Russia being Russia

The day started with a breakfast made out of a rice dish. May have been ”lunch food”, but perfect since I ate bad yesterday.

he day continued pretty… interesting. When he was home from Moscow, he usually slept, met his friends and drank. Half past nine we had bought 1.5 litre of Coca-Cola and 0.5 litre of Vodka for approximately 3 euro. Russia has really managed to live up to its stereotypes about the vodka and the driving!

This was also the second time he looked angry, or insulted, as I first said no to taking a shot. I took it anyway, and they looked happier. 

After some vodka, and a shower, it was time to take the bus. I was NOT going to miss the cars again, even if that would mean I would have to wait for them. We went by a statue of Ivan Pavlov, e.g. known for his experiments with conditioning a dog. On the way we passed by a small lake more or less inside the village, and also the local church. Then, he left me on the bus, where I constantly checked Apple Maps for where I was, how the traffic was going, and where I was getting off. I also communicated with the cars, and managed to get their position through Facebook Messenger.



In the end, I was maybe 30-60 minutes early, which was time enough to make me nervous. I bought some water and sat down by the road, listening to music through my speaker. There were traffic on the highway, so they were late, but in the end, I saw some cars I recognised really well! Some hugs, and then back into the Defender, and we were on the way to Sweden again.


We crossed the border to Finland, and went out into the woods to get a good camping spot. I was tired after those adventures, so after dinner, and sacrificing my second shirt, I went to bed early. It started looking more and more like home!


Why start the car when you can make someone else push it?



Most bad happenings lead to new adventures

10.39 the hostel personel came into the room to wake up another person. My first feeling was ”fuuuuuuu-”. I was awake in less then a minute, and started calling my friends, even though I already knew what had happened.

Earlier in my life I’ve missed some transportations. A train from Gothenburg, a flight from Spain. The Spain one was back in 2006. I was 15 and panicked.

This time there was no panic. There was only focus. Find the task, solve the problem, move on, as fast as possible. I knew where the cars were headed. I had to get to the same place they were camping at, or ahead of them, at a place where they could pick me up. After packing my stuff I went to check out.

At the same time Alen entered the hostel. He was also tired, but as he was also leaving (but east instead of north-west), I told him to pack his things as fast as possible and follow me to the train station. We were out in less than fifteen minutes, including the papers we needed to get out of the country which was a testimony that we had stayed at the hostel.

Apparently my train would leave from the same station as Alens (there were five in the area). His would leave a couple of hours later, so he followed me to try and get a ticket for me. The cashier did not speak english, and I was so tired at this moment, and had problems trying to communicate ”fast and/or cheap train to Sankt Petersburg”.  Luckily, in just a few seconds a girl approached us and helped me buy a ticket, which now took less than two minutes. Train with seats only, about 6.5 hours. Now time to fix some food!


So thankful for her help!

After eating some, we went inside the station. I was going to top-up my card with internet to be able to communicate, and Alen went to the bathroom. Somehow we managed to lose each other, so now I was all alone. 😦


Last seen: Moscow 😉

It was only two hours until the train would leave anyway, and I located the place in time to be sure I wouldn’t miss anything. I then found a place to charge everything on, as I didn’t know when I would be able to charge next time, and I didn’t have a plan on where to sleep either.


I got on the train in time, now starting to get hang over. At least the seats were pretty comfy. During the train ride I wrote to the others to see if I would maybe stop somewhere along the way where I could jump off. They went slower than expected, though, so I went on to Sankt Petersburg. There were a bigger stop in the middle of the ride where I went and bought some yoghurt at a place nearby, really anxious not to miss the train.

The man seated next to me started talking to me. His english were neither good or bad, but understandable, so we had a conversation for a couple of hours. He asked about my trip, and in the end where in Sankt Petersburg I would sleep. As I told him ”I’ll solve it on arrival” he told me I could sleep at his place, a couple of kilometres outside of Sankt Petersburg! His nephew would pick him up, so the transport would be easy. I checked the map, and instead of having to find a sleeping place and having to get out of the city the day after, I would be less than 7 kilometres from the highway at his place! A bus, which passed the highway, left from his small town every twenty minutes, so that would be awesome!

I bought him a beer as a small token of gratitude, and we continued talking for some time, before sleeping for some hours. I was still really tired from last night, and it started getting late. We arrived at Sankt Petersburg, where we got picked up, and driven to his place.


