Hitchhiking to Soltaniyeh, in Abhar County, Zanjan Province,
home of Soltaniyeh Dome, the Mausoleum of Ilkhan Oljaytu
Hitchhiking to Soltaniyeh
Hitchhiking to Soltaniyeh to the west of Iran via Karaj – Qazvin Highway is not as easy as the southern route to Iran. I reached myself next to a police station where there used to be toll booth. They removed it because of the heavy traffic. It worked for the cars. The traffic is gone. But, for hitchhikers like me it was a bad news. Cars are flying and you can’t stop them. Shoot!
Hitchhiking to Qazvin
I picked up my placard, saying Qazvin in Persian with an emoji on it. I thought it might be interesting. Haha! Cars and vehicles were passing me with flying speed. I stood nearly twenty minutes and there was no sign of pick-ups! I put down my red backpack so that it could be visible from distant. While I thumbed up, I held the sign with my left hand. After 30 minutes, a truck stopped. Yesssssss!
Before I asked for the destination, the driver asked me to hop in! I evaluated his appearance and tone of his voice within seconds and decided to get on. His name was Reza. He has been working as a truck driver for thirty years and now he was heading home, Qazvin. Out of curiosity, he asked couple of questions . He was curious to know what the hell I was doing alone with a backpack as large as a potato bag in Iran (Potato bag in Iran is almost 50 Kg.). So, I answered his questions to win his trust.
He engaged me into a conversation which was not my type, having a mistress or girlfriend in other cities. I had to listen to his love story all the way to Qazvin. I tried to change the topic couple of times, but it was futile. We passed Abyek, Caspian Industrial Town, Zibashahr. After getting into the city, Reza was kind enough to buy me a traditional ice cream. It was so delicious. He dropped me off at Dorah Hamedan to get a car to Soltaniyeh.
Hitchhiking to Takestan
I shouldn’t let him drive me into the city. It was hard to get a hitchhike in the city. Sometimes, the hospitality gets you into a trouble. I didn’t want to say no to his offer which it was wrong. Anyway, I checked out my map. My next stop was Takestan, a city known for its grapes and exporting grapes for making wine. I was made to take a taxi since hitchhiking was not available there. I got into a taxi, but in the middle of the way the driver said, “I am heading to Abgarm. You are going there, right?” I was shocked. I said no with a little anger. The stupid driver was heading south of Qazin while I had to go to west. I got out of the car the next conjunction after Takestan. It was almost a quarter to ten P.M.
Hitchhiking to Abhar
Left with no choices and while I was still angry with the driver, I dropped off at the first exit toward Abhar. I had to get him out of my system. Being angry was pointless at that time. Although, I had a bright colored T-Shirt, the vehicles were passing without seeing me. They passed me because of the invisibility. I reached myself to the light and stood there for almost ten minutes. Hitchhiking to Abhar at that hour was impossible. I got into the first car that stopped. I was behind my schedule.
Hitchhiking to Soltaniyeh
Hitchhiking to Soltaniyeh at 11:00 P.M. was also impossible. They spoke Azari (Turkish) and regretfully I couldn’t speak a word. Although there wasn’t any threat, I couldn’t risk it. Next to Engelab Square, I took a taxi straight to Soltaniyeh. It was a 40-minute drive. All I could hear in a taxi was Azari exchanging among the other two passengers and the taxi driver. I paid one dollar and a half for the taxi fare. While the car was passing Khorramdarreh, Qal’eh Hosiniieh, Hidaj, Sain Qaleh, Pir Sqqa, Amidabad, Sonbolabad, I was alert all the way to Soltaniyeh. I could see the Soltaniyeh Dome almost from 10 kilometers away at night. Seeing it made me calm. I couldn’t wait to see it at close range.
Best place for camping in Soltaniyeh
The driver dropped me in front of Basji Park in Soltaniyeh. There were several tents there. Family with kids. Therefore, it was safe. It was 11:45 at night. All the stores were shut expect a small supermarket next to the Basij Park. The guy who was running the supermarket guided me where to put up my tent. He was so nice. I forgot to mention. There was a toilet next to the store. So, my bladder was assured, too! Haha!
I was so excited that I walked in front of the entrance gate of Soltaniyeh Dome to shot videos and photos. It was dazzling at night. Unfortunately, my camera was not good enough to capture its beauty at night.
After being stopped and checked by police patrolling around, I returned to Basij Park and put up my tent. The wind started to blow and it got cold at night. I put out my sleeping bag and slept like a baby.
Nandal village hiking is exciting and uplifting. Nandal village is close to Mount Damavand in Mazandaran Province, Iran.
Desperate for a Trip
My heart was beating for a long trek. Twenty days without an even short trip to a small hill around Pardis country, especially in Ramadan, is a real drag. I felt a little under the weather. However, I was desperate for a trip. My brother in law, Ishmael, called me on Wednesday evening and said; “we are heading to Nandal village. Are you coming with us?” My answer was positive.
