Farewell Iran

It was fitting that we would end our time in Iran being hosted. We had experienced so much kindness and hospitality in the country that we were sometimes overwhelmed. Our last few days in Tehran were spent with the Rouhi family, friends of Yann's father. We had been playing phone tag with them since our arrival in Iran and were really looking forward to spending time with Iranian-Canadians. In our two days with Fatima and her children Mohammad Reza, Mahia and Sania we were made to feel truly welcome and at home (and we were extremely well fed).

We did lots of relaxing and conversing at the Rouhi's, but we did squeeze in a little bit of sight-seeing before leaving Tehran. Mohammad spent a morning touring us around the Niavaran Palace Complex, residence of the last Iranian Shah and the imperial family. The complex is set in beautiful grounds in Northern Tehran, a perfect escape from the city that surrounds it. The grounds are now public space and the buildings are now a museum. Filled with the finest Persian carpets, famous artwork the many of the palace halls and living areas have been preserved as they were left. One of the buildings even has a retractable roof. The palace is a great example of the excess and opulence of the former shahs. It surprised us that this was not more emphasized, there is little historic information on display and the palace items seem to be displayed for admiration rather than anything more propagandist (we felt a great opportunity was being missed!).   The slightly dated main building of the Niavaran Palace Complex

  Yann and Mohammad posing outside Niavaran Palace after a lovely morning visit

For our last dinner in Iran we had a picnic in the mountains north of Tehran, also fitting. Throughout our travels in the country we had admired the Iranians love of picnicking, seeing them set up along the highway the minute a tiny bit of shade presented itself, we saw full picnics on the shoulder of national highways and in parking lots, the roof racks of every car seemed to primarily be transporting picnicking supplies!   Our last dinner in Tehran, we'll be sad to leave all of our new friends

We left Tehran in the morning, picking up our bicycles at the hotel where we had left them for a week, then embarking on the 55km ride to the airport. Our flight was at 5am the next morning, but we were planning on packing everything, including our bicycles at the airport, so we left early in case we ran into any trouble. The ride to the airport was fairly straightforward, we only had to cycle the wrong way up an expressway ramp once. We rode ride into the airport terminal and got in line at the security checkpoint with our fully loaded bicycles, still wearing our helmets and security vests. Everything, including the bikes went into the x-ray machine!

We had about 12 hours to kill at the airport, many of these were spent rearranging our baggage once we found out that we were expensively over the weight limit for our flight. For the cyclists out there: be very careful flying with Emirates! There is no special fee for the bicycle, it is just added to your weight limit, and excess baggage rates are 30USD/kg. With our two bicycles we were 15kg overweight! We had misread the carriage rules when we bought the ticket (if you are wondering why we just realised this when we got to the airport). With enough panicked internet searching, we realised we could pre-purchase extra baggage saving us 30% or so, but we still felt like big dummies for not having figured this out ahead of time . Our second airport task was to get our bicycles boxed-up at the packaging office. We had been told on the phone that we would have “custom boxes” made on the spot. Well, the custom boxes consisted of strapping pieces of cardboard to the bike in what seemed to be a pretty random manner. There was no way in hell these “boxes” were going to survive a flight. The only way to save them was to use the stupid cellophane luggage wrapping and wrap the crap out of them. And even then they looked pretty bad.   Mastering the art of travelling light at IKIA (Imam Khomeini International Airport)

A day later, we were sitting in the back of a taxi, admiring the Hong Kong night skyline, our cellophane-wrapped bicycles strapped into the trunk. We felt like we had just landed on another planet.

Stats for Tehran:

Days of cycling: 0.5
Kilometres cycled: 52

Partially sponsored by Mountain Equipment Coop  Expedition Support

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