Mayan Prophecy Countdown
Sunday the 15th of July
I woke up to a torrential downpour, so I made a decision to stay here another night, this would give me a chance to try to come catch up on the blog a bit and start to do some trip planning. I have no real idea what to do in any of these big cities that I was heading to, although in Moscow I did have a few things in mind. I guess I was a bit under planned in this area, but a lot of people have mentioned, go see St Petersburg it is a lovely city, so maybe I will do that.
I checked the forecasts though and it is 80% assured of rain. I will make a decision later, today is a rest day :)
Monday 16th July
After I had made the decision to stay another day yesterday and paid up, it of course stopped raining and the sun came out, go figure, but it did give me a chance to relax as I was now in a country where English is not common, so it will be by pointing that I get around. After packing I hit the road around 11am and because the sun was out I decided to head north to St Petersburg. I did not get far before I was flagged down by a passing car, I thought something was wrong with the bike at first, but no, it was a chap called Alex from Melbourne who spotted the Aussie flag, so we had a bit of a chat, he is here visiting his wife’s family, nice to meet you Alex, might see you back home.
The road was in pretty good condition and they were even working on it in some places as well. All along the road at different towns were these stone or metal doohickeys, I am not sure if they are memorials or town names or what, but they put some effort into them :) I stopped for fuel and food a bit later, using my trusty translator App which already had some expressions I had used before, like ‘meat and rice’ and ‘Thank You’. I also had one ‘meat and potatoes’ which was next to the rice one, so although I pointed at the rice dish I got potatoes, it was fine :) One thing of note here is petrol prices, they have plummeted!! Really, I have been so used to paying over $2/litre, in fact in Turkey it was near $3, but mostly above $2, now it is down to 90c, what a bonus and that is for high octane 98 :)
So after a while back on the road again, I happened to spot a cache appear on the GPS, I looked up and thought, I bet it is by that massive monument up there on the left and sure enough it was. I parked up for a look and it turns out the monument is a memorial to the Russian partisan fighters who fought here during the war. The cache was an easy find in the woods, but the mozzies were ferocious and took some killing!
Along the road there are many times where they have a town name, but I cannot see a town. I am sure you are supposed to slow down here, but when I do everyone passes me. So, I stopped doing it! There is no actual town to be seen; in fact, in most cases you will see a bus stop and a zebra crossing, but if you look sideways as you go past, in amongst the trees there will be houses – camouflage ;)
So, after a while it started to cloud over and I arrived around 4pm in St Petersburg in the rain, good on me! I had a hostel in mind and eventually found it tucked away in a side street, it took some effort in the one way streets, but it had a red English Phone box outside, like the Tardis and then I found out they are full up which was a major bummer!
They were helpful though and showed me on a map another hostel, and even called ahead to book a bed, the last one available(something I will have to learn to do, it is summer peak season). I then managed to find my way to the general area, it is down on the waterfront near some tall ships, but it was a one way system and I could not find any signs and had to go around via 20 other side streets to get back to the front. The police had blocked off the parallel street running behind the hostel, there is a movie being made here, of course :) Anyway, I did find the place and moved in, then wandered up town looking for food which I found although it was a cheap joint and not much to spruike about. I passed a wedding place on the way where they had a stretch Hummer parked outside and also passed the Bronze Horeseman, in the rain it was not that much fun, it was not cold though.
Parking was an issue to start with because I could not enter the rear courtyard, due to the movie production, so in the end I just left it out front, hoping it would be safe.
The reason there is no sign announcing the hostel is because they are not allowed to put one up due the age of the building, the only way it is recognisable is by the steps and the two chairs out front! It took some while to get used to hostel type accommodation again, 8 bunkbeds and different sleeping patterns. The sun did not go down until after 11 and it did not get dark until midnight, a lot of the young ones slept during the evening then went out at dark, reminds me of me a while back :) I met a few people, even an Aussie couple who now teach in China and ride a Chinese bike with side car back where they work. I had a few vodkas with them before crashing out when it got dark. They had beer here on sale, but only Grolsh and at $6 a bottle, out of my budget and of course I never had a chance to go shopping or find a bar this evening. No matter, plenty of time tomorrow.
Cheers from St Petersburg, Russia