Nandal Village Road
You have to drive a zig-zag narrow road from Haraz Road upward to get to Nandal village. It takes nearly 40 minutes to get to Nandal village from the very beginning of the road at the bottom. It was cloudy, but there was no wind.
Getting Ready for Nandal
We started out hiking trip at around 9:00 in the morning with my brother-in-law, Ishmael, and my cousin’s husband, Muhammad. It was cloudy and misty. Hiking in a misty weather could be dangerous and interesting at the same time. You might get disoriented when the cloud is close to mountain. But we were in safe hands. I packed my stuff and put my backpack on my shoulders and hit the mountain trail.
Hiking in the Mist
The trail was not easy to hike. The trail was steep and stony. The stones were slippery. I fell down nearly twice. We occasionally stopped to rest. Since it was misty, I had no idea how high we were on mountain. After a while, we heard barking. Barking means a flock of sheep. The sound was getting closer and closer, but nothing could be seen farther than two meters away. The mist got weakened and three dogs in different colors appeared on the left side. Barking dogs never bite. Two shepherds waved for us and we waved back. So, we stopped on a first peak and had some fruits and refreshments. It boosted me up.
After a while, we heard barking. Barking means a flock of sheep. The sound was getting closer and closer, but nothing could be seen farther than two meters away. The mist got weakened and three dogs in different colors appeared on the left side. Barking dogs never bite. Two shepherds waved for us and we waved back. So, we stopped on a first peak and had some fruits and refreshments. It boosted me up.
Climbing Up to the
We resumed our track fresh. The mist was ebbing and flowing. We could hear the thunderbolt ahead of us. We were heading toward it. The volcanic stones on our path suddenly changed the scenery. They were covered with orange and white lichens. The dew and the lichens on the stones increased the chance of losing our footings. Nevertheless, we managed it. We came across a large group of Barberry Shrubs. I picked up some of leaves and tasted them. It was sour, but not sour yuck. It was tasty and worth trying.
Hidden Gems up on the
Grazing sheep high up on Alborz mountain range is quite common. One can spot the flocks of sheep on the mountain far away. Shepherds put up a tent and take the sheep out in the morning and return before sunset. But they leave something precious behind: lambs. Sheep should gaze out on the steep mountain which is literally impossible for little lambs. Therefore, shepherds put little lambs in a covered dry-stone shelter to protect them from potential danger. Quite interesting, isn’t it?
Dry-Stone Shelter Stock
The rain began beat against us harder and harder. We continued the mountain trail until we reached the big round dry-stone shelter wall. It was around one o’clock in the afternoon. At the left corner, it was covered with waterproof fabric supported by wooden poles. It was smelly to rest there. So, we stayed out side. The blizzard struck while we were trying to build a fire. I rummaged through my backpack and found ground sheet. Ishmael got the wooden poles and Muhammad got the stone. We put up a so-called tent and made an herbal tea.
Two local shepherds joined us for a drink after the blizzard stopped. They were out looking for mushrooms. Hills round the Nandal village are filled mushrooms in late April and May. We offered them some snacks and hot tea.
As they decided to leave, it started to rain. It was time to eat something delicious. Yes, grilled corn. We barbecued sweet corns on charcoals and ate them voraciously as a lunch!
Hiking Down through the
It was raining cats and dogs. It was 15:00 P.M. and it was time to climb down to Nandal village. The mist got thicker and thicker on our way back down.
We descended the mountains and reached a valley. A flock of sheep were gazing there. We had a small chat with the shepherds. They were Afghans, not locals.
And then we trekked slowly down the slopes until we get to the pathway. Although the mist disappeared, Mount Damavand was stilled encircled with thick clouds.
Nandal village is perfect for hiking and trekking. In my following trips, I will let you know about the hiking trails and trekking routes in the area. I will announce the upcoming trip on my Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/bahram_gur/
Hitchhiking to Hormuz Island is everyone dream. Everyone talks about Hormuz Island and its beauty, but you should see it on your own to believe it. After all, as the proverb goes, “seeing is believing”. The idea of visiting colorful Hormuz Island has been on my mind for a long time, but I was waiting for the best visiting time, February.
I called for hitchhiking trip to Hormuz on my Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/the7beauties) and within 24 hours received numerous responses. My buddy, Muhammad Qanjal, and I picked the qualified travelers. Since it was a long hitchhiking trip, nearly 1,300 km, from Tehran to Bandar Abbas, it was necessary to select the patient ones.
Hitchhiking from Tehran to Isfahan – Scrambled Eggs
My travel buddy, Elahe (a girl name meaning “the goddess”) and I join the group in the evening to start our new adventure. This time our hitchhiking trip is different because we take north to south route in Iran. We were 14 hitchhikers, including Elahe and I. We got late, but luckily we were second to get a ride. The first impression is the last impression in hitchhiking, so always wear a smile on your face. A truck driver pulled over and I went after it and opened the door. A kind truck driver showed up and curiously asked where we were going. I quickly noticed his accent. He was from Shiraz, the city of poems and flowers.
