Charging in Shirvan, Iran

Why we went to Shirvan

The city of Shirvan is only 60 km away from Bojnurd. We found in Shirvan a hotel that had good reviews and offered rooms for a fair price. Since we didn’t really like the hotel in Bojnurd, we didn’t mind moving on. We planned to spend two days in Shirvan only to relax and get the car and electronic equipment ready for the upcoming border crossings. We read online that border controls in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will be quite intense. Having a good structure in the car and knowing where what item is, seemed essential for us to cross somehow smoothly these borders.

The hotel in Shirvan

The hotel we stayed at was quite ok. We had a large room, didn’t get distracted and the owner/manager of the hotel was nice. He even spoke a bit of German. Besides the fact, that we felt as guests welcomed, the hotel was strange. On the first floor, there was a women and men reception hall for weddings. I couldn’t really figure out, if that is a thing here, to celebrate sex-separated weddings. It wouldn’t surprise me though. For the festivities, they had a large kitchen that was probably the most disgusting kitchen I saw so far. It was greasy, somehow dirty and smelled awfully. We saw the kitchen, since we used a socket in the kitchen to charge the car. The socket was only a normal Schuko, but since the car was still well charged it was enough to recharge. The next charging will be in Turkmenistan.

A surprise-visit from the local newspaper

As I mentioned above, we wanted to use our days in Shirvan only to relax and reorganize. On a day, where we didn’t really wanted to see anybody, the local newspaper appeared at the hotel in the evening. The reporter didn’t speak any English, but the hotel manager served as a translator. Every second question was on what we think about Iran and Iranians. We just said what the reporter wanted to hear. In the end, it was mainly the hotel manager and the reporter who talked to each other. I would be really curious what the content of that article will be.

 

Bye-bye Iran, welcome new adventurous

After 4 weeks in Iran, both, Benedikt and I, are really excited to move on. Iran was a major goal to reach and now the most challenging part of the journey starts. We don’t really know what to expect from the upcoming countries. But we are looking forward to drinking a cool beer in Ashgabat and to not having to wear hijab anymore. Let’s hope everything goes well, meaning we continue to find three-phase electricity and the quality of the roads stays decent.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
Schuko 220 10 amperes 2kW 15kWh

Charging in Bojnurd, Iran

Invitation and setting up charging in Bojnurd

A TV station invited us to come to Bojnurd. They wanted to do an interview with us. That’s at least what we understood. Again, it all came a bit different.

About 7 boys at the age of 16 to 18 welcomed us at the hotel they booked for us. One of them was Mehran (who, with his neat briefcase, looked much older), our initial contact in Bojnourd. After a rest in the hotel the group of boys picked us up in the evening to bring us to a building complex where some of them lived. There was a 4-pin CEE-32 outlet in front in the house entrance of one of the houses (which was awesome!). We (and them) took pictures and left the car to charge. A pleasant walk through the city with the whole crowed followed.

An evening with a crowed of interested boys and a helpful girl

There was also one girl coming with us. She was supposed to keep me company (I guess they felt uncomfortable with me being the only female in the group or thought I would feel uncomfortable with boys only. But, probably contrary to them, I am used to this since I am little). We spent the afternoon walking around the city of Bojnurd and Benedikt arranged to get a haircut (which we deemed highly necessary, considering our upcoming border transits first to Turkmenistan and later to Uzbekistan — none of them is known to be easy and a good appearance might simplify things).

When the sun was setting, me and the girl returned to the houses, where the Tesla was waiting. A dinner to break the fast (everyone seemed to be strict Muslim, following Ramadan) with the neighbors was set up outside of the building (right behind the Tesla). It was a fun evening with the entire neighborhood community. Unfortunately, the charging of the car didn’t work out as expected. Probably the connection wasn’t strong enough for 32 amperes. The charging process stopped after only a few kWh charged. Since we didn’t want to make a big hassle, we charged the rest of the electricity that we needed at a Schuko in the parking garage of our hotel.

