Kandalaksha to Moscow trip example


See also Invitation to join

A camping trip through Karelia and the Golden Ring. Adventures and misadventures. Travel notes, observations, musings and, “will it ever end” road fatigue. End of August 2011. This is a story of our trip from the Luvenga outpost of the Kandalaksha Nature reserve to Moscow. Off August 28, in Moscow in the evening of September 1 2011, so it was 5 days and four nights. The party was Pasha, Alexandra, her son Fedya, and the dog Tasha. Pasha was responsible for the vehicle, navigation, cooking, and generating chatter that was then to be re-worked into a coherent story. Alexandra was taking photos and notes. Fedya and Alexandra together were looking after setting up and folding down the camp, and then drying the stuff sometime in the middle of the day when we managed to catch some sun. Tasha made the scene complete. The car was a 1995 Land Rover diesel. After a 8000 roubles (nearly $300) undercoating job and a few other repairs and improvements we were nearly out of cash of the scale required for hotels. Besides, very few of them would take us with the dog, let alone a bitch in heat. The accommodation mode thus was to be camping, with an effort to stay away from cafes. This story that is intended give you a general impression of how it is to travel in northern Russia. And to try ourselves in the travelogue genre. Bits of specific information mentioned here will be moved to city/town/location pages of www.staritsa.info so don’t sift through the whole story (based on 28 pages raw notes)to fish out useful particulars.

Adventure No.1.
The day before I took the car to Kandalaksha and had one of these electronic door locks installed. When not locked officially this device blinks till the battery is exhausted. The trip started with an hour’s delay to recharge the battery. Got loaded, settled, and moving about 1pm.

Travel Hint

Our leaving coincided with the advent of fall. Hills all of a sudden turned into mountains with cloud-covered peaks. It seems that as winter nears things here acquire serious and significance. By mid-November the sea becomes a mess of moving blocks of ice. Getting lost in the woods is an experience you are lucky to return from alive. Summer and Winter Kola are worlds apart.

Stones too, for the first time, appeared ready to roll down. I am thinking of repeating the trip in late fall, when things show their true nature.

The fall here thought is considered to start when fireweed or willow-herb (Epilobium angustifolium) goes into seed, usually in the first week of August.

Fireweed in bloom and fireweed in seed

One of the unfinished jobs in Kandalaksha was taking photos of cafes and restaurants for the Kandalaksha page of www.kandalaksha-reserve.org

Cafe Pogrebok (cellar)

Restaurant Olymp. Considered “the best in town” but judging from the types of characters that were standing outside at 1am I am not somehow attracted to this place. You may think what I did there at 1am. If a Russian car repairman tells you your car is ready and you can pick it up here merely means that he installed new parts in approximately where they are intended to go. More often than not you will not find the job done. A responsible – in the local sense of of the word – mechanic will proceed to complete the job in your presence. That’s was how I found myself in Kandalaksha in the middle of the night.

Kebab House at Komsomolskaya 28a, near the train station. Details of these and a few other places are coming up on the English version of www.kandalaksha-reserve.org  The point I want to make is that there is no shortage of passable, price- and quality-wise eating establishments. Expect to pay 800-1200 roubles ($25-45) for a meal for three, a shot of vodka and a beer included. No particular need to worry about where to eat.

On the main road. The big ones will have city names written out in Latin characters.

D:\Users\Alexandra\Рабочий стол\kandalaksha_moskva\seid.jpg
Karelia. Evening of the first day of our trip. Although the Sami are either gone or are too busy for these silly things, tourists from St Petersburg and Moscow took over the religious function. It is considered good form for travellers to make stone piles, build altars, or construct human or animal figures. Symbolic sacrifices are appropriate.

Adventure No.2
Noise from under the hood. Since it was in the middle of nowhere and the Mercedes engine LR engineers decided to stick into the vehicle is not really repairable in field conditions, our mechanic fell into panic. After a few minutes of pulling what’s left of his hair he cautiously opened the hood and victoriously pulled out a blade of grass stuck in the air conditioner fan.


Regular presence of ramps partly compensates the absence of service.

