13/11 Tabriz, Iran
Lat N 38° 04,51', Long E 46° 16,81'
Today: 50 °F ( +10 °C)
13 Nov 2005
26618 km

Today Catharina went shopping again. She felt that she needed a real “penguin hood” instead of the scarf that slips off all the time. It is not just to rip it off the head and readjust it like you would have done at home.

We found a small boutique with “penguin hoods”. Catharina wanted to put it on immediately. There was no changing room and the male salesmen discretely left the shop while she hid behind the door changing for her new “penguin hood”.

Most of the women are dressed in a big black sheet that they sweep around themselves. Some of the younger are dressed in western clothes but they always have the scarf and at least one of the clothing is long enough to cover their behind. And of course they all wear long sleeves and long skirt or trousers too.

It is a lot of butchers that sell an assortment of delicatessen. Catharina found one that offered brains, sheep’s skull , lungs, stomach and a lot of other unidentified parts. Surely we eat a lot of things like this without even knowing it.…

The rest of the day we spent at the bazaar. It is dead easy to get lost among the 7 350 shops that sell all you can possibly ask for in their small shops. We found a street full of gold shops . We also found a couple of guys that sold a donkeys head and hoofs form a wheelbarrow. Took a taxi to the hotel in the afternoon when the rain pored down so heavy that the streets got flooded .

14/11 Tabriz, Iran
Lat N 38° 04,51', Long E 46° 16,81'
Today: 57.2 °F ( +14 °C)
14 Nov 2005
26618 km

Today we went the final 600 kilometers to Teheran. We need to get visas for Pakistan and India before we travel on. Stopped at a diner to get something to eat. We had soup, bread, rice, meat stew, Coka Cola and tea for only 1,5 $US per person. And it was very tasty too.

Arriving in Teheran it was already dark, everything was closed and we had a hard time finding somewhere to stay. It took us several hours of cruising down the streets asking for a room at all the places we thought we possibly could afford. But all hotels were full. After a while we got escorted by the police against the direction at a multilane road to a place that finally had a room for us. The hotel was not really at our taste, but it was late and we were really tired. Tomorrow we can find a better place to stay.

15/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,46', Long E 51° 25,14'
Today: 64.4 °F ( +18 °C)
15 Nov 2005
27314 km

Teheran is a terrible town to be driving in. We have been sitting in the car for eight hours trying to find embassies, hotels, food and places to park. You can go crazy for less. The Iranians dive like crazy, completely reckless and far too fast. We have been very close getting hit two times today.

At the Pakistanian embassy there was a really ass for a clerk that enlightened us that they did not give visas to non Iranian people, and that we really should have got a visa before leaving Sweden. We explained that we had been traveling for six months and that it would have been impossible. Instead he gave us a hard time about what we had written in our application and said that we needed a ”Letter of recommendation” from the Swedish embassy in Teheran. Also we needed to write a letter to the consul where we in detail explained the reasons for applying for a visa in Iran, and that we were recommended by the Pakistanian embassy in Damascus to get the visa here. On top of this we needed to give them copies of all stamps in our passports. There is one word for people like this asshole!

The rest of the day we spent looking for a decent hotel that we could afford. We realized that we needed to stay for a few days to get the visa applications on track. We asked around but they were all full, but finally we found a room for 30 $US per night.

16/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,95', Long E 51° 25,30'
Today: 50 °F ( +10 °C)
16 Nov 2005
27372 km

Today we took taxis though town to Swedish embassy, Pakistan embassy and to Indian embassy. We started at the Swedish embassy to get a ”Letter of recommendation”. What the Pakistan embassy really means by demanding document this is that they do not regard our Swedish passport as sufficient identification. The ”Letter of recommendation” affirm that we are Swedish citizens and that we have a valid passport. If the passports are not good enough, why do we have them?

After this we went strait to the Pakistan embassy. After a few more snotty remarks from the clerk we got told that we could pick up our visa in three days.

Relived we went strait to the Indian embassy to get the application forms. We got to know that it take four to five days to get a visa. Also were told that we need a ”Letter of recommendation” for India. This means we have to go back to the Swedish embassy again tomorrow.

17/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,95', Long E 51° 25,30'
Today: 59 °F ( +15 °C)
17 Nov 2005
27372 km

Yesterday we were cleaver enough to make waypoints at all the embassies. And it was no problem at all to find them as we took the car today. After a quick visit at the Swedish embassy we went strait to the Indian embassy to hand in the visa applications. Now all we have to do is to wait for them to get processed.

Even though Iran is a cheep country to stay in we need to get some more money. We have heard rumors that there is one branch office in Tehran that allow cash withdrawal for a visa card. We went there to check it out. But unfortunately, it is completely impossible for a foreigner to make a withdrawal in Iran. We just have to manage on the dollars and rial that we brought with us from Turkey.

