Russia Day 1
I woke up early and packed. At the hotel they were so kind to give me my breakfast in a small box to take with me. On the road to the border there where a lot of Russian car insurance offices but I figured it would be better to get it in Russia. Also Fuel is cheaper so again I figured I will get some in Russia. I got cleared out of Ukraine rather quick and was sent of to the Russians….. I had to fill in two identical little paper documents with my name pasport number, visa number, date of entering, date of leaving, etc, etc… Once stamped there is one for me and one for them. If I loose this paper I will get into a lot of trouble leaving Russia. Next up was the temporary import documents for the bike. This is a tricky one and I had to do it 3 times before the border guards liked it. They did help me and were very friendly. They again were more interested by my missile-launching-control-box. After all the paper work was done one of the guards wanted to know what was inside my panniers. So I started to untie my bags since I can not open the panniers with them on the bike. This seemed to take two long, some other guards started to mingle and I got the question: Any dutch “special” tobacco with you? I laughed and said of course not. I could the tie the bag back on and was sent off. The weird thing was I had no bike insurance as my greencard is not valid in Russia. They asked for it but I guess they did not look very well. After leaving the border-compound there was nothing!!! No banks, no insurance offices, no shops just the road to Belgorod. I stopped at a gas station and asked if I could pay with my credit card but the woman at the counter started to rattle in Russian and once I explained I did not understand a word she just said she just continued talking louder and louder and faster and faster. So I left and send a quick SMS to Sarah that I was now in Russia and all was OK. Off I went to Belgorod with crossed fingers that I would make it with the gas I had left.
I quickly found a Bankomat and a Benzokalonka, got my first Roubles and first Russian petrol. The thing is that in Ukraine and apparently also in Russia you first have to pay before you get the petrol. So I always have to guess how many litters I need. If I try to explain that I want it filled up they often give me a strange look.
I went to Pavlovsk where I could meet up with Aleksey, a friend of Vitaly (my HU contact in Volgograd) I found a gostinitsa got a room for the night, storage for the bike and had some dinner in the Kafe. I called Aleksey. He picked me up from the hotel and helped me get a local sim-card. We then picked up another friend and went for some shashliek and beer. As I intended to leave the next morning and it had been a long day I wanted to go to bed early. They only would bring me back to the hotel if I would stay another day. I told them that the hotel was pretty expensive. That seemed not to be a problem, you stay with us!! So the next day would be a day for excursions.
Russia day 2,
At around ten I got a call from Vladimir, Aleksey’s friend. He picked me up from the hotel and we went to his mother for some breakfast. In Ukraine and Russia this means eating the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. So after some soup, kotlets, potatoes and coffee we went for a boot ride on the Don river.
We stopped somewhere and went continued by foot up a hill and through some forest and he showed me this abandoned church. It has some engravings form Italian soldiers back from WW2 and there are still some wall paintings who are mostly intact.
On the way back we had some fresh sunflower-seeds:
We set off again to meet up with Aleksey again and I got to drive:
We picked up Aleksey and his brother and set off in the other direction:
We went to this place, a church inside the mountain on the riverbank:
We went up there and got a tour through the caves and the church I was not allowed to take pictures. The Tour guide spoke very good english and told about the history and the making of this 5 levels of dug out caves. History says the church was founded by very sinful cosack widow how had to build this church in order to pay for here sins. She got help from the local Tsjaar and others out of the area. By the time she died there was only about 120 meters of tunnel but now there is a lot more.
Me, Aleksey, Vladimir and Aleksey’s brother at the church entrance:
Local fresh water source:
After that we picked up another friend, Andrey who turned out to speak dutch which was a pleasant surprise. We went to a small island and had a BBQ with beer and berenburg…
My dad would be proud as I went twice to church that day!!!!
Russia Day 3,
Since my bike insurance was not valid Aleksy helped me to get some local insurance. After about 1.5 hours of a lot of BLA BLA I got my two months of insurance for about € 35,-
Aleksey, Thank you for all your help my friend!!
I set off at around 11:00 and went to Mikhaylovka where I would meet up with Denis.
Some where on the road I stopped for a toilet brake and this truck driver stops and asks me if I need any help, food or even a place to stay and sleep:
Thanks for stopping and the chat, Andrey!
Once I got to Mikhaylovka I met up with Denis and his girlfriend at the city entrance. The bike got stored at his parents.
After a shower, some food and a nap we went to a swimming-pool, billiard, sauna club thing. Luckily there was one friend of Denis that could help with translation as of so far our conversations had been very limited, I apologise for my lack of Russian, Denis! None the less we had a great evening:
Russia Day 4,
Well what to say…….
I am sitting here in a really small village at this abandoned shop in the middle of nowhere called Khmelevskoy. TomTom has no clue about where I am and only shows my current location: N49°11’46.8” E43°42’55.9”
This town is not shown on my paper map. I am waiting for Vitaly who is doing a mountain-bike trip with some friends. We met up earlier. But I am getting ahead of myself…….
This morning we picked up the bike and I needed some fuel but they did not let me pay for it. I was invited to join Vitaly and his friends for a night out somewhere in the wild along the Don river. So we set of for Log where I would try to meet up with them. Denis followed me in his car and his friend on a Honda VFR800Vtec.
We got to a ferry crossing and waited there for Vitaly.
Thank you Denis and all your friends for a pleasant stay in Mikhaylovka!!
We crossed the river once they got there and I was given the name of this little village, some coordinates and a general direction as they would be riding slower and taking some zigzaggy road up there. At first the road was good but the last 8 km have been sandy dirt roads. I asked some people for directions and they brought me to some dirt-road-crossing and said it would be streight on all the way up to Khmelevskoy. As I had only one day of off-road training on a little 250cc cross-bike and here I am with this 300 kg 1150cc big monster. I would never have taken this roads if I did not know it would lead to anything. I am impressed with myself as I did not drop the bike and I am impressed with the bike because it is not showing any sign of “I am not mend for this” and kept on rumbling like any other day.
They should be here soon…..