Visting an Iranian middle school and giving an “interview”

The next morning Mehran picked us up to bring us to his old school. We only noticed then that he just recently graduated from school and is doing the interview with us as a student project. Since he was really attached to his former school and teachers, we did the interview there. The school (only for boys) was nice, even though I couldn’t really get the concept of parting boys from girls. We were guided through the rooms and I felt a bit like Angelina Jolie, doing some charity work. Everyone wanted to show us something (like a tiny baby fetus in a glass in the science lab) and tell a story. I was surprised to hear that 30% of the lessons the boys have are religious class in that school. What an impact that must have on the little boys.

After the walk through the school, we had the interview with Mehran. We could feel the impact the religious lessons had on him… From his point of view, you can clearly see why a head scarf is great and necessary on women or that the fasting during Ramadan makes people commit less crime or lies. Mehran will have a fruitful journalist career in the state-controlled media.

Meeting Mohsen, initiator of the facebook group “Overland in Iran”

We know Iran as always offering us something of both extremes. It felt like almost no surprise that after having spent the morning Lost In Translation (and inbetween cultures), we met Mohsen for an evening tea in his home. He is curious about the world and travelers from different countries and, in order to meet even more travelers, initiated the facebook group “Overland in Iran” that I joined shortly after entering Iran. We had a wonderful and deep conversation with him and it felt like we found a friend in Bojnurd.

 

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
4 poles CEE-32 230 3*32 amperes 22kW 20kWh
Schuko 220 6 amperes 2kW 40kWh

Charging in Gorgan, Iran

Convincing the hotel to let us charge

The city of Gorgan is situated between rich farmland close to the Caspian Sea and hills, covered with the “jungle of Iran”. We intended to stay in a hotel close to the green hills (we were so happy to see green trees again, after the hot and dry landscape in the south of Iran). Some bargaining helped to lower the room rate to a reasonable price. Our initial question, whether the hotel could offer us three-phase electricity, was denied. The hotel complex was too large, as that we could believe this. We talked to the receptionist for about 20 minutes. Pictures of other hotels helping us convinced him finally. It’s important to not give up!

Yeah – the car is charging

After a missed try at some cable that the hotel’s technician suggested (there was no electricity on it), Benedikt found three-phase connections in a tiny hut, outside the hotel building, containing the hotel’s water pump. The technician helped him to connect the wires. After a bit of forth and back, the car started charging at 10 amperes that evening. That way it was fully-charged the next morning.

Hike in the woods

That upcoming morning, the car was ready and we were ready to finally move our legs again. The hot weather in the south made it impossible to walk for a longer time. We enjoyed a wonderful hike in the green hills and later a visit to a beautiful waterfall.

 

 

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
fuse box (extension cord from hotel) 225 3*12 amperes 8kW 60

Charging in Tehran, Iran

Setting up a meeting in Tehran

The evening in Qom (see this post) Mohammad from Tehran wrote us an email that he really wants to meet us and see the Tesla. He is such a big Tesla fan and it would just mean to world to him to meet us. We didn’t mind fulfilling his wish, since we would pass Tehran anyways on our way up north. Although, after having shown the car to a countless amount of people, the excitement on our side has gone a bit. Since a meeting is usually most fruitful, if both sides fully enjoy it, Benedikt asked Mohammad, if he can provide us with three-phase electricity. That way we could charge the car and show it to him meanwhile. A fully-charged car would also allow us to go straight to the Elbrus mountains and camp outside (otherwise we would have needed to stay in a city one more night to charge the car at a hotel or somewhere else). After having spent 11 nights “indoors” we felt ready for a night in the car.

Charging in Tehran (once more)

Mohammad found three-phase electricity right next to his home. It was in a former factory that hasn’t been used for a long time. The outlets, unfortunately, were super old and we didn’t have the correct adapter. In Iran, we probably already charged more often with a self-fixed solution than with a proper outlet and adapters. We were happy to find a fuse-box in one of the buildings. Unfortunately, we couldn’t disconnect the fuses. That means, Benedikt had to attach our wires with the connection being under high voltage. That can be a bit dangerous… Benedikt calls it “an operation on the open heart”. Luckily everything went well and we started charging with 32 amperes on all phases!

