Next Stop Iran



I am having a break from the bicycle and am backpacking around Iran for the next 8 weeks.  Apologies for the lack of photos on this post, I am sitting in the airport of Istanbul and have one hour to get this written and out to you all!  I am feeling both excited and nervous.  When I step off the plane in Tehran I must adhere to Iran’s strict dress code by wearing the Hijab.  I carry a white scarf with me for countries with such a dress code.  Unfortunately, my beautiful white scarf has traveled through 10 countries now and has been used for various mechanical repairs to the bike.  It now features a grand design of patterned oil stains.


Thankfully, I have a Syrian head scarf also which was given to me as a gift by a family on the Turkish border to Syria. You will learn more about this wonderful family and their extraordinary story as refugees of Syrian when when I finish writing the final blog posts of ‘WBG and Lucy’s 1400 Mile Adventure’.


Iran and Turkey are both predominately Muslim countries.  A major difference is that religion does not write Turkey’s laws whereas it does in Iran.  Women have freedom to choose how to dress in Turkey.  This brought me great surprise to find so many women choosing to still wear the Hijab in Turkey.  I look forward to learning and understanding more about this part of the Muslim religion.  In Iran, there are moral police everywhere.  This special type of police are dressed in uniform in establishments but out on the streets they can be dressed as civilians.  Their job is to ensure the Iranian people are all adhering to the Islamic laws of the country at all times.

I must be careful when I return to Turkey as apart from my face, none of my skin will have had sunlight on it for 8 weeks. The song ‘Burn Baby Burn Disco Inferno’ springs to mind.

There are banking sanctions on Iran.  The banking computing systems are not linked up with those of the countries imposing the sanctions.  This renders our bank cards useless in Iran.  If you run out of money you have to jump on a flight to the nearest cash machine in Dubai!  Being a solo independent traveler this could be problematic.  But severe punishments for stealing makes Iran one of the safest countries in the world to carry such amounts of money on your person.  People value having their hands attached to their arms.

Iran is an extraordinarily sized country, listed as the 18th biggest in the world with a population of just under 80 million and covering an area of 1024140.89 sq miles.

I will begin my adventures in Tehran.  A city of 14 million people with an additional 6 million people estimated to be commuting in every day for work.  I have arranged a place to stay through  A website which allows hosts to offer their couch or spare room to travelers visiting their home town.  Accommodation is then free.  I am wondering how on earth I will manage to make my way from the airport to the other side of Tehran, where my host lives.  I am used to writing down the name of destinations on pieces of paper then matching the words to those on the front of buses.  But how does this work with the Iranian language of Farsi, my eyes see only as squiggles.  I’ll let you know how I get on in my next blog post.

I’m super happy to be sharing this experience with you all.  It’s a unique opportunity for you to gain insight into the people and culture of a country we see so much in the news headlines.

If you think anyone else would enjoy learning about Iran as this journey is actually taking place please share this post so they know it’s happening.  The journey begins tomorrow!

As always, thank you.

World Bike Girl … about to conquer the squiggle.

Creator of World Bike Girl, Ishbel is one of the most experienced female cyclists in the world. The bicycle has taken her from commuting, to road racing , to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.

14 Replies to “Next Stop Iran”

  1. Couple quick questions – was it a problem to get a visa for Iran when independent travel is banned for UK folk? Is that why you didn’t cycle? (I’m hoping very much to cycle thru Iran).

    1. It doesn’t matter which country you are from if you mention you are travelling by bicycle and in many cases even back packing you won’t get a visa for Iran. I have an Iranian passport so I didn’t get a visa.

  2. I wish you well on your future trip to Iran. Please stay safe and I look forward to further posts about your experiences in that country. Take good care of yourself and I hope you enjoy your trip. Good luck. June x

  3. Ishbel stay safe x I am looking forward to hearing about Iran as seen through your eyes rather than what we see on the news x please stay in touch daily so that we all know that you are ok x enjoy

  4. Thank you for that enlightening blog on Iran. It’s a country I know very little about, and not one that’s on my Places to Visit list, but it’s very interesting to get first hand information from someone there. Look forward to hearing a lot more about it. Take care and don’t fall foul of the moral police! xx

  5. Stay safe and may angels walk beside you – always xx
    I only have the film ‘Argo’ to reference life in Iran by so it will be interesting to read of a different perspective.

  6. Oh you brave girlie…I wouldn’t eve know where to start Ishbel…no sense of adventure at all… please stay safe while you are in Iran…look forward to reading the ext instalment… you should write a book!!! x

  7. Ishbel, there is a wonderful book by Geraldine Brooks called 9 Parts of Desire. She was a journalist working in the Middle East and gives a wonderful insight into the world of Muslim women. A great read and extremely informative.

  8. Hi Ishbel, Hope you enjoy your time in Iran !!, it sounds a fascinating place but quite rigid socially, keep safe, keep in touch and let us “constant readers” know how you get on, then we can see the Iranian world through you. I know I am eager to read your adventures. Best wishes xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Estelle (John R) UK

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