One of the tourist hot spots near the Caspian Sea is a scenic mountain village called Masouleh – whereas ‘tourists’ here translates to ‘Iranian tourists’. It’s spectacularly built into the slope of the mountain where it has been founded at least a thousand years ago. The climb is so steep that the flat rooftops of the lower houses serve as paths, yards and market places for the higher ones – laws of statics do not seem to apply. Everything is cramped together – still, the owner of the hotel insists we park in front of his place so we make our way there across market places and through narrow alleyways. On this day, the village features an extra attraction consisting of two huge motorbikes including their German riders – pictures, autographs and exchange of contact details come free. It’s weekend (here this means Friday) and holiday season, so the place is packed with Iranian families and their kids.
The hotel’s restaurant uses the roof of the house underneath as a huge terrace from where you can have a look over the whole valley. Next to us on the clothesline our underwear is drying in the sun. We have our first encounter with real Iranian cuisine – right, this took us four days. Not that the traditional food was bad, not at all – it just seems hard for us to find a Persian restaurant, as most people, especially young ones, strongly favour pizza, kebab or other types of fast food when going out. This time we are more lucky and find ourselves surrounded by a range of traditional dishes from the Gilan province – delicious (butter) rice from the regional plantations go perfectly together with a mixture of coriander, mint, garlic and oil.