He was looking angry two times during my stay there. The first time was in the evening. He was living with his wife (but separate beds) and he told me I could sleep on the make-shift sofa-bed. I told him the floor was no problem for me, and he almsot looked offended. In the end I got a really got place to sleep at. He would do some errands in the morning, but told me I could sleep until nine, and as the clock was around midnight, that would be awesome!

The best worst decisions!

We slept until pretty late, and started making plans for the day. The plan was to eat ”breakfast”, or probably lunch, somewhere in the city, then split ways so I could get a pair of less dirty trousers (mine were muddy from a mud race a week back) and fix us up as good as possible before going out to dance somewhere.




Good morning, cat!


View from the apartment building

Viky and Ilona took us to some place where we ordered pizza for lunch. They drove us back to the hostel afterwards, where I and Alen went to a small shopping mall to get me a pair of jeans. I found a cheap place where I paid maybe 15 euro for a pair that was fitting pretty well. As I still had a clean t-shirt I didn’t have to worry about that.



Passed by this so many times. Good location of the hostel!

To get a bit more fresh, I wanted some stuff from the car. They lived at a hotel a couple of kilometres away, so I went there with their directions posted to me. About going a round for a while I finally found the right street, and a really good-looking car! Apparently, they had not attached the balloons, so no one knew where they were from.


Back to the Hostel to fix myself up. In the evening Viky, Ilona and a friend of theirs joined us for a small pre-party at the hostel before they took us to a club. We stayed there for a while, dancing and having fun, and then going to another club. Alen managed to spill a burning B-52 and I accidentally ordered a ”Captain Jäger”. Not the best thing in the world.

There were some adventures during the night, and I came back to the hostel at 07.40. I was really tired and thought that I could sleep half an hour before going to the others place, as the cars would leave Moscow at 0900. This was my foolishest decision this whole trip.


Swedes and Russians driving around in Moscow

I woke up at around ten o’clock, still feeling pretty tired. I didn’t really have a plan and just took the time to surf around a bit while getting awake. Suddenly someone asked me something like ”Did you have fun yesterday?”, but in Swedish. I was too tired to actually even notice it wasn’t English, and answered in Swedish before coming to my mind. We started talking, and thing guy was on his way east, away from home, while I was going west, back home. He had just started his trip, which was the first big one he had ever done! He told me the brakfast at the hostel sucked, so nothing to do there. I had gotten a tip about a place named Breakfast Cafe from Katya, so I wanted to check that out, and he gladly joined me. We walked by the Red Square and the Kremlin on the way, and this time I could even tell him a bit of history I learnt yesterday! On the way there, we also passed by what I think is a memorial for soldiers.



We decided to walk there, which in hindsight probably was not the most awesome idea. It was really far away, and we couldn’t even find it by GPS, so we asked about the way. After following a lady and her husband for a while, we managed to find the place. I was starving as I had not eaten anything yet, and the clock was around twelve. Therefore, I ordered two plates of food, even though it was pretty expensive. Soon I would understand why it was, though.


Those pancakes were so much, that one more or less filled me up. Then the second one came in. At least we didn’t have to leave hungry! It was really good food, too! I would love to eat it again, if I would ever return.


I felt like getting back to the hostel again, still a bit tired in my legs. Thanks so Slava, I would meet a friend of his, who would bring another friend. I asked if Alen would like to join, and the four of us would meet later!


Back at the hostel, I met some people to talk with. One of them I think had worked with selling Toyota Land cruisers down in Africa, and the other was here on a dance event for a few days. It was a nice chat, and also one of the reasons to live at a hostel.

In the evening, we went out on a small walk, close to the Kremlin, just looking around, before getting to a library nearby to meet the girls up. While waiting we saw people feeding the pigeons, who really swarmed around them.


Neither me nor Alen knew what people we were looking for, so we just looked around and tried to look like we were waiting for people. They were a bit late, but we managed to see two people who looked like they were looking for someone, and we went over to greet them. Viky and Ilona had both been studying in Moscow and were living in town. We didn’t really have a plan, and just asked to follow them around instead. They took us on a sightseeing, for example by the opera in the picture.


We got to see a couple of view points of the city, and also the university of Moscow. The coolest thing, though, were to actually speak about life in russia, with someone who is at about the same age.




We also took a shortcut down a grass area, where we were nice enough to help them down. High heels is not recommended in mud!


Then, they showed us a street racing meeting that was held in town! The legal aspect was so-so, but the police don’t stop them. I first thought I actually saw one of the off road-cars there, thinking why they would take that risk, but coming closer I started see differences in color and gear. Still pretty funny, and the owner liked my pictures from my trip!


