The World's #1 Russian, Ukrainian & Eastern European Discussion & Information Forum - RUA!

This Is the Premier Discussion Forum on the Net for Information and Discussion about Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Discuss Culture, Politics, Travelling, Language, International Relationships and More. Chat with Travellers, Locals, Residents and Expats. Ask and Answer Questions about Travel, Culture, Relationships, Applying for Visas, Translators, Interpreters, and More. Give Advice, Read Trip Reports, Share Experiences and Make Friends.

Author Topic: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17  (Read 904 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« on: June 05, 2020, 03:47:19 AM »
Some of you might know that I spend a lot of time in Sochi, Russia and quite like it !

I've frequently toyed with the idea of doing a road trip and now I'm leaving the UK to drive across a few European nations and HOPEFULLY - I'll be allowed into Russia to hand deliver a letter from the Mayor of Cheltenham to the Mayor of Sochi -  I studied and live 20 mins from Cheltenham -  when in the UK and I've been working on a project with Russians on a concept of mine that they have helped me bring to fruition

Michael - one of my colleagues and native of Sochi is taking his life in his hands and driving back with me  - he came to Sochi to bring the pre-production prototype to test and we will give it a good 'trashing' on the way back.

Our journey will end with the handing over of said letter and we will drive to Sochi Autodrom's Formula 1 track - where our journey will finish in the pit-lanes

I'll update here as we cross Europe and you'll be able to track us as we cross France, Belgium, Germany, Poland .....

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2020, 03:50:10 AM »
15th Nov 2017

We left Cheltenham for Sochi



We met with Cheltenham's Mayor and took a letter from her to Sochi admin

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2020, 03:59:37 AM »
Misha ( Mikhail ) is a brilliant programmer and had never left Mother Russia - despite that - he can speak near perfect English and has a vocab that excels most natural English speaker.

Whilst the reason for the trip was to test a piece of kit they made on behalf of myself and a fellow Brit - before putting it into production - we also wanted Misha to see places he'd dreamt of.   

Sadly, Paris was a bit out of the way - but on our drive from Cheltenham to Dover  - having met the Mayor of Cheltenham - we drove through London - and he took in the Houses of Parliament, The Shard, Tower Bridge and much more.

He had seen English villages, Welsh mountains, Manchester and met some Russians settled in the UK

Our device was supposed to prove that our device could roam across EU states and we discovered that when we got to France - that we were 'last seen' in the English Channel :)



So, instead of enjoying the sights - Misha ended up finding out why the sim card failed to roam and we went out to eat late.

Bruges/ Brugge in November isn't a high tourist season and lots of places were closed - plus I was reeling at how weak the  British Pound was - so stuff seemed expensive

We walked past one restaurant and the blonde lady waved us to come in from the cold - it was empty and we nearly felt sorry for her ..

Turned out that she was an adopted orphan of Chernobyl and although her name was Stephanie - it was actually Svetlana - her adopted parents changed it..  The food was great and we were glad we accepted her invitation ....  tomorrow would be 3 countries in a day and a LONG drive to former East Germany

(Cont)


Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2020, 05:33:55 AM »

Day Two of the road trip:

Misha - doesn't like getting up early - he is an Owl and I'm a Lark .... I want to drive in daylight - he's been programming half the night - having just of something else very clever that is beyond my tiny brain

We leave Brugge / Bruges and have the usual 'discussion' as to which sat nav prog is correct - Waze v Google Maps and the cars built in Sat nav ... ( as the car is 5 years old - this is the first to be dumped )

As Misha isn't and cannot drive - I am 'forced' to accept his google Map taking us back WEST - when we are supposed to be going East...

Our destination is Magdeburg - in former East Germany - chosen as it hosted the former equiv to Cheltenham's listening centre ( GCHQ) ...The sat nav tells us it is over 420 miles  ( about 6 hours 45 mins)

http://www.rac.co.uk/route-planner/l/sEBs



All was good until we hit the Antwerp Ring Road and 'parked' for 30 mins in a traffic jam..  We hit another traffic jam in the Netherlands - but it allowed us to observe how our devices sim cards - 'let go' of the last nations cell towers and figured out which network to choose in the new one - the tracker and reporting functions take 3- 5 mins to 'swap' ...  So now you know why when you land in a new country's airport- why your mobile ( cell) phone takes a little while to figure out which network to choose..

By now it's 1400 and only 2 hours left of light ...  and Misha wants to stop at Eindhoven - as it's a Programmer's 'Mecca' - some guy I've never heard of - sorry Misha . 





We couldn't drive the car onto campus - so we walked around and found a place that rents rooms for biz meetings and they were just finishing serving lunch - cost 14 Euros for the two of us ... BEWARE - in NL Visa cards are rarely accepted - had to run to the railway stn to draw cash from the Visa !!



