Esfahan to the Turkish border




Esfahan to the Turkish border (10 to 27 October 2001)
After a week long break in Esfahan, our journey to the North was the second part of our 6 week long visit to Iran. One thing we are now sure to have improved during this trip is our knowledge of geography ! From Esfahan to the border with Turkey, we have been within 40km of Turkmenistan (North East of Iran), 50km of Iraq (Western Iran), 40km of Azerbaijan (North Western Iran) and only 250m of Armenia ! In the 4,300 km and the 3 weeks between Esfahan and the border, we have also seen 3 seasons : Summer in central Iran, Fall at the Caspian Sea and Winter as we reached the high plateaus of the North near Armenia and Turkey. Temperatures in most of Iran have been a delightful 25 degrees C and it has been dry in most of the country. Along the Caspian Sea Fall came : temperatures dropped to 15-20 degrees and we had a lot of rain. As we headed North towards Turkey we encountered Turkey : temperatures dropped even further to a cool 5-15 degrees during daytime and freezing overnight.


The small village of Abyaneh in Central Iran


A friendly woman in Abyaneh wearing colourful clothes (by Iranian standards)


Stunning mountains on the way North (left), the Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum South of Teheran (centre), heavy traffic jams as we enter the country's capital Teheran (right)


Teheran as the rest of Iran is full of patriotic images. Besides the ubiquitous pictures of the "father of the nation" the Imam Khomeini, each city seems to have its collection of martyrs. These pictures are displayed by the road side at the entrance of cities as well as at crossroads. With its 10 million inhabitants (plus many more it seems in the suburbs), Teheran is a nightmare to drive in, even after Calcutta or Delhi. On the large motorways crossing the city in every direction we found it difficult just to stay in one's own lane without being "squeezed" out, something that will make Christian go mad ! Going where you wish to go is further complicated by the fact that many streets have two names : one pre- and one post-revolution ! In Teheran we saw the most extraordinary jewelry museum ever that houses the "Sea of light", uncut but still weighing 180 carats ! Thanks to all at the Belgian Embassy in Teheran who made us feel at home. 


Local martyrs (left), one of the last Shah's luxurious rooms (centre), the Friday underground bazaar in Teheran (right)  


As seen in the centre of Teheran. The motorway to North Africa ? No just Africa Square !


On the road again. Iran has all it takes (oil and gravel in huge quantities) to make the smoothest motorways we have seen so far.


Street life in Hamadan, Western Iran


For sale in the streets : fresh berries (left), pictures of Mohammed and his descendents (centre), hot beetroot anyone ? 


Curious school girls wearing the traditional chador (literally "tent"). 


On our way out of Turkey we had decided to visit two Christian Armenian churches. Very near to the Azerbaijan border (according to our LP guidebook) is the church of St Stephanos. The original church in this very remote area was founded by St Bartholomew in AD 62 ! Since then it seems that not much has changed. Both of us were touched to be able to go into a Christian church for the first time since a very long time. Of course, Christianity had conquered this part of the world some 6 centuries before Islam. We saw many buildings that started their lives as Christian churches only to be modified a few centuries later into Islamic mosques ! This is quite easily done by the addition of a minaret ! 



Troopie in a (very) small village where we stopped to ask our way (left), one of many check posts (centre)


The second church we visited, St Thaddeus,  was originally built in the 13th century and rebuilt after a series of earthquakes using beautiful sand coloured stone


Here is the first of our extra pages : Km 140,417 !
KM 140,417


We are doing well !

Coming from Southern Iran Back to Trip page Heading to Eastern Turkey