Sorayya’s response to “Cycling Iran…”

The World By Cycle team thought that Sorayya’s email response to the previous blog was so rich in information and fantastic advice, we just had to share it with all of you. We enjoy her excitment, and think you will too!

Dear Kristina and Nicholas,
Hello. I visited your website. It is really great, and actually it was right after surfing those pages that I realized how great the expedition/World By Cycle trip you’re performing is! My family and I will always hope you success and a very fantastic job with your adventures and project. Besides, thanks a million for having us as a part of your memories shared on the the Blog in your website…So nice of you! Reading such great things you’ve written there, about Iran and Iranian people, feels really nice. I hope, wholeheartedly, that all the rest of the days you gonna spend cycling, documenting, sightseeing and kind of living in Iran will do approve of the first impression you already have!
Your amazing expedition is source of inspiration to anyone learning about it. I don’t believe anyone could be really aware of what you’re doing and not desire to get involved in some ways. Well, actually I’d like to. Right after you left and I visited your website, I started to realize what an amazing thing you are doing and in what ways we could have helped or shared info and experiences with you. (Like showing you how a carpet is made, if it was interesting to you and to the fellows learning from your website! I guess Persian rug is kind of famous and children might like to know how on earth it ends up as that piece of art they tread on or watch as a tableau. Besides my mother is a carpet-artist and she hasn’t yet finished weaving her final work so she could have shown you the process.) Anyhow, time’s gone. But still I’d like to do my own share to help you with the educational project.  At the moment, all I can do is to simply provide you with some information I have, or I just found on net, about the other cities you gonna ride through while you are in Iran. As I don’t exactly know where you are now, some of this information might be too late to know. Anyways, I hope it could be of use.
I start with the nearest point to Tabriz, which is a touristic village called “Kandovan”. It’s well-known for the troglodyte dwellings and the 700 years old houses which are still inhabited. You could see more about it here:
The second place I know of and you might visit on your way eastward is “Sareyn/Sarein”. It’s about 28 kilometers to the west of Ardabil. It’s well reputed for its natural hot springs which are told to be good for health. One could have a bowl of the famous ‘Āshe Doogh’ (Yogurt Soups) there in a restaurant after some swimming. But never forget that Ardabil is one of the coldest provinces of Iran and Sareyn is usually its coldest county. So take care if you ever went to any hot spring there, ‘coz you might catch cold right after. More could be found in
Next, you might arrive to Ardabil. Be sure you’ve approached there as soon as you notice people are driving crazier. My high recommendation is to ride very carefully. I know 2 more things about Ardabil. First, one of their famous dishes is Āsh- you might like to try it before leaving there. Āsh (pronounced /ɑːʃ/ = ‘a’ like that of father and not like ‘a’ in bad) is a kind of soup but it’s much thicker and you can find grains, different peas and beans inside. The best part is that you can find some odorous fried onion and dried mint up on the surface of a bowl of Āsh. The most favored Āsh in Iran is Āshe Reshteh. Second, hand-crafted carpets, though not as famous as that of Tabriz or Kashan but still, are part of the famous works of Ardabil. More available in
Approaching the Caspian Sea, you might ride toward Āstārā, very close to the border. People go there for shopping, ‘coz it used to have “bon marche” markets but nowadays I’ve heard things are so expensive there. Anyways, passing there or not, you gonna enter Gilan, Iran’s greenest province. If you went to Bandar Anzali, never miss paying a visit to Anzali Lagoon called “Talab-e Anzali”. It’s the biggest and most famous Lagoon in Iran. They say, in summer water-lilies cover the surface of the lagoon and create artistic natural scenery… good for photographers. In villages like Amlash pottery is known to be done, if you might like to know.
A village in Gilan that you should never on earth miss visiting is Masouleh- I’ve never been there but those who have been swear that it’s the finest village of our country. The houses are constructed on the body of a mountain in a way that the roof of each house is the yard or garden of the upper one. People use the staircases- made a thousand years ago- to go up to their houses. I hope if you could make your way there, you find it as beautiful and green as they say it is. Moreover, I’ve heard the famous craft in Masouleh is the embroidery women do on scarves and stuff.
I guess you told you’d cycle through Lahijan. You can find embroidery works and people weaving rugs and carpets there too. But something I’d recommend anyone going to Lahijan to try is their cookies/muffins. It’s called “Koluche-ye Lahijan”. Though you might be able to find those cookies anywhere in Iran, it was originally made there, and it is still supposed as their souvenir. I’m sure those cookies would make a good accompany with your Italian coffee. (I gonna attach an image of those cookies as they are sold to make sure you know what I mean by Koluche.) In Lahijan and most of the other cities of North Iran – South to the Caspian Sea – lands are under rice and tea cultivation. I guess you’ve already heard of Iranian rice and how famous it is.
People living in Gilan and Mazandaran’s humid climate are famous for their hospitality. I’ve heard they, especially those living in the villages and smaller cities, have the habit of inviting travelers to their houses, offering them food- usually with a sharp taste of garlic- and place to sleep. I hope they are as friendly with tourists.
Hmmm… Well! At the moment this is all came up to me. Maybe if you let me know what you needa know, or where is the next place you’d be into, I could be of better help. You know? Actually, on your Blog, Susan Arney is quite right about the comment she has left there, that people you visit around the world will be also talking about you for many days to come, or some might accompany or support you in different ways through to the end of your expedition. All because, both of you nice people remind us people of many things (be it earth or people, life or learning, how we could be or how we are and all that can be done but are not) and inspire us to give ourselves a move. One thing we can all do is to clap you on the shoulder, reminding people are watching you, so you’d keep on going with what you’ve already started, highly motivated and determined.
Take care.
With the Best Wishes!
Sorayya & Family