December 8th 2011: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – Sabzevar, Iran 

Driven distance on December 8th 2011: 300km (190 miles)

Driven distance total: 25’180km (15’650 miles)

The border between Turkmenistan and Iran we could pass without any problems! After 2 hours we were in Iran, and to our surprise they didn’t search the car at all! We never had this before.

Something nice in Iran is, that we are driving finally on some good, reasonable roads! The trip from the border was really nice with all the snowy mountains around..  


December 9th 2011: Sabzevar - Semnan, Iran 

Driven distance on December 9th 2011: 450km (280 miles)

Driven distance total: 25’630km (15’930 miles)

On todays trip we have seen desert like steppe, strange hills, snow capped mountains, dusty villages and a lot of traffic on the roads.


December 10th 2011: Semnan – Teheran, Iran 

Driven distance on December 10th 2011: 250km (160 miles)

Driven distance total: 25’880km (16’080 miles)

Since we were almost out of money, we looked around for a bank that could exchange money. In this city it wasn’t that easy! At the third bank we tried, we met the nice Iranian guy Mehdi. He drove us around in his car to two different banks and helped us change the money. Now we have almost 6 millionsJ, unfortunately rials and not dollars..

When we wanted to start driving with the Landrover at the bank, a car blocked us and 2 guys came to our window. They were some kind of police men in regular clothes and they wanted to see our passports. We had to follow them to the „department of Passport“. Probably they wanted to be sure that we weren’t any reporters, because of the political issues that are going on. They apologized at the end and we could go after a few minutes.

Finally arrived in Tehran, we figured out, that the traffic isn’t that bad as everyone sais, it’s just necessary to adopt the crazy, absolutely chaotic driving style from the localsJ. Additionally it is a good preparation for the traffic in India!

We settled down in the middle of Tehran. During the search for a restaurant, we landed on the music road. One store after another with absolutely high quality material for bands, DJs, musicians and music lovers. Well, it seems that in Tehran is quite some money and there also must be something going on in the night, would just be nice to know where!


December 11th 2011: Teheran, Iran 

Driven distance on December 11th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 25’880km (16’080 miles)

Somewhat surprised we have found out, that our hotel lies just besides the British embassy! And besides that, the French and the Italian embassies are also very close, ideal, or not?;-) Of course we couldn’t resist to check out the British embassy, but we couldn’t find anything special, besides that there are no flags anymore and the wall seems a bit shady... Otherwise we don’t realize much at all from the current political troubles. The people are usually very friendly and helpful. For example, when we stand at the road and look into the guidebook, there is always somebody coming to see if we need help. Also otherwise quite often people start talking to us spontaneously.

Additionally we visited the main market. After a pasta sandwich for lunch, we took the metro to go to the northern part of Teheran, where there is the rich part of the city. For dinner we went to the “Armenian Club” which is only accessible for Christians! At the entrance the women are taking their scarf off and can be dressed just normal. It was quite interesting and for me (Maryse) also relaxing that I was able to eat for once without a scarf!


December 12th 2011: Teheran, Iran 

Driven distance on December 12th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 25’880km (16’080 miles)

The second day in Teheran we spent again sightseeing. To get a good view of the 16 million city, we climbed up (by elevator) the 435m (1430 feet) milad tower. From the 300m (990 feet) platform we had a fantastic panoramic view! To the north, the mighty snow covered mountain peaks were great! Quite surprised we were about the nearby shopping mall for rich people! It is supposedly the most expensive shopping mall in Teheran.

Before the milad tower became the landmark of Teheran, it used to be the azadi tower, which is probably better known from pictures.

Well, another experience is also the subway trips in the usually very crowded trains. In the subway of Teheran are specially marked wagons only for women. Since we don’t want to loose each other in the subway, Maryse is coming also to the “general” section of the train and is surrounded by Iranian men:). But she managed it quite well;)!

At the end of our sight seeing tour we visited the golestan palace in the center of the city with different museums.

For dinner we went to very tiny restaurant with 3 small tables and had a great yummy lasagna, was great!!


