How Irish Are The Russians?
Posted by TravellingStrom on July 18, 2012
Mayan Prophecy Countdown
So I managed to catch up on the blog a bit during my stay here in St Petersburg, but my feet were saying get moving, I have the 30th July deadline for my visa and so time is pressing. I did want to spend some time out on the roads east of Moscow, but also spend some time in that city, as a tourist, not as a biker :) I could not leave too early today as my stomach bug(Lenins revenge?) was active and having all the riding gear on with riding boots makes that process difficult, -enough of that information eh :) I was not going to attempt Moscow in a day, it was 750km, which does not sound a lot, but on the roads here that trip could blow out from 8-12 hours, depending on traffic, so my idea was to break it in two.
Finding a nice place to stay would be a challenge, most of the hotel way points I had were for a place called Novgorod, but that was only 200km south. I usually would prefer to do at least 4-500km on the first leg and the remainder the next day, with the tip given to me of don’t arrive in Moscow in rush hour. We would see what happens.
First I had to get out of the city and I had a basic idea of the map in my head, because I do not trust my GPS, it constantly freezes and is very slow to respond to changes, like movement along a street, so if I miss a turn, it then takes ages to recalculate, by this time I have passed the next turn and it tries to recalculate then crashes into a white screen of death!!! Garmin Montana, steer clear of this machine, it was supposed to be the bees knees, but they have combined too many features, software and hardware and made it very prone to bugs and failures, for an adventure rider anyway and that is my experience and opinion.
Anyway, I did head off around 11.30am, you can see where the bike lived for the few days here, not an issue except for some ash from all the smokers that flick their butts on the steps out front of the hostel. I had a lot of squidgy road to ride, and even passed the cause of it, the surface reclaimer machine, stripping the old bitumen off in preparation for the new surface.
It was just after this that I got sucked into the white screen of death yet again. I had stopped at a traffic light next a police car and asked him which way to the main road to Moscow, just for reassurance, well, he gestured left, so I did that and then he got in front of me and pulled me over and tried to help me, a nice bloke :) Except, he kept on wanting to touch the GPS which is very sensitive, as soon as you try and change the map scale, like zoom out and see an overall view, it locks up and gives the white screen of death, check out his face when he did that, poor lad, I felt sorry for him ;) when he pointed to Garmin, I told him what that word really meant!
So, after a bit more chat with him, I was supposed to go up the road then take a right, but I missed the correct one and when I asked an old chap, he pointed back the way I came. Now, there is no signs pointing to Moscow, or south or anything in this part of town. Some of the signs point to major thoroughfares, but I have no idea what they say, so it is a bit of hit and miss. So, another illegal U-turn later(crossing solid white line) I find the correct turn and soon find my way onto the major road. This was the exact same one I arrived on and the difference was once I found the big roundabout with all the statues, I actually had signs pointing to Moscow, from there it was easy.
Now, while I was trying to get out of the city I had not activated my SPOT device. This was to test whether there was any interference between the SPOT and the Garmin which could cause it to play up, of course I proved I had a WSOD even without the SPOT being active and it was in the top box behind my back at the time. I then stopped and turned it on and placed it behind me on my bags, this was now nearly two meters away from the GPS, with my body between so there should be no interference now, if there was any to start with which I do not believe there was.
This was suggested by the people on the ADVRider forum where there is a massive thread on this particular model GPS unit, check it out here . It has now over 4,000 comments, when I bought mine, it only had 2,000 and I read the lot and could see the trend that it was getting better and better by Garmin updating it on a constant basis. I have since added about 50 of my own comments, mainly due to its failures and lack of ‘finish’. Imagine if this was a new release Windows OS(every one of which were buggy) and you were told to use it to run a Nuclear Power station right now. That is how I feel about this unit, released to the market with too many features that conflict between software and hardware and not reliable. OK, enough bagging Garmin, it is my fault for buying it, back to the story, the SPOT is now behind me and in tracking mode and I am heading south.