Adventure No.3
It followed immediately after No.2. One of us has a habit of relieving road stress by taking a bath and a swim in every body of water along the way. During one of his compulsive bathing sessions he got attached by a cloud of tiny insects that, unlike mosquitoes, give no audible warning. By the time you notice them you are well on your way to being eaten alive. Further, they look for places where skin is the thinnest. Speedy application of Dr Mom got the victim who does not wish to be named off lightly. Usually gnat attack will make you itch for days, and bite marks may last for weeks. Good old mosquitoes are nothing compared to members of the Simulium genus.

Put this into your first aid kit. Essential against skin irritation. Probatum est.

On return to civilization our gnat victim has a psychedelic style nightmare where his Lada-10 car (which he had never owned) had a multitude of little mechanical problems that somehow projected onto his feet and calves that were full of gnat bites. Dreambooks say that insects mean that lots of little troubles are coming. As if I didn’t know.

Alexandra, who is not easy to impressed, was nevertheless astonished at how slow car travel is. It took us 5 hours to travel from Kandalaksha to Loukhi. But she has been warned way before we embarked into this misadventure that at best the average speed will not be more than 50km/hour!

Travelled 330km in the first day. Stopped by River Olanga. A heavy rain at night. Woke up in a puddle. Understood the importance of making a ditch around the tent to keep water away, and the need to keeping insect repellent in the first aid kit.

Travel Hint

Travel Hint

August 29 2011. Soaked. Just threw the stuff into the back of the car and drove off hoping to find some warmth and dryness later in the day. And we did, and hung our possession on tree boroughs, and ourselves made late breakfast of giant zucchini and freshly picked mushrooms, and swam in one of the numerous rivers that run into the Northern Ocean.

In Karelia you can always count on abundant water supply for bathing or washing. Often it will be brown water with high organic content so carry a few bottles of drinking stuff with you.

One of us, whom we’ll not name, got bored silly and engaged into unnecessary activity that included jumping over food being prepared and shedding sand from his shoes into the pot.

Travel Hint –
Think of how to keep kids busy!

A question to the public –

Our card-carrying old irritable killjoy grouch wants to know if these are just Russian teenagers, or are they that way in the more advanced parts of the world too.

Ate. Dried up. Re-packed in an orderly fashion. Proceeding south through miles of forest that burned this summer. Fortunately, these have mostly been creeping fires.

Day two, Monday. Approaching Medvezhyegorsk (Bear Hill City). Lots of hotels and motels where as there were none in the last three hundred kilometers. Why? My observation is that my compatriots go into business not when they see an empty niche but when they observe their neighbour do well. Then they try to do the same. Russians like following the procedure. The main reason for the famous church schism of the 17th century (more on it because Dukhobors largely shapes the Russian North) is insistence on the ritual by Nikon and absolute adherence to its slightly different form by the Old Believers. In both the Russian way of doing business and in the nation’s ethics and values, or in the present-day growing bureaucratization of the country I see the same foundation – adherence to the procedure.

Adventure No.4 –
One of the jobs done before leaving Kandalaksha was wheel alignment after which the car has been keeping the road even worse than before. Found a wheel alignment place in Bear Hills and sure, the front wheels were 6-7 degrees apart instead of having a 2-3 degree toe-in! Had alignment re-done. Called the place in Kandalaksha to tell them what I thought of them.

A hint for those travelling by car –
Always check after Russian car repairmen! When you tell them “install X” they will understand it as just “install X”, not as “install X and make sure it works”. Please understand that during most of the history that led to the formation of the prevalent mental set Russians were slaves. When hired they turn their minds blank. Most shops in Moscow will have a quality control person to minimize the consequences of this Russian attitude. This particular shop on Kandalaksha had this person forming a layer between workers and clients sick. Thus the consequences.


The first one of these means sauna – not what a pervert like you might have thought

“Apartment daily”. Lots of accommodation offers in Medvezhyegorsk. As everywhere, it is either nothing or a lot.


Our souvenir from Bear Hills was a bucket. An ordinary tin-plated bucket. And camping life all of a sudden became easier. Soon you’ll see why but for now put bucket on the list of essentials if you plan to live any length of time in the woods.

A huge “Funeral Services” sign greets you on entry to Medvezhyegorsk and keeps on pursuing you. A remarkable number of these establishments in this city.

