The English section was started in December 2014. Prior blogs are avilable in German language only.
All blogs we have published so far can be found in the Archive section, sorted by calendar year.
The shipping from Iran to the United Arab Emirates is lengthy, rather chaotic and above all inscrutable. In the morning at 8 o'clock we are standing with seven vehicles at the port and then it is wait, wait, wait. Except for one vehicle, we all have the same agent who probably earns a golden nose with it. Until all have their papers, stamps and ferry tickets it is dark.
Loading starts at 9 pm and around midnight we finally cast off. We are not allowed to sleep in the car, but there are seats similar to economy class seating on the plane including dinner and breakfast. The crossing takes a good 11 hours and at the port in Sharjah it takes another 4 hours until we have paid all stamps and various fees. Then we are finally through. Welcome to UAE.
There is an old Persian saying that if you have seen Isfahan, you have seen half the world. So we are very curious what awaits us. But first the traffic of a two million city and the challenge to find a parking space awaits us.
The hostels we go to are simply not feasible for our size without demolishing the balcony balustrades or cutting off the power supply to the neighbourhood. Thus, we only have the Abbasi Hotel with a big parking lot close to the center. There we can park comfortably, but have to take a room. Thus, we unexpectedly enjoy the affordable luxury of an oriental 4 star hostel with a beautiful garden in the inner courtyard. This is also where Manfred's sister Elke comes, because the next two weeks we travel in threes.
When entering Iran it was the hardest thing to get out of Armenia. No one felt responsible and we were sent from counter to counter which then were not occupied. After one hour wrong way from A to B and back to A I go to the boss counter.
After he turned my papers back and forth several times as if he had a hieroglyphic tablet in front of him, he actually took care of it and we were finally able to leave. The entry into Iran was then done in 15 minutes and even with the handling of the Carnet de Passage for the car someone knew. The woman was separated and was only allowed to get in again when everything was done, with headscarf of course, because this is obligatory for all women in the whole country.
Iran welcomes us with rain and cold. We exchange 100 Euro at the border and get 11.5 million Rial for it. On the way to Jolfa we first head for a petrol station and get 250 litres of diesel for 5 cents per litre. It's even 50% cheaper if you find a truck driver who lends you his fuel card.
It is already after 17:00 and slowly it gets dark. First we head for an overnight stay at a rest stop on the highway, but it is too loud for us. So we drive down the next exit and a few kilometers inland to a small village. There the road ends and we place ourselves on a free place. It takes less than 5 minutes and we are surrounded by people who want to do something good for all of us. Everyone wants to invite us to dinner or to park with him in the yard. It is raining cats and dogs which does not stop people from coming back with new suggestions. The whole thing culminates in 5 men bringing us bread and plates full of food. This hospitality is simply unbelievable.
Eighty kilometres south of Tbilisi we cross the border into Armenia. The entry is done within an hour without any problems. We have to pay an obligatory environmental tax of about 20 Euro and then in a shop shortly after the border we have to take out an obligatory insurance for the car which also costs 20 Euro for 30 days. Right next door there is then still Internet and we take 10GB for 10 euros. Then we can start.
Armenia is an ancient cultural country and is regarded as the first Christian state in history with the elevation of Christianity to the state religion in the year 301. 1915 in the Ottoman Empire more than 1.5 million Armenians were victims of a systematically operated genocide. The political relations to the neighbours Turkey and Azerbaijan are burdened by it and the borders are closed. Armenia is still trying to gain international recognition for this genocide. I can recommend the book "The fourty days of Musa Dagh from Franz Werfel" to anyone who wants to know more about this.
At the first fork after the border is a prohibition sign for trucks over 8to, nevertheless, it is the distance to the monastery Haghpat which we absolutely want to look at ourselves. As so often we ignore this for the time being, but only two minutes later the police stops us, by the way for the first time on this journey. In my best Armenian I try to make it clear to him that we are a motorhome and not a truck. After a long discussion with hands and feet I can convince him that we are lighter than 8to and we are allowed to continue. We pass desolate villages with prefabricated buildings and many dilapidated factories from the Soviet era. The road is littered with potholes and can hardly be described as such. If we can drive 50km/h we are already happy and so we arrive in the late afternoon at the monastery. Once again it is picturesquely high up on the mountain and judging by the many big coaches it is also a tourist attraction. Haghpat was founded in the 10th century and is probably the most beautiful monastery in Armenia and since 1996 also UNESCO world cultural heritage. Not far away is a beautiful camping site with a great view into the valley where we enjoy the sun for a few days and do some service work on the vehicle.
Before the border to Georgia we pass an endless queue of trucks that have to wait here for hours. The entry is however absolutely problem-free for us and immediately after the barrier a lot of tractors are waiting to sell everything what one needs, or not.
We change our remaining Turkish Lira to a course that brings tears to your eyes and buy a SIM card and a mandatory car insurance for 30 days. Then we leave the nevertheless somehow ordered border chaos behind us and drive on to Batumi. The city lies in the south west at the Black Sea and has experienced an unprecedented investment boom in the last years. Numerous new hotels and a 7km long lake promenade have been built and the number of tourists has multiplied. We stroll at subtropical temperatures some hours through the old town and walk through the parks, but then we continue a few kilometers north to the beach where we stay a few days.