All over town we have seen huge wall paintings, mostly of Khomeini . Another painting that made us a bit chocked with its strong expression was ” Down with U.S.A ” decorated with bombs and skulls to emphasis it even more.

In the evening Hamid and Nasser came to visit us at our hotel. They are the friends of Annelis friend Mehrdad in Sweden. We were hoping to be able to see Mehrads parents tomorrow but that was not possible to arrange. Instead we stuck to our original plan to make a two day trip to the Caspian Sea while we are waiting for the visas to get ready. Hamid and Nasser helped us choose a suitable route and gave us the address to Hamids sister who lives by the coast. Then we went with them to a friend of theirs who had a coffee shop in the neighborhood, where we had coffee and had our fortune told in coffee grounds.

som skriker ut sitt budskap. Ett motiv som gjorde oss ganska chockade genom sitt starka uttryck var ” Down with U.S.A

18/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,95', Long E 51° 25,30'
Today: 60.8 °F ( +16 °C)
18 Nov 2005
27372 km

While waiting for the visas we decided to make a trip to Novachar by the Caspian Sea, a 200 kilometer trip that took us most of the day. We got sopped several times by the police. But none of them gave us a hard time. They were just curious for of us westerners with a strange car.

There is a particular car in Iran almost as common here as the Lada use to be in former eastern countries. The brand is Paykan. The cars are easy to recognize because it seems to be only one model and the only two colors to choose from seems to be white or orange.

In the evening we had a real poker night with the beer and whiskey we smuggled in to Iran.

19/11 Novachar, Iran
Lat N 36° 40,35', Long E 51° 24,57'
Today: 69.8 °F ( +21 °C)
19 Nov 2005
27613 km

When packing to leave our room the reception clerk phoned us. He asked us to stay a while longer because a reporter was on his way to make an interview with us. Ehhh, what? Why?

At the introduction we realized that it was in fact two newspapers that wanted to make an interview. They had also brought an interpreter. None of the reporters could speak English. This was kind of crazy. Are we the only tourists they have ever had in this town? Of cause they asked about the trip, but also questions like what we think of Iran, the difference between Iran and other countries and how we felt about having to wear a shawl and clothes that covers all of our bodies.

When the interview was over Anneli took the opportunity to visit a driving school together with the interpreter. Anneli got to take a ride in a driving-school car. Surprisingly there were dual controls and an extra rear-view mirror, just as in normal Swedish driving-school car. All this was very exiting for Anneli who work as a driving school teacher in Sweden.

On the highway to Teheran we got to witness a pile-up with four cars in the lane next to ours. Just as we passed we saw it happen. We are not surprised at all that there are so many car accidents in Iran. They all drive like lunatics and far too fast.

20/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,95', Long E 51° 25,30'
Today: 62.6 °F ( +17 °C)
20 Nov 2005
27957 km

We got our visas at the Pakistan embassy today. Went there in the morning to pay the fee and in the afternoon we went back to collect them. The fee was only 20$, much lower than expected. Went also to check if the Indians visas were done but they were not.

Spent the evening at an internet café to search for information about Pakistan. The Swedish embassy advice against traveling there, if not necessary. We sent email also to the Swedish embassy in Islamabad to inform them about our travel plan. We got information about westerners that have been kidnapped by armed robbers a couple of years ago and that the area from the border to Quetta seems to be lawless. Unfortunately we haven’t got any alternative if we want to go to India.

We have learned the Arabic numbers. We did it for fun but it is really good to know them when you get a check like this at the restaurant.

21/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,95', Long E 51° 25,30'
Today: 59 °F ( +15 °C)
21 Nov 2005
27957 km

Called the Indian embassy to check if the visas were ready. They were not. They are waiting for reply from Dehli and told us to come back again tomorrow. We were hoping to leave Teheran today. Okay, nothing to do.

Went to a cozy place in northern Teheran with a lot of small restaurants and open-air cafés at the mountain side. Very romantic with a murmuring brook along the path that takes you uphill.

In the evening we met Hamid and Nasser again. We visited Nasser’s coffee shop, had coffee and took the opportunity to ask all the questions that we had wondered of about Iran and how things work here.

We took the bus back to the hotel and we were surprised to see that men and women have separate seating. Men sit in the front of the bus and women in the back. Hamid told us that it is the same in trains and in the subway. Felt a little like apartheid to us…

Watched a movie and had ice cream before bedtime.

22/11 Teheran, Iran
Lat N 35° 41,95', Long E 51° 25,30'
Today: 68 °F ( +20 °C)
22 Nov 2005
27957 km

For the third day in a row we went to the Indian embassy. The visas were not ready but the desk clerk probably felt sorry for us so he showed us in to the consul. We discussed the matter with him and agreed that he will send the papers to Zahedan, near the border, so we can collect our visas there instead. Great deal, it means that we can continue.

Outside the embassy a man had sat up his own business. With a typewriter he helped to fill in application forms for visa. Very creative!