December 13th 2011: Teheran – Dizin, Iran 

Driven distance on December 13th 2011: 130km (80 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’010km (16’160 miles)

In the morning we drove to the ski resort Dizin. We weren’t sure if the lifts are actually open, but after the few days in Teheran we were definitely ready for some fresh mountain air! As higher up we came, as more promising it looked for our mission to go skiing. And there they were, the gondolas going up and down :-). By the way Dizin lies at 2700m (8900 feet) and the lifts are going up to 3400m (11’200 feet)! Since we arrived in the afternoon we didn’t go anymore to the slopes. Now we have a nice hotel directly at the base of the lifts with great views to the mountains from the balcony! We really feel like in ski vacation:-). After dinner we discovered some massage chairs, which we of course had to test! The massage went from head to those including arms :-). We still do prefer massages not from machines :-).


December 14th 2011: Dizin, Iran 

Driven distance on December 14th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’010km (16’160 miles)

Well, today was a really cool day! Snowboarding in a real ski resort of Iran. But before we could get started, we of course needed some boards and shoes. At the local snowboard rental place we could choose between crappy boards and half crappy boardsJ. Also the shoes have seen better days!

OK, let’s go to the gondolas! We weren’t sure where we’d get more adrenaline, on a roller coaster or in those gondolas;). But after some time we were used to them!

Dizin is quite a big resort with about 15 lifts. Since it is only 2 hours away from Teheran, there are many Iranians coming from there to here.

The slopes were quite well to ride, and we had perfect weather! Unfortunately we missed the fluffy powder snow, but at least we had absolutely enough snow!

Well, here in Dizin on the slopes you won’t realize anything anymore from the rules of Iran. Women are riding completely without anything on their head with the hair blowing in the wind, and the mood is really relaxed. Also our lunch stop was cool in a really cozy small restaurant with great music! The soup gave us again strength to ride again in the snowboardJ. We only missed the beer a little bit!

Quite a bit exhausted from the day, we cooked some yummy spaghettis, since the restaurant is expensive!     


December 15th 2011: Dizin, Iran 

Driven distance on December 15th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’010km (16’160 miles)

Also today we rode the slopes of Dizin:-). Unfortunately the weather wasn’t perfect anymore like yesterday, but still quite passable. Some words to the prices in the ski resort: Day pass 22$, equipment rental 22$. On the slope we got to know a very nice Iranian couple, which invited us for dinner after the snowboarding. They invited us also to their home in Teheran. The Iranian hospitality is really great, and we had many good conversations. Because we are a little bit in a hurry, we had to thankfully deny the offer.


December 16th 2011: Dizin – Kashan, Iran 

Driven distance on December 16th 2011: 390km (240 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’400km (16’400 miles)

Now we left the ski resort Dizin. Since we didn’t have any Iranian money left, we made a short trip into Teheran, but not with the Landrover. We took the train and the subway to get into downtown. By now we have used all public transports (except bicycle) in Teheran!

The journey until the city of Kashan went without problems. We were astonished about the illumination of the highway. From Teheran, the first 160km (100 miles) were completely illuminated. Twice we didn’t even have to pay toll on the highway, probably because the people like travellers like usJ.

We found in Kashan a great hotel in a old, big, traditional house with a wonderful court yard. We almost felt like in a small museum.


December 17th 2011: Kashan, Iran 

Driven distance on December 17th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’400km (16’400 miles)

Since my stomach (Maryse) was acting crazy once again, we were taking it easy the whole day. In Kashan there are many traditional houses, where some big once have been renovated and are open to public. They have very nice structures, ceilings full of little mirrors, colorful windows and big courtyards. Of course in those houses were not living the average people, but the rich carpet dealers or other big guys:-). We visited 2 of those houses and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at the sun in the courtyard of our hotel.


December 18th 2011: Kashan – Isfahan, Iran 

Driven distance on December 18th 2011: 230km (140 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’630km (16’540 miles)

Before we got out of Kashan, we checked out the local market. We were almost more interested in the roofs then on the market itself. A local man showed us the way to the specially shaped roofs, made out of straw and clay.

