Balkans on the fly

How do we get from Greece to Germany by bike? We can tell you there are plenty of ways to get this managed. But what is our way? Poorly prepared as always ;), we decided to travel as many countries of the Balkan region as possible, without biking all day. Not to just scratch out the countries on the map but also to figure out which countries are worth to travel to again – by bike or by plane. And second, to learn about the differences of the countries which were united not long ago and still share culture, language and ethnicity across the borders. First stop, Albania. Albania shares the EU border to Greece and we didn’t really feel like leaving the EU. Nobody asked us to stop or show our passport to leave the EU. Just the procedure at the Albanian immigration was as we expected. They checked the passport and the motorbike papers and we were good to go. No stamp, no customs, no certainty if we supposed to check out of Greece. Who cares? Let’s discover Albania.

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The first riding section wasn’t that long but challenged us off-road already. We aimed for a place called Ksamil that was recommended by Theresa in Patras some days ago. Also the ferry over a small lake pulled by a winch was a start how we like it. The cashier on the boat reminded of some klischee Albanians we know from Germany and put a little smile on our faces. Waist bag, gelled hair, hoodie, shorts, tattoos, and chewing gum.

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Ksamil appeared to be a lovely small town based at a little bay with fine gravel and crystal clear water. The small stretch of beach was packed with umbrellas but still felt charming. The afternoon sun darkened our taint a bit and the dips into the water delivered the refreshments needed. Our credo to try local food in every country becomes a challenge when only one meal can be eaten a day. As we had a kitchen included in our apartment we already broke the rule. We craved for pasta and cooked a truckload of it. Albanian food – tomorrow…

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Made to stay longer we left Ksamil for a place called Vlora. The coastline of Albania indeed is touristic, but not in an Antalyan way. Cosy little hotels, guesthouses and restaurants create a beautiful intimate and hospitable scenery. Due to that fact the traffic doesn’t flow well and the short trip became longer and longer.

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Rewarded for all the Albanian drivers literally carrying their cars across the speed bumps, our little hotel/guesthouse showed perfect seaside location and a stretcher plus umbrella included.

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Maybe not typical Albanian food, but no way around seafood in this place. The calamari and the shrimps were worth every penny and compared to our budget so far it cost a lot of pennies. We had to teach ourselves in the history of the Balkans and figured out that being aware of the history doesn’t mean that we know how it really is today. Sure it’s peaceful, that’s the most important thing, but so many facts are still odd to us. In case of Macedonia, we learnt that we didn’t really visited Macedonia. Sure, we have a stamp in our passports, the night at lake Ohrid and the visit of the city of Struga were beautiful. Macedonia is very liberal when it comes to religion (compared to Turkey and Iran), very friendly when it comes to people and very beautiful, when it comes to nature. But also very confusing when it comes to ethnicity. The entire western part of Macedonia and also the capital Skopje is more or less Albanian. The flags with the black double-headed eagle on red background are everywhere and the people we talked to consider themselves as Albanians. Macedonians supposed to be found in the other parts of Macedonia which are unfortunately not on our route. Next time.

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Skopje showed sides of an modern vibrant capital with numerous fountains and statues but compared to other European capitals delivers sights for just a single day or two.


We don’t have to say that the weather is still perfect for us. It’s not as hot as in Iran or Turkey but still dry and warm and perfect for motorbiking. Though the first signs of fall are visible. Yellowish leafs on the trees and sometimes on the street show that the colder period is unstoppable. Apart from that small sections the roads are in good conditions and it almost doesn’t matter which route we plan in advance the tour usually rocks. It’s no surprise that we meet more and more bikers every day from northern and middle European countries.

If we haven’t had to make some progress on the way to Germany we would have toured a bit more but in that case Kosovo was just a transit without an overnight stay. We double-checked that the border we want to cross to Montenegro is open and German speaking Murat from a Café in Peja reassured that we can take this road to a place that is an alpine ski village in winter and cross to Montenegro there. Perfect road up there but surprisingly offroadish on the last kilometer before the border. For a car hard to pass. And then the border appeared…

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We thought we are not supposed to cross here. On the other hand there is a small gap, wide enough for both of our bikes and perfect road on Montenegro side. And then? What happens when we will be leaving Montenegro? Next border is 80 kilometers away and we had to stay overnight somewhere. Sanity won and we camped in the parking lot of a hotel as they were fully booked. Kosovarian food actually. Skanderbeg is a hero in several countries of the Balkans. In the 15th century he defended parts of his homeland against the Osmans and this meal is named after him. Cheese defended by meat, defended by deep fried dough in one roll – delicious.

