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Armenia? Car says No!

The sky was overcast while we went further north towards Tehran. The city showed up pretty dreary, certainly also due to the weather. The streets were full, the air dirty. The close lying mountains to the north, including Mount Damavand, have been completely enclosed by the clouds and thus not even good for one or the other photo. After visiting the Azadi Tower (Freedom tower of Tehran) we followed the crowded streets towards Tabriz.

We noticed the fact of steadily moving northward. It was cold. And it got colder. The days when you could walk around during the day just wearing a T-shirt, were now over for us.

Before Qazvin we saw on our left and right the first white mountains. Snow - that was this cold wet stuff with which we were last faced with about 30 months ago. The well-developed, wide and in this region less used highway between Tehran and Tabriz often juggled between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level. Somtimes even 4th gear was not good any more. And of course, at the downhill running side there often were speed controls. In no other country on our trip this form of highway robbery was as present and common as in Iran. Streets so long, wide, even and empty as an airstrip. And then this 110 km/h speed limit. Immensely helps you getting crazy.

Tabriz quickly loses favour of drivers since even large and wide main streets were only build up as one-way streets and strangers in the city simply just get insane. We strongly advise other overlanders filling up their cars before approaching the urban area of Tabriz and their search for a hotel.

The historic bazaar in Tabriz, which was even declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site and has always been a very important commercial hub of the Silk Road, is one of the largest covered bazaars in the world and actually consists of several smaller bazaars such as the Amir Bazaar (gold and juwels) and Mozzafarieh (carpet bazaar) and numerous other. It was not easy, getting Nadine away from the pomegranate displays in the fruit area of the bazaar. Not hard to understand at rates of less then a US dollar per kilo.

A plastic bag filled with over a kilo of already peeled pomegranates was our provisions on the following day on the way to the border.

Actually our idea was to go from Tabriz to Armenia.
However, upon arrival in Tabriz, we noticed a roar from under the car. We could not figure out the cause - could have been caused by the engine, clutch or exhaust. Everything was possible since it was hard to locate. Also because of the already prevailing winter in the Caucasus region and conflicting information found online saying the Turkish-Armenian border would be closed, we decided to travel directly to Turkey and later put the car on a lift in Ankara or Istanbul.

Speed control
Azadi Tower in Tehran
Snow-covered mountains near Tabriz
Bazaar in Tabriz
Bazaar in Tabriz

Kilometers before arriving at the Turkish-Iranian border at Bazargan we reached the end of an eternally long line of queued trucks standing on the side of the road. If they actually did want to cross the border, they probably still stand there right now.
Due to the distinctive road haulage the whole border area is very big and spacious, and of course there wasn't a sign anywhere. After asking around a bit we finally arrived at the actual border, where we spoke with an Iranian guy who spoke a few words English. Without having asked him for help, he made it his mission to help us with the customs formalities. Our mood quickly reach the day's low point when we heard about having to pay a departure tax on gasoline, which ultimately almost corresponded to Turkish petrol prices. So actually filling up the car with cheapest Iranian petrol before leaving the country, doesn't make much sense.

After all other vehicles to be searched were quickly processed by the Turkish customs, we were the only ones who had to wait for them having their lunch break first just to be finally being allowed to proceed without the car getting searched at all. Now there was a time change by as much as 90 minutes, again.