When we came out to the bikes at the apartment this morning there was a card from a local moto shop put there by a friend of the owner. Moto Shop Armenia. You will not find them on a google search for shops or service. On map.me they come up as an apparel shop. They do have a FB page. They offer service and sales of gear and oil. They had Motul chain lube and so we were all very happy. Sara was busy getting all the suits and clothes in the washing machine!! This is time consuming as the cycles are so long.
Today is a hurry up and wait day we had big plans to go 25 km to the Church built in 301 AD. But as the day got hotter we got lazier.
Dan and Orvar had been given the name of a tour company here in Yerevan that might have tires. Thanks Trevor Angel for the lead. Orvar wants to put on a street tire to save the Heidenau tread. They have a tour company, but have a full service centre, shop, and tire service. Dreamriders Armenia.
Meanwhile Sara walked 2 km in the heat to find groceries for a pork dinner before we go to Iran!!
Well after another 2 days of waiting here in Yerevan tensions are running high. Orvar has waited for us long enough and he is headed south today so at least he can see something of this country. He will ride to Tatev and visit the Monastery in the morning.
The 3 Canadian rode up to Moto Shop, which is 3 blocks from the embassy and they were kind enough to let us leave our gear inside and they covered the bikes up to shade them for the 36 degree heat. This way we could be more respectable to go to the Iran Embassy.
We made sure we were there early as we needed to be first if there was any chance to get the visas today. From the number of people who where there Monday we could not change it. We were first and the nice lady recognized us from the last time. She processed the papers and then said “ the consul is not in today, they are only open m/w//f 2-4, this Friday is a holiday so …Monday 5 more days for pick up!! AGH!!
Then she said if we could get to the bank today and return she would see what she could do. OK RUN! Outside we rushed 1 block up to the main road a flagged a cab. he knew where the “Iran bank” was and agreed to take us pronto, wait, and return. We got in at 1424 and had to go across the city to the bank. Arriving there we took a number, but there was a dozen people waiting. We had some good fortune as the “cash payments” teller then arrived back form lunch and served us right away.
We were back in the cab headed north at 1451 and back at he embassy to get a number at 1510. Big tip for the cabbie! She was surprised how fast we were, made a call, and said the consul agreed to do the visas and we could pick them up in the morning even though the visa office for foreigners is not open on Thursdays, It is closed this week on Friday for a holiday and then is not open again until Monday! She said to come at 11. That will be a week later that we planned. Hallelujah! That will mean a very big day for us tomorrow 10 hours riding (plus the border) to Tabriz, Iran to keep to are very truncated and adjusted schedule that has gone from 20 days to 14. We sent a message to Orvar that we would meet him the border and to the guide that we were finally coming.
We had found a hotel also on the park and walked over to check in before going back to the Moto shop for the bikes. It was a fantastic evening and we went for a long walk. The streets were packed with people. We stopped in for a little “Greek” fast food.
Tradition bread baked in a clay oven
We were all up early the stress is really been rough. We walked over to the grocery store to stock up so we could make only gas and WC stops today. Sara went over to get the passports at 10 15 when the office opened. The guard made a call and said come back at 2-4! I said but she said come at 11… So he said then come at 11!
At 11 i arrived and took a number 40 minutes later the same women came out and called me to the desk. She said I only have 2 visas and the computer is not working. She said wait another 20 minutes until she leaves for lunch to see if it is working. Trevor and I had visas, but Daniel did not. At 12 she said there was no luck and I lost it and started to bawl from the 2 weeks of stress, all the set backs, the possibility of having to go to Azerbaijan and get the “ferry” from Baku, being so close, now having to wait 4 more days in Armenia and have basically just enough time to transit Iran I had finally had it. That must have done the trick as when I asked if I could come again at 2 she agreed. Messages sent again to update everyone of the delay.
