August 8th 2011: Turkey – Tabriz, Iran

Driven distance on August 8th 2011: 360km (220 miles)

Driven distance total: 6800km (4230 miles)

So, finally we arrived in Iran! The boarder crossing procedure took “only” 2 ½ hours, what is less then we expected. The immigration as well as declaration for the car (Carnet de passage) went very rapidly and efficient. Also the car inspection took only 10 seconds! A short glimpse into the drivers place and one into the back of the car, and done. So we could have brought some beer with us J. We were already excited that we passed the border in less then one hour, but a few hundred meters (1/4 mile) further down the road, we were not able to pass the last barrier. Now the story with purchasing diesel has started. How official it is and how you could get around it, is hard to tell. Fact is, that you often can get diesel only with this card. So they explained us that we have to purchase 400L (105 gallons) of diesel! For 400 to 500€ Euros!! We explained them that we have some friends who paid only 200€. All of a sudden I had to talk to a guy on a mobile phone about the price. First down to 300€ then after some time to 250€. Afterwards I had to drive with one of the guys there to some other office.. back and forth from one place to another, showing the passport and the Carnet here and there. Finally after some more phone calls on the mobile, the price came down to 200€. And finally after more then one our we received 2 Diesel cards. But one for 200L and the other one only for 100L! But finally we had 2 cards for a total of 400 liters of Diesel.

Shortly after the border, we turned into millionaires! Changing 400€ gives more then 6 million Iranian Rials J.

After the first day we already start to really like Iran! Besides of course the fact of getting no beer ;). Finally we arrived in Tabriz and looked for a normal cheap hotel, but ended up in a relatively expensive hotel, but at least the car was safely behind bars and a security guard was there all night! 


August 9th 2011: Turkey – Tabriz, Iran

Driven distance on August 9th 2011: 60km (40 miles)

Driven distance total: 6860km (4260 miles)

This morning we visited the famous bazar in Tabriz. Since a taxi doesn’t really cost more then the diesel for our car, we chose the taxi to get there J. Additionally is the traffic in the Iranian cities not that great, that I am really excited to drive ;). The bazar was absolutely a great place to visit. There were carpets, Herbs and spices, shoes and clothes etc…

During the entire day, also on the bazar, people wanted to talk to us, always very friendly and polite! It is really very interesting and exciting to visit this country! Already after the first days we are fascinated from this country!

After the bazar, we went (again with the taxi) to the blue mosque, where inside the mosque 2 young women (approx. 20 years old) offered us some cookies and fruits. Since we are visiting Iran in the middle of Ramadan, and therefore experiencing some issues with getting food during the day, we happily accepted the small food!

Getting out of Tabriz in direction Kandovan, a 800 soul village, where most of the people live in cliffs with man made holes in them. Similar to Cappadocia in Turkey, but simply much more interesting and more authentic! Just arriving at the parking, an Iranian family who could not really speak English, came to the car and was very interested in us and the vehicle. They were very excited, specially from the roof that can be opened! The entire family went one after the next into the Landrover and checked out mainly the bed. Later on, 2 Iranians accompanied us through the village and offered us a tea at somebodies home (actually in their bedroom). We talked nicely about everything and of course Iran. In the evening we went to a very nice hotel in the village, where the rooms are also built into the cliffs. We could reduce the price down to 80 Swiss Francs (90 dollars), but the hotel is really worth it! It even has a hand made Jacuzzi in the bathroom J.


August 10th 2011: Kandovan – Sanandaj, Iran

Driven distance on August 10th 2011: 580km (360 miles)

Driven distance total: 7440km (4620 miles)

So, this was again a very exciting day. We wanted to stop shortly around 1PM to get some bottled water. Quickly a Kurdish man (The Kurds prefer it to be called Kurds instead of Iranians) was arriving at the car and invited me for a tea! Since Daniel was still getting the water, I went to the machine shop of this guy and thought that 10 minutes delay doesn’t matter. 1 hour 45 minutes and a Swiss pocket knife later we continued our journey J! First was the tea, then some nuts and later tomatoes. Finally we had a great tomato soup with bread and coke and for desert some melon. We have to consider that we are in the time of Ramadan in Iran, and normally there is no food during the day! Even with very bad English knowledge of those 3 guys there, we understood, that they didn’t think too good about the religion and politics in the country. The one guy explained, he likes whiskey much more then religion. Of course self made whiskey since alcohol is forbidden in Iran! I agreed immediately on the whiskey thing J. He was so happy to get to know us that he gave us some gifts, some coffee and a necklets from this region Kurdistan. Since I also wanted to give him something from Switzerland, and since he was a mechanic, I gave him a Swiss pocket knife! Which was my spare knife.. He was really sooo happy, the whole visit was really great!

Then there was the first “getting diesel” in Iran. We passed a line of trucks (who wanted to get diesel like us) and went directly to the gas station. Since everybody was happy to see foreigners, we could go directly to a diesel station. We didn’t need the fuel card nor could we get only 60 liters! Simply fill up the tank and pay for 80 liters (21 gallons) 8 dollars, what a rip off J!!