Initially, he was a little surprised to see us, especially me with a large red backpack. He kindly asked us where we were heading and then said, “Hop on”. Elahe got on the truck first and helped me with the backpack and then I quickly got on. It was an easy hop on. In fact, we dragged us up! We introduced each other to him. His name was Saeed. He was from beautiful Shiraz, but he was heading to Isfahan that day. He played some old romantic Iranian music for us while we enjoyed the horizon. we passed Mamuniyeh, Salafchegan, Hesar-e Sorkh, Delijan, Mouteh Wildlife Refuge, Meymeh, Vandadeh, Murchehkhort, Shahin Shahr.
After sunset, near Isfahan, he pulled off to offer us something to eat. He brought the pan, the small portable cook and some bread. Elahe got the pan and cooked us quick Scrambled eggs. Saeed dropped us at Moallem Freeway at Isfahan and bid us farewell.
Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Nain – Getting Stone
This was the difficult part of our trip. Since tomorrow was a national holiday, the streets were literally emptied from trucks. Most of truck drivers are off on national holidays. Therefore, we were forced to hire a car in Snapp App to the very beginning of Isfahan- Nain road. We paid 2 dollars to get there. It was getting more and more difficult to get a ride, let alone a free ride! However, we never lost our hope. We were determined to get to Shahr Babak, our meeting place tonight.
Cars and trucks passed us with at a fast speed and the pushed us the cold wind to our faces. We walked for a while to reach the lights we saw a head of us. The lights were not the lights from the houses, but a restaurant. We were lucky because there were nearly ten trucks there. Cheerful as we were, we paced up. We did not want to lose our chance at such a dark night. Elahe and I head to trucks. Some had no drivers on. Some refused to offer us a ride.
All of a sudden, we an old greenish blue truck, an old Mercedes-Benz short-bonnet trucks, aka Khawar, in Iran. It was so beautiful. The truck was decorated with numerous things. A man of late 50s showed up and we asked for a ride. He was a sheepish man with a dark jacket on. He had a short gray hair and blue eyes. He said, “I am heading to Tabas. So, I can just take you to Nain.”
We were as happy as a lark, although a long way was a head of us. He was not much of a talker because he was an opium smoker. While Elahe had a short snap, I seized the time and scrutinized the different things in the cabin while the opium smoke was in the air. I was literally stoned! He dropped us at Nain ring road after midnight. A pitch-black road!
Hitchhiking from Nain to Yazd – A Ride into the Darkness
Darkness was all we could see. I wore my headlamp and resumed my path. We could hear dogs’ barking far away. Three or four sedan cars passed us speeding. We were not in a light spot to be visible. Elahe began to cracking jokes to raise the spirit. She is very funny from time to time and she did it on the right time. We stood near the streetlights for roughly twenty minutes. It was about one in the morning. Who would stop for a couple on after midnight on almost desert road? A humanist, maybe.
Up on the road, a Mini Truck Isuzu began to appear. I rose my hand and a few meters a head of us, it stopped. I was happy and scared simultaneously. Two men were in the vehicle. Usually, I do not go for a truck with two passengers on, but I had no choice. They curiously asked our destination. They were from Yazd. The accent was revealing.
Surprised to see us at wee hours, they began to ask several questions about Elahe and me. I tried to be alert all the way to Yazd and kept talking about any topics available despite the overwhelming sleepiness. While the driver was friendly and kind, the other guy was too nosy. Frankly speaking, I felt a little unease with him. The road lingered on and on as if it was endless. Seeing the road sign written Zarach on it, we decided to get off.
Hitchhiking from Zarach to Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque –
Lightness in Horizon
After getting off the truck at Zarach Meydan Velayat, I was relieved a bit because of saying goodbye to the nebby guy. Up ahead the road, on the right side, rest a group of trucks. We headed toward them with sleepy faces and shivering bodies. Four or five of them did not even bother to answer our greetings at that ungodly hour. Almost all track drivers turned blind eyes to us, expect a couple. Two young men, one 21, and the other 27, inquired about our affairs cautiously. I quickly told them our destination. They were heading towards Shahr-e Babak, our very destination. My prayers were answered. Hurrah. Our happiness did not last long because they said, “We are going to stay at Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque, after Mehriz for sleep”.
Loaf of bread is better than none. I felt safe with them, so I slept for a while. I was waken up by the driver’s voice. “We got to Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque”. The yellowish red hue appeared at horizon, as the sun began to rise. Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque was a life saver. Elahe and I dragged our wearied bodies with heavy steps towards the mosque. Into the mosque, we entered. It was packed like sardines. We squeezed ourselves between the sleeping people and in a blink of an eye we were in arms of Morpheus.
