Get Inspired: From Meshgin Shar to Qazvin
A tiny town of Meshgin Shar is another destination on my journey. It’s a convenient place to start a trek to a hill named Sabalan (4811 m). Unfortunately the main season for this kind of fun has already passed so I’m the only one to pay the Landrover up to a place named Shabil. Anyway, the driver, a nice guy, is happy with the bargain and buys me three loaves of Iran bread. Directly from the baker as is customary here. Delicious!
I put up with the fact that today I really won’t reach the summit. The snow cover begins at 3500 m. A very strong and freezing wind. Soaked clouds right above my head and what’s worst, almost physical contact with huge pasture dogs that encircled me and held me hostage for ages until their owners freed me. That bloodshot eye of their leader will be my nightmare for a long time. A new experience – a pepper spray works like a deodorant for them. Nevertheless, the view from the 3000 meters was worth it.
Enough mountains! I can hear the roar of the surf beyond the next horizon.
The city Astara on the Iran-Azerbaijan border is a port on the Caspian seashore. I came there along a fantastic 30 km long downhill from the Alborz ridge. Half desert, parch dry lands were replaced by beautiful fresh green, misty haze and clouds lazily rising from the woods all around. Marvel!
Caspian Sea, that big fishpond with salt water, is pretty rough and milky like a cheap latte. Anyway, an evening spent on its shore with a pot of tea, talking with local merchants, is a pleasant memory.
From my travel diary:
…Arriving in Astara. I’m 4 m under the sea level! I’ve just downhilled elevation gain of about 2000 meters. There is a flea market nearby the shore. A barker is catching me and offering “a very cheap hotel”. It’s just round the corner and they want 15 USD from me. No way, man! I’m negotiating it down to 11 and finally to 10.2 USD. The barker wants a tip, a bit of quarreling around. Am I a milch-cow or what? Finally I got rid of him for 5000 R (0,5 USD). He makes faces at me but gets lost at last.
Following kilometers lead me along the shore Eastward. I made use of the rain gear for the first time, so called “wet mode”. The rain was a decent one, it poured whole day. Like I wasn’t soaked enough, the passing cars added even some more from many pools on the road side. Pure madness!
… Today’s stage was a real hardcore! Whole day downpour, poor roads but a few a bit wider ones. A guy with a friend and wife stopped me just to have a chat about where I come from and so on. Wonderful! He said he was a cycling enthusiast too but only in Iran. The wife in black helped with English. In the end they gave me a gift of 40000 R… That was nice. So I dropped in an open kebap bistro (it was Ramandan), at least I wouldn’t get drenched for a while. I threw some extra bucks on the table, had lunch for 100 000 R. But they served me like I was a king.
Original route plan (A) created at home slowly changes to the plan (B). After the port town Banda-e-Anzali I’m riding through Rasht and then on the tenth kilometer I’m cowardly taking a long distance bus to get me over the mountains. The only argument can apologize this despicable deed – there was a lot of tunnels on the 170 km stretch. Besides the dogs, those were the other stress factor on my travels.
I was unloaded in Qazvin suburbs and after the night spent in the tent I pedaled through the town towards the route Buin Zahra – Arsanj – Hejib – Saveh – Anjilavand – Baqer – Abad – Qom. In spite the road looked like some field track on the map, the reality was completely different – brand new tarmac and no traffic. Simply awesome!
Since I arrived here I have been accompanied by presence of Ramadan – the fast and holy month of each true Muslim. This time brings many surprises of which the most pleasant is frequent refusing of paying my bills for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not to mention many invitings to tea.
…I should be heading towards Buin Zahra and Saveh. On my map it looked like I could go along a track across the desert area but in real it was completely different. Newly laid asphalt and no trucks. Cosy warm 35°C. In Buin, some fellas at a kiosk buy me something to drink, in another small locanta near a gas station I’m given a breakfest – scrambled eggs, a pot of tea, lavash and finally 1,5 liter of water for free! Originally we agreed upon 10000 R but in the end the cook didn’t want anything…
…to be continued…
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