Arrived in Isfahan, luckily we found quickly a nice, inexpensive apartment hotel in the middle of the city.


December 19th 2011: Isfahan, Iran 

Driven distance on December 19th 2011: 230km (140 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’630km (16’540 miles)

In a travel agency we looked for some information regarding the ferry trip from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Dubai. We got all the information we needed, but still need to make the rest finally in Bandar Abbas. Afterwards, we wanted to go to the Imam square, the main attraction of Isfahan. We almost made it to the first mosque, but the young local guy Abed invited us for tea in his shop. He actually didn’t wanted to sell us carpets, but simply talk to us about all kinds of things. After a nice tea chat we went together with Abed for lunch. In a nice cozy Restaurant we learned how to eat the traditional meal „Dizi“, which is some kind of soup. With full bellies we had another tea at Abed. Then finally we continued our sightseeing trip to the fantastic mosque at the Imam square. On the way back from the square, some female Iranian students started to talk to us to practice their English, and we took some nice pictures from each other.


December 20th 2011: Isfahan, Iran 

Driven distance on December 20th 2011: 20km (10 miles)

Driven distance total: 26’650km (16’560 miles)

Today we started really on the easy side. After a delicious breakfast, which is by the way served to our room, we strolled slowly, with a few sunny breaks, to the famous Si-o-Seh bridge.

When we have seen the pedalos in the river, we went directly to the rental place for those things and rented oneJ.

Later in the day we visited the „shaking minarets“, where one person shakes one minaret back and forth, and the second minaret tower starts to move as well. Some people believe it’s magic, the others believe that it is just from the way they are built.

Just before the sunset, we climbed up to a Zoroastrian ruin, from where we had a good view over Isfahan.. 


December 21st 2011: Isfahan – Khoor, Iran 

Driven distance on December 21st 2011: 400km (250 miles)

Driven distance total: 27’050km (16’800 miles)

Before we went towards the Dasht-e-Kavir desert, we tried to check out the Jameh mosque. We ended up in a terrible traffic chaos, so we escaped out of the city:-). The journey to Khoor led us along endless seemingly deserts and we could see very beautiful landscapes, different mountains and oasis villages with palm trees. In the darkness in Khoor somebody showed us the way to a hotel. We then decided for money reasons to sleep in the car, and we were allowed to stay at the parking lot of the hotel. The hotel was booked by a tour group from Teheran and we found immediately friends. What we didn’t know is, that the Iranians were celebrating the Yalda-night, the longest night of the year. Normally are those festivities held in privat homes at the oldest member of the family, but this group was celebrating in the hotel. Of course we were immediately invited to join this „Party“! It began with extensive tea drinking, then we started the eating part of the evening. During the tea, the people were also smoking from a water pipe which was built out of a water melon and apples! As an appetizer we got some nuts, grenade apples and melon. Afterwards we had a delicious mint crème soup with Chic peas. Since one of the guests had her birthday, we also got a piece of cake for dessert. After the food there was extensive singing and dancing. Of course Stefan also showed his Iranian dance moves:-). It was a really happy and relaxed party! At the end of the evening we went with the entire group into the desert to watch the stars.


December 22nd 2011: Khoor – Salt desert, Iran 

Driven distance on December 22nd 2011: 230km (140 miles)

Driven distance total: 27’280km (16’940 miles)

After a cold night in the Landrover, we met again the nice Iranian group from the night before. After the breakfast we went deeper into the desert, to the dunes of a place called Mesr. The desert seems to be a big playground for wild Iranian off-roadersJ, everywhere are tracks in the sand!

After 10 minutes another Iranian tour group has seen us when we were on foot in the dunes. Really friendly they greeted us and invited us immediately to help dancing to some Iranian music played on a small drumJ. After some small talk, we were already invited to a families house in Shiraz. Unbelievable is the hospitality of Iranians. Almost the entire afternoon we were just sitting in the sun, watched the desert and just enjoyed the life as travellers.

