Urmieh to Maku Iran
Tomorrow we exit Iran. We are driving up into the mountains again along challenging roads. The heat is increasing every day with temperatures into the high 30’s and inside the MGs it is even hotter. We are drinking litres of water. Today we stopped in some fields and our guides provided us with a typical Iranian BBQ of chicken, salad, cherries, watermelon and baklava. Nothing like setting up stones and cooking chicken over hot coals next to a babbling irrigation stream.
We drove on into the hills to the remote Black Church an Armenian church situated at about 2000mts, sheep, goats, walnut trees abounded near the border of Armenia and West Azerbaijan province which we are passing through . This church is reputed to be the oldest church in the world (43AD) and the burial site of St Thaddeus also known as St Bartholomew, one of the disciples. It is stunning in its simplicity and the older part is constructed of black granite blocks. Currently it is being carefully cleaned and restored in places.
Tonight we farewelled Pat and David and our guide Hesam in Maku and we are very sad to say good bye. We hope Pat and David have a clear run in sending Ginger back to Melbourne. Maku is very close to the border of Iran and Turkey so it shouldn’t take too long – we hope (3 hours?)
Maku to Dogubayazit to Erzurum TURKEY
At the border, legendary snow covered Mt Ararat nearly 5900mt high towered over our way. Home of Noah’s Ark…must have been a massive flood…..
The process at the border was very quick and our headscarves also came off very quickly. Dogubayazit can only be described as an untidy, noisy and chaotic frontier town and held a few small surprises for us as we drove through trying to find Ishak Pasha Sarayi Palace. Confronted by one way streets equipped with evil looking one way spikes, if we thought about going the wrong way, to young boys trying to steal our side mirrors at the traffic lights or reaching in through our open windows to steal the Garmin was a real surprise – not the friendliest place we have been in. But it was worthwhile – the palace was perched high up in the rocky mountains, behind the town. A vision out of the Forty Thieves. Beautifully restored it had it own Mosque, harem of 14 bedrooms, kitchen, toilets, ponds and bath and a very deep series of dastardly dungeons….one dungeon could only be accessed through its ceiling!
As we drove through the landscape the fields were full of mauve, purple, yellow white and pink summer flowers. Imagine all the happy cows and bees and the honey tasted delicious at breakfast.