We planned an easy day leaving Zanjan and whilst it was easy in so much that we only rode 47k, the wind made it tough and progress was at 11kph. The route was a bit uninspiring but we arrived at Soltaniyeh soon after lunch which gave us plenty of time to see the mausoleum which totally dominates the landscape as you approach. Sadly there was scaffolding over the massive dome and inside too was just a masss of scaffolding that obliterated everything. Thankfully there were steps to a gallery which gave a taste of what it would have been like. We also visited another monument a little way out of the village and that was wonderful as it stood totally on its own and we were the only people there. We then went in search of a place to camp and the local park seemed quiet enough as it was on the edge of the village and there was a good clean toilet block. We looked for somebody to ask but there was nobody, so we had a brew and bought some provisions before we set up the tents. Once dinner was on the go a man from the nearby fire station came over and said we could stay in the fire station for the night but as we were already set up we declined. He did his best to tempt us listing a shower, DVDs, CDs, TV and a warm room, but we were happy where we were. The night was again cold as we were at 1960m again.
The following morning we had a cooked breakfast. I went into the village for fresh bread and bought it straight from the naan `factory`, hot off the press so to speak. I returned with an armful of the stuff for 5p. By the time we left the wind had got up again, so progress was once again painfully slow. We stopped at a place that was drying grapes at the roadside for raisens and we were invited inside and took a few photos. In the afternoon the wind dropped a little and the pace picked un considerably. Whilst we were stopped for lunch the police turned up and Andre was asked to show his passport, then they left us in peace. When it came to the time to find a place to camp we went into a village and were followed by 4 young lads, no older that 10, on motorcycles. We tried to buy water in a shop but they didnt have any but the shop keeper took us to his house where we filled our water bags with tap water but declined the ice that he smashed up on the ground. When we came out of the house we had a large audience of boys and men and decided that if we used our chosen spot we would have the audience for the whole evening so we started to head out with a mass of bikes and motorbike surrounding us. We were then offered a room by a man in his house which we accepted. It was totally different to the first house we stayed in as this was a good sized family house, with an enormous lounge covered in large rugs and open kitchen downstairs and 2 large bedrooms and a shower upstairs. We were given one of the bedrooms, the one with the shower. That atmosphere was a bit odd as the family ignored us once they had given us some grapes. There were 2 brothers living there and the one who invited us to stay left, 2 girls who also disappeared, a frail looking Grandma and a lad of about 8 who also rode a motorcycle. I played ball with the lad until he knocked the sugar bowl over. We were given a lift to the nearest resturant that was 3km away where chicken and rice was the only option. During Ramadan when everybody eats at the same time they have a set menu to make life easier for themselves. Once we were brought back we took what we thought was a hint and went to bed and one brother, the lad and Grandma all slept in the lounge watching television.
We we up at 7:30 and away by about 8:30 and had breakfast in the same resturant as the previous night. We had another short day of 65k, again into the wind, to Qazin where we checked in at one of the cheap hotels which at 7 pounds for a single room was by far the most expensive we have stayed in and a bit of a shock, but at least I have a loo I can sit on for the first time in over a week.
Tomorrow I leave Andre and Judith and head into Tehran. We have been together for 2 weeks and its been fun and good company. I guess you have to bit a bit odd to do the sort of travelling we are doing and to that end they are in the company if Rupert and his little sister Tussy, their cuddly rabbits. I think they are a bit over loved as I thought they were about 20 year old, but Rupert is the older at just 18 months. The plan is to meet up with the 4 of them in 4 days in Qom and continue together to Esfahan and Yadz, but it really all depends on the reception I get at the Pakistan consulate.