By now it was 1500 and not much light left for Misha to see places - so we crossed in Germany after Venlo and looked for signs for Hannover....   It was now Rush hour and it wasn't until after Dortmund - that the traffic jams ( Staus?) were behind us and the trusty turbo diesel was allowed a quick burst on an unlimited speed section - we saw an indicated 120MPH - and that was quite enough for me and settled down to 80MPH ( 130 Km/h)

We zoomed past Hannover and started seeing signs for Berlin and finally Magdeburg...I had stayed there in 2000 - my car had broken down on the autobahn and I had Euro breakdown cover - and found it depressing - but in the light of street lamps I hardly recognised the place - such was the construction development ..

Our hotel was on the south side of town and we arrived at 2240 - having stopped at Herford at a Turkish Restaurant - and filled up for the fist time since leaving Cheltenham - we had done 650 miles on the tank and still had over 80 left...  The car was proving incredibly economical at prolonged high speed - interspersed with traffic jams.

I was dead - and Misha went for a walk around the village - amazed that everyone seemed to be in bed ))

Tomorrow would be an 'easy' day at the wheel - a spin around Berlin - v.interesting for Russians - and onto the hotel - bordering with Poland

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2020, 10:15:19 AM »
It was HARD to wake up - and we made breakfast - JUST before the 10AM deadline!

In my rush to get back, have a shower and get us on the road, I left my 'man bag' on the chair adjacent to where I sat and one of the workers knocked on my door - returning it - before I realised I had 'forgotten' it...

She looked Slavic and I just said "Bolshoi spasibo", instead of "Vielen Dank" and the lady broke into a smile and said - in Russian - "I THOUGHT that you were Russian - or spoke it".....    All my money, passport stuff, driving licence and much more was in that bag - so she saved my bacon.

We checked out and I asked the owner to pass on my thanks - again and we set off - eastwards - to Berlin - crossing the mighty Elbe - that was winding it's way to Hamburg and the North (?) Sea.

After yesterdays - full tilt autobahn session - I wanted to break myself in gently.  This was just as well as I had been having no calls on my mobile ( cell ) phone - yet the data worked(?!) and someone from the Director's office called - as it was now clear that I was 'barred' - yet my bill was up to date..  We stopped by a roadside - made some more tests - so he could hear the messages - using another mobile and agreed a hearty compensation package.

My office - at home - has a IP phone system - so that calls are forwarded - at no charge- to my mobile phone which has a UK, Russian and US landline tel number - so the extra data and financial compo was a bonus and allowed for more IP calls.

We picked up the autobahn and headed off for Potsdam - south of Berlin and the plan was to park the car and visit the Reichstag ( Their Parliament Building ) that's fall was / is so key to many FSU folk - who family suffered in 'the Great Patriot War' ( WWII)

We entered via the old Checkpoint Bravo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkpoint_Bravo)

Potsdam was beautiful, but we needed to find a toilet and settled on a new shopping centre - cost 0.30 Euro Cents -but was worth it. I also bought a USBcable for an old Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Tablet - the fitting to the tablet is weird - and we put iti nto action as our SatNav screen - I had atttached a metal shhet to the cover and a mag mounted fitting to the windscreen - now we could BOTH see where we were going - more later )

I spotted a tyre ( tire) specialist and asked how much winter tyres were for my car ( 640 Euro !!!) - This just made me more determined to push on

We drove into the centre and found it was nigh on empty - and we parked within 200m of the Reichstag - you'd NEVER be able to do THAT in London..



Then we made a HUGE mistake - trying to get out of Berlin on a Friday night - eventually - Misha found a recommended restaurant in the suburbs and BOY was it good



After the meal - we headed off to where I THOUGHT I had booked the hotel - near Frankfurt -am-Oder - not Frankfurt ( am-Main) - on the banks of the river, marking German-Poland border

I had boobed - it was 30Km north of Frankfurt and we would have to go due south - before finding a bridge over the river - but the journey - through old E.German villages was interesting - but as we neared the river - Fog came down.

We found the place - and I was scared that they might not take cards - we had little cash - it being in the middle of nowhere - but didn't have worried . The hotel owner was Swiss- a GREAT cook and he had decent internet - a card machine and I tried a local Schapps - only a little - with a wonderful tart









We woke up to find the fog gone and wonderful views across to Poland. I brought the newly acquired cable into play - got the Samsung tablet up and running and saw we had an hours drive south - before we could head east (( 

We were heading for Warsaw, Poland

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2020, 10:17:53 AM »
So we hit the autobahn and headed west over the  Oder to Poland - unlike the other EU borders - France - Belgium, Belgium-France, etc we had go slow but weren't stopped...

The level of traffic had decreased and the roads were great.  Warsaw was about 5 hours drive at 120 Km ( 80  MPH)

Miles of forest ensured and undulating hills - interspersed with tolls - t cost us £20 ( approx 28 USD ) to get to the outskirts of Warsaw and our hotel - The Marco Polo was in the southern suburbs.

