Rasht

 

The decision to push on to Rasht was a good one. The town is quite nice and has a very different feel than supposedly modern Tabriz. The most noticeable difference are the women. The Mullah's have their work cut out here, with blue jeans, headscarves that are about to fall off and "manteaus", the traditional modern jacket allowed, all hugging bodies far too tightly. Lipstick, bleached hair and lively colors have pushed aside the traditional black. It nearly feels like Istanbul. People have more spring in their step and generally are extremely friendly.

 

The Caspian Sea coastal road from Astara to Rasht was not really worth the detour. It's far away from the coastline and here and there you can catch a glimpse. Village after village makes for slow going, with lots of erratic traffic driving on the wrong side of the road. Meanwhile trucks overtake everyone at break-neck speeds. So far I have only seen the results of one accident, but it was a head-on collision between a yellow tour bus and what I can only imagine was a car.

 

People in Iran are curious about the bike, resulting in cars puling alongside to look. Smiling and waving families, with dad trying to get a glimpse too, inevitably shift the car drift towards you and you're forced to speed up to overtake before they unwillingly cut you off behind the next slow vehicle. 400 cc is the maximum here for mopeds and scooters, but somehow I still get overtaken by people in shorts and slippers doing 120 km/h or more, while looking back at my bike.

 

Leaving Rasht, which is about 15 kilometers from the coast, the road ascends for the first 50 kilometers or so. In an hour's time, you rise to about 1,800 meters. It was surprisingly lush here, more so even than in the best parts of Turkey.

 

 

The road to Qazvin proved to be a very nice one, with about 100 kilometers of continuous sweepers through the mountains with varying scenery and great views.