Noticed two Baptist style “Dom Molitvy” (Prayer House). Unthinkable in central Russia where for all practical purposes “foreign” religions cannot publicly display themselves.



The character of settlements changed drastically after Bear Hills. Free-standing houses off the main road are the dominant form of life in Karelia. Unlike Karelian farms or small Pomor villages the Russian ones consist of rows of houses lining up both sides of the road.

Povenets –

Another wooden church. A dyke or a shipping lock with a huge “no photos” sign.



Our driver, who grew progressively hysterical over the wheel alignment in Kandalaksha, would not even slow down by the “stop and bow” sign by the military cemetery. Instead he delivered a diatribe of how good things would have been had the Germans been successful in taking over Russia. Thus no photos.

Gabselga –

An outhouse made of full-size logs.

Car travel hint –

The GPS device will often demand street name, not just the city. Every Russian city or town or even a small village will have Ulitsa Lenina. If there is an exception let us know.

The road to Pudozh. Smooth and surreally empty.

A two-section outhouse by each bus stop. Decided against inspecting it in order to maintain the illusion that the toilet situation in Karelia is good.

Car travel hint –

Air conditioning can be used to dry up the car. Turn both air conditioning and heating up. Within seconds fog on windows will be gone. In an hour or two stuff inside the car will be dry.

Insects –

You know about mosquitoes and horse flies. But they are nothing compared to gnats and midgets (Simuliidae, Ceratopogonidae, Heleidae) who eat into flesh.


One night of exposure to these will kill, and in fact was used as a method of execution in medieval Russia and in Gulag. The advantage of the method is that it can be written off as death from natural causes. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, have mosquito net if you plan to spend a long time in the woods, and of course have insect repellant!


If you haven’t been exposed to these before you may not even immediately notice that you are being eaten alive. They are very small (1-2mm) and make no noise.

Speaking of insects and generally things poisonous, beware of ticks (in some area 5% of them carry encephalitis) and of wasps and bees (I heard of deadly attacks). Rabies is common, with foxes and dogs being prime carriers. The only poisonous snake is viper but they are very rare in the north, and by the White Sea they are considered endangered species. In the Tver region however running into a viper in May, when they are most poisonous and lack their usual timidity, is common.

Road Hint –

It is a good practice to note telephones of local towing services.

Road Hint –

Average speed is no more than 50km/hour no matter how hard you step on it. Stops, flat tires or serious breakdowns, toilet stops, road construction areas, accidents that may block the road for hours till the traffic police show up – all these lower the real speed. Russian drivers, when asked how long it will take to get somewhere, will usually give time as if everything goes perfect which will not be the case.

Photo of a smooth empty road to Vologda.


Road Hint –

Start early. Fewer accidents in the morning. More time to get help. If you are in real trouble in some areas you will not be able to get any help after sunset because the locals just lock up and play dead.

Log road (“gat”) photos.

Lots of toponyms are based on “gat”. Nagatino in Moscow, the town of Gatchina near St Petersburg come to mind. Here is a real “gat” road.


Alexandra expressed regret at having allowed Uncle Pasha to buy a small bottle of Karelian vodka. The only thin on his mind now is what food to prepare to go with it. Thus the mushroom episode. Here is another warning to those planning to travel with Uncle Pasha: On seeing mushrooms he loses any sense of time or space till all edible is collected. Then he compulsively searches for vodka and having bought a bottle proceeds frying mushrooms regardless of circumstances.

Adventure No…
The car would not start in the middle of the forest. A few scary moments. It turned out that the trouble was with a newly installed switch that turns off the whole electric system.

Stopped for the night about 7:30, about an hour and a half before dark. If there are 2-3 of you it will take you an hour to break a camp and to make something edible, so plan accordingly.

On finding a place to camp. We’ve been trying to formulate how to do that but failed to come up with specific instructions. Got to have a nose for these things..

Camping hint –

A bucket is another sine qua non. I’ve seen rivers with banks so high and steep that there was no way to access water without a bucket and a rope. Also a bucket is very handy for protecting a small gas burner from wind.


