Adios adorable Iran, back in the USSR!

Astara Travel Blog

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People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

Approaching Astara we got our first look at the Caspian Sea, as the bus trundled through the morning gloom. On the opposite side of the road were small mountains covered in trees, with the peaks shrouded in mist. The houses were also of a different design, with tiled slanted roofs and the whole scene didn't quite fit in with what we had come to expect from Iran. Sleepy eyed we stepped off the bus and into a waiting taxi that took is to the border post, along with one other Iranian man.

The gates were still closed on the Iranian side, so we sat in a room waiting for the borer guards to begin their days work. This gave me the chance to change my last few Rials into Manats and as my brain still wasn't functioning i got thoroughly muddled up with the whole proceeding.

In the end the guy who we shared a taxi with just swapped the money with me, as he was heading back to Tehran in a couple of days. It was typical of our experience with Iranians, that they would never stop trying to help and be friendly, regardless of the situation.

Crossing out of Iran proved to be painless, but then we got stuck at the Azerbaijan check post, as the officer was sure that my passport was fake. To be quite honest it does look terrible, as the print is smudged and there isn't even a hologram on any of the pages. After nearly an hour of faffing around, i got the go ahead to enter the country. Having brushed off a mob of taxi drivers, we made the 5 minute walk into town to use an ATM and then catch a decrepit old bus to the terminal. It was quite a novel feeling to use an ATM again, although the system was a bit messed up. A security guard took your card, put it in, you had to tell him the pin, the amount to withdraw and all the while everyone was watching from a long queue. Hardly secure.

At the terminal we just had time to go into a cafe and grab some food and the restaurateur took the opportunity to try and overcharge us for everything. Iran already seemed a long way away. Other things to immediately jump out to highlight this point was the Zhighuly's had replaced the Paykans, there were Mercedes been driven by big fat mobsters, the locals looked dirty and scruffy and had golden teeth, the women wore colourful head scarfs, the bus to Baku was a clapped out shit box and finally my food was covered in Dill, yuk! Ahh to be back in the USSR!

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Astara
photo by: Biedjee