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After breakfast we were ready for border crossing. The Kosovo border came quickly, but for the Montenegro immigration we waited almost 10 kilometers of beautiful curves and Austrian-like fauna up there. Afterwards we found out that there is still contention about the territory around the border. Maybe a reason for the planned crossing point that never opened we didn’t cross a day before. So Montenegro was next on our agenda…

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Cappadocia laid back

Alive and not shot by a pheasant hunter at night we started early for one of Turkey’s most famous sights. The fairy chimneys supposed to be magical and turned our to really be stunning. Not only that these softly shaped stone formations and caves indeed look like from a fairy tale, these attraction is exactly how we like sightseeing. Sure, tourists everywhere but the chance for us to enjoy everything without lining up, obstacle running through sluggish Brits, posing Italians or photographing Japanese or without being asked by a „take-a-picture-with-a-parrot-on-your-shoulder“ guy. Sure we could have gone into a museum but honestly, these pictures show everything.

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The ride away from this area was also brilliant. The highlight on our way to Konya was our mandatory watermelon-break. This time we switched to a honey melon and it was worth it. We’ll miss that so badly, even though we don’t know how long we can keep this tradition alive. Food, laundry and a stroll over the bazaar of Konya.

We didn’t do much as we just looked forward to what we had planned next. After 30 consecutive nights in 30 different places we just wanted to park the bikes for 2 nights and come down. Alanya seemed to be a good place for that. Direct way over a beautiful mountain road the Mediterranean Sea appeared ahead of us. Our plan to walk in to any random hotel and get a room for three nights didn’t work out that well. On the paper already in low season we didn’t expect to get only one room for one night in the fifth hotel we asked. At least our Russian skills helped us when talking to the hotel staff and guests as they were almost entirely Russians. Already after dinner we stated that we couldn’t stand such all inclusive hotels for longer than a day our two. Not our style of vacation. Lessons learned. We booked a more cosy hotel for two nights in 130 kilometers away Antalya in advance but had to move the bikes again the next day. It would have been a short trip, if we haven’t met Arif. A 55 years old Turk on his brand new Honda African Twin. He used to ride Daniel’s Super Tenere for 26 years and over 500.000 kilometers. The mileage of Daniel’s bike is 47.000 kilometers. We could easily extends our trip – or better our bikes could 😉

The two days really gave us what we needed. Beach and pool time and some beers more than the one we usually just have maximum an evening.

And surely enough time to think about the route out of Turkey. Afraid of rain or the weather getting worse we decided to stay in the south as long as possible and take the ferry to Greece. Luckily the direct way to Cesme let us pass Pamukkale, an astonishing formation of pools caved into white limestone that really looks like snow covered hills from certain points of view. Unfortunately we weren’t able to avoid the Japanese, Italians, Brits, Germans, Turks, Americans, French, etc.

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One last stop overnight before taking the ferry was on a wonderful campground near Selçuk. A randomly chosen spot revealed to have a beautiful castle, several old buildings and also hosted a „music and dance festival“ that night. The two stages even let us hear every single word and tone one kilometer away on the camp ground. Unfortunately the muezzin of the nearby mosque didn’t visit the festival and created a hideous mix of sounds with his prayer.

The further we travelled west, the greener the environment became and the several bays along the cost to Cesme were tempting to stay longer. But maybe Greece also offers such opportunities to us. Ferry tickets booked and the return to the European Union was sealed. Exiting Turkey here was equally confusing than exiting Iran but finally the small ferry took us and the bikes to Chios where we transferred to a huge overnight ferry to Piräus.

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Wrestling in Kurdistan

Leaving Dezful also meant leaving the heat literally with every kilometer we drove towards Kermanshah. Not that we haven’t had the chance to stay overnight at the house of one of the friendly Iranians in almost every city, but this couldn’t be scheduled in advance. To take the chance to experience an Iranian home we used Couchsurfing. A website where people can offer their couch (in this case the carpet) or request anyone’s couch to surf (sleep) on. This usually exceeds the „service“ of just sleeping, we really took part of the hosts life. That is totally up to the host and as it’s free, nothing is a must – just the honesty and integrity of the guests. Hadi accepted or request within minutes a day before our arrival and we got the whole package. The urge to show his country from the best side possible and maybe also a small protest against what happens in his country, drives Hadi to host people over and over again. Most Iranians we have met do not agree with the government’s work and maybe these kind of contacts are a short but also a short-term way out of it. Hadi is a hard working shop owner, but we know that we should take him as an example to also show more hospitality to people visiting Germany. He and his brother showed us around in Kermanshah with insight to places we never would have access to if we were on our owns.

