The next day arrives soon. This is the moment, I looked for a long time. Heading into the deep unknown of Karelia.
I wanted to eat at Lenny's place again, so after checking out of my room, I put my motorcycle gear on the bike and went away in normal clothes.
Coming back, I find my gear dripping wet. It looks like they flooded the underground parking lot with water to "clean" it. The water was all dirty and smelly. Ok now I'm dirty and smelly, too.
Nice advertisement on the bus.
Heading on the ring road is easy, only about two junctions to take. Pretty interesting idea of a highway, though. About 6 lanes wide, but no markings or anything on the roads.
(not the highway in the picture)
At a gas station, a trucker approaches me, he knows a bit of german from when he used to drive to East German and back. He seemingly has fun using his german skills again and tells me about going to Germany with his family one day. He takes a picture of me with his cell phone and wishes me Godspeed, so do I. What a nice encounter, something like that would never happen back home.
The shop has neat dried fish.
And very nice american hot dogs for only a few rubels.
Back on the highway, I have to look for the correct junction. When I was planning the route, I guessed the sign should either say Petrozavodsk or Murmansk.
So these are the words I had memorized how they look like:
The first sign only says Petrozavodsk, but after the turnoff, the next big sign has both cities on it, seems like I'm on my way. I even decipher a sign pointing towards Moscow.
I have to smile thinking about the sign to Moscow. Nobody could or would have stopped me just taking the road to Moscow, except myself. And in the same manner it's just upon me if I want to ride to Murmansk. This is freedom I could have never imagined before I rode my first bike. The world is all yours.
The road just outside St. Petersburg is wide, in good shape and easy to ride. Every now and then, there are huge roadworks. Half the road is full of deep sand (no tarmac under it) or other debris, good thing it doesn't rain.
Only 1200 km to Murmansk. That's more than three times across Switzerland.
Water appears. Lots of water. I love water, and I love riding next to in or even over it. That is a pretty cool iron bridge, with a road and train tracks on it.
The weather is hot, so I go down to the water to stick my feet in it. It seems tinted brown-ish and smells of iron. Later on, somebody would tell me, that's natural iron resources around here that make it that way.
On the bridge - a traffic jam. It's too narrow to ride inbetween. About 20 minutes later, traffic moves again.
Apparently, there is road work ahead. And if they do road work here, they do it the right way:
Tear open 30km of road and make it a gravel road, block one lane for traffic and start working on the first 150m meters. Of course you have to follow a pace car going about 30km/h - max! Trapped between the cars and trucks, the dust, heat and stench is horrible. But somehow I have to laugh. While I ride around in places like this in my vacation, others are on the beach having a beer. I wouldn't exchange for a second, though.
The old road is a bit bumpy, but still pretty good. Why rebuild it?
It's evident that gas stations are built for truckers.
Coffee stops seem improvised. Yes, the little hut on the right is a coffee stop. I am invited to a tea and I show him my route on the map. He didn't know what "Schweiz" or "Switzerland" meant, so I gave him some chocolate out of the tank bag and showed him my swiss army knife. He seemed to understand.
It's pretty difficult to order food at restaurants. I remember that "salad" is the same in russian. So I order a salad. But apparently there are multiple salad menus. So I point to one on the menu card. The waitress is not satisfied with my order and asks something. "Da" (yes) is not the right answer. I have no idea what she wants to know. I smile and try to show her that I'm hungry. After a while she gives in and just brings me a salad. Success!
When people approach me, it's always a lot easier to understand each other without language, but as soon as they are at work, most aren't willing to put a bit of effort into communicating.
Somewhere between Olonets and Petrozavodsk I take a random road into the woods. The small singletrack leads me to a lake. Wow this is a jackpot place.
After getting clothed again, I hear engine sounds heading towards me. A Honda Transalp and an Africa Twin appear and wave at me. I invite them next to my tent and meet Aleksandr, Tatjana and Sergei from Moscow. Communication is difficult, but Aleksandr knows a bit of german. I'm invited to join in on their feast - I don't know where Tatjana stores all these fresh and delicious foods.
With a lot of Vodka and toasts they tell me about the motorcycle meeting they're coming from. 150km further north than Murmansk, they were in Teriberka at the Barents sea. Hmm, maybe I should go there...