We passed the airport and Misha reminisced how that that had been the place were he first stepped outside Russia - en route to Britain! It had taken him c. 3 hours - not 4 days ))

The hotel was pleasant and I went out to get some more cables - to allow Misha to program and I saw something move in the ditch beyond my car - Wild Boar !



*I*  had never seen them so close and they were more frightened of me . It was a surprise to see them in the suburbs of a capital city ..but an old University friend tells me it is common in  Rome, too !



We looked at the map and realised that our days of 100 Km/h were finished and I booked an extra night in Lithuania - moving back our stay in Latvia - last night before Russia -  one day

We ordered a Pizza - as Misha wanted to do another software update - and crashed ... The device was broadcasting our location and had only used 1 MB / day - despite reporting A LOT of info - every 3 secs about the 5 sensors present- Misha was trying to reduce the data necessary and power consumption

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2020, 07:44:48 AM »

After a pleasant breakfast - we set up from the Marco Polo Hotel  - did you know the Silk Road historian was Polish ? and headed north-east to Lithuania - our plan was to stay over in a hotel near Kaunas.

http://www.rac.co.uk/route-planner/l/sE7r




The car had been behaving perfectly - It is a 5 year old Vauxhall Insignia - a GM model - a 2 litre diesel auto estate ( station wagon ?)   It was bought in Misha's presence from a dealer on the banks of the River Mersey - opp. Liverpool and Misha had been amazed at the range and swift changes in British accents. 

We had deliberately put on 400 miles to prove that any issues we might find would show up and all seemed good. She was certainly economical - even at high speed.

The roads became poorly surfaced - esp as Misha decided to take us virtually 'off road' to avoid some road works and delays )

I could feel layers of salt and grime building up (( We had filled up - second time - just before Warsaw and I tipped the guy for cleaning my lights.. This was the first time we had to pre-pay ..In W.Europe we pay AFTER filling up - this had seriously shocked Misha ))

Our progress was SLOW and we stopped for lunch in the middle of nowhere and only had Euro in a nation that had not joined the Euro. The owner confirmed that no credit / debit cards - but that she would accept Euros.... So tea and Schnitzel were ordered and  - once again - we were blown away by the quality of the food.



I was getting dark when we came out and there was nearly 3 hours to go and it was drizzling and miserable.

Those of you examining a map will wonder. " Why are they heading North East when they want to head South West ? .....   We had to avoid Belarus and Ukraine - I needed a Visa for BY and Misha had no desire to import and export the car three times..

The last town in Poland marked some impatience on my part - we were stuck in a convoy of lorries ( trucks) who took roundabouts at a snails pace and I wanted to put my feet up... I saw a chance to overtake - but the road started to go downhill and the speed limit dropped 20 KPH ........  I was doing 19KPH over the new limit as I was caught by the Police radar and waved over to stop (((

A fair cop and I was an IDIOT - I had obeyed all the laws / limits and been patient ... I have a clean licence and no speeding tickets in 35 years !!

In Poland non nationals must pay immediately - in the local currency - so I followed the Police car AWAY from the border and had to pay £23 - approx 30 USD and got a receipt.

Now, I was disappointed in myself and the weather was getting colder and we didn't have winter tyres ... ( we had all seasons )

I pulled up at the hotel - it looked OK in the dark - had a beer and an apple tart - admired the size of the room and crashed....

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2020, 07:46:17 AM »

I woke up in a king size bed - no single for once - and saw it was sunny and the hotel had lovely grounds. 

Went downstairs for breakfast and was stunned to find river views and a lovely fire and my huge room cost just £28 ( 34  USD inc breakfast)






http://www.youtu.be/Odp5apCVZIM

The staff were clearly Lithuanian  - less Slavic - and Misha has 'fun' trying to understand the menu - even though there was an English version - Russian came last ! They were very friendly and Misha would not let on he was Russian - forgetting he had let them see his passport when registering )

We set off for Latvia and it was clear - but cold - the rain and drizzle were gone.

Our target was Kraslava - a town in Eastern Latvia - that I had only heard of first hand from a Latvian Russian lady in Cyprus.  In Latvia and Estonia the eth Russians were not given passports when the Baltic States left the Soviet Union and I was interested to see how things would be.



We crossed mighty rivers and made slow progress- as was paranoid about sticking to the speed limits  - much to the chagrin of lorries ))   We found one 3 mile long stretch of dual carriage way  on the whole journey - over-taking many lorries  who we had frustrated earlier !!

The road to Latvia took us through beautiful but desolate country....  Xutor ( tiny settlements ) interspersed with lakes and forests

We entered Latvia - feeling a change in surface and not much else. We really need to find a 'rest-room' ...  The first town was Daugavpils on the might Daugav- that rises in Russia - transverses  Belarus and enters the sea - north of Riga.

We were silent as it was approaching dark - but seemed eerily depressing. 

I knew from Cyprus' Svetlana what to expect re the locals speaking Russian- but it was a big shock to Misha - he asked in English how much for the toilets and the lady looked at him - clearly not understanding - So *I* asked her in Russian and she smiled and told us 30 Euro cents ....

