On Tuesday it was time for my next border crossing. The first one which required applying for a visa on the way. Past gthe border a whole different world was waiting for me: Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital.
The last real stop in Iran was the city of Mashhad. The second largest city of the country is home of the shirne of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of the Shia. The shrine is the destination of the pilgrims, but the city grew during the war with Irak.
The dessert city of Yazd was during the time of the silk road one important stop for the traders and the carawans. Today, the city has a rather sleepy character even though the city has more than half a million inhabitants. The efforts for more tourism are clearly visible.
The city of Shiraz is primarily famous through the ancient city of Persepolis, the capital of the first Persian Empire. The city itself however also sports quite many attractions, especially gardens and parks, as well as curious students.
One of the destinations I had chosen before leaving on my trip was Esfahan. The city in central Iran is full of interesting sights. I did not see many of them, since there were a few more surprises.
Following Ali’s recommendation, I visited the town of Kashan, 3 hours by bus South of Teheran. Besides the typical tourist sights, Kashan has to offer a few extras.
After my long train ride from Turkey to Tehran, I had three days to discover the capital of Iran. The city has a very distinct character, which reflects the character of the people in Iran.
My last stop in Turkey was going to be the recently earthquake-hit city of Van. The uncertainty, whether a trip through this area was actually possible, was big. However, I still tried and the trip was definitely worth it.
After the mixed news I got last week, it is time to rejoice once again! Ten days earlier than expected I today received my passport back from the Iranian consulate in Munich with a travel visa valid for 30 days. So the only uncertainty which remains is the LOI for Turkmenistan.
Happy news from the visa front: earlier than expected, I found a letter from the Uzbek consulate in the mail yesterday. For some reason I feared there would be an issue with overlapping visas, but apparently this does not seem to be one after all. So what did I do to get the visa?
- Fill in the on-line form at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, print the resulting PDF file and add a photo to that form.
- Write a nice letter asking for a visa
- Add a registered and stamped return envelope
- Add my passport
- Send prove of money transfer for the visa request
and that was it!
The next step now is to request a tourist visa for Iran. I double checked the visa requirements on the website of the Iranian consulate in Munich (which is the one to contact if you live in Southern Germany) and it seems that there is no need to involve a travel agent. All the travel agent does, is to request a reference number with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which takes between 3 and 7 days. The consulate in Munich also performs this request and it takes 5 days. Thus there is not really any gain, except if I would ask for an express visa. In that case, the consulate performs the remaining activities in 2 instead of 10 days.
Tomorrow I will mail my passport with the following information to the Iranian consulate:
- Filled in visa request form, which you can find here
- Two photos
- Registered and stamped return envelope
- Prove for the money transfer for the visa request
Hope this works as well as the previous two visas!