DAY SIXTEEN… 16 miles (25.5 km)

Cold start 6.30am. We have very little distance to cover, as we seem to have got ahead of our schedule…… we have nearly reached the border town of Agarak. We could have crossed a day earlier into Iran, but now we are committed to an exact date on our entry visa, so we have to wait.

We had a morning visit from a man who saw us brewing up and decided he would like a cuppa too. He had his own mug, and even impatiently got out his own cooker from the boot. Our cooker was too slow for him. Coffee done, he was off.

A cold ride down to Mehgri town. The sun had not peeked out from the mountains. Not noteworthy, except for a small kitten which we fed pieces of bread, then coffee mate, then I went and bought it a packet of cat food (small) which it ate all of, with relish.

Hungry kitten longingly wanting more food

Onward to Agarak, the border town, cycling along the old Soviet Iron Curtain, with the mountains of Iran looking down on us. We arrived about 10.30am and waited over an hour patiently whilst older proprietor groaned and looked unwell, and so did her younger companion who was holding her head and taking aspirin and lots of water? Hangover or deadly germs?

Cycling along the old Iron Curtain border with Iran
Derelict railway station outside Agarak

Neither of them could be bothered to do their job so eventually we got up and walked towards the place we thought the rooms were. None looked great, but eventually we got an ensuite for 8,000 Dram (£13). The women continued to be uncooperative, the rooms, quite grubby, but clean linen and the younger woman did grudgingly hand us a controller for the air con.

Later we asked for use of a fridge and some boiled water (for tea). They found this quite amusing and supplied it readily with a smile. Now I have a kettle in my room.

I am not sure how such an ugly town can be in such a beautiful setting. Wondrous mountain backdrop to tower blocks of soviet style monstrosities, with washing hanging out everywhere. Iran tomorrow. I’m so excited. It’s only a stone’s throw away.