EVERYONE spoke in Russian - but the adverts and wall mounted menus  in Restaurants were only in Latvian- Russian in menus came third - after English ...bizarre considering the prevalence of Russian

We tried to find a place to buy a late lunch and in the end settled on a Chinese !  It was really good - but then we discovered our device was showing that we were outside Daugavpils - clearly it had failed to roam from Lithuania to Latvia (

It was too dark to diagnose and 45 minutes further to our stopover - Kraslava ... We ran parallel to the Belarus border before entering Kraslava and found we were the first place when crossing into the town - this wasn't a hotel - but someone's home - they lived on the ground floor. They spoke Russian in preference to Latvian - but not much English - but at least Misha was back in his 'element' -so to speak

We had been using booking.com - as Misha had to prove where he was staying to get his Schengen visa -  they had even asked for the details of the car and driver's details ! All the places we had stayed at were great and this was no exception.

Misha spent much of the night trying to figure out WHY the sim card hadn't roamed and the UK network provider would only open  a case - if we agreed to stay in Latvia five days:))

WE changed to another UK provider and all was good and ready for the morning- We planned to get breakfast - try to buy insurance for Russia- I had 30 days basic cover on my policy ( BEFORE the frontier.) I slept like a log..

Tomorrow would be Mother Russia, proper - or so we thought ...fate was about to take a bizarre turn and BITE us

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2020, 01:02:20 AM »

We woke up to snow - a very light covering and it was still showing - Donhollio From Winnipeg, Canada) - roared with laughter at this photo I posted on facebook - I dreaded driving in snow - and was trying to get the northerly stage finished to be able to dive south seeking warmer climes.





We walked in to town - early - bought some provisions and learnt that only Latvian reg'd cars could buy superior insurance cover beforehand and we set off - leaving Vladimir and Ludmilla's kind hospitality - to buy a Fire Extinguisher ( Co2 / powder ) and superior first aid kit - required by Russian law for cars.

Having bought these items at a garage outside of town - we headed north and east to the RU border - again seeing signs pointing out we were in a 'border zone' - as we first paralleled Belarus - then Russia.

Then the snow started falling ..... and we were on a minor road to cut a corner and test the roaming of our device - buy allowing it to switch between three countries..

The device worked fine - but I was thinking - BUGGER - I may need to splash out for winter tyres - as I followed in the tracks of a lorry - the only only vehicle that had passed recently. It turned out to be a bus !

We spent an hour on bumpy snow covered roads that turned to muddy slush covered roads and the snow stopped and the temp rose to 4C ! I longed for smooth, treated roads and the border.

Eventually, we spotted a tall observation tower on the Latvian side and passed the second car we had seen in an hour - before hitting the 'highway' to the border......  Isn't it funny how countries welcome you with grand highways that peter out into bumpy roads?  Well Latvia seemed to be saying, ' Good bye'  - with a wide, two laned each side motorway - with overhead gantry signs...  There were few vehicles - until we hit a line of trucks....We could see the border ahead and waited in line...then observed two cars flew past - so we tentatively followed and found that there was a queue for cars !

We stopped at the fist barrier and was asked how many people in the car, and given a number - the barrier was raised and we stopped at a white line where cars were stopped by customs - before the driver and passenger(s) go go to a second window - to have the documents for the car and passports taken by customs - and be on their way to the Russian side

Our turn came and a young chap - who spoke Russian better than English asked for our passports, my drivers licence and car docs -  he took them over to the first booth and entered into a chat with a superior.

After an age our vehicle was checked and searched, including a careful examination of the car's engine number and VIN plates were were made

All seemed OK...

But then the more senior guy came over and said, "These documents do not prove you own the car"..

I was wasn't concerned- I had checked - I had bought the car 10 days earlier - had the new buyers half of the UK V5C car's documentation -  a new one is issued within a month - the debit car receipt and invoice, MOT certificate showing the VIN number tying the car to the vehicle and my  insurance docs, plus my driver's licence matched the address to which the V5C - car log book...

" The Russians will not accept this - you cannot cross" - he continued ... There followed a my repsonse - translated into Russian and a compromise was agreed - I could obtain a Temporary Vehicle Registration Document - by email from the UK Driver Vehicle Licencing Authority ( DVLA) and they would allow us to cross on foot to the Russian side - to see if THAT would be acceptable.

A kind lady in the customs office allowed us to use her PC and I emailed scans of docs to the DVLA and digitally signed a doc giving them permission to send the Temp Reg Cert to 'another' email address- other than mine which was on their files.

During the wait - we were given only 10 mins more - before we would be 'refused' - but a further 30 mins was negotiated - no thanks to the kind lady - who spoke v.little English - but I could speak in better Russian and Misha filled in the holes. She had a sister living in Edinburgh - all seemed good and the Temp Reg Docs for the car were printed off. It quite clearly showed it is valid in all EU countries



Confident that all would be fine - or at least we would get a chance to ask the Russians we handed the Docs to a Police Inspector and waited...