August 30 2011. Let’s start with day with some toilet training. First, dig a hole. If you don’t have a shovel use a large knife. Do you business. Complete the clean up process. If unable to wash use isopropyl alcohol to put finishing touches on the body parts used in the process. If tissue will not fit into the hole burn it but watch that you don’t set the forest on fire!

And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

(Deuteronomy 23:13-14)

733 kilometers from Kandalaksha. Smoke and smell of burning pit despite heavy rains. Must have been hell here a month ago.

Pudozh –

Lots of cafes, guesthouses, public showers, car repair shops, even a prayer house (a rare thing in an Orthodox-dominated Russia). Pudozh, a small place, probably no more than 10th., looks like a tourist hub.

A nature reserve.

The GPS navigator went crazy as we were leaving Pudozh. Till we got near to Vologda was demanding that we turn back. This gadget is useful but it will not replace maps, directions from locals, and plain common sense.

11am left Karelia and entered the Vologda region. Now it is definitely Russia. No outhouses by bus shelters but as a compensatory measures these shelters are painted in the colours of the Russian flag.

In an attempt to get some use out of idle time on the road one of use attempted going over some basic concepts, such is percentage, a 6th grader is supposed to know.

Continued contemplating the change of priorities from equipping bus shelters with toilets to propaganda of the national idea by using the white, red, and blue colour scheme everywhere.

Even wreathes on fresh graves are the colours of the flag!


People! Don’t do the Trans-Siberian. Siberia is 7 days of Russia. And Russia is huge planes, no toilets, and bad coffee. Travel the Kiev to Kandalaksha axis instead!

Our collective as well as individual minds went blank as Karelian stone changed for Vologda hills. It occured to one of us that…

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Вниманию Наполеонов и Гитлеров! Прежде, чем пытаться завоевать Россию, совершите ознакомительную поездку! Нужны ли вам эти унылые поля, этот хмурый народ, это низкое небо? Обратитесь к ДП за всеобъемлющей поддержкой! Даже если вы всего лишь хотите внедриться в Россию со своим задрипанным товаром, наймите меня консультантом ДО того, как начнете тратить время и ресурс на полномасштабное вторжение.

LR – макс.скорость на ровной дороге 128 км/ч

Приключение №7.

Воспользовавшись хорошей дорогой, наш водитель решил проверить состояние двигателя и разогнал наш надежный медлительный транспорт до 130 км/ч. Вызвав панику в пассажирах и опасения, что столь многообещающий проект недовоплотится в ж.


После долгих стараний нашли газ для плитки (70-100 руб.). Цепочка для пенсне, продававшаяся в рыболовном магазине.

Много знаков guest house. Успокоившись, что на улице не останемся, поехали дальше.

На выезде видели отцепившийся от лесовоза прицеп. Наш водитель, гений осторожности, держался далеко и в очередной раз избежал лишних приключений, чем не преминул похвастаться. Кстати, замечено, что хвастливость его за время пути почему-то возросла многократно.

Россия. Пешеходы, завидев машину, отскакивают. В Кандалакше хаотично переходят дорогу, не глядя на машины.

Деревянный дом уже не рассматривается как музейный предмет. В нем помещается гробовой магазин и вэлфер-офис.

В Волог.области замечено несколько деревянных тротуаров и полностью деревянный помост на рынке. Вологда – стойкие ассоциации с деревом. Своими глазами убедились, что дерева здесь много.


Все еще хорошая, но машины и водители явно русские. Все едут с разными скоростями, у кого не горит левая фара, у кого правая, у кого включен ближний свет, у кого – ничего. Велосипедисты, и те едут криво. И деревни уже стоят совсем тесно, одна перетекает в другую. И пыль.

Архангельский тракт.

Древняя дорога, которой по кр.мере 600 лет.

/В связи со строительством в Архангельске морского порта и развитием через Архангельский порт внешней торговли выявилась необходимость в организации почтовой связи между Москвой и Архангельском. По указу Петра I был учрежден специальный почтовый тракт Москва—Ярославль—Вологда—Архангельск.

По разработанному при Екатерине II плану дорожного строительства были построены: Архангельский тракт — от Москвы через Вологду до Архангельска и Петербургский — от Петербурга до Вологды. Это были широкие грунтовые дороги, обсаженные с обеих сторон березами. В низинах они укреплялись фашинами и жердевыми настилами, а крутые спуски и подъемы были вымощены камнем.