After a few hours riding I found a fuel station which had a small cafe attached and stopped for some lunch. I was using my pointy finger to try and get food but the serving girl was not understanding my meaning. It took a truckie sitting having his lunch to tell the girl, that he wants one of what he is eating :) That worked wonders and after that I asked these truckies about hotel/motel type accommodation on the road south between Novgorod and Moscow. They said there were some, but the language barrier was still too tall for me to understand exactly what type was available. I decided to see what happens when I get near Novgorod and make a decision then.
It was only a an hour later that I got to the turn off and my stomach told me, go find a hotel now, so that decision was made for me. I found a big hotel, the Intourist, which was quite cheap but they were full, so they called ahead to another hotel near the centre and they had one single room left, so I grabbed it and booked in. This place was the Volkhov Hotel and looked quite posh, although the rooms was a basic one and not that cheap, it had the basics and a much needed dunny and a security guard to look after the bike out back :)
Don’t ask me about that white building, it was weird structure that interested me and I think it was shut down, but I forgot to ask about it later on :oops: Never mind, I now had time to wander around this town as it was only mid afternoon, so I headed down to a market I saw on my way in, on the way I passed a very strong mushroom, it had pushed the bitumen out of the way, maybe it was one of them Mario Brothers super power up pills? ;)
The market was a very small affair, mainly clothing with a bit of food thrown in, so that lasted all of three minutes! I headed to the river and passed a chemist, so dropped in to buy some caffeine pills(No-doze for the Aussies), due to sleeping conditions I have been getting a bit noddy on the bike,(because I have been surviving on about 5-6 hours broken sleep a night), but when I pull over to rest I am wide awake, go figure!! But, having nanny naps while riding is a bit dangerous, so these should help. The wall of bullet proof glass in the chemist shows what is on offer, there is a tiny window where you pass you money through and get your goods in return, very impersonal, I managed with just the word caffeine :) KACCA means cashier
After that I headed down past the big square in front of a major palace style building and a statue of Lenin, and to the Kremlin, which is not unique to Moscow as I found out :)
I just did a basic walk through here, checking it out, most of it was very well preserved, they even found the remains of an old building in 2009 and were still in the process of excavating it. The big cast statue was impressive with very intricate detail on that piece, and the bells from the bell tower were huge, bigger than me!!!
After that I was through to the river where it was like a big playground and inland beach, with beach volleyball and other games, river boat rides and of course another tall ship :) I liked the tree stump carvings, very cute :)
After that I headed back to the hotel, it was surely time for a beer, I had done my 5km walk! I got some info from the desk girls about a bar called the Irish Bar and found a bap, well, it is really a bar, but they use a p instead of an r, so bap it is :) I had a local draught beer for 100 rubles, about $3, which is quite good for a 500ml beer but the place seemed more like a restaurant than a bap and no place to sit at the bar itself, so I went back to the hotel. It seems I had not gone far enough and needed to go another few streets, well, now that it was raining heavily, I took a cab to the bap they told me about and of course, being an Irish bap, it was raining, how silly of me to think otherwise :)
Well, I got a shock here, they do not have local Russian beer, so I ordered a Harp beer from Ireland, I gave him 100R but he said no, it is 300R, crikey nearly 10 bucks for a beer, I made that one last as that is way beyond my budget. I had a nice beef pasta dish and got another cab back to the hotel where I tried to get a beer at the hotel bar. I wanted Russian beer, he offered me Heineken, I said no, I want a Russian beer, he said, it is Russian, it is brewed in St Petersburg!!!! On that Russian/Irish logic, I gave up, I was not in a sociable mood, sorry people, not with it today. I spent the rest of the evening getting a few way points into the GPS, as useless as it is, if they are in there at least I have a kind of chance of finding my way around Moscow tomorrow.
I just read this whole post again and it has been a very negative day for me, but there you go, stomach bugs can do that and being tired on top of that does not help. Maybe things will look up tomorrow :)
Cheers from Novgorod