So many thoughts flowing in my head ...it has truly been a blessing that I have been able to visit 2 beautiful countries, I lived earlier, after so many years. Made so many new friends and was great to spend quality time with old friends. Special thanks must go to the organizers - Kalinga Motors Sports Club, who had done a great job pulling this together.
Iran is very special to me, because my life took an important turn post my stint here. The love and affection I rec'd in 1999 was reciprocated in multiples 20 years late. What a beautiful country, phenomenal culture, fab food and just outstanding hospitality. Yes, the sanctions has hit them hard; the rial has fallen 6 times in 20 years!! "Lips are smiling while heart is bleeding", said one. So what has changed?? I saw women dress a bit more with freedom.... there is talk of change in the air and hope.... and there is very little hatred and just loads of love. I would urge everyone to visit Iran with family and enjoy the culture and hospitality of this beautiful country. And oh yeah, it's very cheap as well.
Gulf of Finland to Gulf of Persia
5790 kms 16 days 46 down to 33 people in the end 13 cities in 3 countries Cleared 2 borders 3 different languages 10+ cuisines 18 vehicles...
Russia was the country that I have lived in... immediately after marriage. It was a cold and grey place with very few smiles...many horror stories we heard though we never faced any!! I was eager to see how Moscow has fared in the 15 years. Again amazing changes in Moscow. Broad walkways, English sign boards, cops not harassing foreigners, oh yeah lots of foreigners esp. Chinese and Indian tourists. There was a feeling of safety this time and the bar and restaurant scene is as resplendent as it was. St Petersburg is as beautiful as ever and the sacrifices made in Volgograd was very moving with us finishing in Astrakhan, which is very different from other parts of this huge country. Again another country facing sanctions and its impact is visible. Rouble is in rubble....down to 60 from its 27 when I was there. It was the most expensive city while I lived....not anymore. Europe never gets this cheap!!
Country #70 done
Tiny Azerbaijan stuck between two giants. Beautiful country with so much potential. It has inspired me to look at the "Stans" more eagerly. Krgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan....the road to 100 just got a bit more clearer!!
1 day stopover in Dubai was fab and today Im back in Chennai.