big props to Lewan from KTM Georgia for all the support and help!

A bit of refreshment for our gear, sorting the equipment and planning the route was the task for later today.

The sweat, dust and dirt from 8500km sat inside the helmets which got a good clean as well as the boots and gloves.

The next few days we will be driving around in Gerogia before heading to Armenia, slowly making our way to Iran, the next milestone on our trip.

We are looking forward to the next adventures, beautiful sights, friendly encounters, panoramic views, tasty food, dirt roads, mountains, desert, rivers and much more to come and will be back blogging on here in usual manner.

Cheers!

From Rostov-On-Don to Sochi

The distance from Volgograd to Rostov-On-Don is about 550km on good roads, partly on M4 which is a well built 2 lane highway. However we decided to have a stop over in a hotel about 170 km before Rostov so we don’t have to drive so much too much that day.

Nice hotel, nice food, good rest. The next day we headed to Rostov-on-Don or Росто́в-на-Дону́ or Rostow-na-Donu. Smaller than Moscow or St.Petersburg, still 1.1 million, but cozy, relaxed right at the river Don. We had booked an Airbnb in the center of the city before we arrived there, walking distance to the Fan Fest and the Rostov arena as we were going to watch the round of last 16 Match Japan vs Belgium here.

Firstly in Rostov-On-Don we had to get rid of our extra tickets for the game, went to Decathlon with the hope of finally getting new gas for our cooking stove (still no success) and checked out the city for a bit whilst feeling to be on a cooking stove ourselves – still 38 degrees during the day…

Nothing more, dinner at night and good rest again. Walking distance in Russia means 8-12km a day. That needs good rest for sure. Sightseeing and Russia playing Spain deepened our T-shirt-tan in the burning sun and to our surprise we gonna watch Russia in the stadium in Sochi on 7th July…What a party! Happy Russians everywhere and surely we are also happy to see a match of Russia live!

Finally it was game day in the Rostov arena! Before our highlight of the day we went to the Fan Fest to watch Brazil beat Mexico. From there the shuttle bus took us conveniently direct to the brand-new stadium on closed roads and to watch what we thought will be a boring game – but yeah we were wrong! 2nd half with 5 goals and Belgium conceding the winning goal in the 95th minute… we felt sorry for the Japanese!

We had some traditional tasty Khachapuri (picture 1) and excellent Khinkali (picture 2) in a neat local restaurant after the match. The next day we planned to arrive at the Black Sea, we were very excited after so many kilometers over land.

2600km more or less on straight roads within Russia has been less attractive hence we were happy to drive through the mountains to the coast of the Black Sea. Windy roads and some stunning views were very much appreciated! And it’s nice to see some other bikers again even more as everyone is greeting while heavily waving in full stretch of the arm. We even got some fist bumps while overtaking! And in between the horns or thumbs up from passing cars. Cool stuff!

After a 2 nights stay at the coast in Lermontovo in the very nice guest house Shokolad close to the beach and a lot of tasty shashlik we drove another 5 hours on the beautiful coast line to Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Olympics and the quarter final of proud Russian’s Sbornaja. We’d love to see the next World Cup’s surprise – GO RUSSIA!

We have passed the 7000 km mark by now, check out our route to Sochi.

Russia calling – St. Petersburg

12th – 16th June

We didn’t really get to experience Finland as we had only two nights here. However we did enjoy the stay at a well located campground in Hamina at one of the several beautiful bays of the Baltic Sea, approx. 50km before the Finnish/Russian border. We were ready to finally go to Russia, get into the World Cup spirit, inhale the special atmosphere and explore this huge country. But first we had to get into the country and as we had been told before it’s not as smooth as other borders. Hence we were prepared, well we thought we were…

Firstly we were quite happy not seeing queued cars and long lines on the Finnish side, a quick stop, passport check and off we go through the green border and into Russian territory, not at the border yet:

The Russian border building showed up about 1km later. We can’t deny a certain nervousness, we really couldn’t explain. We lined up behind a few cars and then were told to drive up front and park our bikes. Is that a good sign or bad? We did and waited. The young soldier whos job it was to coordinate the arriving cars didn’t look too friendly and there wasn’t any English word coming out out his mouth on the other hand our Russian not existing. We figured out to go to the booth where we showed our visa (so called fan ID as we had tickets for the World Cup), passport and immigration. Pretty quickly done actually and we were ready to get back on the bikes. It can’t be that easy…surely not. Bikes registrations and customs are on the list…second booth!

