Day 41. Samara, on the Volga.

Well, our foray to find something to eat ended very well. After walking down a pretty grotty road with broken paving stones and dirt, through a dilapidated housing estate, we found the main road and Papa Joe’s pizzeria. A couple of litre jugs of excellent beer in World Cup style containers, and the best Pizza ever. All arrived at with sign language and google translate. The waitress, a lovely young lady of, we suspect, Turkic origin, made a fuss of us, in a totally innocent way.

Last night’s fare and Jen, with charming waitress.

Jen mentioned the hotel room. Rather palatial, compared with the shoebox we were offered first up.  I watched part of four games of the W.C. last night. Watched Aussie being relegated and France and Denmark fight out a scoreless draw but the first few minutes of the Argentina – Nigeria game were electrifying with a Messi goal of brilliance, from nowhere. I felt his position as skipper was affecting his game, trying to direct every movement but his control and strike after receiving a bouncing pass, was exquisite. It was way past 11pm so on that note, I retired.

The air conditioning was working away all night but not a degree less was achieved in air temperature. Oh we’ll. For breakfast, a croissant and cup of hotish water and a foil sachet of tea with little holes all along it. Coffee, likewise. The room rate included breakfast. But hang about. That’s not breakfast! If you want a real breakfast, it’s extra!

Time to leave and we now had to wait till our “papers” were processed!!! Grrr. A total nonsense.

By now it’s after midday and heating up. Rained last night and earlier this morning. The decision was made to head south towards Volgograd by a secondary road, on the west side of the Volga. Trying to program our desired route into the sat nav saw us going via Moscow. A bit like driving from Wellington to Masterton via Auckland! Sadly, the only thing the sat nav is good for is giving an accurate vehicle speed. It’s great for that. We have not really tried to re-address the upgrading of the maps since the last wasted effort, in Murmansk.

Samara is a BIG city. We hear nothing of these places in NZ but they are major population centres. We passed a large oil refinery on the outskirts. Samara was a closed city until the 1990’s as were many others, and the one we are heading for, Saratov. Saratov is the home of intercontinental rocket manufacture. The type that have been providing the power to lift huge loads into space to the MIR space station. It seems it’s also the home of a pretty impressive collection of WW2 military equipment. A brochure that the hotel was displaying in English noted a similar display of military equipment, including the worlds biggest diesel /electric powered  submarine, in a city close to Samara, Tol’jatti but staff know nothing of it, so we headed off.

To say the road was difficult, would be an understatement. It occurred to me, after enduring three hours of bone jarring crawling at 30kph that the tyres were probably too hard with the temperature in the 30’s and the tar starting to melt. On checking, they were a good 10psi too hard and letting them down made a huge difference.

Challenging surface

For the first time we feel we are seeing Russian life in the villages and they have some sort of vitality about them. This is most certainly off the tourist trail, if there is one.

Pretty impressive looking attack helicopter on the roadside.

Tonights camp is just off the roadway, in a clump of trees. Very uneven surface but camp has been made, and we have wifi.

It’s b….. hot and my Jenny is complaining..:) It’s not good to have an unhappy Jenny..:)

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