Hitchhiking from Hazrat Abolfazl Mosque to Anar –Short but sweet
Persian says “Sleeping is a rose” and indeed it is. I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. We slept for 4 hours. By the time we woke up, the mosque was almost empty. The sun was shining lightly and the sky was clear. We had bread and cheese for breakfast and hit the road again. I posed for the pictures and Elahe took a nice shot of me. Almost after 15 minutes, a sedan car pulled up a few meters a head of us. A young couple with big smile offered us a ride to Anar city in Kerman.
Hitchhiking from Anar City to Sirjan – The Curvy Hills
Soon after waving goodbye to the friendly couple, a lovely Sirjani guy picked us up. He was driving on the road from early day from Yazd and was heading toward Sirjan. The weather was awesome and the sky was clear. Every now and then, two or three fluffy clouds made a shade and passed slowly. As we passed Shahr-e Babak, the road began to curve and rippling hills started to appear.
The mountainous pass is a perfect place for photographers and nature lovers. I might go there for biking and camping some day! On the right wing of the road, there lied small one-storey houses made out of stones and soils. It seemed that a river used to flow there. One could see the mud cracks along the road. The name of the city was, Zeydabad. It seemed a lovely city. But, we could not stop. We had a higher goal. The driver kindly served us some dried nuts with hot tea.
Hitchhiking from Sirjan to Bander Abbas – Fast and Furious
If you want to take a taxi or hitchhike from Sirjan to Bander Abbas, Imam Ali Square is the best place. The taxi fare from Sirjan to Bandar Abbas is 3 dollars. We were running out of time. It was 2 p.m. in the afternoon and we had a ticket for Hormuz Island at 17:00 with Bandar Abbas Ferry Boats. Three hours might not be enough. Unfortunately, the taxis were not there. It wasn’t surprising, it was holiday, after all.
While Elahe and I were crossing our fingers to get there on time, a sedan car, a couple with a 4 year-old girl offered us a ride. They were Sirjani. They warned us about the potential dangers of hitchhiking on the road. But, it was daylight and we were immune to possible dangers. Soon after he heard we would be late for the ferryboat, he drove a little faster but with lots of care.
It was a 310 kilometer drive. But, you couldn’t drive fast because it was mountainous and curvy. It even had tunnels! Zagros Mountains stretching from northwest of Iran, Tabriz ends here at the Strait of Hormuz. The mountains were in different shapes and colors. I was so immersed in watching them that I wished it never ended! We got there Port martyr Haqqani at 17:20 despite the speeding.
Hitchhiking inside the city is literally impossible. So, using Al Pacino’s phrase in Donnie Brasco “Forget about it”. Anyway, let me give a tip for better photography. While you are in Shiraz, try to wear bright colors. Yellow and pink are top priority because the tiles are mostly pink and yellow. In this case, you will be matched with tiles and your pictures will be more beautiful. Colorful scarfs are available there for women for beautify themselves and color their photo while on travel.
We visited Vakil Bath, Vakil Bazzar and Vakil Mosque. Each has its own beauty and style. You can’t have a bath in Vakil Bath. It is a museum right now. But you could be familiar with the architecture and the culture of Hammam. In Vakil Mosque, the spiral columns are a perfect place to take artistic photography. I am an amateur, of course. We met two Turkish travelers who took pictures with Yalda and Mahsa.
Pars Museum is another highlight of Shiraz one shouldn’t
miss. The paintings inside the Pars Museum are marvelous. The tomb of Karim
Khan Zand is there, too. It is a small museum but it totally worth visiting.
I really love the space between the Vakil Mosque and Arg-e
Karimkhan. Tables and chairs in the open space are lovely for relaxing and
having something to drinks.
The medieval-like fortress in the middle of Shiraz built during Zand dynasty was our next stop. Bitter orange trees surrounded the fountain inside the Arg. The amorous smell were there as well. I couldn’t cease to smell blossoms’ mind-altering smell.
Next was Madrese e-Khan or Khan School. The school was a two-story building like the one I saw in Oudlajan, Tehran or Agha Bozorg School in Kasha. But, this one is more beautiful than the two others are. Palm trees and dancing of fountains in the yard created an splendid view. While we were there, we met a group of French travelers. They were four. Three women and a man. I spent some time talking to them about Iran culture and lifestyle. When I see a traveler, I become talkative. They were patient enough to listen to my words. They were heading to Isfahan, Kerman desert, Varzaneh and Kashan. I wished them nice and safe trip and then we said farewell.
Qavam House or Narenjestan Garden is so beautiful you can’ stop falling for it. The colorful flowers, green trees and sound of water soothe your body and soul. While you are inside the mansion, look up to see the decorated ceilings. On the second floor, you could see the images of western women surrounded by the images of flowers on the ceilings. The mirror-work’s on the first floor is striking to watch. No wonder it was registered under the Persian Gardens on Iran UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Next to Qavam House, there is beautiful traditional house which is called Zinat Al-Molk House. It is not as eye-catching as Qavan house; however, it has its own beauty. Besides, it is close to Qavan house. It takes 15 minutes to visit it.
