There are a few question marks on this leg of the trip, what
with arranging visas and all. I've tried to plan this on
the most-likely-scenario. Examining tea-leaves and tarot
cards, this does seem to be the likely plan:
Istanbul, business and pleasure.
Visas - I'll hopefully already have the Iran visa in the bag by
the time I start this trip, and possibly the Uzbekistan visa.
However, I'll have to apply for the Turkmenistan visa but how
long will I get ? Ten days (very unlikely) will allow traversing
the country completely by bicycle, with sightseeing included.
Any less and I'll have to compromise and use .. phah! .. a bus
part of the way. Three days and I won't get a chance for
sightseeing nor cycling - straight through to the next border.
An alternative is to get a tourist visa through a tourist
agency, which requires paying for an escort for each day of my
stay, and a car ! I guess I could think of it as my
"support vehicle" though as it will probably be a Lada the
question arises of who's supporting who. Current feeling is to
risk it with the transit visa... we'll see.
Well, while I'm waiting for the visas to come through, I'll
make sure to tick off the sights, and maybe even a short trip to
Cappadocia. There's an outside chance that my brother may
visit for a few days, also acting as a spare-tire-and-tube mule.
However, his definition of a holiday (5-star hotels, pool-side
cocktails, ..) does vary somewhat from mine...
Providing the required visas have come through, set off again -
but with a heavy heart, and a modicum of shame... by bus.
Depending on the amount of time I have left, get off
somewhere before the Iran visa, and cycle across to Maku,
thereby pretending that I've cycled the entire breadth of
Turkey! Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies...
Iran: warm friendly people, excellent roads, rich rich
history... what more could a cyclist ask for ? Only that Bush
reign in his imperial ambitions. I'm looking forward to
Iran, though the full length trousers and long-sleeve shirts may
get a bit old after the first week. My first week here should
see me cycling to Tabriz, including a day trip to Kandovan if I
didn't make Turkey's Cappadocia, and then heading down to the
Caspian sea coast. By now I will have resigned myself that
there are mountains in this world, and some of them are in my
A ride up through mist-draped mountain valleys to the beautiful
village of Masuleh, and just as you thought Steve had mended his
unsavoury bus-riding ways, hop on a bus to Tehran. Hey,
I'm on a time-limit here to the Turkmenistan border! Spend
a few days in Tehran before cycling (downhill, I'm hoping) to
Sari and and Gorgon.
Take a couple days to rest up and wander around the mosques and
bazaars of Sari and Gorgon, before sheepishly boarding a bus (oh
Jeez, not another!) to Quchan. Next morning, from there
cycle across the border into Turkmenistan and onto the capital
Ashgabat. A long day, and still unsure of what awaits me
The fortune-teller lied - I didn't
get my Iran visa, so maybe the plan will progress something like
Weeks 2 to 4
A ferry or a bus to eastern Turkey, and then cycle across the
border to Georgia. Pass the ancient cave city of Vardzia,
and arrive in Tbilisi, the most attractive capital of the
Caucasus apparently (but don't go out at night). A couple days
R&R and then head south into Azerbaijan and the mountains,
passing mountain retreats like Saki and Lahic, ending up at the
capital (and port) Baku for yet more R&R. There's not a great
deal of tourist infrastructure yet in these parts so a little
unsure of where to stay and what to do...
Board a boat to take me across the Caspian see to Turkmenbashi,
Turkmenistan. By a combination of car and bike, make it
across the hottest part of the Karakum desert (mirages have been
guaranteed!) to Ashgargat, from where (see next section) I'll be
hoping to team up with a couple other cyclists to ride to