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Old 20 May 2010
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Tension increasing over Iran situation: what's your opinion?

As you surely know, a new round of economic sanctions against Iran will be voted by the Security Council of UNO around middle of June at latest.

In case they'll be approved (and this is quite likely to happen), do you think there might exist some dangers for western tourists in visiting Iran?

I and my girl are planning to ride Georgia, Armenia and north-western Iran (1st possibility) or the whole Iran (2nd possibility) in August and we are thinking about the reaction Iranian authorities (militaries, cops, Baziji militians) might have on location against western tourists on their soil (and we consider this possibility because of the historical strict alliance that Italy, which is our Country, holds with USA, NATO and so on...).

Since I've been to Middle East already, I know that people are fantastic and don't consider tourists from certain Countries as representatives of their Government, but I was reading this morning that three American tourists have been arrested and charged with espionage because they were found on Iranian soil after trespassing the border from Iraqi Kurdish zone by mistake.
OK, our situation will be different: we'll have a visa allowed by Iranian embassy, we'll have some hotel bookings in Esfahan, Shiraz and Yazd, we are not journalists and so on, but I'm thinking about the experience of those poor guys anyway.

If I were alone, I'd leave in any case, but I would not like to put my girlfriend in a dangerous situation only for a motorcycle holiday.
Time is getting short, and we should begin the paperwork for the expensive Carnet du Passage and Iranian Visas, but at the moment we really don't know if to limit our trip to Georgia and Armenia only or if to include the wonderful Iran also, at least for a small part.

What's your opinion on this political situation and its consequences? Thanks!
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Last edited by Knight of the Holy Graal; 20 May 2010 at 10:42.
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Old 20 May 2010
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plan to go but keep abreast of the situation....

we passed through Iran in Nov 09. we had no issues in getting our visa for Iran or the letter of recommendation from our embassy.
if you can get this then your embassy considers it fine for you to travel so you should be fine. but tensions may be high and this can sometimes spill over onto the streets. just make sure you are well away from any demonstratons, be careful with your camera use etc etc.
but as you say - you have been to similar areas before.
re: taking your girl with you....make sure she adheres to the Muslim way of dressing. ie hejab, head covering at all times. long baggy shirts and trousers whilst on and off the bike. never to offer her hand to shake to women and especially never to men.
re: the three American tourists who have been arrested and charged with espionage because they were found on Iranian soil after trespassing the border from Iraqi Kurdish zone by mistake.....?
as you say - you will not be going anywhere by mistake - you will have all the correct paperwork, border stamps, fees etc etc. they did not.
they were also hiking in a very precarious area - any border area between countries should be considered as potentially unsafe and volatile unless its a legit border crossing post and even then......

have fun - enjoy Iran - it is a most beautiful country and its people are a joy to talk to. Be aware though that as a female your girlfriend will experience many more 'pressures' than you will as a man. Woman are generally considered of a lower standing than men and even as a western woman she must adhere to this and accept it. sometimes western woman can be considered by locals as 'easy'. unfortunately the Hollywood films do nothing to dispel this belief. maybe both of you should consider wearing 'wedding' rings. say you are married but you have kept your own family names...you know the kind of thing!

you say you will have hotel bookings in Esfahan, Shiraz and Yazd -try the Silk Road hotel in Yazd -a great place :-) In Tehran try the Khayyam hotel No33, naividi alley, amirkabir st, Baharestan sq area , Tehran , Iran Tel 021 3311 3757 at GPS: N 35 41.232 E51 25.733
website: Home
they have secure parking for bikes, rooms are good, and its centrally based.

keep abreast of the current situation. but if your embassy says its OK then go! don't miss it.
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Old 20 May 2010
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Thanks a lot for your message and experience, Lisa!

Actually I was really thinking about getting two rings thus simulating we are married.
No problems for her to dress with respect to the Muslim religion and traditions and I think this is absolutely right.
I been reading plenty of reports over the web saying great things about Iranian people and all of my friends that motorcycled up to there told me the same thing.
One of the highlights of our trip will be meeting these persons from this wonderful and ancient Country.

My only concern is to go there astride a Harley-Davidson ("Made in USA" is written on the chromed logo on both sides of the gas tank) and with passports released from a Country that is supporting these economic sanctions.
But maybe these are only stupid worries of mine...
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Old 20 May 2010
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We passed though Iran twice in the last 6 months and as you say the general public are great but found the police/army/escorts to be rude/arrogant and a real PITA.
We did the smile/be polite etc but it made no difference, they made lewd comments about my wife, ran drug deals during the time they were "escorting" us and made the whole time they were with us totally uncomfortable.
Having my time again I would avoid the country, which is difficult for me to say as the people/landscape is amongst the best on the planet.

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Old 20 May 2010
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McGiggle, I never read the necessity of an escort "patrol" before for travellers in Iran.

Why did you have to take it? Did you go to dangerous places or else?
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Old 21 May 2010
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On the way out (Sept 09) they picked us up at Kerman and stayed with us all the way to the Pakistan border and on the way home (March 10) we came in from Pakistan, headed down to Bandar and then all the way along the west border with Iraq. The return crossing was 9 days and we had escorts every day but on a couple of days it wasn't all day.
If you do the traditional Tabriz,Hamadan,Esfahan,Yazd,Shiraz route you would be escort free I think.
We also spent 5 days in the desert (Dasht-e Kavir) south east of Tehran without escorts and it was great as was the ride up the Iraq border.
Looking back at my reply earlier I think I was rather harsh in saying avoid, it's easy to say avoid when I've payed 2 visits to the country, but I wouldn't go back to visit just transit on route though.

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Old 21 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgiggle View Post
On the way out (Sept 09) they picked us up at Kerman and stayed with us all the way to the Pakistan border and on the way home (March 10) we came in from Pakistan, headed down to Bandar and then all the way along the west border with Iraq. The return crossing was 9 days and we had escorts every day but on a couple of days it wasn't all day.
If you do the traditional Tabriz,Hamadan,Esfahan,Yazd,Shiraz route you would be escort free I think.
We also spent 5 days in the desert (Dasht-e Kavir) south east of Tehran without escorts and it was great as was the ride up the Iraq border.
Looking back at my reply earlier I think I was rather harsh in saying avoid, it's easy to say avoid when I've payed 2 visits to the country, but I wouldn't go back to visit just transit on route though.

Pete

Good morning, Pete!
Yes, actually we'd follow the traditional route (Tabriz-Teheran-Kashan-Esfahan-Yazd-Pasargade-Shiraz-Persepolis and then back to Italy thru Tabriz), so I'm sure there's no need of an escort patrol.
WOW, Pakistan? That must have been a helluva trip! Congratulations, mate!

I took a quick look at your website yesterday, but I'll do it with attention tonight with a cold beside me.
Thanks for sharin' your experience.
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Old 21 May 2010
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I've sent you a PM
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Old 21 May 2010
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KOTHG, the reason you hear about these problems is because they are the exception rather than the rule. Personally I wouldn't be worried, I rode through Iran 33 years ago without problem and I reckon Turkey is 10 times worse.
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Old 21 May 2010
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Oh how times have changed! Mars was great in the 70's :-)
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