Eid al-Fitr, the feast held to celebrate the breaking of the fast of the holy month of Ramadan, had started at sunset on Saturday which explained why the Ferdowsi’s restaurant had been completely packed. The tables groaned under the weight of a month’s worth of unsated appetites. It was party time. But without the Bacardi Breezers and Jaeger bombs!
Which was great for the locals who had been hanging out for a decent feed. But it wasn’t so great for me. The next day everything was closed. I tried to visit several museums. All were closed. I tried to visit Golestan Palace. Closed. I wandered around the backstreets of the bazaar. Even most of these stalls were closed. It seemed everything was closed except for the occasional street vendors.
After a couple of hours of walking for little reward I decided to return to the Ferdowsi. At the reception I asked the staff if the museums and the Golestan Palace would be open tomorrow. I was out of luck. Again. Apparently, the Ayatollah had proclaimed Monday as an extra public holiday. Good one, Tazza!
I decided it was time to escape from my gilded cage at the Ferdowsi.
As I gazed at my map to plan the next day’s ride I gradually came to realise I had reached a bit of a watershed. Even though the Turkish border was still several days away, there was no doubt my mind was now focussed on Turkey not Iran. Sadly, I was no longer visiting Iran, I was leaving Iran.
It couldn’t be true, could it? I would be in Turkey in a few days? Turkey marked the end of the Asian leg of my trip. It didn’t seem that long ago that I was stuck in Dushanbe for all eternity. I shook myself out of my disbelief and returned to the mundane matter of maps.
It was about 900km from Tehran to Maku, the last town in Iran before the Turkish border. At the glacial pace of my travels this equated to about 2-3 days travel. And by a miracle of geography and human settlement those 900km divided themselves into three neat parcels of 300km/day – Tehran to Zanjan, Zanjan to Tabriz and Tabriz to Maku. Perfect.
Next morning, after a final breakfast in the massive dining room, I packed up and said one last round of salaam aleikums to the doormen who had dutifully stood guard over my bike 24 hours a day for the entire time I was there.
I pointed the bike west hoping for fair winds and following seas. An unexpected benefit of the Ayatollah’s generosity was the (comparative) lack of traffic on the streets of Tehran as I negotiated my way out of town.
Khuda hafiz, Tehran. Next stop, Zanjan!