Shortly before the sunset we continued, but already after 15 minutes we had to take another stop at some locals with off-road cars. We met them shortly during our afternoon break. All of those off-road freaks were of course very interested in all the details of the LandroverJ.

Later on, in complete darkness we turned from the road into the salt desert and slept in the middle of nothing. Since it was around 0°C (32°F), we ate some bread, Nutella and fruits in the front of the still warm car. 


December 23rd 2011: Salt desert – Yazd, Iran 

Driven distance on December 23rd 2011: 500km (310 miles)

Driven distance total: 27’780km (17’250 miles)

We had to cancel our breakfast at the sun, since it was cloudy and still bitterly cold! We continued driving through the desert until Yazd.


December 24th 2011: Yazd, Iran 

Driven distance on December 24th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 27’780km (17’250 miles)

Merry ChristmasJ.

Well, the first sightseeing day in Yazd. We took it very calm and wandered without a plan around the small alleys, which were almost like a labyrinth, of the old town. What a change, first we checked out a mosque;). Afterwards we went through the small alleys. An afternoon project was to get a sim card for the cell phone. After a long time we finally found a place, but still didn’t get a card, since we needed a passport.

Now let’s talk about the Christmas dinner that was organized from the guesthouse. A Christian celebration in an Islamic state.. There were actually about 20 tourists that joined the celebration. First we were astonished, that an Imam (kind of Islamic priest) had the speech. First he said some words from the Bible, then from the Koran. Until the end the whole thing was quite on the Islamic side and really didn’t fitted into this evening! Later on we have figured out, that the guesthouse didn’t really have another choice then to have the Imam in the house, otherwise they might have become trouble with the law!! At this point we also have to mention, that there are quite a lot people in Iran that aren’t very religious!

In general was the ceremony quite dry, but anyways it was interesting to talk to other people travelling in Iran.


December 25th 2011: Yazd, Iran 

Driven distance on December 25th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 27’780km (17’260 miles)

Also today we made a sightseeing day in Yazd. We strolled again around the old city, which is according to UNESCO one of the oldest cities in the world. The views in the old city are magnificent, since the buildings are mainly built out of this straw and clay mix and on the roofs there are the so called „badgirs“ (wind towers). Those look like big chimneys, but their function is actually a natural AC system. Those Chimneys take the air from the wind and bring down into the rooms. In the afternoon we started another try to get a sim-card. After we could make a copy of the passport, we got the card. But we had to laugh a little bit when Stefan had to give his fingerprint after signing the contract:-). Afterwards we also visited a water reserve, which was built in 1580 and is used today as a Bodybuilding Club.


December 26th 2011: Yazd – construction site, Iran 

Driven distance on December 26th 2011: 150km (90 miles)

Driven distance total: 27’930km (17’350 miles)

We started the day slow and easy, since we had the appointment to pick up the laundry at 11AM. At the laundry place, the guy there explained us, that we can pick up the laundry at 3PM. This just killed our plan to drive until Persepolis.

Therefor we used the spare time to visit the „towers of silence“. Those are from the old times and are some kind of stone silos, which were used in the religion of the Zoroastric. Since this religion is based on the purity of the elements, they refused to be cremated (polluting the atmosphere) or buried (polluting the earth). Therefor they put the dead bodies in those towers, and afterwards they were eaten by vultures.

Around 3PM we finally received our laundry back and started to drive. After about an hour we parked the Landrover close to a construction site, at a quiet place with some nice rocks and a good view. The gasoline stove and the gasoline lamp worked just fine luckilyJ.


December 27th 2011: Construction site – Persepolis, Iran  

Driven distance on December 27th 2011: 320km (200 miles)

Driven distance total: 28’250km (17’550 miles)

As soon as we got up, we already had a visitor, which came from the construction site and invited us for breakfast. We refused the invitation, since we finally wanted to enjoy our breakfast at the sun. There is something to mention about Iranian culture. Very special is the politeness ritual „ta’arof“. For politeness you offer something to a guest, rarely even when you cannot even fulfill it. Since you as a guest are not sure what is meant to be serious, it is necessary to refuse the offer several times. After you refuse the offer several time, and the invitation still remains, it is meant to be serious, and you can accept it without any bad feelings. For us it is always quiet different to decide what we should accept and what not... Now back to today’s day. The trip towards Persepolis went along different passes, which were really close to the snow. But we always enjoy the fantastic mountains, which are mainly different in the color and shape to the mountains in Switzerland. Arrived in Persepolis, we found a cozy place to camp. In the evening we met the travellers Annette, Simon and son Siggi from England, already on the road since approx. one year with their VW van. Originally they wanted to travel for 2 years, but surprisingly she is now pregnant and they have to travel back. Well that’s life:-).


