This was a day of 2 halves! We are still learning how to travel with our guide and the police escort. In business jargon there has not been an adequate alignment of objectives. The police are only interested in two things: depositing us at the next town by the shortest route and stopping for a long lunch. We on the other hand are interested in driving along interesting roads, stopping to see things and meet people. We also want to set off at 7.am. and they at 10.
The morning was a disaster travelling along the main road to Tehran with loads of trucks trying to maintain a slow convoy with everybody else overtaking like crazy, cutting in with inches to spare. Rick, our organiser stays cool and there was a calm but firm discussion when we finally stopped for lunch at 3.15 pm. In fairness to the guide, the restaurant was fantastic.
The afternoon followed closer to our plan. We split into 3 groups of five cars and headed off up the country roads over the mountains. We immediately lost all the trucks, picked up a good pace and were overwhelmed by the fantastic scenery and the local people. Because our group was the second one the first five cars had already been ahead and in one particular village it seemed as though the entire population was standing by the road waving and cheering. Later we stopped for a drink beside the road and were soon joined by local cars stopping too. We were offered peaches. Mind you, these same welcoming people then proceed to cut you up in their cars later whilst leaning out of the window taking photos. It was a wonderful afternoon, but sadly because of the late start and the difficult morning we arrived in Hamedan at 9.30 pm still with work to do do and another 5 hour night ahead of us. Moderately grotty postcard of the hotel located - all shops shut.
There was a wedding taking place at the hotel and the press were there and did an interview with some of our party. Apparently the rally was then featured on national TV and since then we have met people who have seen it.