Everyone we’ve spoken to have been absolutely glowing in their accounts of how much they have loved visiting Iran and meeting the friendly and generous Iranian people, and today our dreams of visiting this vast country came one huge step closer as we obtained our Iranian visa stamps at the Iranian Embassy in Ankara.
After our long ride yesterday we woke up early, refreshed completely by the luxurious bed and pillows at our Best Western 2000 Otel in Ankara, just a short 20 minute walk away from the Iranian Embassy.
Breakfast was enjoyed quickly, and then we made our way up to the Embassy. I’d read on an online forum that during Ramadan the Consulate Section opens at 09:30, an hour later than usual, but when we arrived at 09:10 there were already people waiting to be served.
Within ten minutes I’d discussed the purpose of our visit with an official, and we left the Embassy to make the necessary deposit at a nearby bank (100 Euros each for the visa plus an additional 50E/each for same day processing), before returning to the Embassy with the deposit slips as proof, before leaving our application forms and passports with the courteous and helpful official. As a footnote here I’d previously obtained the requisite Visa Reference Number, without which visa applications cannot be processed.
We were given receipts for our passports and instructed to return at 4:30pm, so we left the Embassy and had a coffee or coke at a nearby cafe, before dropping Karen’s DriRider adventure jacket in at a local tailors as recommended by the hotel staff, as the zip has broken and she hasn’t been able to close the jacket up for a few weeks now. We’ll collect the jacket tomorrow afternoon – either with a new zip, or perhaps the tailor may have misunderstood our request and converted it into six fabric place mats – as language was an issue and we were all communicating using sign language and pantomime.
After a cheap lunch in a small lunch bar not far from the tailor’s we returned to our hotel so I could work on the online application for our India visas – we’ll visit the Indian Consulate on Monday morning and submit our visa applications there, with hopefully more success than what we achieved in Geneva a few weeks ago.
About 4:20pm we collected our passports from the Iranian Embassy and were both thrilled – each passport now sports an Iranian visa stamp!
We walked back down the Main Street past the shops and all the cars – the street is three cars wide and the two right hand lanes are used for parking cars in, and only the left-hand lane is used for moving traffic. Parking ‘helpers’ usher car drivers into vacant slots, and then shuffle the cars around so that kerbside cars can get out if they are blocked by cars parked in the centre lane. It looks a little chaotic at first glance but upon closer inspection the system seems to work well, and all the locals seem quite adept at using it.
Dinner was a shared platter at ‘Professors’ – just up the road from our hotel, and this evening will be a quiet one as we plan our Ankara sightseeing for Saturday and Sunday. Today has been a huge success – numerous comments online suggest that it’s difficult and taxing to try and obtain visas for Iran, but we’ve followed the necessary steps and we’ve achieved our aim.