We met some guys who went to Russia with their bikes last week or so and they gave us a form which must be filled out for the bikes for the customs beforehand. We handed this thoroughly filled out form together with all paperwork and documents over to the Russian customs lady in uniform after queuing up for 20 minutes. Light blond shoulder long hair cut straight, heavy make-up and a chewing gum, didn’t say a word just gave us exactly the same form 4 times which we had handed in before to fill it out again. She needs a copy (the word says it – make a copy!!!) and we had a spelling mistake in it, which she highlighted with a marker… puuuhh. We did it and after 30 minutes of standing in line again we were hoping that we did everything right then. We felt like in school and we weren’t nervous anymore, just annoyed. Finally we passed this test but the bikes needed to be registered… it took another 10 minutes for each bike and people behind us got a bit impatient. But finally we had to sign another pile of papers and the lady even smiled for the first time, wished good luck for the World Cup and we were ready to drive off. Another customs lady had to check our luggage and of course the paperwork again! Now we were good to go and we were even allowed to pass by all the cars 🙂 Another check point came up 2 minutes later, again paperwork and passport check. 2,5 hours at the border, about 10 stamps later we were happy in Russia. This whole procedure is annoying but in the end we felt treated kind of friendly.

First impressions of Russian traffic wasn’t as rude and chaotic as we thought it to be. A calm 4 hours drive into beautiful St. Petersburg didn’t even change our mind. Surly more cars and traffic lights but not worse than Hamburg traffic. It took us quite some time to find our hotel as it was more a student house at the Christian university – how should we know? Anyways it was very convenient – location wise. A bit tired after a long day we went out for some Russian food and a beer and had an early night.

A bit of garlic bred and meat with garlic, whole grilled garlic and garlic sauce…

The next day was just for organising stuff like SIM card, check out fan fest and get into Russia and strolling around in the city. The deep down crazy metro system and beautiful stations, huge houses and plazas, the river and big streets are impressive! Beautiful city with many cafes, bars and restaurants.

And of course the opening game of the World Cup took place! Well done Russia!

Another good night of sleep and finally it was match day for us! Before leaving to go to the beautiful St. Petersburg stadium we had to handle some ticket issues and hand overs at the ticket center were we also met up with Alex, a nice guy from Berlin now living in St. P. who took one of our left over tickets, Daniel met him on the fan fest the day before.

Awesome atmosphere everywhere. In the streets, in the train, on the way to the huge stadium the Iranians as well as the Moroccans made that day, celebrating their teams, just like a big party. Finally we felt the special World Cup mood!

The game, well it wasn’t the best but it was one of the loudest. Crazy loud. The sounds, the chants, constantly. You could barely talk to each other but on the other hand that’s what makes the mood. Passion and craziness!

So even our team wasn’t playing we were enjoying and even more when in the 95th minute the only goal has been scored. Own goal from Morocco… the Iranians went crazy, crazy happy!

After that game also Spain vs Portugal was on TV so we decided to watch this game in the city center in a bar. It was nice to enjoy these teams playing, 6 goals in total after the pretty boring game we witnessed. We had dinner together with Alex at a sushi place and just enjoyed the white and light night in the streets of St. Petersburg. Our impression of St. Petersburg and its people is very positive. We enjoyed best weather but also can imagine that this city is enjoyable in freezing winter time. We didn’t stay out for so long as we had to start to the 900 kilometers away Moscow the next day as we had to be there 3 days later…

For convenience here is a short video summary of the last 10 days:

Crossing the Baltics to Finland

6th – 11th June

After a good sleep in the tent again in Barzai we headed off for Latvia. The perfect road behind the border (nothing reminds of a border here) gave us the hope that the roads would continue like that. This hope was taken after 20 kilometers or so. The strong wind coming from the coast pushed us from side to side like ping pong balls. Luckily there weren’t as many trucks on the road as in Lithuania or Poland.

Riga was never really on our itinerary from the beginning, as we both have been visiting already. It is the only city in the Baltic area considered as metropolitan city. A coffee and a quick lunch was everything we dedicated Latvia’s capital and went off to Tuja, a very little town with a campground and a supermarket – nothing else. So far it was the most scenic and loveliest designed campground. A selfmade playground, fireplaces all over the property and direct access to the beach. We made a bonefire and for having the perfect camping feeling it even convinced us to take a short dip into the calm but freezing Baltic sea in the morning. This gave us enough freshness for the most tiring 200km through Latvia. Sorry for not spending an appropriate amount of time in your country, dear Latvians . We make that up some time in the future…

It didn’t get really dark all night long. This picture was taken after midnight:

Pärnu, the weekend exile of many Estonians lead us to a very touristy little town in Estonia.

We found a cool little spot to set up camp in a backyard in the city.

We had a stroll in Pärnu, met Cocran a Canadian guy who is driving around in Europe and also owned a F650GS. It took him around South America and further. More than 115.000km in total – this made Jendrik feel pretty confident. Some advises and little anecdotes later we were sure that you not necessarily need the best and newest equipment for such a trip. Not even your own bike. Safe travels amigo, it was a pleasure.

After these 3 nights in the tent we booked an Airbnb very close to Tallin Old town.

