Tehran – Isfahan
23rd August 2014 36’C 457km
Tehran – Isfahan
Riding in Tehran is absolute madness. So leaving the hotel this morning, to cross the city, was an exercise in focused concentration, not to be wiped out by anyone else on the road.
Traffic lights don’t exist as I know them, they have been replaced with a single flashing red light, in place to warn you that you are about to enter an intersection where anything goes. Weaving inbetween cars, motorbikes, buses & trucks. Sometimes a motorbike on the wrong side of the road, or riding at 60kmh on the footpath. Cars reversing at speed against the flow of traffic. The potential for massive vehicular carnage is huge, but somehow I have not seen a crash yet, despite having some very close calls myself.
After 40 minutes of this madness, I reached the freeway headed south towards the city of Qom. On the freeway, things were marginally less dangerous. Only needing to avoid the curious but friendly drivers who would pass at 130kmh, just a few centimeters away from me, but tooting horn and waving wildly.
Three girls in a old Peugeot even blew kisses at me as they passed.
I arrived in Isfahan at around 2pm, found an excellent hotel with an underground carpark, and nearly crashed riding down the ramp when I ended up skidding sideways. The ramp was made of large shiny tiles. Treacherous.
Parked, I wondered how I was going to ride back up the ramp when I need to leave, especially with the 90′ turn half way up. It will need a good run-up and some wheel spinning, but that worry is for another day.
I spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Isfahan, the amazing old city square, the enormous bazaar and the ancient mosque, proclaimed as the most beautiful in the world. I thought this claim to be overestimated, until I witnessed the sight myself. Fantastically beautiful, perfect dimensions, tiles of intricate Arabic script lining the walls, and the amazing dome. A truly magnificent sight.
In the evening, the huge square came alive. As the sun set, Iranians came out with blankets and picnics, covering the grass and enjoying the warm night air, smoking shisha and relaxing together.