We left Teheran immediately with no time to loose. Drove the 400 km to Esfahan in four hours. The road was really good. Found a hotel, grabbed a bite and had a look at the town before we went to bed.

23/11 Esfahan, Iran
Lat N 32° 38,83', Long E 51° 40,39'
Today: 62.6 °F ( +17 °C)
23 Nov 2005
28438 km

Esfahan is a nice and friendly town that we liked at once. People are really nice and want to talk to us. They say “Hello”, “Where you from?” or just “Welcome”. Often this is the only phrases that they can say in English, so a longer conversation is out of the question.

Today we went to Emam Khomeini Square. One of the worlds most beautiful mosques, Emam Mosque, and also Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque , are located there. Both of the mosques are decorated with fantastic Persian mosaic and are absolutely gorgeous.

Met a really nice guy named Mohammed, who had a carpet store in the bazaar next to the mosque. He also had an uncle in Kårböle, Sweden, who we promised to visit next time we pass there. He offered us chai and told us a little about Persian carpets. We are definitely going to look at carpets with different eyes after this.

Afternoon we spent strolling at Zayandeh river to see some of the famous bridges in town. Had a nice cup of tea in one of the tea houses under the bridges . It is so great so see water again after a month in desert and mountains.

24/11 Esfahan, Iran
Lat N 31° 54,05', Long E 54° 22,22'
Today: 64.4 °F ( +18 °C)
24 Nov 2005
28756 km

We traveled the 300 kilometers from Esfahan to Yazd today. We found a great place to stay in Yazd, the Silk Road Hotel. Highly recommended! Yazd is one of the oldest cities in the world, and a city full of minarets. It is really easy to get lost in the alleys and narrow streets of the old town.

The houses in the old town are made of bricks and are plastered with a mixture of mud and straw. If it were not because of the electric system it could easily had been two hundred years ago. The houses look very primitive on the outside but on the inside they look quite different with whitewashed walls, ornaments and tiled floors just as the guest house we are staying in.

A lot of the front doors in the old town houses have two door knockers – one for the visiting women and one for the visiting men. This makes it easy to decide who is going to answer the door. An amusing device that they have here in Yazd is a very old fashioned air-conditioning system .

25/11 Yazd, Iran
Lat N 31° 54,05', Long E 54° 22,22'
Today: 62.6 °F ( +17 °C)
25 Nov 2005
28756 km

It was a long day of traveling today. We drove for seven hours between Yazd and Bam. Days like this it is good to have an audio book. It makes time fly. Right now we are listening to “Angels and demons” by Dan Brown. We don’t want to stop, not even for a meal .

26/11 Bam, Iran
Lat N 29° 05,43', Long E 58° 21,75'
Today: 64.4 °F ( +18 °C)
26 Nov 2005
29325 km

95% of the city Bam was destroyed by the earthquake 25 dec 2003. The town has not recovered yet. Most of the buildings still relay on provisory solutions with electricity and water.

Nearly 40 000 persons died in the earthquake. The inhabitants were cut in half in a few minutes. It is not hard to understand the enormous loss when we see the remaining signs of the disaster. Most of what remains of the houses is in ruins and steel constructions writhe in pain.

Many of Bams inhabitants still lives in primitive sheds or tents while they try to rebuild there house and life. Reconstruction activities are seen all over town. The reason why it’s not more is probably the lack of money.

It is a lot of see containers that have been left by the emergency relief. These are used as provisory shops and banks.

Akbar – the owner of the guesthouse we stayed at was also hit hard by the earthquake. The first six months they lived on the street and the next in a tent that they received from the relief organization Red Crescent. Meanwhile they slowly rebuilt the guesthouse little by little and still do.

We met two German relief workers who told us that it had become a strange atmosphere in Bam since the earthquake. A lot of new people have moved to Bam. The government estimate it to about 40 000 new inhabitants. Many of them are connected to smuggling and narcotics.

27/11 Zahedan, Iran
Lat N 29° 29,29', Long E 60° 52,12'
Today: 48.2 °F ( +9 °C)
27 Nov 2005
29669 km

Cold again, inside and outside. Today we went to the Indian consulate and got our visas.

Took the opportunity to fill up the water tanks. We got it for free probably because we needed so little.

We also filled up the car; check out the line to the gas station! We only got 30 liters and you also need a special “petrol filling card” which we didn’t have. We got the petrol at last but only when we paid double the price, 20 cent/liter.

At the hotel there is a deaf caretaker. It is much easier to speak with him than with an Iranian that doesn’t speak English.

Read in the newspaper that it has been an earthquake in Iran this morning but luckily far away from were we are.

10.30 pm we had just went to bed when someone knocked hard at our door and said “Open door, policeman”. We thought it was strange and refused to open but he was persistent. Finally we opened and he asked a few questions like “Where are you from?” and “What is your work?” and then he left.