December 28th 2011: Persepolis – Shiraz, Iran 

Driven distance on December 28th 2011: 60km (40 miles)

Driven distance total: 28’310km (17’590 miles)

We were hoping for nothing that the nights are getting any warmer. In the morning it was again around 0°C (30°F)! After a short tea with our neighbors from England and Germany, and some breakfast, we went to the unique ruin city of Persepolis. Persepolis used to be an ancient city that started 2500 years ago from the Achaemenid empire. We got to see absolutely fantastic columns, entrances, walls, reliefs and mausoleums which were cut out of cliffs. The weather on top of it was perfect.

Since we were at Persepolis only one hour away from our next destination Shiraz, we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon nicely at the car with the sun.

In Shiraz we ended up at a quite shady hotel, but at least we could put the Landrover, after demounting of the roof box, into the hotels courtyard.


December 29th 2011: Shiraz, Iran 

Driven distance on December 29th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 28’310km (17’590 miles)

Also in Shiraz there were many things to see. Since we have visited on our trip already numerous mosques (also called “overmosqued”J), we focused on other sights. In the center of Shiraz lays the fort “Arg-e Karim Khan”. The fort is surrounded by tall walls with 4 towers of 14 meters (45ft) height in each corner. On the inside of the walls is a big “lake” and several mandarin trees. In the building itself, we were only able to see the immense marble bathroom. Also quite interesting was the room with different traditional clothing from the time of the Zand. The clothing was definitely more colorful then today… Afterwards we started to go to the mausoleum of the famous Iranian poet Hafez. On our way, the 17 year old student Masha started to talk to us. She joined us to the mausoleum and it was really interesting talking to her. The mausoleum is surrounded by beautiful parks, where it was easy to relax from the hectic city life. In the afternoon we tried to visit the Armenian church, but we were completely lost in the alleys. In the evening we met again Masha, together with her mother and a friend for a nice tee round.


December 30th 2011: Shiraz – Hill close to Konar Takhteh, Iran 

Driven distance on December 30th 2011: 190km (120 miles)

Driven distance total: 28’500km (17’710 miles)

In the morning we had to do some work, shopping and car wash. The entire car wash took over an hour, no surprise with all that dirt. But at least the Landrover is again a clean dude. After approx. 100km (60 miles) we slowly drove up a small hill with a nice view. 


December 31st 2011: Hill close to Konar Takhteh – Beach south of Bushehr, Iran 

Driven distance on December 31st 2011: 210km (130 miles)

Driven distance total: 28’710km (17’840 miles)

After approx. one hour driving we finally got to see the Persian Gulf. We made a short break in the harbor town of Bushehr and checked out the somewhat run down old town. Afterwards we drove along the coast until we found a reasonable place at the beach to camp. Shortly after we got a visit from a fishing man, which unfortunately didn’t really spoke English. After a short conversation, he took off, went on a small boat and brought us 3 fishes, and took off again. After we enjoyed the sunset, the fisherman was back again. Of course he invited us for dinner and sleeping at his house, but since it was the first night at the beach, we refused his offer and preferred to sleep in the Landrover. The fisherman stayed anyways and helped us out with the preparation and cooking of the fishes, although this is probably usually the women’s job. We really appreciate the contacts with the locals, but when it is almost not possible to speak to each other because of the language, it gets a bit boring after two hours;-). The fisherman stayed then until we went to sleep in the car.