Tomb of Saadi
and Tomb of Hafez
Literature is my life. I can’t live without it. Reading Hafez and Saadi is one of the most pleasurable activities I have ever done. Their poetry is so rich in philosophy and worldview that their reputation go beyond the Iranian border. Goethe, one of the greatest German poet, openly confessed Saadi Shirazi’s influence on him. And Hafez’s influence in Iranian daily life is inevitable. Having said that, seeing them was like seeing old friend who helped me through sadness and laughed with me in my happiness. I lost myself in the poetic atmosphere and began murmuring the verses quietly.
We returned two Arg-e Karim khan area to have dinner at Qavam Cafe & Restaurant. The food was yummy. I ordered Kebab Tabeii with special sour mayonnaise on it. Oh my God! I highly recommend it. It was soooooo delicious! We talked over the dinner about our hitchhiking back to Tehran.
Shiraz to Sa’adat Shahr – Indecent Proposal
Tight schedule always increase the pace of your travel, particularly on hitchhiking trips. We decided to hit the road at night. At least cover one third of our path to Tehran. We got a taxi to the first police station outside the city. It is eight kilometers away from Quran Gate. You can find it on google map. Its name is Traffic Police Station. I never risk hitchhiking at night, especially in the lower part of Iran. I don’t want to generalize that the lower parts of Iran is unsafe. No, not at all. But, when the night comes, the darkness may lurk at the corner.
While Yalda and Mahsa were determined to begin our trip to Isfahan, I had butterflies in my stomach. But, I kept the spirit up. We thumped up. A truck driver stopped. He was heading to Tehran. What a chance! We hooped in. He was not alone. His son was with him, a pre-school quite boy. Yalda and Mahsa were in the backside and I sat in next to the driver. He spoke Arabic on the phone. He was from Ahvaz. Ahvazi people speak Arabic. I didn’t understand Arabic. The presence of the child assured us that we are safe. He was a man of family. We could trust him. I began a conversation and tried to get as much information as possible. By getting info, I could knew him better.
After 30 minutes’
drive, his phone rang and he handed it to me and said: “My brother is on the phone. He wants to talk to you.” He had
told me that his brother is driving another vehicle just behind him. But, I had
no idea why he was eager to talk to him.
-Hi, how are you?
Me- How are you?
I am fine. Thanks for giving us a ride.
-you are welcome.
Can one of you come with me? I am alone and I need someone to talk. Ask one of
the girl to come here.
Ok. But…they seem asleep. I will join you. But I warn you. I am talkative.
(With a laugh) I might talk your head over.
-Okay. No problem.
I said goodbye
and handed the phone back. I never wanted to send either Mahsa or Yalda alone
to the other vehicle. It was unwise to do that. The truck stopped in a parking
area next to road. He got out of the truck and checked his wheels. I shared the
news with my friends. Yalda interrupted me and said” It is fine with me. I go
there. You stay here.” I asked her if it is ok two or three times. Yet, her
answer was the same. I respected her answer, although I was worried. A truck
stopped behind us and went toward him to have a quick evaluation. Yalda got her
backpack, climbed down, and then got up the other truck. I climbed up and I was about to close the door that I saw Yalda
next to the door. I was shocked. She worriedly asked me to get down. I knew
something went wrong. She told me that the driver asked her get laid with him.
Yalda is a strong girl. I knew her well. I looked back and said to the diver
that we preferred to be together. I guessed he knew it. He didn’t flinch at all
at our decision.
When the trust broke, the silent came over. A deadly silent. I was worried and scared. What could I do if she was hurt? It was big mistake to let her go on her own to be with the driver’s brother. Anyway, I asked a driver to turn on a music. Might music replace the suffocating atmosphere. I have tried to engage the driver into a conversation on the recent flood in Ahvaz. Luckily, he took the lead and began talking and taking.
Meanwhile, we cooked up a story to get off the truck. Mahsa’s uncle was in Shiraz and he was coming back the same night. The phone rang and Mahsa told him to stop at the nearest city, Sa’adat Shahr. The driver bought our story. We dropped off at the police station. I asked the driver to come with me and gently told him his brother indecent proposal to Yalda. He knew it of course. But I wanted to throw it to his face to know that we are travelers, hitchhikers and adventures. However, we are not into shady things such as drugs, murder or sex and they were wrong about us. Hitchhiking might sometimes get hard and it was one of those instances.
Hitchhiking from Sa’adat Shahr to Isfahan – Long Ride to Sunrise
The trucks left and stood for a while to shake off the negative feelings. It was the first time I have ever encountered such a misconducts. It is hitchhiker after all. Anyway, a young man pulled over and offered us a ride. He claimed that he was working in a police agency in Tehran. I asked for his ID. I had to be cautious this time. He showed it to me and I felt somehow assured.
