The big news of the day. Germany 0 – South Korea 2. I loved the cartoon in todays DomPost, the daily newspaper in Wellington. “It’s not the first time Germany has gone to Russia unprepared”…:)
News from Sokrat, the JLR agent in St Petersburg, the parts weren’t sent when they were supposed to have been, so now we have a couple more days to kill in Volgograd. Oh well, it may not be such a bad thing as temperatures are expected to hit 42deg on Sunday, cooling to a respectable 32deg for most of the following week. Lets hope the other “bits” being sent from Moscow are on their way, or have arrived and we can get the Landy back to new again!
Jen mentioned the Military hardware on display yesterday. Some pretty impressive looking stuff and some of it reasonably current. In one of the photo’s I have my hand on an amphibious rubber wheeled light tank. It was the one the NZ army could have bought for a ‘song’ back in the 90’s. We were in the market for a multi-role machine that would be able to be transported in our Hercules aircraft. The contract was let to an American company. My recollection is that when they arrived from G.M. Canada they were a couple of inches too wide to fit in the Herc!! The seconded American that wrote the specs for us, had left the country!! I am sure brother Kelvin will have something to say about that. Kelvin proudly claims the testament to his prowess as a Warrant Officer in the NZ Airforce to the fact that no country was successful in invading our shores during his Reign. 🙂 He rests his case.
Further to my opening quip. We are rather dismissive, or not appreciative of, the Russian ‘costs’ and role during the Second World War. Understandably focusing on our own involvement, wherever that may be. The Russians where bled white by the conflict and our next stop featured massively in that process. What is now Volgograd, was then Stalingrad and the graveyard for an estimated 2 million souls, 800,000 of them German, Romanian, Hungarian and Italian troops. Of the 90,000 Axis troops captured only aprox. 6000 ever returned home and some, not for many years after. Spending their time in the Gulag network. A great read on that subject..Alexandr Solzhenitysn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago’. I am sure there will be more about Stalingrad in the coming days. The irony of the German invasion was that Stalin trusted Hitler implicitly To the point that he refused to believe his own advisers, when they told him that Germany were massing troops and equipment on his borders. Preferring to believe that Hitler would not break the recently signed Non Aggression pact between the two countries. From our point of view. Thank God he did.
On the road again and winding our way through the city suburbs, without Google Maps on Jen’s iPad, would be an interesting experience. With it, a piece of cake. Very warm today, but it seems to be a drier heat. As we track south the countryside slowly changes from crops of wheat and Sunflowers to a more arid landscape. Very little cultivation and no farm animals. Out of the influence of the Saratov administration and into the Volgograd region saw a major improvement in road surfaces.
At around 4pm the need starts to arise for finding a place to settle for the night. It’s getting pretty desolate and the roadside trees have given way to endless scrubby grasslands.
A track to the left. Lets try it. Glimpses of the Volga and the thought of enjoying a remote camp make it a worth while gamble. After about 5k’s of crude sandy track we came to the end of it. A couple of scruffy sheds right on the waterfront show that the track is to someones house and there is sign of habitation! We back up the rise and pull in beside a reasonable sized bush about 100m away to give some shelter from the scorching sun and wait before setting up camp.
Within 15min a car appears from along the same track we came down.
A wave and smile elicits the same in response.
Great. The car heads on down the track to the sheds but returns 10min later…Uh oh, here we go!
Not to worry, he is a genial person and seems to be inviting us to go down to the rivers edge for a swim… Brilliant.It didn’t take long to establish rapport and enjoy a swim, though Jen was worried about the Volga People Eating monster, till she saw it wasn’t interested in me and overcame her reluctance. Refreshed, we can relax and enjoy a wonderful camp. It’s 5.30pm and 33deg
We have seen our first ship heading down river. A bulk petroleum carrier would be my guess. It’s a BIG river.
Sadly we have no internet, so our blog will have to wait for the morrow. I am also going to have to wait to see how my favourite Super 15 Rugby side, Wellington Hurricanes fare against the Canberra based Brumbies.
While this is supposed to be a travel blog, we hope the peripheral comments, observations and opinions are appropriate? They are ours, agreeable or otherwise. There is little more boring than to read about “we did this, or we did that” so we hope that you will bear with us.