Heading for the Capital

On our way to Moscow 21st May 2014

So we set off for Moscow, armed with lots of good information from our Serbian friends, where to park, which roads to take into Moscow and most importantly which roads not to use. On the way to Moscow we were stopped by the police  and as this happens many times, the same questions in Russian were where are we going and other questions that we did not understand, the answer was always the same, the word English!  I would point to the stickers on the side of Plodd and they would smile, speak Russian and then wave us on our way. I think the stickers have helped us on many occasions especially at the borders, the customs officers just look and ask with one word Tourist? I would love to say no Terrorist but I don’t think they would see the funny side, so I have not.

Back to the Moscow story, we arrived on the outskirts and found the truck stop our friends suggested we should use (Truck stop R111- on the E2) the cost to stay is 200 RR (€5) a night, we got ready to go out and then caught the 454 bus into the local centre, we decided not to go into Moscow until the next day, we had a drink in an over priced bar where we met Olga a nice friendly chatty girl that said if we have any problems just give her a call. We then went on for dinner to a sports bar, ordered chicken wings to start, they came barely cooked and the local larger was just over €7 half litre (1 pint) so we left and got the bus back to Plodd.

The next day we knew we had to register that we had entered Russia and were staying in Russia, you must do this in the first 3 days of your visit. This is a simple processes you either book into a hotel for 2 or 3 nights and they do it for you or you can pay a travel agent to do it for you. Anyway we first tried hotels and hostels without any luck, we then changed to travel agents, we found a travel agent called Tez Travel close to Red Square upstairs in a shopping centre. The two girls were very nice and they said they had not heard of anyway to register other than book a room, they worked hard telephoning around all sorts of accommodation and then one of the hostel’s they called said that they would do it for €70. The young lady  at Tez Travel said she would call us a taxi and she came down stairs with us and gave the driver instructions and also set the price of the cab. When we got there it was up some dirty horrible stairs (it reminded me of a dosshouse in an old film) the guy said he would do it but could not complete the paper work until the next day, so that was no good, we did not know what to do ?

We walked and walked asked in hotels all fully booked then we sat outside McDonalds trying to find a hotel on the internet not much luck there. So 6pm (18.00) we decided to ask a taxi driver if he could take us to a hotel he said he could and he would charge us €20 so we jumped in the cab the first place was full so he then took us to another place, I would not have let our dogs stay in, we then passed the Novotel (4 star) we asked the taxi to drop us off ( 45 EUROS). We entered the hotel went to reception I showed my gold Accor card and the manager came over to assist, he then told us that the hotel was full, I said well can you just register us? He said unfortunately the company would not allow him to but he said he would find us some accommodation somewhere. We sat having a drink in the bar and about 1 hour later Max the duty manager returned telling us he had found a 4 star hotel a little out of Moscow that had availability. He booked the hotel for us then arranged for the hotel limo to take us to the Countryside hotel, when we arrived we were shattered we sat down for dinner at 10.30pm (22.30) then went straight to bed.

We got up at 8.30am and I asked the receptionist to call a cab, she said we would be better waiting until after 11am as the traffic was simply crazy in the morning. The other alternative than that was we could get a train back close to where Plodd was and then get a taxi. We decided that we would get the train, the receptionist Medy called a taxi the driver came into the station, got us our tickets put us on the right platform and said 4 stops on the train a young girl talked to us and made sure we got off at the right stop (sorry I have forgotten your name please contact us) We got off the train in a field, did we turn right or left off the platform? We did not know so we followed a lady in front of us then she disappeared we stood and a small group of people arrived I asked do you speak English? No so we showed them where Plodd was on our map and said taxi. The man in the group signaled to follow him down this country walkway for five minutes and we arrived at this nice house (the name outside was Sweet Hotel) it was obviously his hotel/home. He signaled for us to sit in the garden then brought us coffee and rose tea. He made a phone call then said in Russian taxi on its way, we waited a little and sure enough a man called Alex in a car arrived we said thank you to our host for his hospitality and got in the car.

We traveled about 15 minutes and arrived at a road that we recognised as the road the truck stop was on. It was only about 1km closer to Moscow so he had to turn the opposite way to travel that 1km it took us 2 hours in the taxi first in the opposite direction then back down the other side of the road, the driver Alex obviously a friend of the hotel owner only charged us 10 euros and was very helpful.  Thanks Alex.

We arrived at Plodd at 11.30am and set off very quickly; at 12.15 we passed the same truck stop we had left from! We finally got on the ring road; this is where our Serbian friends assistance came in. We had had reports from other overlanders that the M5 motorway was in very bad shape and talking to Seb he said he would not like to travel any distance on it and recommended with the other 3 drivers that although the M7 looked a little out of our way it was a much better road to travel the long distance’s we would be traveling. On the next 7 or 8 days we took the advice and the road was in very good shape 99% of the time, we traveled all day making a sandwich while still traveling and did not stop until 7pm (19.00). When we did stop we stopped at a truck stop R110 @ 2 Euros a night, we went in the café next door for a beer and Les made dinner on Plodd.

We wanted to try to catch up with the other vehicles we would eventually be traveling through Mongolia and China with, we new they were about a week in front.

Next day we set off at 8.15am the road was good again then onto a smaller road that was trying to shake Plodd to pieces (not as bad as Moldova but bad) the roads were hard, going from bad to worse. That night we refueled and pulled into another truck stop, we had dinner in the little café, not great but just passable and sat in our chairs in the parking area having a glass of well needed beer total distance traveled to date 11,557 Km.

Dave
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