The car was fully charged after about 2 hours (we spend the waiting time at Mohammad’s house). The only dangerous moment with everything being under voltage occurred when Benedikt was disconnecting our wires from the fuse box. While doing so, our neutral connection disconnected from its supposed connection unintentionally. If this neutral connection would have touched one of the phases, our NRGkick could have been ruined. As the NRGkick is still working, we were lucky, I guess.

In busy evening traffic, we left Teheran. In the valley before the PASS after that a decline towards the Caspian Sea starts, we found a quite spot to spend the night.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Connection to fuse-box  220 volt  3*32 amperes  22 kW  about 30

Charging in Qom, Iran

Arriving to Qom

After a night without much sleep in the awful hostel of Naein (see this post), we spend a view hours on the road, direction north. It was hot outside (up to 42 degrees Celsius), matching to the desert like nature, we were passing through.

In the afternoon, we reached Qom. Qom is considered holy by Shiʿa Islam, as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mæ’sume, sister a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. The city is the largest center for Shiʿa scholarship in the world, and is a significant destination of pilgrimage. Neither Benedikt nor I were excited to visit the city, but the Tesla needed energy.

Electricity at the hotel’s basement

Remembering our “tragedy” in Zanjan (see this post), I was already expecting not much help from the first hotel that we approached. I enjoyed it so much to be proven wrong. The receptionist offered us tea while we were waiting for the answer of the electrician. A little bit later Benedikt drove the car via elevator in the basement of the hotel. There he set up a charging connection with the connections hanging on a wooden board. It seemed like they just waited there for us to connect. The hotel’s electrician helped.

We enjoyed a rest at the. The next morning, the elevator luckily lifted the Tesla up out of the basement again (I wasn’t so sure about that – the Tesla weighs 2.3 tons). With a fully charged car we continued our journey towards north – destination the east shore of Tehran.

 

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 connection with three-phase wires  220 volt  3*32 amperes possible

3*6 amperes used

 4 kw  50

Charging in Nain, Iran

One more ripoff in Caravanserai hotel

It was already dark when we left Isfahan. Our destination was a Caravanserai on the road to Naein (east of Isfahan). Again, and again there are things happening in Iran, that are hard to imagine somewhere else. Our experience at that specific Caravanserai was another strange occurrence in Iran: The first impression we got of the Caravanserai was good. It was a nicely renovated building.

When we entered, a guy sitting on the bench, not speaking English, was highly confused that guests entered the hotel. He went into his office, talked to someone on the phone for about ten minutes. After he finished some friends of him appeared. We first thought, “great, he got somebody to translate”, but none of his buddies were speaking English. 5 minutes later, the guy handed us hotel-registration papers to fill out. There has been no conversation so far. No one told us if the hotel has a room available, what kind of rooms there are, what it costs… at least, we wanted to know what we should pay. The guy typed into google-translator 200 Dollars. If someone wants to fool you in Iran, they try to sell you a hotel room for 200 bucks. When we were almost leaving, one of the friends, toothless (sometimes the quality of teeth tells a bit about the background of a person) tried to lower the price to 2.000.000 IRR (roughly …) But even that is for shady people like that way too much. We left and only heard the guys laughing back in the office. I guess we’ll never learn, what is so funny about disturbing your potential guests.

Finally rest in Nain

It was already 10:30 p.m. when we called the next guest house. Due to no guests, it was closed (we should have called earlier…). The owner of the guest house advised us to go to a hostel in Naein. We went there, but the place was awful (old hair on the bed linen and a disgustingly smelling bathroom/toilet). Since it was already past 12:00 and I was really tired we ended up staying anyways. At least the hostel gave us a Schuko-outlet to charge (we had to pay for electricity though).

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Schuko  220 volt  6 amperes  2 kW  about 30

Charging in Isfahan, Iran

Besides the hotel offers in Kashan (see this post), we received many, many more messages after our ask for three-phase electricity on Instagram. Most people who messaged us either told us what touristic places to visit or they asked when they can see us.

In fact, our number 1 problem always is, how to charge the car. After that we need to find a place to sleep and eat. Sometimes the order and priority is different ;-). Only after those three problems (and sometimes additional ones like laundry, grocery shopping and so on) are solved, we start thinking about what sights to see or whom to meet.

