Monthly Archives: July 2014

Russia part 2 – Heading South East to Kazakhstan

One of the may wild camps in Russia

One of the may wild camps in Russia

We left Monino bound for Nizhny Novgorod (about 400km North-East). Nizhny Novgorod is home to the confluence of the great Volga and Oka rivers, making it a prosperous town since the 1200’s in terms of trade via water.The roads to get there were pretty shit, but you could still crank 100km/ph in the main. They were narrow, single lanes with loads of trucks which had worn deep ruts into the road. This made overtaking pretty sketchy, and this was compounded by the inpatient and dangerous driving habits of the Russians.

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Russia – part 1 – All roads lead to Moscow

Nice touristy shot of us both outside St Basils', Moscow

Nice touristy shot of us both outside St Basils’, Moscow

The Russian leg of our tour has been at the forefront of my mind for a while and for various reasons:
Reason one: Russia marks the beginning of truly foreign territory for both of us. Neither of us have been before, and even through 30% of Russia (the parts that we will pass through) is classed as European – it is certainly very different to the countries that we are leaving behind.
Reason two: Personal safety. We have been advised by several people that Russians don’t take very well to foreigners of certain skin tones (Just 3% of the Russian population are foreigners) , nor disabled people. SHIT! According to one source there are 60,000 skin-heads living in Moscow alone.
Reason three: Our first actual border crossing. If crossing a border into Russia is as difficult/awkward as obtaining an Automobile Tourist Visa we had our work cut out for us.
So – I am writing this post on our 7th day in Russia. Needless to say, we got through the border crossing!
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Lithuania & Latvia

Monument to the victims of fascism located at the Ninth Fort, Kaunas, Lithuania

Monument to the victims of fascism located at the Ninth Fort, Kaunas, Lithuania

We had just a few days in Lithuania and to be brutally honest my hopes weren’t set too high for what we could see in that time. We were pleasantly surprised. We even extended our visit by a day.
Firstly, everyone was really friendly and welcoming. In Poland, smiling at strangers is supposedly a sign of stupidity!  Having said that the Polish are really lovely but more guarded at first. Back to Lithuania. People were stunned to hear that we were from Australia (“AustraLEE!???? REEEEELY?!” was the phrase of the day). Continue reading

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Poland

Poland was a pleasant surprise for both of us. We both weren’t sure what to expect, I’d spent a few days in Poland before but didn’t have much time so only saw a bit of Warsaw.  We drove directly from Berlin to Warsaw in a day the first stop beginning in the old town, namely Warsaw castle. Less than 30% of Warsaw remained after WWII, it was probably the worst hit city during the war. They even contemplated rebuilding else where it was that badly razed. Warsaw castle was completely razed to the ground by the nazis as retaliation after the Warsaw uprising.

Warsaw Royal Castle
Warsaw Royal Castle

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Germany

We didn’t have all that long in Germany because our Russian visa has been valid for about a week leaving us little time to be in Russia and to cross it. We do however plan on visiting the south of Germany on our way back through Europe after Central Asia.

The Volkswagen factory wolfsburg

The Volkswagen factory wolfsburg

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