Leaving Qazvin for Hamadan, I opted for a serious detour and picked a route through the mountains. Development here is more at a standstill, and as such I gambled correctly that the roads on the Garmin World Map would be fairly accurate. As in Italy, I laid out a route avoiding the main roads and ended up with a few hundred kilometers of high desert road, with barely any traffic and expansive vistas. A times very barren, the odd village could be spotted, clustered around a small oasis. The temperature at this height (around 2,000 meters) was high but it was very dry.
Hamadan bustles. In the evening, the sidewalks and roads are packed with people and cars. Crossing the street is best achieved alongside an old lady, as she's obviously managed for years, and navigating the sidewalk with all the vendors' wares is an acquired skill. Unlike in other places in Iran, women were not so visible during the day, but after 3 pm, the ratio must have been higher than 80%, with numerous kids in tow. It was strangely the other way around in most other towns, with no women visible after 5 pm. On the odd occasion I got to speak to a woman (Internet cafe managers, tellers), it was remarkable that their English was much more proficient than any of the men I talked to.
I knew in advance that Hamadan was not the most intriguing town, but its purpose for me was the ride and a day to relax and plan my trip to Pakistan. Oddly enough the best of Iran was still ahead of me (Qom, Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd), but it's better to do this in a city without a million things to see and do.
I found an interesting breakfast place, courtesy of some directions from the hotel I was in. It's actually a tea house, but serves minimal food. The decor was quite elaborate. I came back here after breakfast to read and plan my trip, spending the better part of the day.
A view over Imam Khomeini square early in the morning, when there was hardly any traffic. Yes, you read that right.