Soheil in Isfahan was the only one who clearly understood what our problem is (the need for a place to charge the Tesla). He offered us three-phase electricity in his father’s factory.

Charging #1

Of course, we didn’t know what to expect when we drove to the industrial town of Isfahan. But the surprises couldn’t have been bigger. We were welcomed by Soheil, his mother and his sister, Mehrnoush, as well as one of his friends, Ali. Soheil and Ali were very curious about the car. Benedikt spend the afternoon talking to them and explaining. I spend the same time with Mehrnoush and her mom, wonderful people, who it was so great talking to. We all share the same interest in mountaineering. Especially the dad of the family, who unfortunately died last fall and who we would have loved to meet, was a great climber and hiker. He started in the 1980s a company for everything climbers need out of metal (carabiners, pitons, crampons, ice picks…) and other metal products (tea pots).

 

While we were chatting, and visiting the factory, the Tesla was charging on a stable three-phase outlet (Montenegro style) with 32 amperes and 22 kW.

It was really a great afternoon we spend together with the Samavatis. We just couldn’t refuse an invitation from the family to stay at their place overnight and have dinner together. This kind of hospitality is just amazing and we had a wonderful time at their apartment.

Meeting our fans

I was sick the third day in Isfahan (probably eat/drank something wrong). Due to that Benedikt had to go to a meeting of our “fans” by himself. We set up this meeting since many people waned to meet us (and see the car). We didn’t want them all at our hotel. About 25 to 30 people showed up for this meeting. Like any Tesla-newbie Benedikt could easily entertain them with the soundless car, suspension control, the car key, frunk and so on.

Charging #2

Before we left we went another time to Soheil and his family. Again, we had a great time together and the car charged up to 98%. This time, the cable/fuse didn’t really take the 32 amperes though. After about 1 hour charging, a fuse blew and the charging stopped. We only noticed at that point that the fuse was made for 25 amperes and the outlet for 16 amperes. It worked the first time to push 32 amperes through them, but after the fuse-blow we continued charging only with 20 amperes (on all three phases).

 

 

 

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Montenegro outlet  220 volt  3*32 amperes  22 kW  about 50
 Montenegro outlet  220 volt  3*20 amperes  16 kW  about 40

 

 

Charging in Kashan, Iran

Hotel offers – two extremes

We put a post on Instagram asking for help to charge our car with three-phase electricity between Tehran and Isfahan. That evening (Wednesday, 31st of May) we received 2 calls from hotels in Kashan.

The person on the first call wanted to sell us a room for 7.000.000 Rial (IRR). That is about 190€. The standard of Iranian hotels is in average quite low and so far, I didn’t see any hotel that was worth 190€/night. Somehow some people in the Iranian tourism industry didn’t understand yet, that tourists are neither dumb nor do they like to be fooled with. We experienced it several times, that we are asked a lot more (meaning up to 5 times more) to pay because we are foreign tourists. An other example are entrance fees of monuments. They always cost 200.000 IRR (5,50€) for non-persian speakers and 30.000 IRR (0,80€) for Iranians. I think this price discrimination is not only disproportional, but is also harming the Iranian tourism industry in the long term.

The second call we received this evening was another hotel manager, who was advertising his hotel and confirming that they have three-phase electricity. After a while Benedikt asked politely how much all of this will cost. He answered that it won’t cost anything for us. The owner of the hotel wants to give us a night for free, since she is a nature lover and appreciates that we are doing our journey with an electric vehicle. That is the other side of Iran. Some people are so generous and hospitable that we sometimes can’t believe that this is happening to us.

Beautiful renovated estate welcoming us for a night

We agreed with the hotel manager that we would arrive the next evening at his hotel. After we left in the afternoon Tehran and its traffic, the Tesla was nicely cruising along the high way towards Kashan. It was still very hot there (above 35 degrees Celsius). Kashan is almost in the Maranjab Desert and looks like a “desert town”. Small, one story high buildings out of loam are typical of Kashan. The hotel manager opened an old, unspectacular door when we pressed the doorbell to one of those loam buildings. Already the first sight into that old house was breath taking. Due to the hot climate, it is not build up in the air but two floors deep. On the ground or deepest story, there is a pictures inner courtyard with a squared pond in the middle. The whole building was renovated with so much care for detail that we almost felt like staying in a museum.