He returned and asked me to sign a document in Latvian that said, I was being refused transit and that I had not proved ownership of the car and was being fined - he was being kind by making it the minimum - 3 Euros

Now, bearing in mains I had checked the Docs situation - as we left before the V5C change of ownership doc arrived - and that the Docs I had would be accepted - this was indeed a surprise and I refused to sign the doc.

Now, the inspector was not amused - but he went off to his office and I called Europa Direct the citizens help line - who told me my Docs were good and to call the U?K embassy - who told me to contact a lawyer - who told me to insist on English translations of any 'infringement' and not to sign

The inspector came back to check - we informed him of our stance - shrugged and disappeared.  20 minutes later we decided to go to his office  even though the door was marked - staff only - and enquired if we could go to the Russians to ask if they would accept our Docs ?   "No, your have no proved to me this 'Temporary Registration Document ' - anyone can just can a false passport or document" .. It was pointed out that we had used a Latvian customs email address - which the DVLA had checked for authenticity and that is always emailed. ..Plus that we had plenty of evidence tying the car to me

He offered a compromise - he would issue a warning and I could write my disagreement and have 10 days to appeal. This was agreed.

Another 15 minutes ensued and I signed - with my protest and we got in the car headed to the Russian side- but having to do  a u-turn within 20m  - as the form I signed stated that we would not try to cross the frontier pending production of an original document ...

We handed back our number - given so long ago on arrival - and headed back west - with Misha checking for accommodation - It was had to drive given the rage I felt inside - we knew of others who had crossed in the same circumstances.

I wasn't thinking straight and when stopping to withdraw cash for the accommodation at the ATM - managed to lose a Bank Debit card - didn't realise until we got to the hotel - and couldn't care - I just stopped the card - having moved any funds in the account to a saving account - found a company that could courier the V5C doc - that had ironically arrived 1 day after our departure -  and crashed ..

Online andrewfi

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 18598
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
    • Articles About Almost Anything!
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2020, 09:54:14 AM »
You got stopped in a very common place to be stopped. I think they often have a car and a motorcycle working there to catch people in cars on a sharp downhill slop and bend with a crafty speed limit change. That's what got me overtaking a black car between two trucks. The car had waaay too many attenae on it and as soon as I passed it I expected to be stopped.

Given the speed limits and the type of road it's just not worth trying to overtake trucks. Get past one bunch and there's another just ahead. These days I set cruise control to match the trucks in front, keep my distance and relax.
...everything ends always well; if it’s still bad, then it’s not the end!

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2020, 11:17:07 AM »
'Cruise control' on E.Poland's roads before Lithuania ? ;) .. Too many small towns and roundabouts ..((

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2020, 11:51:04 PM »

We took separate rooms at the Motel Golden Fox - run by Vladimir. having booked, initially for three nights.

This part of Latvia was not like Kraslava- although 45 Km from the border crossing point with Russia - it was in the border zone and might have well been like the Moon - Most of Vladimir's passing trade was traffic heading to from the border.



His place was fine - but in the middle of nowhere- he provided us with a list of places to eat in the nearest town -Rezekne - and we went in to buy some provisions, while back in the UK the form V5C awaited collected by courier.

Again, most folk spoke Russian or swapped between Latvian and Russian - but all the signs / ads were in Latvian. 

We returned to the the 'lunar' landscape of the motel and I received a msg from my next door neighbour to say the package had just been collected by FedEx - but the driver had said, " no way will this be delivered next day"

In my haste I had used a an 'aggregator' / broker firm to arrange the courier and contacted them to advise what the FeEx driver had said - they simply said "Let's see what happens - as it is scheduled for tomorrow by 18.00 - even though I pointed out that FedEx had written and confirmed that there scheduled delivery was FIVE days to that post code on the service ordered.

Hint - do not trust Parcelhero.com and read the Google reviews - not the review service the firm pays for - this review industry has to be THE biggest con

FedEx confirmed there was no way to hold at depot - when the parcel arrived in Riga. (((

Misha was in his element - he now had the time to check the issues with our devices' sims roaming in Latvia and suggested this was a positive thing )) 

I was receiving photos from the beach in Sochi and it was minus something and a freezing north wind with us ((

We went into Rezekne to look for a place to eat - one place had five stars and the others ...?  Well, average ratings..

We found a place that did OK food - the menus were only in Latvian - but the girls spoke Russian - Misha wasn't happy with his soup - thinking it smelt sour - 'going off'.. I'd have ate anything )

We drove home and I awoke to see the docs were leaving the UK... destination unknown - could it be that ParcelHero were telling the truth ? ..

Online andrewfi

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 18598
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
    • Articles About Almost Anything!
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2020, 05:50:45 AM »
Mystic, we each drive differently. It seems likely that you have a much different driving style to myself and also a different type of car.