Вологда сообщалась и со всеми уездными городами. На Архангельском тракте была построена дорога от станции Чекшино до Усть-Сысольска через Тотьму, Великий Устюг, Сольвычегодск, Яренск. И вторая дорога — от Тотьмы до Великого Устюга через Никольск.
Вдоль дорог устраивались почтовые станции, примерно через 20—30 километров, в зависимости от наличия населенных пунктов. На станциях меняли лошадей, проезжие могли отдохнуть и поесть.

В малонаселенных местах, где не было почтовых станций, строились через определенные расстояния избы у дороги. В них никто не жил, но проезжающий мог остановиться, накормить лошадей или укрыться от непогоды./

Пыль. Одна из главных дорог страны. Едем со скоростью 20 км/ч.


Отражает неприятные особенности здешней жизни. Вологда – волочить. Бессчетное кол-во Волочков, Волоколамсков и пр. В России даже летом во многих местах вещи перевозились на санях, как более терпимых к полному бездорожью.

Не вдумывайтесь, что означают русские названия! В лучшем случае за ними стоит каторжный труд, в худшем – пожары, кражи, пытки, дрязги. Раздоры – любимое дачное место бюрократов высшего уровня.

В лучшем случае – восхваление грубых средневековых ценностей (Ярославль) или амбиций (Владимир, Новый Иерусалим).

Приключение вне нумерации.

Почему мы так себя истязали? После многолетней привычки к банкомату, канадский банк лишил нас карт и мы могли полагаться только на наличность. Вернее, на остатки таковой после ремонта машины, включавшего обработку днища, неправильную регулировку сход-развала и установку электрики  и обошедшегося в 17 т.р. (600 долл.). С этого все и началось.

Перекус. Дождь.


Вологодская глубинка, 240 км до Вологды.

Автобусные остановки без туалетов, весьма вылинявшие, а некоторые просто голый бетон. Деревня «Татариха».

Началась совсем Россия. Подумалось, не связано ли этимологически франц. Pleu- дождь с русским плакать (в словарях переводимым как cry, более точно означает sad tears)/

В англ. Культуре выражение грусти вокально, здесь тихо забиваются в уголочек.

От дождя мысли впадают в оцепенение.

Дождь – погода, чтобы смотреть из окна, смотреть в телевизор, курить, лузгать семечки.

Но вместо того, чтобы курить, лузгать семечки или смотреть в окно, ДП предавался размышлениям, что делать в случае поломки машины вдали от всего.

Не гоняйте! Зимой особенно. По дорогам никто не ездит, никто не поможет выбраться из канавы. Большинство поломок ремонтируются легко, если иметь набор инструментов и представлять, как устроена машина. Возьмите на заметку телефон местного эвакуатора. Имейте в машине запас еды, воды, хорошего чтива и источник тепла, чтобы можно было долго ждать. Не ездите в одиночку.

Кстати и о домике.

Из хорошего: больше половины пути Кандалакша-Москва охвачено сотовой связью.

Регулярно попадаются кемпинги. Документируются не все. Их достаточно много, чтобы принять за данность, что ночлег будет.

Фото кемпинга около реки Унжа, гостиничный комплекс «Каменный бор» – похоже на разностороннее место, где можно отдохнуть 1-2 дня.

Что нужно иметь с собой: мощный длинный буксировочный трос, duct tape, воду или охлаждающую жидкость.

Нац.парк «Русский север».

Цель отчета – передать, каково оно, ездить по России. Вся конкретная информация будет рассована по конкретным городам. Не пытайтесь использовать этот отчет как источник информации, но как передачу ощущений.

Преступность в этих краях низка, воров, грабителей можно не опасаться. Хотя оставлять машину на 3 дня на обочине дороги не стоит, но спать в палатке можно спокойно. Также спокойно можно оставлять в гостинице что-то ценное. Воруют столь редко, что этим можно пренебречь.

