There has been confusion since yesterday evening over the correct time! Dennis’s watch was 2 hours ahead of mine and my iPad and the iMac both showed different times. Asking Google also gave us conflicting information. We thought we had it sorted, but on arrival at the hotel here, the clock was an hour ahead of us and the receptionist advised we must be on Moscow time. We’re still confused!!!
Once again we are not being adventurous and are in another hotel. (No concrete in the porridge, Ash). Two reasons why. England is playing Belgium tonight and Dennis wanted to watch the game, so we needed TV. Second, it is getting very hot. Sleeping in the Land Rover when it approaches 40 degrees isn’t a lot of fun!
Due to time confusion we were on the road early this morning. Once again the road was good for one minute and then atrocious the next. We headed for the town of Engels. Very German sounding you would say, and you would be right. It was originally the capital of the Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic of the Volga Germans. However, the republic was dissolved in 1941 and the Volga Germans all deported? The town lies on the South side of the Volga and is linked to Saratov, on the opposite bank, by an almost 3km long bridge. The Volga is a mighty river. There is a large, sandy island in the middle of the river. Today it was packed with sunbathers and swimmers.
We headed for Victory Park in an area of the city called Sokolovaya Gora. It is a popular area for local Saratovians with views over the city and the river bending around it. Our main reason for coming was the fact that Victory Park is packed with military hardware. Dennis was in his element photographing tanks, helicopters, planes and all sorts of guns and rockets and assorted bits of green metal.
We arrived around midday with the temperature in the high 30’s, to walk around a 5 acre park. Mad Kiwis and English Women springs to mind! In the middle of the park was a museum, which we decided to visit, more for it’s air conditioning than the contents. The museum was in 2 parts. One dedicated to the military and the other to the workers. No English spoken and all the displays in Russian, so not hugely interesting. One of the ladies checking our tickets spoke German, so I asked her if this weather and high temperatures were normal. Most definitely not was her reply. Most unusual. The authorities have issued a warning to World Cup visitors not to drink too much alcohol, but to drink plenty of water as the temperature in Volgograd is expected to top 40 degrees for the game there today. Over the weekend it is expected to be 41 or 42. We arrive on Saturday and have booked a hotel for those 2 nights. We’re also hoping to catch up with the spare parts which were sent out from England and arrived in Saint Petersburg after or departure. The parts have been sent on to the Land Rover dealer in Volgograd and are due there on 29th/30th.
Yuri Gagarin, the first man to travel into space, lived and studied in Saratov. He also landed (crashed) his Vostok 1 capsule nearby, after his much lauded flight.
Our hotel room this evening is small but perfectly formed. Air conditioning, fridge, flat screen TV, good shower etc and all for £21, NZ$40 – less than we were paying for campsite fees in countries like Denmark and Norway. No restaurant though, so we will venture out soon to look for sustenance.