Have you ever heard of Varzeš-e pahlavāni. A very traditional workout that has been performed in Iran way before the Islam was present. It’s a combination of physical workout and prayers. Kermanshah is a traditional center and we visited a Zokhaneh, this is Persian and means Powerhouse.

 

The huge stone carving monuments and supper until way after midnight will be unforgettable.

 

Also unforgettable is the fact that Modern Talking is still a big thing in Iran, even for the young generation. This one was a chartbreaker not long ago (click on the picture).

We can’t say how happy we are and what Hadi had given us. Thanks again.

There was only one thing to do. Since we arrived in Iran we saw people with very comfortable wide pants and figured out that these are Kurdish pants. Our mission was clear. Get these pants somewhere. Again Hadi told us where to get it. So Javanrud was the next stop. Already late we arrived in Javanrud and we saw many many Kurdish pants. But not for sale. Worn by many Kurds who honestly annoyed us for the first time. Their approach was different to what we experienced so far and that bothered us. They weren’t not just interested they were kind of pushy. They made us escaping from the inner city to find a place for our tent on one of the camping spots in the periphery of Javanrud. No pants and no interest to get back to this town to find some.

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On that day we got the news that an earthquake 30 kilometers south of Javanrud cost 3 people their lifes and more than 300 were injured. And we were a little bit worried of the proximity to the Iraq border and lucky not getting into this catastrophe. Instead we had a wonderful view to „the other side“ from the Iranian mountains at 2600 meters altitude. Later we reached our goal for the day. Merivan. Afraid of what could happen in Merivan after the „Javanrud affair“ when stopping for some groceries turned out to get us our Kurdish pants. We’ve chosen our textile, walked to the sewer, who took some measurements and were told to pick it up at 7 pm. Easy 🙂 img-20180923-wa0019214372187.jpgIn the meantime we set up our tent in a location that was quite busy in the afternoon. Iranian families had picnic and get togethers in the park around. Away for 1,5 hours the scene had completely changed. Traffic chaos, parked cars everywhere – LED’s and music entering the scene. No joke, it was a party until 4 o’clock in the morning. Thank god we have earplugs. That guaranteed an early start though. Along the Iraq border the beautifully shaped roads took is out of the mountains in direction of Urmia, a big city at the equally named lake. Home to pelicans and flamingos. It used to be such a paradies as the lake is entirely dried out due to climate change or the unusually long drought this year. Daniel thought it might be a good idea to drive a bit into the waterless lake for a nice picture. It wasn’t that dry…

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Urmia isn’t worth to be mentioned as we just stayed in the hotel. Only thing to say. We craved for a burger and good fries after all the rice and kebab and fortunately we’ve been rewarded – in a Café. 20 year old Mohammed from Munich translated 🙂

Now we were ready for the border crossing to Turkey. A country we heard a lot about and we could easily spend 3 month in. But also a country which is in war with Syria which is also not far away from where we are. Actually Pawel and Beate advised us not to cross the border at Yüksekova, as they felt like in the middle of a battlefield. We listened to them and crossed further north. Smart as we are we filled up our tanks with the cheap benzin from Iran. Smart as the Iranians are they charge an oil fee at the border for what is remaining in the tank. We paid 6 dollars each, still cheaper as in Turkey, but not exactly as we planned…this fact cost us 1 hour and confusion but finally we made it to Turkey

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Time to say goodbye

A wonderful time of motorbiking, exploring, suffering from heat, storytelling and good comradeship was about to end that morning at Khersaan river. Pawel and Beate need to get to the Turkish border soon and still have a good chunk of distance to cover. Safe travels and see you in Aachen.

We decided to head in direction of Shiraz but without leaving out the Lost Paradies and the beautiful Doroudzan lake. Lost Paradies is a poorly paved 2 kilomter pathway alongside a small creek, where Iranians spend their afternoon and evening. Trash everywhere, tents, noise, souvenir shops and motorbikes, also using this pathway are all over the place. Maybe it used to be a lost paradies, now there is nothing what reminds of paradies.

The camp spot instead totally blown us away. The dried out lake banks were a perfect off-road track and offered some unique and deserted spots for camping and swimming. We dipped into the water the second time that day and prepared the salad for dinner. Iranians obviously like company and so we got some neighbors after our tent was perfectly built up. For the chai in the morning and a funny extended typical „Iranian2German“ chat we happily tolerated it.

