Overland 1972 - Day 40

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March 22nd 1972
Published: April 4th 2013
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Day 40 - Wednesday 22nd March

Heather is feeling better and so John and myself will try and buy tickets for the 7pm train to Mashad. The train station was situated at the southern side of Teheran. The journey to the train station was courtesy of a very old double-decker bus but only cost 2 rials. It was disturbing at one point as the majority of passengers came across to our side of the bus. Sadly someone had been knocked over and lay motionless in the road - nasty. We met two Americans who had just bought their tickets - good news to follow as they had the ticket requirements written in Persian. There was approximately 48 people in front of us in the queue, which was a relief because the bus stations were thronging with people trying to return home at the end of the New Year holiday. There were three windows open but the queue moved extremely slowly. There was also a police presence and they kept the queue in order - even so we saw a few scuffles. After a two hour wait, we were told that they would be no student discounts and no third class compartments. The offered fare was 445 rials and as this was much higher than anticipated, we decided to return to the hotel and discuss with the others whether to wait until Thursday. During our escapade, Michael had met a group of travellers who had just arrived from Afghanistan - terrible conditions, travel difficult but after the snow there would be a risk of flooding. The news influenced the decision to move on quickly while we had the chance. We packed, had a final meal and caught the bus back to the train station. This time the queue was much shorter with only about 10 other people. For some reason student discounts were available reducing the fare to 330 rials for the 7.40pm train.

We were allowed to wait in the plush and warm restaurant building whilst most people seemed to be waiting in the cold on the platform. When the train arrived, we were delighted to find an empty compartmnet but alas our joy was short-lived as there were assigned seats. I needed the help of the booking office and then a ticket inspector before finding our designated seats. The compartment had 8 cramped seats and our new friends were 2 French wierdos, a Canadian and one other. All four were heavy smokers whether hash or ordinary cigarettes was unclear but the compartment was thick with smoke - not too good for us four struggling with sore throats. It was not one of my favourite journeys and another night without much sleep.


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