It was a perfect stay. Close to everything and finally a nice bed again! Thanks Nataly for helping us finding a laundry place – it was about time and surely we would have passed it…

A walk through the beautiful old town and the harbour area confirmed what we already expected. Estonia is not only geographically closer to Scandinavia, as the other Baltic countries: The language, the architecture and also the appearance of the people show many similarities to their Scandinavian neighbors. We recharged all electronic devices, proved to be good chefs – again 🙂 – and went for an early sleep to stand a quite tight schedule the next day.

Have you ever heard of ice-sailing, Konstantin Vassiljev, three times Estonian footballer of the year or a restaurant where glasses, plates and forks are just not existent? The fantastic maritime museum, the friendly match between Estonia vs Morocco in the LeCoq Arena and dinner in Ill Draakon restaurant taught us.

Especially the restaurant impressed, while the game didn’t so much, Morocco won 3:1… It just needs a huge piece of meat from the bone and big tasty beer out of a huge clay pot to be happy.

A great day found its end around 3 o’clock – measured by daylight 8 o’clock in the morning, see here:

Our plan was to take the ferry to Helsinki but only god knows why, prices had risen for about 400% this day so we booked another cheap stay in the countryside, to take the ferry the next morning. It was a beautiful stay actually, next to a lake and perfect sunshine. Great to rest and relax.

Ready for new adventures we took off to find some brekkie and cartridges for our camping stove the next morning. Very difficult as there are different standards all over Europe – mission not completed yet… We made it to the ferry terminal in Tallin just in time. Premiere on a ship with our bikes – the name says it all: M/S Finlandia.

After 2,5 hours we arrived in Helsinki/Finland, the 7th visited country during our trip! Sunshine welcomed us, lunchtime and a nice 2 hours walk around the capital, we took some pictures and drove further East to stay a night on a campground in Porvoo, actually on a hill for skiing. 28€ for a standard campground – not surprising but 5 times the price of the average fee in Poland. Frustrated we bought two beers for 10 Euros. It’s vacation 😉

Follow our route as we are getting closer to Russia, the next milestone on our trip!

Lithuania

June 1st – 5th

From Danzig we drove through the beautiful landscape of Mazury. Little valleys, lakes everywhere and the sun shining all day long. After a quick stop for another face off with the cruelty of Nazi Deutschland at the Wolfsschanze we stayed for one night at the Wydminy lake in our tent.

The day after the streets took us along the Russian border to Kaliningrad into Lithuania, the 4th country during the trip. We followed our plan to visit Trakai, a picturesque town and capital of the medieval Lithuania. The most visited Lithuanian landmark is the well preserved and impressive watercastle at the Galve lake 20km southwest of Vilnius.

Heading for Vilnius, we took the direct route via the highway, the first time on our trip we chose this fast but boring way of driving. We covered approx 350km in 5 hours. Inbetween we spontaneously detoured to Kaunas central, the 2nd biggest city in Lithuania and had lunch at the surprisingly charming riverside, close to the castle.

After drifting through the awesome bends around the lakes in Trakai for a while, we stayed at a residence. Pretty fancy for a campground. Wi-Fi covering the entire area allowed us to watch the friendly Germany vs Austria via live stream.

The German invasion of camper vans here for sure had satellite TV, but this is not the company we prefer on our tour distancing Germany a little bit more every day.

Sunday was another „holiday“! History session at Trakai castle and cuisine lesson in one of the traditional small townhouses with late breakfast. Kibanai, little baked dumplings with diverse sweet and hearty fillings really blown us away. Our belly worked on these Kibanai while we rested at the beach of one of the numerous lakes around. We met Saulius, who listened to us speaking German and initiated the conversation. He’s a former professionell basketball coach, who was happy to practice some German again! Super friendly and inspiring. It was very cool to meeting you Saulius!

Later that day we literally flew the remaining kilometers to Vilnius where we stayed in a nice apartment. We went for a stroll downtown and straight into a typical Lithuania restaurant serving traditional food – again 😉

Typical beer plate!

What a feast it was!

After two mains each and a few more beers we walked back to our apartment and had a fantastic sleep – not very surprising, huh?!

The haircut, scheduled for a long time was finally accomplished and let us look a little less like travellers before meeting up with Povilas, who Jendrik knows for a long time, in Vilnius‘ old town. We had dinner and a very nice evening with many laughs! He was so kind to receive some mail for us from Hamburg, amongst were all our tickets for the World Cup in Russia as the FIFA wasn’t able to send these out in time… thanks again Povilas!

The next day we took off heading East, after getting done some work on the motorbike (with some parts also received with the mail) and set up our excellent MSR tent in no time in Northern Lithuania, even though we faced heavy wind. Our routines seem to be almost perfect by now.

Barzai is supposed to be our last stop in Lithuania as we’re heading to Latvia tomorrow. That day was the first time we actually had some rain while driving…