As we got a taste for remote places and the fact that getting stuck in city traffic at 37 degrees we avoided the metropolis since Tabriz. Shiraz should be an exception. It was always on our itinerary and after 15 consecutive days of riding we decided to take a two days break. But not before we haven’t seen Persepolis, the ancient palace of the Persian kings, 60 kilometers east of Shiraz. As always at such old monumental places: Impressive what people were able to build in the past without the technology we have nowadays. We limited our time here as the 42 degrees really made us suffer in our motorbike pants.

We preferred to get to Shiraz to hang out in the little and beautiful Boutique Hotel in the center of the city close to the Holy Shrine of Shah-e-Sherag. A must go for us as temporary neighbours. Feels odd as not muslim being in such a holy place for Iranians, but people didn’t feel really bothered. It had more the atmosphere of a big place to hang out together. Family and friends together in a perfectly illuminated „campus“ under Mohammed’s surveillance…

We didn’t really feel like doing anything the next day but the city seemed to be worth going out, despite the heat. Unfortunately – or fortunately, the city was more or less empty. It was Friday and we were forced to do nothing. For our purposes Shiraz gave us everything we needed but we’re sure that there’s more in this beautiful city.

The amenities of a hotel made us being unsuccessful in starting early to escape from the heat. Daniel spotted a curvy road eastbound but getting out of the city of Shiraz already cost us energy and loads of sweat. Frankly, we felt kinda proud how we maneuvered through city traffic. There are more or less no rules, but magically it works that nobody crashes and nobody is upset. We transformed to Iranians when it comes to traffic 😉 The heat was unbearable and even the mandatory watermelon break didn’t satisfy. Then we drove through fields of date palms and entered a road to an area obviously nobody goes to. The next three hours we didn’t see any car and exactly three people. Two of them after one hour of perfect asphalt and beautiful curves.

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A wooden barrier made us stop and we were sure to must go back the road we just came. One guy wore an uniform – apparently for a long time already and haven’t been brushing his teeth for even longer. Even though his smile wasn’t nice to look at, it kinda comforted us a bit. We don’t know what he and the other guy who obviously just handled the barrier, protected but we were happy that they let us pass. The beauty of the roads kept staying but our feeling of uncertainty in what kind of area we were in, too. All the villages we passed were abandoned. Some looked as if people still lived there the day before, some villages showed rotten and destroyed houses. As we reached a road with a „do not pass“ and several other Farsi signs, as only road shown by our GPS, we were happy that we found the third person who helped us find the new road to the city we wanted to go to. The day became longer and longer and short after the sunset we arrived at a hotel in Behbahan. That the temperatures reached 45 degrees that day wasn’t in our minds the entire day but 38 degrees after 11pm made us realizing it. The forecast didn’t say anything differently for the next day…

This next two days are pretty easy to summarize. Cover distance and drink, drink, drink. We never experienced 47 degrees before in our life.

Everything we touched that day was incredibly hot and the worries about men and machine grew every minute. We didn’t search for campsites or lakes (these are dried out anyway) but for hotels with aircon.
The forecast told us that Kermanshah supposed to have decent temperatures. The next destination was set and we tried something new in Kermanshah.

As you may have noticed we are heading in opposite direction of India now. Our GPS is still working properly but some issues made us reroute a bit and unfortunately we had to let go the final destination India. Though the webpage’s name isn’t 100 percent accurate anymore we have some other beautiful countries ahead of us.

Maybe our route reveals which country might be our next 😉

Lots of surprises…

Surprisingly the streets behind the border to the next major city Marand were in perfect conditions and the tires we just changed to more off-road suitable profile seemed too be the wrong choice. But let’s see what we’ll be faced with in more remote areas. Marand appeared on the map to be a perfect city to stop by for a chai, coffee and breakfast. We parked our bikes on the sidewalk close to a bakery. Before we took off our helmets, people started to watch, stop and talk to us. Here is an example of a typical conversation we gonna be performing many many times during our Iran travels:

Iranian: Hello
We: Salam
Iranian: How are you?
We: Good, how are you?
Iranian: Where are you from?
We: Germany! Alman.
Iranian: Ohhhh, Germany, good, good!
We: Iran, good!
Iranian: Motorbike, BMW?
We: Yes, BMW!
Iranian: Ahhhh, good, good, How much?
We: Old bike, old bike. 1500 dollars…
Iranian: Mhhh, take picture?
We: Of course
Iranian: Iran good?
We: Iran, good, Iranian people very good.