Чистый дор

м. (драть) сев. дер, роспашь, росчисть, расчистка, починок, чащоба, подсека, кулига, драки, пожога. | Сев. новое селенье на дору. | Сев. жир, сало в мясе животных, прорость, тельное сало. | Сиб. жир нутровой, сдор. | Моск. сор, грязь, плесень на чем-либо. | Собир. орл. калужск. смол. кровельная дрань; | прямослойное дерево, которое хорошо дерется или колется. Дором драть, сдирать. Дорница ж. дрань, дранка, драница.

Даль: Дор от допятать что, подавать назад, пятить до какого места, до чего. -ся, быть допячиваему; | пятить или пятиться до чего, до какого места, последствий. Допячиванье ср. длит. допяченье окончат. действ. по знач. глаг.Фасмер: дор “поднятая целина, новь”, диал., также “легко раскалывающееся дерево”, “дранка, гонт”, “животный жир”, блр. дор “дранка, планка”.Связано чередованием гласных c деру́, драть, сюда же раздо́р, вздор. Ср. лтш. nuõdaras мн. “отходы при трепании лыка”, др.-инд. daras “яма, пещера”, греч. δορός “мех, бурдюк”, δορά “шкура, содранная кожа”; см. Бернекер 1, 214 и сл.; Траутман, BSW 52.Дор (ивр. דוֹר‎) — древний городпорт на восточном побережье Средиземного моря между современными Хайфой и Тель-Авивом.Поселение находится в узком ответвлении плодородной долины Шарон, между горой Кармель и Средиземным морем. Впервые Дор упомянут в документах, относящихся ко времени правления фараона Рамзеса II (13041237 до н. э.), но есть косвенные свидетельства того, что древний человек жил на этом месте ещё 30 000 лет назад. С Ханаанского периода Дор — один из крупнейших городов Леванта, и являлся столицей племени тевкров. 

4 км грунтовки от трассы.

Знак ограничения скорости 20 км

Ребенок (подвергшийся ДП влиянию): Это виселица?

ДП: Это для вытаскивания моторов

Ребенок: Все можно под виселицу приспособить.

«Где кончаются туалеты и начинаются флаги»

Тут ДП задумался, не великий ли он философ. И думал, почему всякие сократы-платоны сохранились? Осознал, что у него нет позитивной доктрины и единственная положительная важная исповедуемая им ценность – хорошо пожрать, желательно не поедая себе подобных. Слабовато для вечности.


«Духовное сокровище России». 1 км от шоссе, хорошая асфальтированная дорога. К духовным сокровищам проложена широкая прямая дорога.

В округе духовность, поэтому авт.остановки имеют «духовные» формы.

Чтобы приобщиться к духовным ценностям Вологодской земли купили бальзам «Старая Вологда» и льняное масло для салата.

20ч. Стоянка, озеро Кубенское.

31 августа

Встали в 6 утра от холода и радикулита. В 8 выехали. Кладбище кораблей.

Деревня Сяма – родина Гиляровского.

Чудотворный источник – гос.знак, как поворот налево, так и чудотв.источник, без кавычек, гос.знак.


Лебеди, поросята, грибы – дворовые украшательства из подручного материала.

Вологда заметна своим отсутствием заметных личностей. Поскольку сейчас в моде развитие туризма, дороги уставлены плакатами, где родился или провел детство Герой Сов.союза, которых в этом союзе немеряно, второсортный композитор или автор 1-2 книг.

Сейчас key words в Вологде: духовность и туризм. Духовность – храмы и остановки в виде церковных куполов. Туризм – плакаты и беседки вдоль дорог, где можно остановиться и перекусить. Это, вынужден признать, хорошие дороги со свежей разметкой и читаемыми знаками. Но почему-то мне хочется скорее покинуть район, провозгласивший охоту на туристов своим жизненным кредо.

Вологде особо не повезло, т.к. она пришлась на обострение радикулита с соответствующим отношением к действительности.

Река Тошня


Встретила указателем на ул. Клубова. Того самого, который сбил сколько-то немецко-фашистских освободителей этой дурацкой страны, и рекой Тошня, пунктом по приему цветных металлов (это если у вас пропали алюминиевые бидоны и рукомойник с дачи), потом начались заборы razor wire. Через 15 минут от образа деревенской благостной России мало что осталось. /Но помните про радикулит и вынужденность обонять течную суку!/. Через 10 минут после въезда в город – уже пятое заведение по приему спизженного цветмета.