Off course people were doing what people usually do at car meetings, including dancing on top of cars and doing burn outs (maybe not the same car at the same time). The atmosphere was awesome, and so many motorbikes also!



We continued the sightseeing, and after another stop, I got to drive! It’s quite a difference driving 3 ton cars in a caravan versus driving a small vehicle through the city. Not as hectic as I thought it would be, at least, and no Russian accidents.


I drove to Ilonas apartment, and the original plan was to get out. It was already pretty late, though, around midnight, so we decided to go out the next day instead. We chilled around, pouring some drinks and talking, instead, and me and Alen got to sleep in the sofa bed instead of having to get back to the hostel!

Arriving in Moscow!

I still had some food left from Kazan, so I didn’t have to go hungry. When going off the train I almost managed to walk away in the one-use slippers from the train, but the mother reminded me, so after snapping a photo of them, I went back to get them. Would have been… interesting to lose my shoes.DSC_7963

As I was connected to Juliya I got some tips of what to do, and also tried to google. I went down the tube, managed to buy a 5-ticket or something, and started my sightseeing. I started with going to a Karl Marx statue, where I also ate most of the food I had left. The rest, some fruit, I gave to someone who seemed to need it, as I didn’t want to carry it anymore. I am not good at history, so most of it I read on the phone while being there, or had Juliya translate for me.


After that I went to the Red Square. I was totally unprepared, but as I still had the help, I knew more or less what I was looking at, and that I should go into the Lenin mausoleum! After a trip around the square and the necessary photos, I waited for the mausoleum to open. He really looked alive, which was quite scary, and I am glad I visited!






As the GUM Department Store is next to the Red Square, I also visited that one. From being a communist building converted to a luxury shopping mall is a pretty big transition.


Next stop was the Arbat walking street, which offered a nice wander. I took a break at ”My-my” (Mu-mu), as I already had walked pretty far. Also saw some sort of advertising thing, I think.


Soon, it was time to meet with my first ”guide”, whom Juliya had contacted for me. I went to meet her at a really cool subway station, located on a bridge!



She first took me to a park with some memorials from old space programs, and then the USSR-park, which was a bit like a show-off from the USSR-countries. It also had some exhibitions about space, cars and military, and we ate some good pancakes there!







She showed me the way to the hostel so that I could lay off my bag, before we went out for more walking. I was starting to get really tired in my legs, but I managed to see a bit more, at least! Among other things we went by a church, the Peter the Great statue in the river and some well-known night clubs, where I got to see a car getting lifted away. Effective way of getting the cars off of the street, instead of clamping them!




As I now was really tired in both legs, back and brain, she followed me back to the hostel, where I went to bed. I slept pretty long, which was really nice, something I did not have had the time to do in a while.

The trip to Kazan

I had now decided to actually leave the group for a couple of days, and go on my own adventures. The plan was to get dropped off at an exit at the highway close to Kazan, and after that hitch-hike in, take a train or catch a bus, as that were the closest our cars were going by.


I had a bit of luck, though, as Fredrik spotted a car in need. They looked stuck at first, but had apparently only emptied their car battery, so we gave them some stating help. I got the idea to ask them where they were headed, and my luck was with my! They were going to IKEA in the outskirts of Kazan, and after I got them to understand that I wanted to go with them, they accepted. On the way there I also got to help them with the way, as they took the wrong exit, and it seems like I am more used to drive by GPS than they were. After rerouting them, we arrived at IKEA!



As I was aiming at taking a night train to Moscow, I spent some time in IKEA. As every IKEA really look almost the same, it felt nice going around, testing furniture, and buying more chocolate. I also planned with Juliya, who, together with Slava, were helping me plan my visit in Moscow for a bit, and gave me tips for a hostel, for example!


It was a little confusing trying to find the right bus, but with the directions from the mall and some people on the way pointing me in the right direction, I managed to get to the right bus with just some seconds left. On the bus there is a conductor who takes payment, and she did not now much english. Many people tried to help me by translating though, and I managed to buy a ticket. Someone also hit the rear left corner of the bus while we were at a bus stop.



After a small walk I was at the train station, and now just had to find my way to buy tickets. This part was not easy. I found the entrance to the platform, and a bagage inspector from the security followed me to the ticket hall, where most things were pretty confusing. I did not know if I could buy a ticket in the machine because of my card, passport or anything else, and were aiming at a ticket booth. They had their break times at at the windows, and most booths differed from each other, so you had to choose a line which will be short enough so you reach the front before closing. When they close ten minutes early and you have one person in front of you, it really sucks, but onto the next line. At least I met a nice girl to talk with, as I think this took a total over one hour.