He was from Borazjan, the capital of Dashtestan County, Bushehr Province. He was an employee in a special police force in Tehran, but he despised his job. He confessed that they made him and his fellows into mad dogs attacking anyone in uprisings or riots against the government. He introduced some interesting places in Borazjan and I jotted it down into my notebook to google it later on. I felt sleepy and I fell asleep. So did Mahsa and yalda. He woke me up at 6:45 A.M. next to Soffeh Terminal in Isfahan. I thanked him, exchanged phone number, and said goodbye. We used the toilet in Soffeh Terminal and had biscuit and fruit juice for breakfast. Then we got on a bus from Soffeh Terminal, in the southern part of Isfahan to Kaveh terminal, in the northern part of it. The bus fare was 20 cents per person.
Standing there was a mistake. Neither cars nor trucks stopped for us. I searched the net and found the police station outside of Isfahan, Shahin Shahr – Kashan Police Station.
Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Abayneh Village – Unexpected
We took a taxi to get to Shahin Shahr – Kashan Police
Station. Every cars stopped for us asked for money. Isfahan seems
un-hitchhikable. We paid 2 dollars to get there which wasn’t expensive. Out of
surprise, a sedan car pulled over. Two girls were in the car. I welcomed us
with a big smile. Kimia and Paria were heading to Abyaneh on their own. They
were beautiful and lovely to hang out with. Their friendliness made us accept
their offer to Abyaneh Village. The weather was awesome. There were some clouds
in blue sky but the sun was shining brightly.
I met several international travelers from Poland, Hungry, France and China. In order to thank them for a ride, we bought Ash for them and had some fun. A couple asked me to take a picture of them and I did. I love to take pictures. After strolling for an hour, we said goodbye and headed to Kashan.
Unfortunately, the cars were full. It was a religious holiday. Never travel in Iran on national or religious holidays. The chance of getting ride is low. As usual we began walking along the road. It was useless. People passed us waving their hands. We walked for 20 minutes. And out of luck a car stopped. The man got out. He was the same person I took picture. What comes around goes around. It is a Karma, I guess. They couple offered us tea and cookies. They stopped at Anar Boulevard because they were heading to Badroud.
Hitchhiking from Kashan – Qom – Tehran
After 10 minutes, another young couple stopped for us. They
looked like rich. Both of them wearing snazzy baseball caps. They were heading
to Nushabad, the underground city in Kashan. We dropped off at Nataznz – Kashan
Pay toll. Best place to get a hitchhike to Tehran. Cut a long story short, we
hitchhiked from Kashan to Qom and Qom to Tehran. It got home at six. P.M. and took a shower
and hit the bed.
Hitchhiking to Shiraz was a different experience. It had its own joy and danger. It taught us a good lesson. Never hitchhike at night. Never trust easily to drivers with children. On general, Iranian are hospitable. It is undeniable. But, be alert and cautious.
Nothing is more temping than Shiraz in late May or April. The weather is awesome. It is sunny with a light caressing wind. On the top of that, the blossoms of Narenj (Bitter Orange) fill the air in a way that it will intoxicate you. Its amorous atmosphere in Persian Gardens is a unique phenomenon should not be missed. On this travel, two of my female friends from Semnan joined me. Mahsa (is a Persian name means “Moonlike”, Mah means “Moon” and Sa mean “like”) and Yalda ( is a Syriac word means “Birthday”) are the two active eco-travelers in Iran. They are friendly and tireless. It is a long trip so your co-travelers should be in good shapes. So are Mahsa and Yalda. Our trinity is complete. Let’s go to Shiraz….Yeah.
Hitchhiking from Tehran to Qom – Green Plains
Our starting point was Tehran-Qom highway Toll Booth on Persian Gulf Highway. It’s a best point for hitchhiking to the south of Iran. Our meeting place was set: in front of Toll Booth at 3:00 P.M 29th of May 2019. I left my workplace at 13:00 ant took the subway station to get to Tehran-Qom highway Toll Booth. I go there early so, I had a sandwich for a lunch and slept for a while in a praying room next to the pay toll. They arrived there at 15:10 P.M. and we then hit the road.
Large vehicles such as trucks are not allowed to use this highway. Therefore, you should get a ride with cars. We thumped up for short minutes and a middle-aged woman in a SUV vehicle stopped for us. Her name was Roya (an Arabic name means “dream”). She was friendly and funny. She was heading to Arak to visit her friends. She offered us a ride to Qom and we accepted it.
Qom is a dry land. I have passed this highway lot of time. But something has changed. The dry hills alongside the road were all green filled with small yellow and red flowers. It was unprecedented. Many cars stopped to enjoy the view and took pictures. The landscape was spectacular. The amazing landscape shortens out trip. We go to Qom in a blink of an eye! We dropped off at Qom – Tehran Police Station next to end of Tehran – Qom Highway. We waved goodbye and wished her safe trip to Arak.
