A new country means new excitement, different impressions, different money, different driving conditions. We were looking forward to Iran as it has some sort of mystique around it and beautiful sights of ancient Persia to visit. On the other hand, woman need to wear a headscarf and elles is not looking forward to that. But it will all be an experience we will probably never forget. We left early in the morning and wanted to make some pictures of Mt Ararat on the way, a mountain of more then 5000 meter with a snowpeak. Suddenly we heard many whistles going off. My god, we were taking pictures next to an army base. We left quickly, being stared at by several soldiers with vicious eyes, before getting arrested.
The border, only twenty minutes away is a modern complex. At first we saw a huge line of trucks waiting but decided to bypass them on the other lane avoiding oncoming traffic. This appeared to be normal routine for cars who wanted to cross the border with Iran. We parked the car and showed our passport. But we needed an exit form from the first checkpoint who had just waived us through. The carnet de passage (temporary import document) prooved to be helpful here already as its only necessary after Turkey. But all data about the car was in it so it came in handy. Stamps here, a form there, please that building, another stamp and so on. An hour and a half later we were ready. Unfortunately the gate with Iran was closed as they were busy with two busloads full of women. That took about an hour or so and then it was time to go through the Iranian bureaucratic custom formalities. Stamps here, a form there, please that building, another stamp and so on. This took a good hour as well and we must say they were all very friendly. From there it was a short drive throuhg no-mans land (quite cool!) till the next check.
As our car insurance was only valid until Turkey we had to buy one. We had two options. Buy one at the border or one in Tabriz, 250 k inland. We did not dare to take the risk and bought one. 36 euro’s for one month or 355 000 tomam. This meant we had to change. Every border has them. Dodgy guys with bags full of money trying to rip you off. But we new the game, new the exchange rate and bargained hard untill they looked very dissatisfied and took the offer we made. (we were probably still being ripped off but then at a good price). So with a car insurance, Iranian money and all paper work done we passed the last checkpoint and crossed the border of Iran with a smile and Elles with a headscarf. Unfortunately we did not see a big sign saying welcome to Iran to make a picture of for the homepage! Next destination Tabriz!