Coming down from the Alamut Valley towards the Caspian Sea, the road winds its way down through beautiful wide open spaces and at some point you start hitting a thick cloud layer and the landscape changes dramatically. Barren mountains give way to green valleys with snaking rivers rapidly descending towards the sea.
You start seeing more and more people picnicking on the side of the road until pretty much every little shaded area is occupied by a family with a tent, a tea pot and a grill cooking kebabs. At this point you realise that Iranians really love picnics.
When we finally got to Ramsar, a small city by the Caspian Sea, every bit of grassy area was occupied with tents – even the lawn in the middle of the road. The small parks right by the sea were literally teeming with families with their tents and grills. We almost felt sorry we didn’t camp in one of these spots as we would have probably been invited to sample some of the food.
We felt even more sorry when we spent the night in a very old colonial style hotel that was overpriced and had very little left of its former glory. As a tip, try to avoid the Ramsar Grand Hotel – it’s not that grand anymore. 🙂