One of the guys, Amir, who stopped by advised us to stay for 5 minutes, he would go to get some tea. In the meantime cars stopped, people got of and asked if we needed help or anything else. Amir came back with \na thermos of chai, walnuts, sugar, plus the fresh bread we bought from the bakery. That was our breakfast 🙂

Mahmut, the only guy with a decent English, signaled to help us getting a SIM card for our mobiles. On the motorbikes we followed him on his bicycle through one way streets and over sidewalks straight to a shop. They managed to get us two SIM cards with enough data for our time in Iran and it cost us 5 dollars. In every country it was possible to buy a data SIM card for small money and loads of data so far. Why are prices in Germany ridiculously high and coverage even in major cities is sometimes very poor?
We were asked more than one time if we’d like to stay at somebody’s house our at least have lunch. We denied and insisted to go to Tabriz to stay in a hotel to rest properly after the exhausting days behind us. Hard work not to accept and lots of appreciation to the people for the kindness and hospitality at the same time. Some detours in Tabriz city lead us to Azerbaijan Hotel were we aimed for some recovery time and a first impression of a major Iranian city and the climate. It is hot and as a natural reflex Jendrik put on a shorts to bring some clothes to the laundry service across the street. 3 minutes later he came back, the dirty clothes still in his hand and a scary look on his face. NOBODY wears shorts in Iran, even when it’s 60 degrees. People just won’t respect you and they showed Jendrik in a very dismissive manner. Lesson learned, we better do our homework before getting to another country. Tabriz is a vibrant city and really comes alive after dark. Too late for us. Totally knackered from all the action of the last 24 hours we had a dreamless night. Almost recharged, the first visit of a bazaar was mandatory.

We didn’t buy anything but relished the noise, the smell, the people and the diversity of the products. We watched out for a breakfast, as we didn’t make it in time to the hotel buffet and bumped into an English speaking guy from the tourist office who brought us to a breakfast place. We painted a picture of bread, scrambled egg, jam, cheese and a coffee. We got kebab, rice, Lavash (very thin bread) and tomato soup. No problem, it was more than enough. Next thing he talked about were the beautiful hot springs in Sareyn, 230 kilometers northwest of Tabriz. We painted a picture of hot springs evolving from small pools were you take a dip and relax in the sun. The perfect thing for us. Guess what happened…

The curiosity of people in Marand was surprising and overwhelming. What happened in Sareyn was not comparable with that. The first stretch of the most villages or small cities is usually designed as a camp ground/picnic area and are heavily used by Iranian tourists. Very heavy in Sareyn and we stopped right in front of this area…

As we got further into town we realized that this had nothing to do with a cosy and intimate atmosphere what we expected. Instead it was the number one holiday destination for Iranians and the city center looked like Las Vegas Strip with all its neon lights. The hot springs turned out to be, what we call Spa or public swimming baths. Not really what we wanted but still relaxing. The first time in Iran, we didn’t feel „different“. Iranians do wear swimming shorts and some even have tattoos. Women were in a separate bath, though.
Next thing on our agenda was to focus on motorbiking a little bit more, to get in the direction of the Caspian Sea and planned our route accordingly. As we passed a small village around lunchtime, Jendrik shouted suddenly. The reason was a BMW 650 GS same bike he sits on parked besides the road. The rest is easily told. Pawel and Beate from Aachen are in Iran with their bikes, started in Bulgaria, drove through Turkey and admitted to be off-road junkies. Good for us as we looked for some fun riding as well and we decided to continue side by side. Pawel already logged a route which seems to go on remote and small routes, maybe even unpaved. And he nailed it. We witnessed a magnificent spectacle and had an incredible ride through the clouds and the dark, but totally worth it.

We set up our tent in Mansuleh and shared many many stories at dinner. So much fun a a big surprise in the morning when we saw this picturesque little town in the mountains for the first time in the daylight. Again, totally worth it.

Iran – what to expect?

