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Saint Petersburg to Kazan

5 days riding across this vast nation, and we seem to have made little progress.

Our journey takes us into some more remote areas. Here the villages and the roads are dilapidated. Some sealed roads are so badly potholed, vehicles prefer to drive in the dirt, beside the road where possible. We saw trucks traveling at not much more than walking pace, because the road was so bad.

The driving here in Russia is interesting, to say the least. Anyone who has seen any of the YouTube videos of Russian driving will know what I mean.

We’ve seen a few accidents, but a lot more close calls. Some of their antics have left me wondering if they have a death wish. Drivers will pull out to pass, with oncoming trucks bearing down upon them, then pull back into the lane with seemingly only centimeters to spare. I find myself cheering at some of their antics. If there is no room to pass on the outside, they’ll do it on the inside, and no one except us seems in the least surprised.

The open road speed limit is only 90 Kph, but most drivers seem to ignore this, and travel at whatever speed suits them. A much more sensible idea!

In built up areas we sometimes see police standing next to the road with their baton, waving vehicles to the side and checking the driver's details. Whenever we encounter this, we try and be sure we’re in the furthest most lane, preferably with another vehicle between us and the police. We don’t want to tempt fate.

The police have been useful to us though. We were struggling to find our hotel in a shabby area of town, and we’d passed a couple of police, dealing with what looked like a domestic incident in a narrow street. We turned around, and I tried to explain our problem to them, in English, using my best Russian accent (it’s the best I can do, I’m afraid).

Anyway after showing them the hotel name on the GPS, they figured it out, and gestured that we should follow them. They duly delivered us to the hotel gate, whereby I thanked them with a handshake and pointed out that one of their police car tail lights was faulty, and that they should have it seen to. They thanked me profusely, and said they’d get it seen to ASAP. At least that’s what I think they said...

Last night we were in Kazan, a very interesting city with a distinctly Muslim influence. The blue mosque stood inside the walls of the Kremlin, beside other buildings with a distinctly Roman influence.

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