From Astrakhan back to the Blacksea

Posted by on 10 October 2012

Yesterday was pretty wasted. Due to the rain I guess the  guys did not feel like riding. It had rained very hard and all the potholes where filled and even some streets where flooded. Maybe it was for the best as riding to Elista would not have been much fun either. I had a walk around town and went to see the Volga river. Astrakhan is like many places in Russia, it has many faces. There are many beautiful buildings but also a lot in need for some severe restoration.

I went to bed around 22:00 and had an early start towards Elista.

The route:

I got there around 12:00. The road is very boring since there is only steppe all around and it is straight. Once I found a hotel I went for a walk around town.

This town is mostly Buddhist and populated by an former mongol nomad tribe that moved here years and years ago. The city is filled with Buddhist monuments. There is a large temple which I entered just before a prayer started. You are not aloud to take any pictures but I could not resist. There is a very big Buddha statue in there. A few years back the Dalai Lama visited and his dress is in a class container for everybody to worship. I thought being Buddhist means not worshiping anything? They seem very serious about worshiping things. Kissing statues and banging your head against it in my opinion is a severe case of worship fever. But what do I know…………

I stayed for about 1 ½ hour. These guys do this every day all year round you would imagine that they would know there music and prayers, but damn it sounded like all the monks had a different textbook and the fellow that got to bang on the cymbals was far to over enthusiast. At one point I could take no more and had to leave. I hope I did not hurt any monks feelings. Maybe a little guidance from my stepmother could help them?

Again it is a city with great contrast. There is this square with a Buddhist monument with a prayer-wheel and just behind it is a statue of Lenin.

When I got back at the hotel I think the ladies felt somewhat sorry for me and moved me to another room. I think they made me pay for a large room and had put me in a small one.

The next morning I went to Stavropol.

The route:

Again in the beginning the road was boring with steppe all around.

But once close to Stavropol the surroundings started changing.

The Hotel there, booked in Astrakhan, is not exactly what it said on the booking.com website.

The room like much of the rest of the hotel was falling apart, I had to make up my own bed and internet only worked in room number 10 (which was not my room) but the lady running it was very kind and gave me a discount on the room. I did not take any pictures as the city was not very interesting. At Least not around the hotel. I thought I was the only guest but during the night I heard other voices. I had dinner in the restaurant underneath the hotel. It was the most expensive dinner so far. It was good but I wish I had looked at the prices before I went in. cost me 1000 rub, same as the hotel.

I covered the bike as the parking lot was not closed by a gate or something.

This morning it rained and I had to where my Oempa-Loempa outfit again. I set of around 8:30 because it would be a long ride to Ol’ginka at the blacksea coast. I will stay for two night here and have a rest tomorrow.

The route:

I had a walk around town and went to see the black sea.

One of my next stops will be Kislovodsk where if al stands there should be some bikers there how will show me mount Elbrus. but from Ol’ginka to there it is a bit to far to travel in one day so I needed a place to stay about halve way. Some where along the road I got followed and passed by another biker. He asked me to stop at the next gasstation. So I did and guess what he lives about halve way and I am invited to stay at his house.

The Hotel again seems pretty empty and it is late in the season. In Ol’ginka pretty much everything is closed. But in the hotel there are some people and one of them is a 18 year old girl how wanted to practice her English. So last night we had a chat me, her and her mother.

Today the sea should be a bit calmer so maybe I will have a swim today.

The route so far:

Cheers

3 Responses to From Astrakhan back to the Blacksea

  1. Neeltje

    Hoi Steven,
    wat een prachtige foto’s van Elista – bijzonder zo’n boeddhistisch centrum in Rusland . En die foto’s van de Zwarte Zee zijn ook heel mooi. Heb je ook dolfijnen of bruinvissen gezien? In Turkije zagen we toendertijd een bruinvis in de Zwarte Zee. Wat een acvontuur om die Mount Elbrus te gaan beklimmen.
    Neem je touwen en pikhaken mee? Hoe ver kun je daarop komen met de motor? Het is in ieder geval de hoogste berg van de Kaukasus – misschien ook wel van Europa. Spannend ik ben benieuwd naar je verhalen – we zetten vanavond de computer aan- misschien kun je skypen. Het duurt nog maar heel even en dan is Sarah er. Dan ben je ook al op de helft.We leven echt met jullie mee! Liefs Neeltje en André

  2. Marguerite

    Hai Steven.
    Wat maak je toch een prachtige reis. Echt smullen geblazen als je weer een stukje hebt geschreven. Nooit geweten dat er boedhisten leven in Rusland. Mooi zijn die foto’s van de Zwarte Zee.
    Kijk weer uit naar je volgende verhaal.
    Goede reis,
    Marguerite

  3. sarah doncker

    Whaouuuuuuuuuuuu! Beautiful pictures there, Steven!
    Amazing al these temples and of course the Black sea! Too bad i’ve missed your Oempa Lumpa outfit, hahahaha!!!
    Can’t wait to see the pictures of Mount Elbrust.
    Take care,
    Love, Sarah

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