It helps on these runs that the truck drivers with whom one must match speed also use cruise control. One simply becomes a part of a road train. Much more relaxing, much safer, more economical and no slower than a more intrepid driving style.
...everything ends always well; if it’s still bad, then it’s not the end!

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2020, 06:06:39 AM »
Mystic, we each drive differently. It seems likely that you have a much different driving style to myself and also a different type of car.

It helps on these runs that the truck drivers with whom one must match speed also use cruise control. One simply becomes a part of a road train. Much more relaxing, much safer, more economical and no slower than a more intrepid driving style.

1/ I wasn't going to bother pointing out that the stretch of road where I got done was along straight..no bends and the trucks were accelerating  from a series of mini roundabouts

2/ my driving style is much altered from my younger days, much less reliance on the need to be somewhere 'on time as I simply call ahead and say..I'm going to be late...

The clue was in my ( up to then) lack of driving transgressions...

Your 'advice' re using 'cruise control shows me that you cannot have been using my route or are confused as to the place.  IT
t's not a place suitable for  adaptive cruise control.

I was a simply a dick head and it was a fair cop..

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov - Dec 17
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2020, 07:14:19 AM »
During the night the document had travelled from the UK to France, to Sweden ! It was -again - confirmed to us ( by UK FedEx)  that FedEx didn't deliver to our post code - it would be passed to DPD and ParcelHero were proven to be TOTAL shysters ...   There was NO WAY we'd see the package today..  nor could we hold it at a depot for collection before the weekend ((

We were supposed to be in Sochi in four days time - so we needed to re-think objectives....

Misha came up with a blinder .." Why don't we test how our device works on a train?"  He proposed putting the car on a train to Sochi !! The Service works from either St Petersburg or Moscow, to Sochi - but the car couldn't be booked until IN Russia ..  This would avoid the snow on the way south - if only we could get our document - as we could not 'exit' Latvia without - in theory - breaking a law.

The day passed slowly - with much denial and obfuscation from Parcel Hero as to the service they advertised v being able to sell - they STILL showed an order placed to our post code in Latvia would be delivered next day

In the evening we tried a restuarant in Rezekne that had been pannned - on the basis it could only get better... All was fine - until the butter turned up with human hair in it ....  We had alrady ordered - so advised we would pay for the drinks and eat elsewhere.

The poor waiter was v.understanding and we got 25% discount on the drinks

We ate in a burger bar - noting that half the places in google had closed down....As I sat in the freezing fog, at traffic lights - I had the strangest thought .."I could be suicidal in this town" ... and I laughed out load - having to explain my bizarre behaviour to Misha - who had a quizical look on his face ....   Incredibly - he had had the same thought !

We got 'home' - having bought some medication for Misha as he had been feeling unwell - possibly another reason the enforced stop - might - just might have been a 'blessing' ... 

Vladimir - the Motel owner - asked about the progress of the package and  on checking email updates saw that it was now in Helsinki !

Now only Estonia and the Baltic lay in our way - and he worked out that it would arrive in Riga just after we woke up!  He took our consignment number and promised to call Riga - early - in the morning

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2020, 07:26:03 AM »
I awoke early and saw Vladimir was up, too bringing in logs for the fire. There a was biting north wind - but the temp was +1C !

On seeing me, he called FedEx at Riga airport and spoke to Zane - in Russian - the package was there - awaiting DPD to collect for delivery Monday / Tuesday and she agreed to hold it - I just needed to show ID  - RESULT!

Riga was the 'wrong way' - but it would save another 4 days wait ..   Within minutes we were on our way and thanked Vladimir )

We had no idea want awaited us - but we had to try. Riga Airport was 3.5 hours the wrong way....(

Our old friend the Daugav River reappeared - and was to our right as we approached Riga - some beautiful summer houses on the banks..


We got there at lunchtime and Zane greeted us with the docs - BIG RELIEF ! ))

On the way out we passed a HUGE selection of rusting old Soviet aircraft from Supersonic 'Backfire Bombers' Migs, Helicopters and transport planes - it was forbidden to take photos - so I searched the net and found this link:




We were SO close to Riga city and the Baltc Sea resort of Jurmala - but no time ((

We had to go exactly the same way back past the 'Motel Golden Fox' en route to the border and I hit a wall at Jekabpils ( Jacob's Castle?) ...Misha had used Google to find another suggested good place to eat and PAYDIRT - it was wonderful

I drank 3 double Espressos and ate a deerburger served by a pretty blond Latvian lass - who smiled, was attentive and userstood English ) ..anyone who knows Expressos must come with a glass of water is cool in my book !



After the meal - I was rejuvenated and we set off for the border - still over 2.5 hours away - it was aleady dark - but I trusted the road.

We bypassed Rezekne ( hurray) and beeped the horn and flashed the lights as we passed the Motel Golden Fox - Vladimir heard and saw and knew it was us ))  ..for the second time we approached the border at Terehova - it really is in the middle of nowhere...

