Russia – 2009 World Tour Progress Report

[Original post by Elliot Mogerman – Transferred from]

Previet Russia
The day before we left Ukraine we were convinced to go have a farewell beer with our fellow hostel roomies and the manager Vitali. First, we went to an underground club that wouldn’t let us in because Mike and I wore flip flops. This upset Vitali because the manager told him to bring tourists and business, we explained tourists do not always have the right clothes, they agreed it would be fine, and then turned us away at the door. So we went to this close by bar that was very eclectic. A fusion of Indian, Persian, Russian, Polish, and a few others. We enjoyed ourselves and returned to the hostel around 2am. Everyone went to bed except Vitali and me. We stayed up eating two different types of pickled tomatoes and a Ukrainian National food. Before for dinner we went to a Japanese restaurant and had the best meal and service in Ukraine. We think it was a chain owned by TGIF. I didn’t eat sushi because I’m holding out for Japan but someone ate a roll wrapped in egg instead of the other choices we have seen in the states. This food is Pig Fat. Yummy. It is processed like a hunk of cheese. You cut it up similar to cheese and put it on bread like cheese.. Throw some salt and pepper on it and chow down. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad. We woke up early and prepared ourselves for a 12 hour day of riding and border fun. Ok, so trying to leave Ukraine was almost another hassle. They tried the declaration crap again on us and was about to start using the jail signal and Mike pulled out the phone and kept saying consulate. They let us go pretty quick. Here’s where the fun begins. If you don’t read anything else, read this day from here. We arrived at the Russian border prepared for hours of fighting and negotiating, etc. The first station of passport verification, 5 minutes right through. The second station for bike declaration, they spoke English, smiled, warm, friendly and helped us with the paperwork. What is going on, this isn’t like Ukraine. Then third station, customs, uh oh this is where they get us. Wait, a really cool business man passing by after us came in and translated for us and 15 minutes later we were on our way to find a hotel in Russia for registration. Oh this gets better. So pleasantly surprised by the friendly attitudes of Russians we met so far, we went for gas. They didn’t speak English but everyone smiled and admired the bikes, Mike let an attendant sit on his for fun. Then the sun was setting and we are running out of time to find a hotel. We pull into a small town and couldn’t find a hotel. We were told we have to get a hotel to register our paperwork asap. Found a group of taxi drivers and they pointed one out across the street. The lady wouldn’t even look at us. So went back to the taxi drivers and the most intoxicated gentlemen wanted us to go to his house for food and sleep. Of course, no one spoke English in this town. We tried to solicit his help. So we thought there was an understanding he knew what we wanted, and he went into the hotel with no luck. Then he gets on my bike and says follow me. We end up at his house and very reluctantly but our bikes in his garage. Then we drove to another “hotel” with a peep hole, locked door and a mail slot. They wanted our passports and paperwork to see what we wanted. We declined and he took us to the police station. Oh vey, now we are thinking they will find something wrong with our paperwork and lock us up. At least we would have a place to sleep. The cops finally tell him they can’t help and we end up back in the taxi driving through back dirt roads up to a house. Mike is like this is it, this is how it ends. A large man came out, the police chief for the town! We went to disturb him with our problem on his day off, hahaha. Anyway, he actually knew registration and told us we have 3 days to get it. With no place to stay for the night the drunk man takes us to a bar. We had a few beers and he was trying to convince us to go to a casino or strip club. We declined again and had to beg another taxi to take us to his house. They all had a good laugh. We get back to his house and his mother and wife wake and yell at him for bringing us over unannounced. Poor grandma looks pissed and wasn’t having anything he was saying. We tried saying we can go, give us the bikes and we will ride away. Then the wife turns to us and begs to follow. She gives us sandals and towels and takes us to an outside bath. Gives us soap turns on the hot water and they both stand there motioning to shower. We try to get out of it, but they were very persistent. So mike and shared our first personal moment sword fighting in these strangers shower while the drunk guy made sure we were ok, I think. Then she leads us to a room with a pull out bed and has it all ready for sleep. Actually, was a comfy bed except for the little miniature Doberman who liked jumping on us while we tried to sleep. First thing, at the roosters shreek at 4:30am we got up and breakfast was waiting for us. Fresh whole mike from Bessy, tea, bread, jame, fresh eggs, he even pulled out the pork slab, which we turned away. When finished with eating she blessed us with water and gave us two saint Alexanders for good luck. Then he gave us, I think, slippers he had when he was a boy, something sentimental to him, for us to remember them by. She went to tend to the farm, and he helped us out with our bikes. Wow, we survived our first Russian hospitality experience. Today, we are riding to Moscow. On the freeway it was like riding through snow with all the pollen in the air. One town smelled like old cheese. There were two semi’s in an accident on the freeway, one flipped on the side and the other on top of the median. We fortunately missed most of a rain storm, the freeway was still wet and slippery and we could see the storm just open up not too far away. Plenty of waves and smiles on the road, and hope we find a hotel tonight. The cop cars here are 7 series Bmw’s. My gps is done for. It broke off a few days ago in some hard riding and won’t stay on even with our rubber bands tying it to the mounting bracket. Oh well. Also, we have stopped relying so much on them because it is about 5 miles off of mapping and makes it difficult to find our destination.