We arrived at the border pretty late, we have to admit. But at borders service should be provided 24 hours, right! We could rely on the Iranians. After the bridge over the Aras river, we parked our bikes in front of a booth, where a young soldier welcomed us with „I love Germany“, advised us kindly to leave the bikes there and proceed to the passengers hall. Good start. As we were the only passengers in that moment, we got our passports checked and stamped right away. A second booth: passport again – registered maybe, security check and successfully entered Iran!!! Stop, our bikes need to be registered. What did we buy the expensive Carnet de Passage for, an in Iran necessary customs document? We asked the security guy and got the answer we didn’t want to hear. „Carnet – police, tomorrow 8, ähhhh or 9. We already accepted the fact to spend the night in the passengers hall but needed some things from or bikes to make the best our of the situation. The following 90 minutes were the first example of multiple encounters with Iranians in Iran. We drove further to the customs and showed our Carnet de Passage with little hope to succeed. One guy came took our passports and the Carnet, we didn’t feel very comfortable with that, and disappeared in a little container. 15 minutes later another guy came and asked for the documents, took them from the other guy in the container and checked the motor number and number plates. He asked us to come to his office, which was obviously closed, as all the other offices there, organised some copies and after 45 minutes he said goodbye and we were good to go. So in the end this guy was off work already and came in just for us without being mad or unfriendly. We were positively surprised and booth knew that this would have never happened in Germany. We felt equally surprised by the fact that nobody checked our bikes and luggage at all. And the in the last post mentioned restriction for bikes bigger 250cc or American brand for entering Iran was never a topic even though it was officially published by the ADAC…

We parked our bikes to get some money exchanged. First we checked the exchange rate online. 45.000 Rial for 1dollar. Then we went to the official exchange office in the passengers hall. They offered us 9800 for a dollar which confused us a lot. Even more confusing were all the private people outside the office who offered us between 1.5 and 1.8 million for the 20 dollars we intended to exchange. Finally we found out that for simplification reasons Iranians still use an old currency, the Toman, which simply means just to reduce the number you have to pay in Rial by one 0 and you get Toman. We gave it a shot and received 1.95 million Rial for 20 dollars. More than twice the amount we would have gotten from a bank. Still confusing. But ok for us.

Without any exaggeration there were 25 selfies taken with us and the bikes in the next hour but everybody was incredibly friendly and interested. The other side of the medal, it was already after midnight and the next bigger city a 90 minutes drive away. What we first thought we had avoided was now our best choice.

We decided to sleep in the passengers hall until sunrise to get the Iran adventure started. It wasn’t the most comfortable night we had on our journey…

Armenia or Azerbaijan?

What do we have to expect in Armenia?

Frankly, it was more or less just a transit country for us to get to the Iran. But soon we figured out we could easily stay in Armenia for three weeks. Not because the driving in this mountain country is so much fun (mountains = curves = fun) also because people are incredibly friendly and there are so many places to visit. We know that since we met Wolfgang at Dreamriders garage who is in Armenia for 2 weeks and recommended tons of places to visit and a place to stay close to Yerewan. A camp spot in Goght, founded by a wonderful Dutch couple 4 years ago. As we were eager to visit most of the recommended spots we only stayed one night and headed to lake Sevan. Some churches from 1st to 4th century on the way made us stop a couple of times before we finally stopped at a beautiful spot at the lake.

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Actually we just wanted to snack our watermelon, but the sun, the lake, the 170 km we covered that day made us set up our tent to stay overnight. 10 degrees that night surprised us a bit, but we were ready for the border crossing. Already Iran? No, we approached the border of the Republic of Bergkarabach or Artsakh, which claims to be independent. Mostly Armenians live here and the region is functioning as a part of Armenia. Azerbaijan still does not accept the fact and the conflict is still ongoing. The regions close to the border show the leftovers of the military actions of the younger past. Aware of the history, we enjoyed the beautiful roads uphill, downhill, alongside a riverbank and the first gravel road since we geared our bikes with our off-road tires. Good choice. We walked into the Art Cafe in Stepanakert, the capital of Bergkarabach, to grab some food and luckily they also offered rooms for a fair rate. Great Armenian food and some preparations for the the next border crossing into Iran kept us busy that evening. The uncertainty, if we can enter the Iran was caused by a released message from ADAC earlier last week, that motorbikes of American brand and over 250cc are not allowed to be brought into the country anymore. Let’s give it a shot! The 260km down to the Iranian border took us longer than we expected but rewarded us with the most beautiful ride of the trip so far. Maybe you get a picture of it.

The last Dram (currency Armenia) were spend for gas and Kinder Bueno (haven’t had that since we started in May). We gave the wine we got from Koba in Georgia to the guys at the gas station (Sorry for that Koba) and put the book „Couchsurfing in Iran“ in the trash bin (sorry Stephan Orth, the book is really helpful) as it could cause trouble when entering Iran and then we were ready to go. Checking out from Armenia wasn’t a big deal, but entering Iran an adventure.