The same young border guard took our docs, smiled recognition and our papers passed muster, we were haned our passports back and done with Latvia in less than 15 minutes ...  HURRAY !!!

Now we passed the U-turn and approached the barrier that had been SO close 3 days earlier- a check check of our passports and we were given a number and sent to the 'newbies' line  - having been asked if we'd crossed before.

We got a charming brunette lady and she was SO apologetic as when we reached her - the computer network crashed (((

We spent 3.5 hours filling in forms and hanging around - it would have been longer - but Vladimir had copies of the necessary forms pre-printed - we could have gone through the 'regulars' line ))

Eventually, a cursory check of our car's contents and if we had alcohol or any forbidden produce, a long dictation of temp import conditions which Misha translated - and I signed the docs ...  Our passports were returned with the car docs and temp import forms - the barrier lifted - and we moved forward...   to another barrier, where we returned our number and were wished a pleasant trip ... WE WERE IN RUSSIA !!

Offline Manny

  • Moderator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 17831
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2020, 10:17:18 AM »
On the way out we passed a HUGE selection of rusting old Soviet aircraft from Supersonic 'Backfire Bombers' Migs, Helicopters and transport planes - it was forbidden to take photos - so I searched the net and found this link:

Its not forbidden to take photos, it's a museum.


https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g274967-d1484670-Reviews-Riga_Aviation_Museum-Riga_Riga_Region.html

There is also hotel not far where you were with a car park full of helicopters. I forget what that one is called.
Read a trip report from North Korea >>here<<

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2020, 11:30:49 AM »

Its not forbidden to take photos, it's a museum.

'Ri-ight' we 'imagined' the signs on the perimeter fence ..

Otherwise we'd have taken our own photos ... :coffeeread:


Offline Manny

  • Moderator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 17831
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2020, 01:24:23 PM »

Its not forbidden to take photos, it's a museum.

'Ri-ight' we 'imagined' the signs on the perimeter fence ..

Otherwise we'd have taken our own photos ... :coffeeread:

You can see the 191 photos on Tripadvisor for yourself, read the reviews and the fact that Victor charges 7 Euros entry.  :whist11:

You're not the only one that has been to Latvia. Anyway, crack on with the TR.  :coffeeread:
Read a trip report from North Korea >>here<<

Online andrewfi

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 18598
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
    • Articles About Almost Anything!
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2020, 01:33:28 PM »
I've stayed there a couple of times. The motel is part of the aerodrome. Some of the bedrooms literally overlook the planes.

We had a wander around the planes and, if I recall, a couple of helicopters. I took a few pics. They're pretty decrepit aircraft but nonetheless interesting.

The rooms are quite nice but it's better to take breakfast in the small town just up the road.

Nope there's no top secret stuff there. No restrictions on taking pictures. A cool place to visit.

We didn't get charged for a look see though; maybe it's a newish thing or included in the room cost?
...everything ends always well; if it’s still bad, then it’s not the end!

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2020, 02:06:51 PM »
Sighs



No stopping and under NO photography ..image courtesy of Google Maps

This is at both ends of the road on which the museum is situated...

Indeed, I am not the only member who's been to Latvia... but I do remember what I saw as a driver

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2020, 02:52:15 PM »
As warned by Vladimir - there were FIVE filling stations on the RU side of the border and we filled up with diesel at 39 Roubles a litre - about 50 pence or 66 US cents ))))

We bought some drinking water and pushed on - it was the early hours of the morning and as the first vehicle to escape in a while - we had no company on the road - which became 2 lane - 1 each way - within 300m - although smooth.

It was clear - no rain and plus 1C. I set the cruise control at 90Kph and waited to see some sign of civilisation - some false light ... but other than the VERY occasional lorry or cell tower - there was NOTHING....    Somehow we made it to the first town of any note  - Velnikne Luki - just over two hours in and drove past a motel just off the main road and into the town - which proved useless for accommodation - so - 45 mins later - the motel was chosen .. We called for 'human attention' at 4am and a bleary eyed lass sold us two rooms and we CRASHED ..

At 2 pm I awoke - we headed into town to top up a RU data sim and started the device tracker feature - and headed towards Moscow.  It was over 400km away and having been 17 hours on the road yesterday - wondered if I could do it ....!

After 1 hour it was already dark, foggy and DANGEROUS as the headlights were dim - covered in crap - mud and salt off the road

I could go no more - found a rare exit and slept by the roadside

After two hours I woke up - cleaned the lights, once more and set off, again - counting down the km in 50 km incriments of joy ! )

We were down to 200km of fuel and I brimmed it 200km from Moscow - the chilly air woke me up.

100km from Moscow the road became a 6 lane ( 3 each side motorway / highway )  with a limit of speed beyond which I had no will to achieve - let  alone match - it was minus 4C - but no snow / rain !

 We stopped for  me to eat - Misha couldn't find anything to his liking-  at a form of 'Truck stop' and I had a chicken roll and double espresso .. Fully fuelled - I was ready for Moscow.  We had booked a room with booking.com - near to the Kazansky Railway station.

