If you're bus-hopping between Semnan and Mashhad, you'll generally need to change vehicles in Shahrud, a pleasant, booming, student-centric city with leafy streets and a complex of historic buildings at Bastam (7km northwest of centre). Half-day excursions take visitors up to Jangali Abr, a road winding up into forests with a European feel where the attraction is to emerge above a sea of clouds.
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