Travel mojo lost and regained near Iran’s border with Turkmenistan

 At the beginning of this week, the new Persian Year started. I kept in touch with my dear friends in Iran, we exchanged thoughts and wishes, and I still have an open ticket to fly to Iran.

When times get better. Or it feels like it’s meant to be.

For now, I have many more stories to tell about our last time in Iran. The last one left us here, in Mazandaran Province.


Bandar Torkaman and the outskirts of Gorgan

After some relaxing and a rich breakfast, it was time to head to Golestan Province. ‘We are driving to Bandar Torkaman’ I was texting my dear Iranian friend. A left turn from the main road meant plains, strawberries sold by locals, and some more humid air.

It was Monday and we were in a hurry to catch the weekly fair. Soon, the sight of men wearing white turbans made us realise that in Central Asia we were! Close to a country that’s remained mysterious to me to this day.

During the late afternoon, there were not too many merchants at the fair, but we did manage to buy fruit, vegetables, and various spices (I had heard that Golestan cinnamon was extraordinary, I bought some, and I’ve been using it to make desserts ever since).

Bandar Torkaman fair, Golestan Province, Iran

There’s a bazaar with Turkmen traditional products along the beach. The products are colourful and beautiful – you can find many cotton and woolen hats and bags… but the sellers seemed a bit slick and aggressive.

Post-shopping in Bandar Torkaman, Golestan Province, Iran

We would have liked to get a fishing boat out to the Caspian Sea, but we couldn’t manage to discuss it with anybody. Things seemed bizarre and, by the time we reached the gates of the (former?) caviar processing factory in town, a police car appeared. We decided to stay for the sunset, which was beautiful, and then leave. (The mud made our access to the beach impossible.)

Sunset in Bandar Torkaman, Golestan Province, Iran

The rest of our evening was spent in a hotel on the outskirts of Gorgan, trying to decipher what our time in Bandar Torkaman had been about.   


Radkan Tower and the adventurous road

I woke up determined to rise from the former day’s ‘I haven’t understood anything’. So, we headed to Radkan Tower. The road was winding until we reached 2000 metres, views, and a bit of snow. I could feel the energy shifting. Our descent took us to a sea of green and a large tower rising above it. As I touched it, the mojo of the trip changed. I knew that it was a tomb and the peace around it was unbelievable. It was hard to leave; we eventually did.

First view of Radkan Tower, Golestan Province, Iran

Our small car managed wonderfully even on terrain that I thought would mean going back, like slippery rocks near a stream. We finally made it to a small village, locals greeted us, and then – after some more winding roads and views that made us stop and marvel, we reached the main road – and I screamed with joy!

The winding roads of Semnan Province, Iran

We were now in Semnan Province, unknown to us but friendly… and things had started falling into place. The energy was lighter, again. A constant in Iran.

‘What do you think? Should we keep the car and drive south?’


Badab Soort and Mahdishahr

We left the car in an improvised parking lot and politely told the men who were in charge of it that we’d trek to Badab Soort and not take a tractor ride even though they said that it would be difficult and take longer than we thought. It was a very pleasant late afternoon walk, of under half an hour.

Trek to Badab Soort

The springs are beautiful. Depending on the sun, one can see a variety of colours. The travertine is very fragile, though.

Badab Soort, Mazandaran Province, Iran

At one point, it was Marcel’s favourite moment of our entire second trip to Iran.

Badab Soort, Mazandaran Province, Iran

It was time to find our home for the night. 

Badab Soort, Mazandaran Province, Iran

‘There’s a nice hotel in Mahdishahr…’

‘Let’s go.’

We enjoyed our evening searching for havij bastani and chenjeh around town and found 2 falafel sandwiches plus 1 soft drink for about EUR 0.60.

Chenjeh for Marcel in Mahdishahr, Semnan Province, Iran

Laughter, kindness, and hospitality were included.

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