When it had happened two times, I decided to try and buy from a ticket machine instead. Everything went pretty well, going back and forth to choose the right alternatives, until it was going to print the ticket. I got a recipe at least, and the text ”go to customer service”, or something like that. After standing in another line, they took my passport and recipe (that does never feel safe), and came back with a ticket maybe five-ten minutes later. Now, I was pretty tired of this, and wanted to find a library to just sit and write or surf at, or watch some Breaking Bad.


I asked a couple about the way, and they said they could show me, as they were walking the same way. On our way there, the girl met some friends, which offered me a small guided tour of the centre of Kazan! I think they studied history or something else where they had gathered this knowledge, and they were waiting on a small guided tour in an old library themselves. I gladly accepted the offer, and got a tour by some statues, the university and into the kremlin, inclusive history of Ivan the Terrible and other historical people. We went into a mosque, the Kul Sharif Mosque (where all the girls had to borrow hair covers), and a church, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, if I recall correctly!






After their seminarium, we went to a pizza place for dinner. I had not much time left until the train would leave, so we walked to the train station, buying some food on the way that they though I should taste so I would definitely have something on the train. I also saw some cute modded bicycles outside the food shop.


I got photographs of almost everyone, and the last two went with me through security. The security wanted me to unpack my bag as they saw things in through the x-ray; probably my backup battery or likewise. After a goodbye I was now alone on the train, and went to find my kupe. This long-distance train were without seats, but instead had beds, a total of four per kupe. Some trains have a third class where there are more or less an open wagon with as many beds as possible, or a fourth class, which would be seatings. That would come later, though.


I got some nice people in the same kupe, one young man I did not speak too much to, and a mother living in Moscow, traveling with her daughter who was studying at the Moscow University. I talked with the last two about a bit of everything, including trying to get an insight about all the politics and military moves seen from inside instead of outside the country. Then it went over to talking about TV-series with the daughter, including awesome Adventure Time!

There are showers in the bathrooms which stretch up to the waist. I got some peeling soap from the daughter and took a sitting shower in there; running water is pretty nice, actually. We got dinner served, included, and after watching some Breaking Bad I went to sleep. The bed were a tad too short, though.DSC_7959.jpg

Just driving

This was a driving day, as we needed to gather some distance. We had lunch on the normal soviet type of lunch place, which I never remember the name of.

We went over a dam, and right before, we saw some really big, rusty ships laying on land. It didn’t look like we could explore it though, se we went on.DSC_7847.jpg

Our biggest problem for the day was a road being closed off, so we had to take another road.

In the evening, it was the same routine, and I was chatting with a Russian I met online about my ideas of making some alone travel, as this still did not feel like the right sort of thing.


Muddy off-road!

After a nice breakfast, we got to use the sauna. As expected it was really warm, and I built pretty clever. There is a fire in the ”shower room”, which makes the sauna hot, and also heats the water for ”showering”. When you threw water into the steam thing, it really built pressure inside, and shot steam right out. Genja warned us to not stand in front of it, and we understood why!

For those who felt like it, you could have a cleansing bath afterwards. You are supposed to put yourself under water three times, or something like that. The water was something like 6 degrees, and I did not feel like it. Some were brave enough, though!


We went into the monastery again, and bought candles which we placed at one icon each.

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After eating lunch and packing everything, we went on our way again. This time you could see a bit more!


Fredrik had a plan of going off road, and it was really muddy. It had been raining pretty much in the last week, and after a while it went even worse. As it could be a question of stopping and digging, and there were no ways to get out from this road. Therefore, we decided to turn around, which we did at a small house where we could use the road. We went down to talk with the house owner for a bit, and I really liked the house!


When making the turn, the defender slipped down into the small ditch. It could not get out of there on its own, so we had to pull it up. The first time failed, as the first, rather cheap, line broke. The second time, after a few meters of going side-ways in the ditch, and me driving side-ways on the road, the ditch ended, and the defender came out of it.


As we arrived in a city, we drove out to a small pier and had a look. It had probably been much more nice looking a few years ago, but today it was pretty broken.

We went out from the city and stopped at a restaurant to eat, before starting to look for a camping spot. We went through a storage for wheat and the likes, and after a small stop to enable the 4-wheel drive on all the cars, we came out on a pretty open place. 


We followed the small road until it started going downhill, which could have been a problem with all the mud. The place we stopped at were good enough, and we decided for it to be our camp site. We had a small race down the hill, which ended with me having really muddy trousers. Good fun, though!