We spend a very calm and relaxing evening in the above-mentioned courtyard and enjoyed that the heat of the day slowly vanished. That evening we also met the lady, who owns the building and invited us. She herself is the architect who renovated the property. One could feel her love for good design and the nature. We were absolutely honored to be her guest.

Charging on a newly installed three-phase outlet

The hotel manager organized in the evening that an electrician would install a three-phase outlet at the fuse box that was right at the entrance door. In the morning, we charged the car from the newly installed plug for about two to three hours. Once more, we left an hotel with a fully charged car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 Montenegro outlet  220 volt  3*20 amperes  16 kW  about 50

 

 

Charging in Teheran, Iran

At least Benedikt and I don’t really mind high elevations. It didn’t affect us to sleep at 3000-meter elevation in the Elbrus mountains between the Caspian Sea and Tehran (not to be mixed up with mount Elbrus in Russia ;-)). The mountains are impressive and once more, we enjoyed the loneliness and quietness of a camping night.

Press conference, video take and photo session in Tehran

We arrived in Tehran from the north. Our hotel was in the north of the city and we didn’t have to go through Tehran traffic for too long. Traffic in Tehran is crazy. There are too many cars and everyone seems to not stick to the street lines. This leads to cars blocking each other’s way and just being way to close to each other. Benedikt is actually managing that kind of traffic really calmly and good. For me it is already enough to be the Co-pilot 😉.

At the hotel, we met Tafazoli and Hosein, both working for an Iranian car magazine (asbe bokhar – horse power). We took wonderful pictures of the car with them and a video. On the second evening in Teheran, Tafazoli organized a meeting and press conference with BYD, a Chinese car manufacturer that is also producing electric vehicles (this article was published about the evening). Feeling the interest of so many people on our journey, our mission and our thoughts on EV is very special. Benedikt and I were overwhelmed with the kind and welcoming attitude towards us. It is very special to us to see pictures of our Tesla in a daily car magazine.

Tafazoli and his team got aware of us after a Instagram post of our charging experience in Zanjan by kish cars (see this post). Kish cars is followed by roughly 250.000 people. After Tafazoli and his team found out about us, they asked us, if we can meet in Tehran and take pictures/videos. It was a wonderful experience to do that and I am very glad we didn’t miss it.

Charging at the hotel

The hotel could offer us three-phase electricity. Charging the car right in front of the entrance door of a hotel is just so luxurious. We enjoyed staying in a good quality hotel and calming down from the adventures we had so far in Iran. Benedikt and I feel that sometimes it is just too much and we need less input from all sides. We should treat our selves more often with less action and more time to relax (and to write blog-posts 😉).

Charging in Gilan, Iran

Gileboom

Some hotels or guest houses seem like treasures that one is just happy to have found them. Gileboom on the coast of the Caspian Sea is one of them. A traditional house of the area in a beautiful yard is the guest house of Mahin and her family. Every second that we spend there, we just felt like being guests. Not ever before did we get better cared for.

Mahin managed that we could charge the Tesla at a neighbor’s construction side.

We spend an evening with wonderful food, great conversations (we enjoyed the company of three other travelers, as well as of Mahin’s family) and much laughter. The next morning, we postponed leaving further and further. Being at a nice place where you almost feel like home, is so precious.

Our host family poured water behind us, when we left. That is an Iranian custom to wish travelers a safe travel. What a need custom!

A night in the mountains

We drove about 3 hours to park the Tesla at the highest point between the Caspian Sea and Teheran. No one else was at the mountain pass at 3000 meters elevation. We enjoyed a quite evening. The following day we passed the Iranian skiing resorts, Dizin, that is with lifts up to 3600 meters altitude among the world’s 40 highest skiing resorts.

 outlet/socket  Volt  Ampere  kW  kWh
 CEE 4-pin  225 volt  3*26 amperes  18 kW  about 60