Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Erzurum - The lost days

Eight pounds a night doesn't get you much but I'm just grateful for the radiator – wifi is a bonus.

The next four days disappear to food poisoning and copious sleeping. I had the room closest to the communal toilet – sadly sometimes it wasn't quite close enough....another disadvantage of only having one pair of trousers!

I leave the hotel a few kilos lighter. I pick up my bike and ride out of town towards the bus stop. It's the last day I can enter Iran and I still have 300km to cover – my travels solely by bicycle come to a premature end.

The -25C air burns as I suck it into my lungs. I'm grateful that the bus stop isn't too far. My bike is bundled into the storage area and we get moving – thanks to the internal combustion engine beneath me (symbolic spitting on the floor). I sulk for a while as I look out the window but soon turn my attention to seeing if I enjoy this new method of travel.

On the bus I meet a man who offers to take me to the border. We load my bike into the back of his van and then he takes me into town to meet his friends and buy me lunch. Not a bad deal! Driving out towards the border I get my first views of Mt Ararat – and a beautiful view it is to. I imagine the climbing, the thin air, and the view from the top. I come very close to to scrapping my plans and blowing €600 on a trek.

I cross the border in the dark. The process is simple enough – no bag searching etc and I'm in. Manage to lose my lift to Tabriz – but I'm in!! Barzargan is just another manky border town. I ride until there's sufficiently low building density and put up my tent in a field by the roadside. The ground is frozen solid and so my tent is poorly pitched – could be a grim night. From the adjacent building I hear some kind fellow empty two magazines of a handgun...sweet dreams.

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