Hitchhiking from Qom to Kashan – Friendly Couples
Kashan is our next destination. As I expected the possibility of getting a ride to Isfahan from Qom is low. This time a couple pulled over for us. They were from Kashan. Both of them were educated. I had visited Kashan a month ago. But, I like to visit it once more in mid-April. Rose Festival is coming!
We engaged into a conversation about the beauties of Kashan and other visiting places around nearby such as Abuzeyabad Desert. They introduced a cozy Tea House in Kashan, named Firozeh Tea House. I have never been there, but I will put it on my list to taste the herbal tea there. You can contact them here on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/firoozeh_kashan/
Our dropping off location was at Qom – Kashan Freeway. It is nearly 5 minute drive before Kashan entrance.
Kashan to Isfahan – Isfahan Driver Guide
At Qom-Kashan Toll Booth, you could get a ride by trucks.
But, we were lucky to get a ride with a sedan. The driver, Mohammad Hashemi,
was a guide-driver returning back to Isfahan after dropping his travelers at
IKA, Tehran. We talked about the ups and downs of tourism industry in Iran. He
was a retired man but, he chose to work in as a tour guide as a fun. He
suggested a less-visited place in Isfahan named Zefreh Hot Water Springs in Kuhpayeh
District, on the way to Nain. It seems like an interesting place to me. I put
it on my bucket list. He was so kind enough to call me next day to make sure we
arrived safe to Shiraz.
Hitchhiking from Isfahan to Pasargadae – Long Talk, Long Ride
We dropped off at Kaveh Bus Terminal because he was heading
to the city center and we did not want to hit the city traffic. The taxi
drivers standing an shouting for the passengers are expensive. I decided to get
a taxi on Snapp to the road where trucks were available. It cost us 31,000 Toman
(Nearly 2 dollars) to get from Kaveh Bus Terminal to Esfahan-Shiraz Traffic
Police. You cannot get a hitchhike in cities. Therefore, you should get
yourself to the pay tolls or police stations outside the cities.
Esfahan-Shiraz Traffic Police is situated between two mountains. Three trucks pulled over in order to rest. It wasn’t dark because the full moon was in sky. One of the truck drivers there started to gaze at us strangely. I guessed he had never seen a hitchhiker in his life, particularly two women and a man. I must confess that Mahsa’s bright yellow manteau was not suitable for hitchhiking. It’s better to wear something loose that covers your back, upper than your knees. Anyway, a truck stopped. I asked for a ride.
He was totally shocked by seen us. I talked him into it.
After introducing, I began to explain about our travel type. He was taking in
slowly and slowly. It was something he has never seen. I did my best to
persuade him into that we are not gonna hurt him. It was 400 kilometers drive. I
had a long way to show our aim: travel, and fortunately I did. We passed cities such as Mahyar, Esfeh,
Shahreza, Aminabad, Izad Khast, Shurestan, Abadeh, Bidak, Surmaq, Safashahr and
Morghab. Mahsa and Yalda slept for a while, but I had to stay awake. I had to
be cautious at any time. We dropped off
in front of a restaurant, at the corner of Pasargadae path. While we were
walking toward the Pasargadae, a car stopped. We had decided to camp near
Pasargadae area, but the driver persisted on hosting us. We accepted it.
Iranian hospitality is second to none.
Hitchhiking to Pasargadae – The Tomb of Cyrus, the Great
We slept like a log. Budgerigar’s singing woke me up in the morning. After a long travel and sleep, hearing melodious singing of a bird was like heaven. Mr. Azad and his wife were kind enough to ready breakfast for us. Then he accompanied us inside Pasargadae. He knew the ticket seller. He just said, “Hi, how are you?” and we passed the gate. He pulled his string for us.
Since my visit to Chak Chak in Yazd, I have not felt so elevated and happy by stepping into a place. I felt an underling joy lurking beneath my skin. Each step meant a huge delight. Mr. Azad warned me not to kneel down. It is prohibited to do that before the tomb of Cyrus, the Great, the kings of kings.
We got our pictures taken. We visited the other historical sites in there; Audience Palace, The private Gate, the Gate Palace and Pasargadae Caravanserai. The entire area was covered with green plains and yellow flowers. It was fantastic. I felt so good to see Pasargadae. Mr. Azad’s cute daughter was with us during our visit. I bought a hat for her as a present. I knew it was nothing in compared with what they did and offered. However, I bought something to show my appreciation.
Hitchhiking from Pasargadae to Naqsh-e Rustam – Necropolis
Necropolis is not far from Pasargadae. A young man named Hamid stopped for us. He was from Abadeh. He was so kind to stop at Sivand Dam for a short stop. The river made the area green and beautiful. We head towards the Naqsh-e Rustam, the Necropolis. I could see it from 5 kilometers away at the foot of the mountain. It took nearly 45 minutes to arrive at Necropolis.