Jakob had a kind of fire show, so that we could try and get some nice photos. I managed to get a couple of cool photos, some which you can see here!

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Staying overnight at a monastery

One of our plans for today were to visit some ice caves. I saw a biker with some luggage, and longed even more to make my own trip by motorbike. Some day!


At the Kungur Ice Caves, we first went through the hassle of buying tickets. The cashier did not really speak english, but they had an english speaking woman who would come and help us, and also be our guide in the ice caves.


After a small kind-of-lunch, and some ice cream, we started the tour. First, we went through some ice parts, with sculptures and snow.


It was a couple kilometres to walk in total, but it was left chilly than expected. That, or we took too much clothing with us…


We got to see a pretty trippy laser show movie, with a really creepy voiced bat as the speaker. We didn’t understand much, but think it was about history.


In the end, there were lakes instead. Some of them making illusions of being endless deep, but mostly beautiful. In February, they have some sort of religious tradition of taking a bath in the water.


After the trip we continued driving to a monastery we were going to visit. We saw an old Russian-looking woman on the way!


While driving up a hill, suddenly a big building started appearing through the mist. It was a really spectacular look.


The monastery were not really open at this time but they were having church service in the cellar. A priest were chanting, while everyone else sometimes made the cross-sign. While walking around some of us met a guy who tried to explain something for us, and after using some translation application, we understood he wanted us to stay there overnight. We got to speak with another guy, who spoke to a priest, and we were allowed to. They offered us to sleep inside, but we wanted to live in the cars as usual, and after some explaining we could do that. For a small amount of money, we also got to eat delicious dinner in their canteen!

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He then showed us the “sauna”, which they call something else, as they don’t seem to use regular showers. Instead they have one steaming hot room, and this room on the picture, where you “bath”.

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Reverse on the highway

Before taking down camp, we took a small walk to get some photos of the village. It looked really old and abandoned in the mist!

DSC_7491 DSC_7500Our next goal was Ekaterinburg, where we would meet up with Henric and Catharina again, but before that we went to a building with a lookout on the top.



You could actually see our cars from up there, as we had parked in a convenient spot. As we had seen a big part of the trip through russia, there were people getting married here too, using the lookout for their wedding pictures. Sadly, it was a pretty gray day, but at least the brides clothes shined!

DSC_7525The meeting with Henric and Catharina would be at an Uzbek restaurant, which we had found in Lonely Planet. As it was only a couple of kilometres away we walked there instead of trying to find new parking spots for the cars again. On our way there we saw art and graffiti a little bit of everywhere, including the entrance for Turtles!

DSC_7535 DSC_7539After eating lunch and meeting up with the pair again, we were a full group for now. The food was tasty, and as usual I did not really know what I ate. We got some sort of small jelly desserts though, which were so sweet we could not eat them up! Raw sugar would have been easier.


Our stock were getting pretty low, so we stopped for one hopefully last big shopping spree. It took a lot of time, and while we were at the end of it, I went by Mediamarkt to buy myself a pair of better headphones. Until now I had borrowed Birte’s, and I though she should get them back sometime.

After we had checked out from the supermarket, we ended up with another pretty long recipe.DSC_7559At this point, we were actually still in Asia. That would soon change, though!

As the border between Asia and Europe is the Ural mountains, it is hard to really know when you pass the border. We passed one of the EurAsia-monuments today though, and decided to take a look at it. The small problem was that we saw it too late, and after some talking on the Walkie Talkie we decided to back up the ~60 metres to the parking!

Many people go here to marry, or before/after the wedding, to show that they are one even though they are from different continents, and bond together over borders. Or something like that.


Then, we took hundreds of photos with different poses, kisses over the border and people standing on their hands with one hand on each side!

DSC_7579There were one more thing we would like to visit today, as there were a red river nearby. The first times we went over the river it was not really looking red, though, but we drove into the forest to explore. In the end, we found a small river which looked really orange/reddish. We followed the road a bit more, until we arrived at a small lake!

DSC_7590 DSC_7591Which someone happened to step into…

DSC_7596As we needed to find a place to pitch camp at, we continued driving in the woods. The road were as good as usual, as it had been raining, raining and raining…

DSC_7602We found a spot which, by itself, looked really bad. The ground was not nice, and there were garbage in the woods. As it was late, we decided to camp there anyway, and when the sun broke through we got ourselves some really nice pictures! This is just one of them, it looked really magical in reality.


I was still feeling as I missed something from this adventure. It was just not feeling perfectly right.