Before spending some time cycling in the northwest tip of Iran we needed to get there.
We didn’t have time to cycle the whole way from Isfahan so we jumped on another overnight bus to Tabriz.
We weren’t too fussed about spending much time in another big city, so we decided to spend a day visiting Kandovan, a sleepy village 65km from Tabriz. It’s a cool place to visit because the old town is made up of ancient troglodyte homes carved out of strange humps of eroded rock.
Kandovan is up a very hard climb but luckily there were two warm showers hosts in a town called Osku 40km from Tabriz. Osku is the natural base for tourists wanting to visit Kandovan village so it was perfect, we could cycle there and then stay with some locals.
Sirious, wife Rebob and their lovely family (who had been in their new flat only a week before they offered to host us) were really great to stay with and we enjoyed our time with them. They didn’t speak much English but that was good because it made us learn more Farsi!
Their grown up daughter Mahsa came home in the evening from Tabriz where she works as a nurse and she spoke really good English so after dinner we all went out to look at the Ashura festivities taking place across the town.
Ali, Sirious’ youngest child and only son was taking part in the ceremonies so we only met him briefly between drumming sessions.
The next day we spent with Hassan and his wife Elnaz, the other warm showers hosts registered in Osku, as they had kindly offered to spend the day with us exploring Kandovan and the surrounding countryside.
First we stopped at an abandoned troglodyte site – an amazing collection of underground homes and animal shelters.
Then after spending an hour walking around Kandovan village we took a drive south across a really nice mountain road before eating lunch (fresh chicken kebabs) in Hassan’s huge allotment.
Discussion turned to why the couple have a plan to emigrate to Australia after Elnaz has finished her PHD which she studies for in Turkey. We also talked about Aziri-Iranian politics in this part of Iran and how many people in the region would like some form of independence.
Hassan dropped us off at 3pm and we picked up the bike from Sirious’ flat. After saying our goodbyes to everyone we cycled back towards Tabriz where we planned to stay the night before heading north.