Harrogate to India cycle: A warm welcome in Iran

The SaddleSore team, from left, Mario, Rhys and Tom (s)
The SaddleSore team, from left, Mario, Rhys and Tom (s)
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Harrogate friends Tom Cartledge and Rhys James set out to cycle to India from Harrogate in March.

Having raised over £4,000 for charities The Railway Children and Saint Michael’s Hospice, and been joined by a third member, Mario, the pair are nearly there, and sent this report from Iran.

“When you think of The Islamic Republic of Iran you probably think that it’s a place to be avoided for travelling because it is full of danger.

We entered the socially unconnected void that is Iran through the northern border with Armenia with our wallets full of dollars to trade and our travelling spirits on hyper drive.

Upon entering Tabriz we were overwhelmed with locals welcoming us to Iran with genuine smiles on their faces and friendly manners all wanting to converse with us in good English.

We couldn’t believe the vibe and found it hard to wipe the smiles from our faces. I don’t think that in five years of travelling I have felt so welcomed to a place, it was unbelievable.

We entered a restaurant and a mix of amazing smells filled our noses and sent our bellies into overdrive. We were told we could visit the all you can eat starters table.

At the time we didn’t hear the word ‘appetiser’ and thought we were just in a cruddy restaurant with a bad selection of all-you-can-eat salad.

It was only when I went for my third plate full of salad that the table jumped up and informed me.

My glutinous eyes weren’t really in tune with my stomach, so when the mountains of rice were dropped off at the table and eight huge kebabs joined us in the middle of the table our eyes bulged and our stomachs rumbled no more.

This was going to be tough and I must admit I wasn’t so confident that I could finish all of this food.

Mario managed to give his plate of rice a good polishing but myself and Rhys fell slightly short and slumped back into a post meal coma.

The food was pretty good but lacked imagination.

In spite of this, it was just what we were looking for at that moment in time but when the £40 bill arrived it was more than evident that we were to be paying for it!

The Mosques of Tabriz seemed to lack creativeness and left me just wanting to get to bed and straight to sleep.

Our first impressions of Iran were mixed but because of the peoples warmness we couldn’t help but feel humbled to be here.

The only explanation we could decipher from the over welcoming nature of the locals was because of the lack of tourists visiting this fine country.

It was a pleasure to be here and we knew that it was going to be one hell of a journey.”

Tom wrote this week to say they had reached India.

The Harrogate Advertiser will publish a full trip report in November.

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