Then we had the feeling that the government in Iran needed some money. We have seen at least 3 Speed control checks and of course we ran into one!! The Iranian police man immediately pulled us over, but he was a little bit confused, since we could not talk a word together! So he just smiled and let us go! Nice J


August 11th 2011: Sanandaj – Borujerd, Iran

Driven distance on August 11th 2011: 470km (290 miles)

Driven distance total: 7910km (4920 miles)

The trip in direction Esfahan went without any problems. Our Landrover already needed again some diesel, but this time we had to pay 3500 Rial per liter, not like yesterday when we paid 1500 Rial. So instead of 10 cents we paid 25 cents per liter. Obviously this seems to be the normal price for cars. Around 5PM we arrived at a small town called Borujerd.


August 12th 2011: Borujerd – Isfahan, Iran

Driven distance on August 12th 2011: 360km (220 miles)

Driven distance total: 8270km (5140 miles)

Without any problems we went to Isfahan. Isfahan is supposed to be the most interesting and beautiful place to visit in Iran. We got stopped twice by the police. The first time because they caught me (again) with a radar gun, but this time I even passed a car at a no passing zone. The second time was a regular street checkpoint. At the radar the police let us go after difficulties talking to each other, and at the road checkpoint, they just wanted to see the car and talk to us! J all of them stayed very friendly and were just interested in us.. In Isfahan we could find a hotel very quickly and because it is low season, we got a very nice room in a very nice hotel for 50 dollars per night for both persons.


August 13th 2011: Isfahan, Iran

Driven distance on August 13th 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 8270km (5140 miles)

Sightseeing was todays schedule. Isfahan really is an absolutely beautiful city! We went to see the Imam square with it’s mosques and it was fantastic! The mosques are apparently some of the most beautiful once in the world. The first time since we entered Iran, we have seen more then 5 other western tourist at the same time J.

Since it is very hot during the day, we preferred to get back to the AC room in the hotel around noon. In the later afternoon, we went to visit some of the bridges that are at the currently dried out river. At the second bridge, there was a Iranian women with her mother that started to talk to us. They invited us for tea at their home, and after some thoughts we agreed and went back home to them into a nice apartment! We also got to know the father of the family and he was really nice! After some tea they invited us to a very good dinner! Finally we got back to the hotel around 11PM J. Great evening!


August 14th 2011: Isfahan, Iran

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

Driven distance total: 8270km (5140 miles)

The Iranians from the day before, came including a car and female driver on time. At first the trip led us to a small fabrication place of sweets and candies. Afterwards directly to the bazar from shop to shop. Carpet shop, spices mill shop, Candy shop, metalworking shop, etc.. On one side it was really interesting and we were able to see things that otherwise are difficult, but on the other side we felt a little bit like on a sales trip.. Because we wanted to be polite, we bought some small things.. In the afternoon it continued with sightseeing. Zoroastric temple, Synagogues, several parks and also the „shaking minarets“. At those „shaking minarets“ (see picture) it was possible to shake heavily one tower, and then the second one was shaking slightly! Some people believe it is magic, the others (like myself) believe it is from the physics of how the building was built. Anyways it very special and unique.


August 15th 2011: Isfahan, Iran

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

Driven distance total: 8270km (5140 miles)

At 10:30AM we had again an appointment with Aliagbad the Iranian guy. Since we have seen more then enough mosques and ancient buildings we used the opportunity to ask the Iranian man where we can change money. He brought us to a small money change office with an excellent exchange rate! So we have again millions in our pocket, Rials unfortunately ;)

Since we are the hottest season of the year, we decided to go back to the hotel in the early afternoon.

When it was getting dark, we just wanted to go to the mosques to take some pictures. The entire square was full of Iranians who were picnicking or just sitting around. Nice atmosphere. As usual in Iran, some people started talking to us. But at least this time 2 sweet girls in the age of 21 and 26 started talking to us J. Unfortunately their English wasn’t really good and our Farsi language is as bad as 2 weeks ago L. Anyway we got invited to tea, fruits and sweets and were sitting there for more then one hour.. was really nice!


August 16th 2011: Isfahan - Semnan, Iran

Driven distance on August 16th 2011: 640km (400 miles)

Driven distance total: 8910km (5540 miles)

After the annoying check out of the hotel, the trip continued to a small village called Abyaneh, where a lot of the houses are built of clay and the locals mainly kept their traditional way of living.

Today was really hot! Sometimes we had over 40°C (105°F) in the car! So I put a wet towel for one hour into the refrigerator, then wrapped it around my head! Worked out nicely J.

Once again we had to get Diesel, and I tried to get it with that expensive card from which we bought at the border. After everything was finished, I was supposed to pay normally the fuel! After some heavy discussions, I figured out, that we paid 200€ for nothing just after the actual border, bastards.. But since diesel is so cheap here, it’s not that bad J.