Going out to tell the guys was no fun. They were all packed and ready. Well at least there is a good cafe with wifi in the park outside the embassy. At 2 I went to the embassy and rang the front door bell (the visa office is on the left side). The person who answered said “ the visa office is closed come back on Monday!” Trying to keep calm I said “ I am the Canadian for the visa and was told to come at 2” and I was directed to the side door. Eventually the guard opened it after 220 and he let me in. I took a seat and waited just after 230 one of the embassy staff showed up with Dan’s passport with a visa. YEAH. Now we are finally ready to get out of here. Update everyone again on the new ETA.
The ride south on the M2 was thru desert and up into the hills. The road surface is very rough 90% of the way.
We went thru several rocky canyons and up over 3 passes on the switchbacks.
The road then heads east to the border of Azerbaijan and then south.
Our first Iran plate!!
The road is actually in Azerbaijan at the rock tunnel.
The riding today over the passes was so great and the scenery beautiful its too bad we could not stop more. We did stop twice between 230 and 9. Once for a cold drink and once for gas and to eat or lunch at 6 pm.
We arrived to the border at dark and there is no signage. There is a gate that looks like the entry to Armenia from Iran, but it is actually the exit as well. Here you hand over you passport, which they look at and then send you on another 500 m.
Again there is no signage, but you come to a large building and the exit is on the right. Pull past the booths and park. Then you go inside to the customs office with your passport and TVIP, which they stamp and sign. The agent then comes out, takes your TVIP and checks your plate number. You are then directed thru the gate.
Here the agent Opens the gate and asks to see your passport and checks the photo (with a flashlight). Here they send you another 400 m to a small shack. They want to see your passport, vehicle registration, and Armenian visa to get your exit stamp. All was going well until Daniel’s turn when they found that the Iran embassy had stuck the Iran visa onto the Armenia entry stamp. It is a faint yellow colour nearly impossible to see. They could see part of it. The officer and Dan walked back the 500 m to the first office to discuss the issue. 20 minutes later he was back and they decided to let him go once they checked the bike. Getting out of Armenia moderate challenge and took almost an hour so its 10 pm except its 1030 pm in Iran.
There is no lighting at all on the Armenian side, but once you cross “the border bridge to Iran” it is all lit up. Just after the bridge is the police check. They look at your passport and then tell you to walk 100 m up to the office where a second officer looks at your passport. He sends you into passport control. Here we also met up with Reza our compulsory guide for the next 2 weeks.He said he did not see Orvar at the border earlier, but he thinks he passed him on the road.
We finally got a passport stamp and headed back to Police officer #2 and he checked the stamp and directs you back to the bikes and to ride thru the gate “pointing somewhere over there”.
You ride about 300 m and past the decontamination chamber and a guard waved us to stop. They were very friendly here and helpful. The customs officer asked for our passports and Carnet de Passage and he entered these in the computer. He walked us over to the boss to discuss the Carnets’ The boss said immediately “ you are the 3 fiends of Orvar”! They did the paperwork very quickly and then wanted photos. They did not look at any of the luggage and only ask if we had any liquor. I said “ of course not we are in Iran” big laughs.
Now to get some money since we can not access currency inside Iran. The rate here was very favorable and for 200 USD we got over 7.6 million Rials. One last stop for a passport check at the exit gate.
It is now 1130 pm and we have 255 km to go to get to Tabriz. Most of the way is on a narrow windy road, but it is in good condition. Still a challenge at midnight after such a long day.
We stopped 35 km from Jolfa for something to eat, but this turned out to be 4 whole grilled fish!
About 1 am we are eating and messaged Orvar to see where he is… Jolfa. We asked him to get up and we will pick him up in an hour….no reply. We figured he read the mail and then said no way and went to bed. So when we dropped by his hotel just of the road we were very surprised that there was the bike all packed up. Now we are 4 tired bikers and the guide in his car at 200 am. We still have 2 hours to the hotel in Tabriz. 30 km from the city we finally found an open fuel station to fill up before one of us ran out of gas.