DAY THIRTEEN… 59.5 miles (95 km)

We left Persepolis (Apadana Hotel) with its beautiful blue sky and unusual bird song and headed off to our next destination, a homestay about 40 miles away. Apparently, the owner of the homestay was, for some reason going to meet us at the hotel and guide us to our destination (more on this later).

First stop was the tomb of Darius the Great, his son, Xerxes, and the tomb of Darius the second. These were built high up into rocks, neither in the air nor the earth.

Tombs of Darius I, II & Xerxes…. neither in the air nor on the earth

It was very hot in the sun by 9.30am, but the ride was flat and we had a lovely picnic in a proverbial park. From here we were expecting a mere 25km ride to the Dorodzan dam.

The ride was extremely beautiful past lovely mountains on both sides, huge fields of tomatoes, rice being dried, stalks being burnt. There was a long haul up to the top of the dam, right when we thought we were at the end of the day (not good for morale). We rode on round Dorodzan lake as the sun began to sink in the sky. We continued cycling and cycling, but where was the destination?

Riding along the side of the sacred mountain
Sunset ride… beautiful, but where is our home stay… how much further must we ride ?

After 50 miles Ali was still going strong. We then learnt we had another 7km to go. Eventually, at 60miles, we had “arrived”. We went down a dusty lane past a man squidging tomatoes in a giant tub in his wellington boots, and in through a battered wooden door to a courtyard where a few people were gathered.

The way to make passata in Iran

There seemed to be some confusion about how we would stay the night here. There were only two rooms and no one seemed prepared to receive us. There was no welcome as we usually had. We said that two rooms was not enough for all 8 of us, so there began an attempt to get other rooms open. This involved a giant crowbar. Obviously, the rooms had not been used for a while. In one of them was a dead bird and a bed made up of pallets, nothing else. This did not look great for the night. The toilet door was a curtain and there was no sign of water or food.

Opening the spare room with a crowbar, only to find a poor dead bird on the floor

Luckily our amazing tour operator, in Tehran sorted it all for us, miraculously over the mobile phone. Ali went off in search of alternative accommodation and very soon he returned saying we had a lovely place to stay. Thank goodness as some of us were considering the van as a good place for the night.

Ali led us to a rather large residence and we walked in on the family’s cosy TV evening. We were given bowls of pomegranates and tea and then the family just left, leaving us their home, together with the so far rather useless local but inexperienced young ‘guide’. Dinner appeared courtesy of ‘Mr Big’ (so named by one of us I think), Mr. Big remained whilst we ate and then made off, markedly saying goodbye to the men in our gathering, but studiously ignoring us women.