We went straight towards the centre - arriving in the middle of the night - so no traffic jams and just glorious views of skyscrapers.  We found the hotel with ease and parked RIGHT outside - being early on a Sunday - it was free ))

Having booked a second room - Misha wanted to eat  - in the middle of the night ! - and after we slept ...

I made breakfast - which ran to 11 am - but Misha didn't and we walked to Kazansky Railway station  - to see if we could book the car on the train . We found the place where the car was loaded - but were sent across the road to Leningradsky station..who then sent us for  2 km walk to the booking office. At least I saw the High speed Train to St Petersburg ))

At the office - all my docs were accepted  -EXCEPT - my Visa wasn't registered .... (  How could it be - I had stayed in two hotels and had 7 days to register ...right ? So - a trip to the FMS looked on the cards - if open - but we were called back - the invoices for my accommodation were accepted.  The car and us were booked on the 10.47 to Sochi ( Adler ) the next day .

I had hoped to meet a member from the board - but simply couldn't make a plan and Misha took me to meet a potential client before I was 'free' to seek said member out ... I had hoped to watch the last Formula 1 GP race of the season  - but everything took too long.

The car was filthy and we found a hand car wash in -6C temperatures. On entering it was like a tropical rain forest - with the moisture hanging in the air...  The guys were fascinated by the car - having no idea of the model and the owner was a F1 fan - we had a super carwash for 5 GBP - just over 6 USD !

We had a GREAT Pizza and I had a non alcoholic beer and set off to meet Misha at the hotel  - to drive the Vauxhall car to the vokzal - The Russian name for a railways station is a 'MISTAKE' - named after a place in London that HAD a  railway station .... ))

We took photos before l drove the car into the carriage that would be our trusty stead's home for two nights and we were free to eat - I could even drink a beer ! We must have walked 10 km by the time the day was done.








We found an Azeri Restaurant and sampled loads of different foods - although the 'Ajapsandal' salad couldn't match that from our Russian partner's Mum from the summer...  ( Armenians claim it's their creation )

We ordered taxis to take us in our respective directions and I passed out on lying down .....

Online andrewfi

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 18598
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
    • Articles About Almost Anything!
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2020, 06:39:06 AM »
My apologies!

In my post above I made reference to an aircraft museum of Soviet military aircraft located adjacent to a motel. This is not that place. :)

That explains the differing recollections of the place.

Sorry about that.
...everything ends always well; if it’s still bad, then it’s not the end!

Online rosco

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4116
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 10-20
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #23 on: June 10, 2020, 03:08:13 AM »
Good little read Moby.

I was happy to see that you managed to slip in the Pro EU/anti Brexit stuff along with bigging up your Russian speaking skills. The mandatory falling out with officials and victimhood section was a given.  :)

Eating up the miles on a long journey can be soul destroying, sometimes driving through exhaustion and fatigue can be worse than a hangover. It's just a shame you're more my dads age because it would have been nice if you had head out to scout the towns properly or stay in places less remote, making it a proper road trip. I guess that cant be helped though.

I'm assuming you'll fill us in with the train journey and photo's in the next section? I'm wondering what your carriage was like and if the views were interesting or samey. Also, you start out the first post in the present tense but I assume you're writing about a trip last year or further back?

Anyway, nice to read something interesting from you Moby  :thumbsup:

Online msmoby

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 10947
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Resident Troll
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: 20+
Re: Road Trip to Sochi written Nov -Dec 17
« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2020, 05:39:00 AM »
Good little read Moby.

I was happy to see that you managed to slip in the Pro EU/anti Brexit stuff along with bigging up your Russian speaking skills. The mandatory falling out with officials and victimhood section was a given.  :)

Eating up the miles on a long journey can be soul destroying, sometimes driving through exhaustion and fatigue can be worse than a hangover. It's just a shame you're more my dads age because it would have been nice if you had head out to scout the towns properly or stay in places less remote, making it a proper road trip. I guess that cant be helped though.

I'm assuming you'll fill us in with the train journey and photo's in the next section? I'm wondering what your carriage was like and if the views were interesting or samey. Also, you start out the first post in the present tense but I assume you're writing about a trip last year or further back?

Anyway, nice to read something interesting from you Moby  :thumbsup:

Rosco,

1/ ALL my posts are interesting ;)

2/ So far, we've stayed in Bruge ( outskirts ), Magdeburg (outskirts ), middle of NOWHERE ( German / Polish border), middle of nowhere ( Lithuanania), outskirts of Kraslava ( Latvia) and Vladimir's place was like the moon..

We were on a deadline to be in Sochi and it was late Nov.. Bloody cold

3/ I won't pay bribes to any border officials and ( subsequently ) got the money back for our accommodation, via SolVit - as the UK DLVA temp registration doc was QUITE legal in Latvia and the Russian border lady told us she would have accepted the document and pointed out the Latvians were just after a bribe.


 

 

Registration