Day 4 | Tehran to Astara – A beautiful long drive
It was a fresh and bright morning in Tehran today when we jumped off our beds to get into the car. After a quick but full breakfast at Ibis Tehran where we stayed overnight, we hit the Persian Gulf Highway at 8:30 am. The goal was to reach Astara border (Iran – Azerbaijan border) via Qazvin and Rasht enroute. (If you want to know how to merge on the main highway right in front of the hotel, please excuse me as you will need a ‘crash course’ to learn that 🙂 )
On the way, we pulled over at a gas station to refuel. There, we met someone curious to talk to us about our trip and experiences. He introduced himself as Shahryar, an engineer. We were delighted to share a moment with him, talking about him, our group and the trip. Before wishing him “Khoda hafez” (good bye), we presented him a little souvenir from Dubai, and a book to promote the “UAE Reading Year 2016”.
Shahryar showing his Dubai souvenir and book from Let’s Drive
Within the first few minutes of starting, we were caught in traffic jam no. 1, which chipped off a good 30 minutes from the driving time. Moving ahead, we were greeted by traffic jam no. 2 in an hour’s time. This was worse – it took us almost 2 hours to get out. Amidst this ordeal, we kept the humor going with solo and chorus sing-along to the car stereo. It also served up some time to update friends and family on Whats App. All this brought us only to Qazvin, with 70% of the route still remaining. Concern started growing about the border gate closing at 6:30 pm. Yet, it wasn’t possible to push the gas too hard due to speed limits between 50 and 80 kmph mostly, which we adhered to strictly. [Tip: When driving in foreign land, do NOT follow the phrase: “When in Rome, do as Romans do.” Instead, stick to rules!]
Traffic is good for this innovative salesman!
Cops stopped us at some places, street salesmen at others. We didn’t mind both. It was fun to be introduced to them and to see them smile when we conversed in broken English/ Farsi. The cops typically checked our documents briskly, and let us pass. [Important Tip: Even on the slightest intent of cops to stop you – even if they are just curiously looking at you without waving to stop – do pull over. First, it helps to respect their authority. Secondly, it waives-off the risk of them transmitting a message to the next station to stop/check us, which could be some hassle and a big time waster, especially if you are running short of time as we were.]
The road from Risht to Astara was a meandering delight. Surrounded by scenic mountains, green fields, views of Caspian Sea and a variety of trees on the sides, it made for an awesome drive.
“It would be a great joy if it rains now”, exclaimed Shamim a.k.a. DJ Sham. And, lo and behold…. as if the rain gods were just waiting for us to make a wish… in a few minutes we were blessed with showers! It was luck, it was thrill, it was excitement, and it was a moment to cherish!