January 1st 2012: Beach south of Bushehr – Beach south of Parsian, Iran 

Driven distance on January 1st 2012: 340km (210 miles)

Driven distance total: 29’050km (18’050 miles)

Happy new yearJ

Of course in the morning the strange fishing man came back and brought us again some fishes. Since one of the fishes was still moving just a little bit we put the one, barely alive, back into the water.

The journey along the gulf coast was really amazing, really special rock formations and cliffs. The only thing that wasn’t that nice, were the natural gas facilities about 10km along the route.

Around lunchtime we surprisingly got a bag full of gifts from a shop owner, where we didn’t even buy something, we just had the car parked in front of his shop. We got some postcards, some fishes for decoration, a shell and other stuff. Really crazy sometimes, but really nice!

The trip led us to another beach, without any people, where we camped. I (Stefan) enjoyed together with some little manatees a dip in the really nice sea!

For dinner we had a yummy fondue, which Maryse brought with her from SwitzerlandJ.

Since it is now finally warm enough to stay outside after sunset, we started a little fire and just enjoyed the peace of the sea!


January 2nd 2012: Beach south of Parsian – Bandar Abbas, Iran 

Driven distance on January 2nd 2012: 400km (250 miles)

Driven distance total: 29’450km (18’290 miles)

The morning we enjoyed at the lonely beach with the sun. When we wanted to leave the beach, we had some small action. Since the sea was higher then in the evening, we couldn’t drive through the harder sand, and we had to return to the street through the soft sand. After the first try that didn’t work, we used the sand sheets and we could drive without any problems back to the road. The trip towards Bandar Abbas was once again astonishingly beautiful with different rock formations! After arriving in Bandar Abbas, we tried first to get some information regarding the shipment to Dubai, UAE. In the travel agencies we were either sent to other places or got weird information. We postponed the project to the next day.


January 3rd 2012: Bandar Abbas, Iran 

Driven distance on January 3rd 2012: 30km (20 miles)

Driven distance total: 29’480km (18’310 miles)

We spent the entire morning with the organization of the shipping from Iran to the United Arab Emirates. First we tried our luck at a nearby hotel with a travel agency, but simply received an address from the actual main office of the shipping company. By taxi we went there and asked regarding prices etc.. The entire thing was getting a bit complicated and more then one hour later we were back again including our Landrover. After finally most of the things were clarified, a man entered the room and we were informed that it might be, that the ferry doesn’t operate on the 4th of January. The chances are 50/50. The explanation was the weather, although it is hard to believe when you see the perfect condition here! Or could it be rather the current political issues that the ferry can’t cross the gulfJ? The problem with all this is, that the visa from Maryse runs out tomorrow. So when the ferry doesn’t leave, we really have to hurry up with extending the visas.

The afternoon we enjoyed on the sun at the sea.

Bandar Abbas, at the southern end of Iran, has quite a mix of different people. Some of them are from Africa and some of them from India, which is also recognizable at the more colorful clothes they are wearing. What was also really special were the burkas that a few women were wearing. Instead of the normal “curtain” in front of the face, they had some kind of little mask which covered the nose and mouth. There is also to mention, that most of the women in Iran are not wearing the burka, They are just wearing the scarf or the chador.


January 4th 2012: Bandar Abbas, Iran – Sharjah, UAE

Driven distance on January 4th 2012: 30km (20 miles)

Driven distance total: 29’480km (18’310 miles)


Actually, the ferry is scheduled to leave Bandar Abbas at 9PM. But since the custom for the car is only open until 2PM, we went to the port early in the morning. But first we went to the office of the shipping company and checked if the ferry is actually operating, and fortunately we received positive feedback! So let’s go to the port. We arrived there at 9AM. Approx. 3 hours later we knew half of the staff working for the customs, since we have visited 10 different offices. Here a signature, there a new document, then waiting, and the same again:-). The offices were distributes all over the port to make it more difficult :-). It is really unbelievable how complicated the whole process of the bureaucracy is! But finally everything worked out! After some extensive waiting we could finally board the ferry around 9PM after the passport check. Fortunately we were able to sleep in the Landrover. Goodbye Iran!