These ancient Persian rock reliefs cut into the cliff, are from the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. The tombs of Achaemenid Kings are in large cross shape carved into the rocks. I am wondering why it has not been registered on Iran UNESCO World Heritage Sites yet. It is so unique and marvelous. Down these tombs, there are Sassanid rock reliefs.
Groups from different parts of the world were there visiting these marvelous place. I came across a group of young students from University of Basel, Switzerland, with archaeology pamphlet on their hands. They were on field trip, as one of them claimed.
Hitchhiking from Naqsh-e Rustam to Persepolis – The Capital of Persians
Persepolis wasn’t so far. It was 15 minutes ride. We got on the back of a pickup car. I missed pick-up cars! It is so much fun to be the back of the pick-ups. We got off at Marvdasht Sq. and picked up again. This time by a family from Khuzestan.
It was crowded because of the religious holiday. But I didn’t care. It was good to see people are coming for visiting an ancient place belonging to 2500 years ago. I met Mr. Keramt Bordbar, the head of Persepolis Museum, a close friend of mine. He exclusively explained the museum for me. What a pleasure. He has repaired most of the objects in the museum; therefore, he knew the very details to the end. We are gonna run a business together soon. Very special program in Shiraz for travelers.
Travelers from various countries such as United States, Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic etc. were visiting the glorious Persepolis. I met interesting travelers there. Here are my pictures with these travelers.
Hitchhiking to Shiraz – Persepolis to Naqsh-e Rajab- Marvdasht -Shiraz
We left Persepolis at around 5 p.m. The ideal time for visiting Persepolis is half a day. We got to Naqsh-e Rajab, five kilometers away from Persepolis. Then head to Marvdasht with BMW. Yes, a hitchhike with BMW in Shiraz!
Abbas, a Shirazi man, offered us the best Faloodeh Shiraz on earth ever! Its name is Momtaz on the main Boulevard of Marvdasht. We dropped off at the end of Marvdasht city, at the beginning of Marvdasht to Shiraz road.
Then a young boy heading to Shiraz picked us up. He was
smoking pot in a car! But he was alert. He looked a little suspicious. We felt
something was fishy. He persisted to offer us a place to sleep after 15
minutes. I managed the situation to we could get off at the right place after
passing Qur’an Gate. It was almost dark when we got to Shiraz. We were hungry
and tired. We headed to Haft Khan Restaurant, but it was super costly. A dish
of Kebab costs nearly 15 dollars. It costed an arm and a leg! Shit! We left
there and found a restaurant next to Qur’an Gate. It was fine. I was so hungry
that I forgot to took a picture of the food. Sorry, I have nothing to share
Best Place to Camp inside Shiraz City
I had googled a lot before travelling to find a place for a night. There are several parks in Shiraz where you can hang around and have fun. However, you are not allowed to camp in there. The only place in Shiraz where you can put up a tent is in Janat Park. It is in the west part of Shiraz. The taxi fare from Qur’an Gate to Janat Park was nearly one dollar.
You should enter the park. Go straight ahead. Turn left on the second alley. Walk to the end of alley. There you can see the parking area. Next to the parking area, you can put up your tent. The park is completely safe. There were other tents there, as well. Public restroom is available, too. No smell was coming to our tent. We put up our tent and slept before we knew it.
Sightseeing in Shiraz – Early Bird Catches the Worms
The best time to visit Nasir-ol-molk Mosque or pink Mosque is early morning. You should be there at the very opening hour to fully enjoy the dancing of colors. AKA pink mosque, this Qajari Mosque has become a sensation in Iran. Photographers and travelers are rushing to pink mosque in order to get the best shot possible. We woke up at 8:00. Packed our stuff and headed to Nasir-ol-molk Mosque on the empty stomach. It was crowed, but I was able to take photographs. Those who arrived there after 10 p.m. are losers. So make sure to be there soon.
After photography, we headed to a small café in Rouzbahan Street, in front of Abu Muhammad Sheikh Ruzbehan Baqli’s tomb. We orderd omelet. It was delicious and cheap. Mrs. Rasti is the owner of the café, a young woman with a good taste in cooking. You can contact her through the link below. She is not good at social media. I spent some time to update her Instagram page, add address and photos. It felt good to help developing business for her. Make sure to visit her there while you in Zand Street. She provides breakfast, coffee, herbal tea and cold drinks.
While we were having breakfast, we decided to visit Maharloo Lake, in the southeast of Shiraz. We were tight on schedule, but we reached the agreement to skip some visiting place in Shiraz in order to visit this naturally pink lake.
Maharloo Lake is pink because of potassium and other salts. We got a taxi to go there and come back. The clock was ticking. We could do the hitchhike, but we did not. Time was gold then. It took us three hours to go to Mahrloo Lake, take some pics and come back to Vakil complex.