|Miles Driven Today
|Total Trip Mileage
|Countries visited Today
|Countries visited on trip
|US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia
We left the hotel at about 8:40 AM, and headed due East towards Kazan.
Kazan is a city of about 1.1 M people, and it also includes Muslims and Christians, each at about 47% of the population. So, this city is known for harmonious and peaceful existence between the various faiths.
Today’s journey would end up being 236 miles, which is less than expected, but nevertheless, it has the virtue of being true. In any case, we’re here, and you can’t argue with the facts.
As we rode to Kazan, there was only one interesting stop along the way. For much of the route, it could more accurately be described as the Paving Tour of Russia. Just about every inch of the M7 was either torn up, being paved, or was recently paved. And I mean every inch. It’s remarkable.
The new pavement is awesome, but the roads are big and wide, and while there are some turns, it’s not really too much fun to ride on. But, it’s better than riding on the torn-up roads that we saw earlier in Russia. Here’s a glimpse of today’s route.
As we ride along these highways, with all of the construction, we often, quickly and abruptly arrive at a transition in the pavement, which might include a height adjustment of 6-8″, or more, you really need to be on your toes. So, while riding on this type of pavement, I’m prone to riding standing up. Try to imagine, I’m 6’4″ tall, and so when I stand on the bike, my head is about 8′ in the air. This gives me a great field of vision and I can see the road and the traffic out over a good distance, which I use it to pick the best route over and around all of the broken pavement. It does however also create a bit of an imposing image for any of the drivers in cars, who to see this huge guy, riding along, swerving between cracks and holes at anywhere between 40-60 mph.
Each rider handles this of pavement in their own way, but I really enjoy standing. I have to admit that I treat the cracks and holes like obstacles in a video game, where I score points for each obstacle that I miss. I’ve acquired over 1 Million points so far.
The fruit stand
If you look at the report from the road, you’ll see that I filmed the video, just after I finished eating a pear. As it turns out, I had a big piece of pear on my chin, but this is an unedited, unabashed view of my trip, and if I’ve got pear bits on my chin, then so be it.
The fruit was great, and I hope that the locals enjoyed our company, although I could not convince any of them to allow me to take a picture. Someone had suggested that there is a religious basis for this, but I’m not sure.
Today’s report from the road
Today’s report includes selfies, interviews, and views from the helmet, while driving. Enjoy.
You’ll also notice that my fellow travelers have taken to filming me, as I’m creating these reports. Martin and Mike have both been seen taking covert photos of me, while I’m creating these reports. So, keep your eyes open.
The hotel we’re staying at was not our first choice. As it turns out, there is an international competition in this city, this weekend, and it is called the Skills Challenge. Teams from around the world gather, and compete to answer questions, solve problems, build things, and generally test any and all skills that the judges feel are relevant. Now, this doesn’t really affect us, except that many of, and perhaps most of the hotel rooms in Kazan are booked. And so, we’re staying in a hotel that is in a bit of a darker neighborhood, but we’re just a block from the main drag, and it certainly makes it easy to find someplace for dinner, or does it.
With a dozen people all trying to get dinner, but with different ideas about what dinner should be, it can be a challenge. This group is pretty flexible, and understands that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you get what you need. And so began our dinner adventure.
When we were within a few hundred yards of the restaurant, we turned around and noticed that almost all of the group was missing. So, Phil called to Charles, and we got the word that the group had decided to eat at Burger King, so Mina, Feroz and I proceeded to the restaurant.
In the end, getting to the restaurant wasn’t really a long walk, but with all of the confusion, and the need to stop at Burger King for a bathroom break, it took a while to get there. After arriving, it was again confusing as we tried to simply understand how the restaurant works. Imagine arriving at a buffet in the US, and not being allowed to sit down until you were properly briefed on how the buffet works. In our case, this was not a buffet, but there was a minimum amount per person, which must be spent, in order to sit down for drinks or dinner.
After Feroz spent about 7 minutes talking to the waiter about how it works, Feroz, Mina and I started to sit down at a table, and just at that moment, the rest of the gang walked in. They had found us, so we got a bigger table, and planned to order.
In order to give this process its due, you really had to be there, but I’ll try to recap. We used Google Translate to try to read the menu, picking out anything that sounded like it would be to our liking. We ordered beer, water, wine, along with salads, and main courses. With all the confusion, and in the end, there were only two mistakes with the food, and considering what it took to place the order. We were happy with that.
Dinner cost about $15USD each, and was quite good. As you can see, I’ve included a few pictures of the food, and of the beer that I enjoyed, which has clear Russian markings.
What will tomorrow bring
As we had hoped, Martin has arranged for a sightseeing tour for us. The tour is scheduled to last about 4 hours, and start at 10:00 AM. We’ll then have a dinner at 6:00 PM, where we’re going to experience TaTar food.