A Travellerspoint blog

Exit Russia - Enter Finland

St Petersburg to Helsinki

overcast
View As the Crow Flies Russia 2019 on stevecrownz's travel map.

The 3rd of August saw David and I load up our bikes for the last leg of our Russian odyssey - St Petersburg to the Finish border.

At the border we parted company with Oleg and Julia who, with their two kids had driven our support "van" from Vladivostok with spares and accessories (mostly unneeded in hind-sight) and my German friend Anne took over the driving of the van. Oleg and Julia caught a bus back from the border to St Petersburg then the train on to Moscow to catch their flight back to Auckland.

David and I planned to continue riding all the way to Hamburg, Germany to load the bikes and van into a container there for shipment back to NZ while we flew back via Copenhagen.

Alas, as the saying goes.... “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.... but more on that later.

After two months crossing Russia without any significant hitch, Finish border control presented our first bureaucratic headache of the trip.

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We were a day early, so our Green Card insurance was not in effect until after midnight so we could not enter the country unless we spent a couple of thousand dollars buying all new policies - to give us the extra 8 or so hours cover until midnight.

David and I were stuck at the border for 4 hours before the customs officers decided our insurance "was the wrong policy type' anyway so we had to cough up and buy some more, for about 1500 Euros I believe*

Finally we were allowed through and rode on to our hotel, Jollas89- a great place to stay if you are in Finland.

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Posted by stevecrownz 17:00 Archived in Finland Tagged finland Comments (0)

The Crows & The Crazy Russian Paratrooper

Oh what a night! Don't try this at home.


View As the Crow Flies Russia 2019 on stevecrownz's travel map.

How were a couple of Kiwi lads from the 'Naki supposed to know that Russia's special forces had planned a march in St. Petersburg to celebrate Airborne Forces Day on August 2.....

.... or that many, if not most, of those special forces would be out on the town partying afterwards - rip, roaring, drunk....

.... or that one of the, from an elite paratrooper unit, would want to hang out and get drunk with said Kiwi lads.... on VODKA of course.

Of course we weren't to know.

In the course of a quiet evening out doing our laundry David and I decided to go to the bar next door to the laundromat (to escape a very unfriendly lady running the laundromat - talk about out of the frying pan into the fire!).

So off the the Lockout Bar we went....

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Upon entering we were promptly "accosted" by an extremely drunk, large, vociferous and "affectionate" Russian paratrooper called (what else) Vlad. He stood in front of us when we entered and needless to say David and I were a tad nervous as his spoke loudly in Russian and tried to hug us. Fortunately there was a group of people who spoke English in a booth and they explained what was going on and that Vlad wanted to buy us (not the other way around) Vodka.

What a night.

He even insisted I wear his prized blue beret (no, not the United Nations kind!).

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Posted by stevecrownz 21:36 Archived in Russia Tagged st_petersburg paratrooper as_the_crow_flies_2019 Comments (0)

St Petersburg – Part I


View Ride Europe - East to West on Zamiam's travel map.

So we effectively reached the end of our Sunday Cruise across Russia from East to West in the city of Saint Petersburg

Courtesy of Wikipedia: Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject (a federal city).

Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May 1703. During the periods 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow, which is about 625 km (388 miles) to the south-east.

Saint Petersburg is often considered Russia's cultural capital. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. Many foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg.

Unfortunately, due to our extended time in Moscow we ended up having less time to explore this cultural hub of Russia and therefore declined standing in what were extremely long queues to gain entrance to the Winter Palace (the Hermitage)

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or Catherine Palace.

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We did do the Hop on Hop off Bus and Boat tours and can highly recommend these as a great way to see the city.

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One of the few points of interest that didn't have massive queues was the Faberge Museum. WOW, talk about some exquisite pieces of art.

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Posted by Zamiam 21:15 Comments (1)

Moscow to St Peterburg - 712kms

David gets 742.8kms of ammunition


View Ride Europe - East to West on Zamiam's travel map.

Steve takes the easy route

Given the condition of Steve's leg he made the decision to take the easy route and along with Anne booked himself a sleeper car on the Red Arrow from Moscow to St Petersburg. The train left Moscow just before midnight and rolled into St Petersburg just on 8am the next morning.

Courtesy of Wikipedia: The Red Arrow runs from Leningrad Station in Moscow to Moscow Station in Saint Petersburg. It started its first regular service on July 9, 1931, and has only been interrupted between 1941 and 1943 during the Siege of Leningrad. In 1962, the deep red colour of the train was adopted … The Red Arrow is the most popular train in Russia. In Soviet times the Communist Party elite were carried only by the Red Arrow between Moscow and Leningrad.

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As we keep saying – It’s Russia

  • The train was down to leave from platform 3 which after much searching Steve and Anne were unable to locate – turns out that the platforms trains arrive on have even numbers for arriving trains and odd numbers for departing trains – that’s right the platform number changes – so their train was sitting on Platform 4 which suddenly became Platform 3 – IT’S RUSSIA
  • While searching for their train they were told to find the red one – it turned out that the locomotive was blue and the carriages red – IT’S RUSSIA
  • When they arrived at Moscow Station in St Petersburg they had a lot of trouble getting a taxi to take them to the hotel – after ¾’s of an hour they finally managed to get a ride only to have the price almost double – IT’S RUSSIA
  • The next morning they realised that the hotel was literally just around the corner from Moscow Station, so less than 5 minutes’ walk but due to St Petersburg’s one way streets and traffic some 1.3kms and 20 minutes by Taxi – IT’S RUSSIA

David rides it

In order to get Steves bike to St Petersburg Anne reached out to one of the local Motorcycle Clubs, Normandos MC Tver, and their president Andrey Filchenko kindly volunteered to take Steve’s bike to St Petersburg for us.

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So the next morning Andrey catches the train to Moscow (180kms) and meets Steve and I. In light rain Andrey and I head out into the heavy Moscow traffic on our way to St Petersburg some 700+ kms down the road. (John had already departed as he was heading for Turku in Finland via St Petersburg to meet his shipping deadline).

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The ride was pretty uneventful as far as the roads go, very heavy traffic meaning it took us pretty close to an hour to get 35-40kms out of Moscow onto the toll road. We stopped in Tver where we met up with another Normandos member, Victor Smirnov, who actually organised for Andrey to ride the bike for us. A quick visit to the Normandos club rooms for Andrey to pick up a warmer jacket, an exchange of gifts and to load a couple of bottle of the clubs special brew for Anne and we headed for St Petersburg.

The roads were pretty much multi-lane highway with central barrier with minimal places to stop. So much of the trip was done at a good rate of speed that was only curtailed when we passed a service station that had a sign indicating no fuel for 80 odd kms and my range was indicating a very similar number to empty. That 80 kms or so saw me continually checking both my range and fuel usage numbers – needless to say we crept into the service station with the fuel gauge flashing and range showing ---- (i.e. we were close to empty). This service station turned out to be another variant – no cash option, you took a guess and paid with a card and no change was given! – IT’S RUSSIA

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The highlight of this leg is that I will forever be able to remind Steve that he came up 742.8kms short on riding across Russia!

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Posted by Zamiam 17:55 Comments (0)

Moscow - Part VII - Other


View Ride Europe - East to West on Zamiam's travel map.

Some random shots from Moscow
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Posted by Zamiam 12:56 Comments (0)

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