Entering Iran. Kaleybar.

We woke up this morning in our very nice family BnB in Armenia after a VERY hot and stuffy night. The village was nestled amongst steep rocky arid mountains in the valley of the Arax River (one of the four rivers of Eden) that is now a fortified international border. The scenery here was really different from any of the other places we'd been; much more arid and rocky. The mountains were kind of an orange colour.

We had our breakfast of bread, eggs, blackberry jam and crème fraiche with earl grey tea sitting out on the veranda surrounded by fruit trees of figs, Sharon fruit and pomegranites. The floor was a mass of kittens. Our taxi arrived at 10 am to take us to the border crossing.

View outside our B'n'B.

View from near our B'n'B.

We got a taxi to the border point and went through Armenian customs and walked over the bridge across the turbulent Arax River into Iranian territory. Ruth and Hannah were told to put their headscarves on by a soldier as we got to the bridge. It was a strange moment and we all felt quite apprehensive; not sure what to expect in Iran. After the border procedures we easily hired a taxi for the 200km ride to Kaleybar. By that point I had discovered that people in this part of Iran are Azeri and speak Azeri Turkish and so I was able to communicate easily. However, the Azeri dialect is quite different from what it is in Turkey so there were some difficulties. Our taxi driver was a bit mad; but we arrived at Kaleybar in the afternoon and found a hotel fairly easily.

Us in the taxi, just arrived in Iran. All a bit scared. Our driver was a bit mad. He kept shouting out the window. We drove for a couple of hours through a pretty vast and arid rural landscape.

Our driver.

The hotel staff also spoke Azeri Turkish so it was easy enough to sort out.

In the heat of the day, relieved to have made it to our destination and to have a hotel room we rested for a while. After an hour or so it became apparent that there was a wedding reception taking place downstairs with loud, very fast semi-traditional Azeri music. Lots of women were arriving, all wearing the typical black chador. We saw the bride arrive all in white with a massive hood and loads of makeup. We decided to go out. Ruth and Hannah practiced getting the headscarves right and we went to explore the small town and to look for a cold drink. We got a lot of stares and felt quite conspicuous and unsure whether we were doing anything wrong. We went into a food place to get cold drinks. As we went in I wondered whether females were allowed in. There were only a few young lads in there. This time the person in there didn’t speak Turkish but I just pointed at some bottles of fizzy stuff and we sat down. But we were still unsure whether it was OK for two girls and a bloke to sit together in there: couldn’t find anything about it in the Lonely Planet. A lady came and sat behind us wearing the usual black gear and had a kebab by herself. It seemed pretty relaxed.

We bought some groceries etc. Later we were looking for some food and met a young bloke in the street who spoke good English. We asked him where was a good place to eat. His car had broken down and he was rolling it into a garage but after that he took us to get some food. It was very good. It is called Dizi. A tasty mutton stew basically.

He was very friendly and we asked him some questions. Turns out Iranian men and women wouldn’t be permitted to go out and eat together in such places but for foreigners it is allowed. He invited us to a wedding this evening and tomorrow morning he will drive us to the castle.

Later we went for a walk and saw a lovely old bridge.

Now that I am beginning to get used to being here Iran is beginning to feel friendly, relaxed and civilized. People don’t hassle us. It appears to be calm and sophisticated. I am happy to be here and am looking forward to exploring this vast country!


  1. hi sam
    i am reza
    i nice to mite you
    i will send my pic to you.

  2. Hi Reza. Thanks for the message. Sorry I have only just found it two months later :-S

  3. I remeber meeting you and your beautiful family on the mountain. You can look at the photos now.