Letters (Nov 17)

I could write more about our Berlin visits in the summer, but those are just memories of a kid thinking about candy, ice cream and department stores.
My view of Berlin changed drastically after I moved back there. But I may get to that part later.

So the summers.
My parents saw our Germany trips as mandatory visits. Their parents were getting older and they were expecting to see us at least every other year. It was not a vacation for them as much as it was for us kids who got spoiled by everyone.
To them vacation meant relaxing on the beach, exploring new areas, good food and great weather. So, as every Tehrani, we would also set out for a week at the Caspian Sea in the summer (actually every other summer).
We packed up the car and drove about 4 hours via Karaj on the Haraz route to Chalous in the Mazandaran Province.
On our way we passed the Karaj Dam, and continued on a narrow two-lane terribly windy and very dangerous road until we reached the Kandavan Tunnel. I think it was a one-way tunnel at that time, because we had to wait for the red light to turn green (just like in a construction zone) and as soon as we drove through the 1 KM long tunnel, we would roll down the windows and yell into the darkness. Water was dripping from the ceiling and running down the rocky side walls. It was humid, moist and cold in the tunnel, so very different from the air before we entered it, which was dry and hot.
And it always seemed like a nice surprise when we exited on the other side. We either drove into a wall of fog and rain or into a wonderful sunny, but tropical climate. Really, the other side was green and lush and fragrant, whereas the entry side was dry, dusty and rocky.

All the way to Chalous, we could smell the sweet aroma of citrus blossoms and jasmine. Village boys would be selling small pails with red mulberries at the side of the street "toot, shah-toot!". Or they would be running after the cars and offering lodging "otaagh khaali!".

We would stay at the Chalous Hotel or sometimes at the Motel Nowshahr, which was located right at the beach. I loved both places. The hotel was very old and in a way luxurious. The restaurant served delicious persian dishes. I loved the breakfast, which was Lavash bread, tea, carrot, quince or rasberry jam and goat cheese. I could eat that all day. Their barley soup was my favorite for lunch.
Chalous was not located directly at the beach, but a few kilometers inland. We would take a walk from the hotel over a bridge to the downtown/bazaar and the first thing we would buy was a shovel and pail for us kids.
Then we would drive to Nowshahr. My parents would rent a "plaje", which was a cubic metal frame covered in a strong tarp-like fabric. It was right on the sand and facing the sea. The bottom was covered with straw mats and that was where we hung out every day during the vacation. The beach was wide, the sand was dark and smooth. The waves could be high and rip currents could be treacherous. There were life-guards on duty and they knew us and came to shake hands with my dad, happy to see us again that season.

One of the lifeguards having a smoke with my dad.

The water was very salty, and very warm. We enjoyed jumping in the waves, but I never ever swam out, just stayed in front, knee-high in water, and that is what I still do here in San Diego at the ocean.

Well, ok waist-high. My sister and I. Gotta love those bathing caps.

Nowshahr also had a great self-serving (buffet-style) restaurant where we would have lunch once in a while. My favorite dish was the saffron/rice/chicken dish called "tahchine-morgh" and my dad would always order the sturgeon kebab. Everything tasted so good.

On a rainy day we would drive along the country side and stop here and there to sight-see. One of our favorite destinations was the "Sisangan National Park", where we went for a hike in the jungle. Just google images of the park and you can see the beauty of the Mazandaran province. Another beautiful place we visited was the city of Ramsar and its old ancient Hotel Ramsar.

Old Hotel Ramsar, Wikipedia

Or Motel Ghoo which was a colorful tacky motel but fun to visit. Tehran celebrities could be sighted there.

Mom keeping a close eye on the teen.

Note: The Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world. It is located north of Tehran on the other side of the Alborz mountains. It is the home of the Beluga Sturgeon, and of course the best caviar in the world. (which I do not like at all).

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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