Arrived in Tehran I get myself a dorm bed in the "Heritage Hostel" following a Whatsapp recommendation from another cyclist. Indeed this is one of the best hostels I've stayed at during my trip so far.

The large patio with bicycle parking, rooftop terrace, air conditioned rooms and of course super duper friendly and helpful staff make this place without a doubt the best value for money I've gotten from a hostel in the last year. If you're in Tehran, just go there (dorm bed is 4-7 EUR, breakfast included)

One of the tours offered includes a hike up to the local rock climbing area where I and 2 other hotel guests get to climb for a bit, under the supervision of the tour guide -- a highly recommended day trip for 15 EUR, gear and taxi included!

Only the routes aren't really that easy...

Food and transportation

On the road I've mostly cooked simple things like pasta, canned beans, eggs.

Whenever I'm staying in a city however I want to try "real" food. Too bad though it's still Ramadan and restaurants are closed until sunset -- my bedtime (well, kind of).

There is, however, the possibility to order lunch! And as nobody save the staff of the hostel speaks any Persian it is one of the receptionists' most important tasks to guide their hungry guests through the Iranian food options and order on their behalf. The most popular choice: chicken kebap and rice (about 200.000 IRR).

Food can however be delivered from almost any restaurant and is conveniently delivered by "Snapp", a company selling their services mainly through an app of the same name and also offering taxi services. The Iranian "Uber" if you will.

It is by that very taxi service that I make my first "non bike" trips in Iran:
1. to the embassy of Turkmenistan
2. to the dentist office

Due to the devaluation of the Rial, the taxi rides are also very affordable: the fare for a 15 km ride is around 0.9-1.5 EUR, depending on traffic.

Applying for the Turkmen visa

As my plan is to cycle a part of the so-called "Pamir Highway", a popular traveler and cyclist route mostly in Tajikistan, my route from Iran will lead me through Turkmenistan.

I knew for a long time that it wouldn't be easy to get into this country which ranks, as of 2019, on place 180 of 180 countries in the "freedom of press"index. North Korea is at 179.

In the hostel I had met some people who had gone 3 times already to the embassy, only to be sent back again because some document was still missing or some information incorrectly put on the application form.

And so I came well prepared, with a trip plan, a meticulously filled in application form and brand new $ bills.

And as luck would have it, my documents are accepted right away! Unlike the poor German traveler I meet at the consulate, who is just about to try for the 4th time to hand in his application papers...

(On the way to) Isfahan

A few days later 450 km South in Isfahan, I couch surf with the local Rasoul for 6 nights, meet the Brazilian couple from Turkey for the 3rd time and we go hiking together.

Also I spend about 3 days selecting and printing various photos to use for postcards or to show to curious locals.

And a cyclist I had met in Tbilisi few month ago invites me to speak at the mountaineering club about my travel.

Too lazy to post more text. Let's have the photos speak.