It was dawning a beautiful day as I stepped off the train in Gorgan, backed by the Eastern arm of the snowy Alborz Mountains, where I found myself a minibus to nearby Bandar-e Torkman. The train had just passed through here but sleep had been a more pressing concern, I was able to dump my bags at Gorgan for the round trip anyhow. Upon arrival I could see that it really was the "Port of the Turkmen", the people were noticeably ethnically different with a hint of Central Asia in them and some were of almost Tibetan extraction it seemed, perhaps a sub-minority in turn. The women were more colourful with many bright plain dresses covered in part by long flowery headscarves. Even those who chose to remain more conservative had a patterned edge to the normal black Hijab. Many men too were for once distinguishable by wearing Muscovite hats.
With the town being some way from the elusive port and having no map, I simply followed what I thought was a reasonable compass bearing with the mountains helping to keep me on track. It was a very muddy trek out across perfectly flat swampy grazing pasture, land at 12 metres below normal sea level, until I thought I could see what must have been a sea wall, indeed that was the case. Peeking over the line of boulders it was only in the last few metres that I got my first glimpse of the Caspian Sea. My predictable agoraphobia was soon subdued by a beautiful blue expanse framed by mountains, a pier and fish farms dotted about. Indeed this is the home of the famous Sturgeon family and caviar is big business here though I saw no obvious sign of it. Some suitably prettily painted boats rounded off the perfect vista, I had been very lucky to have such a clear, calm and remarkably warm day. With not so much as a teashop on offer though, the pier pointed the way back to town by road this time, and with nothing save the sea to offer, I was soon back in Gorgan for phase 2 of an ambitious day. I had wanted to trail out to another small town about 100Ks hence called Gonbad-e Kavus, synonymous with an allegedly impressive 55 metre tower tomb. Unfortunately the buses for Gonbad left from a different terminal in Gorgan, which despite my best efforts I failed to track down in time. I later deduced that the renaming of a crucial square together with another crap map had me going in the wrong direction. Seemingly too late in the day, the farce was complete when I realised too late that my pocket watch had accidentally skipped forward an hour, I could have made it after all. Stuck with Gorgan then, I rather half heartedly checked out a local shrine and mosque, and where the museum should have been I found an unsigned building with 2 armed guards blocking the entrance, I decided to forget it. The one compensation was that in my meanderings I had come across a distant net cafe, though bizzarely the one site it wouldnt let me access was my travel diary. Just another one of those days! I'd seen the Caspian Sea though and had bagged a night bus for the onward haul to Mashad, just a pity I wouldnt see any scenery again but my timetable didnt permit it, I had a plane to catch.