Finally around 8PM we arrived in a city called Semnan.


August 17th 2011: Semnan - Kordkuy, Iran

Driven distance on August 17th 2011: 320km (200 miles)

Driven distance total: 9230km (5740 miles)

The trip went from dry, almost desert like area, to a greener more humid coastal region of the Caspian sea. The Landrover managed easily the hills in between.


August 18th 2011: Kordkuy, Iran

Driven distance on August 18th 2011: 100km (60 miles)

Driven distance total: 9330km (5800 miles)

Since we still have enough time in Iran, we didn’t do too much today! We went from sea level to 2500m in 30km (20 miles)! Even in Switzerland this is hard to find! At the top we were rewarded from the very nice view! Unfortunately only from the south side, on the north side, the Caspian sea was not visible because of the clouds. It was a really nice change up there from all the noise, the dirt, the people and so on.. Just a nice quiet place with fresh air!

In the afternoon we went to the only 15km (10 miles) far away Caspian sea, only because we were bored in the hotel. It wasn’t nice at all! The water wasn’t nice, and the dirt and no real restaurants.. nothing really to see..


August 19th 2011: Kordkuy – Bojnurd, Iran

Driven distance on August 19th 2011: 370km (230 miles)

Driven distance total: 9700km (6030 miles)

Continuing direction Mashhad with a stop in the evening in a city called Bojnurd. Well, the normal smaller cities in Iran are not beautiful at all, like in a lot of the Asian countries. Today we made a short stop at some nomads, that we were able to see from the street. It was really interesting to see how they live and what they do. To see the life in tents was special. We were invited for tea and something like a snack. The snack was light brown, soft and was something of the nastiest stuff I ever ate in my entire life. But the really nice hosts were also eating it. We ate it because we wanted to be polite J. Somehow it was a big family with uncles, grandmother, kids, mothers and of cours many animals. In total approx. 15 persons in several big tents.

And of course our Landrover was a highlight and some people wanted to see the car. We gave them some things we had with us. Pens, postcards from Switzerland and some wire ties, since one of the guys was excited about them when I had to fix the ventilator in the car J.


August 20th 2011: Bojnurd - Mashhad, Iran

Driven distance on August 20th 2011: 280km (170 miles)

Driven distance total: 9980km (6200 miles)

Today we drove the final few hundred kilometers to Mashhad, our last stop before entering Turkmenistan. Mashhad is the holiest city in Iran and every year there are more then 20 million pilgrims coming to here. Arrived In Mashhad, we had some trouble to find a hotel with the right parking spot. It took us a little less then 4 hours from the entry of Mashhad to our hotel room. Finally we took a very nice hotel and the Landrover was behind locks in a nearby mechanical shop. For most of the regular parking places is the car simply too high. Of the 4 hours we used at least 2 hours with stupid hotel guys looking for parking possibilities. And they were always not high enough! First of all they wanted us to stay in their hotel. In a few hotels they sent us away, since there are some hotels in Mashhad only for Iranians.


August 21st 2011: Mashhad, Iran

Driven distance on August 21st 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 9980km (6200 miles)

For the first time since we entered Iran, we had a very good breakfast buffet. It was really good to start the day like this. One of the few sightseeing places in Mashhad is the Imam Reza shrine, a burial place where today over 20 million pilgrims come to visit each year. Also we, as “non believers” had the chance to see the shrine, but only with a guide. Only the very inner holy sections we were not allowed to see since we are no Muslims. We also had to leave the cameras and bags at the entrance. On the entire place were a lot of people, most of them for pilgrimage. As well we received some brochures about their religion, but that quickly we did not get converted J. The visit to the shrine was free of charge.

Since the heat outside was really terrible, we went back to the AC hotel around lunch time.

In the afternoon we indulge our selves some ice cream, and did our homework like writing reports for this web page J.


August 22nd 2011: Mashhad, Iran

Driven distance on August 22nd 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 9980km (6200 miles)

Since there are not too many things to see in Mashhad, we went instead to a small village 50km (32 miles) away from Mashhad, that we found in the guidebook. Since my Landrover is behind locks at the mechanical workshop besides the hotel, and today is a holiday, we could not use our own car. But anyways, there are cheap taxis in this country. Once just to look outside the window instead driving myself is also not a bad ideaJ.

The village was similar to other small villages, but it was a good change to the city life!

In the later afternoon we went to see the subway of Mashhad. We went 4 stations in one direction and then 5 minutes 4 stations back in the other direction J. What’s interesting is, that women and men don’t need to be separate in the subway, like it is usually in the buses.


August 23rd 2011: Mashhad, Iran

Driven distance on August 23rd 2011: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 9980km (6200 miles)


Today we visited a place, which guaranteed never shows up in any guidebook. A powder metal company J. In Mashhad is a shop that has machines from the company where both of us have worked before. So we e-mailed them and visited the shop this morning. For us it was really interesting.