Урок русского языка.

Русский язык имеет массу синонимов слова «воровать». Воровать нагло, мелко, особенно, если вор – лузер – «пиздить». Хороший пример русского словообразования, когда обычные приставка и суффикс делают из существительного глагол.

Вспомнили, что такое пробки. Стояли в пробке, вдумчиво смотря на забор с граффити.

Через пол часа после въезда в город замечены первые купола и разрушенный деревянный домик. Туристам Вологда представляется как состоящая сплошь из куполов и деревянных домиков.

Туалет в Дубровках. Написать: проверка каждые пол часа. Производится дознание, раскрываемость 100%. Казнь на следующий день на рассвете.

Еда в кафе «Лукоморье». 350 руб. на троих.

После еды количество старых домов сразу увеличилось. Поели и купили лекарство от радикулита, вставляемое образом весьма эротичным. Количество старых домов, цветов, зелени и приятных лиц сразу подскочило. Даже в самом центре дома вполне человеческого масштаба.

Секс-шоп замаскирован в аптеке под вывеской «товары интимной гигиены». Под той же аптекой – музей аптечного дела. Не посетили, т.к. было лень возвращаться в аптеку и просить отпереть музей.

Воздух загажен.

Стандартный Дворец спорта с символикой едра.

Выезд из Вологды в 11ч30 мин. До Москвы осталось 436 км.


Five days of field cooking over. Back to the wonders of civilization that include easy access to to-fu, cheap tiger shrimp, fresh sprouts, and contraband rice vodka.


Photos starting at about Pudozh, Karelia. This is a temporary page to help us sort out travel notes and photos.Back to the main unfinished one >>

Out of the stony part of Karelia, about to enter Russian flatlands.

The bucket serves as wind protection for the gas stove.

Our staff cook preaching on the techniques and subtleties of quick food preparation under field conditions.

What do you do if you want to make two dishes while there is but one burner? Wrap the pot in a thick housecoat to keep heat in, and the cooking process will continue without the need for fire.

Nearly done. The whole cycle, from finding a place to camp to having the tent up and dinner ready, is no more than an hour.

Next day. I think that was the day we entered the mainland Russia.. Pudozh and then Vytegra are about the end of Karelia. The land, names, faces, houses are becoming distinctly Russian..

This is not mist. Smoke. Forest fires continue even after recent heavy rains.

A sign saying that you are driving past the Muromsky Landscape and Nature Reserve. Click to see a list of what you are not allowed to do there. Watch for my comprehensive list of Russian “Nyet” signs.

Pudozh to Vytegra

One long empty road with periodic invitations to stop at a cafe. The signs convinced us. We did. Had real bad coffee at 60 roubles (just over $20) per overfilled plastic cup.

But the cafe has a unique elevated outhouse!

Trust me, this is way better than average. Very soon we’ll be leaving Karelia and entering “real” Russia, where the toilet situation largely remains a disaster.

Pudozh to Vytegra

Entering the Vologda region.

Bus shelters no longer are equipped with outhouses but are painted with the colours of the Russian flag.

Patriotism is on the rise, and even the dead get their farewell with wreathes made of white, red and blue flowers.

The land is flat and endless. I can’t understand why anyone might want to invade it. Future hitlers and napoleons are urged to use my services to see non-touristy Russia before investing years of time, billions of dollars, and millions of lives into their venture.

Verbatim: “Driver, be attentive! Section of Road from Vologda to Medvezh’yegorsk from 380km 550m to 323km 650m is kept in winter period under snow coat”.  What is means is that the section of road from the 380th to the 223rd kilometer is now plowed in winter”.

200 year old houses are so numerous as not to be considered museum pieces. This one has a funeral home and social services.

Wooden sidewalks seem to be common in Vologda. Till now I only read about them in books.

Entering Vytegra, Vologda region

Accommodation in Vytegra

Boat with operator for rent

Out of Vytegra

Watch out for entire tree lengths

I wonder if there is a story behind this bed by the road..

Natural Monument “White Stream”

An old road, in use since at least 1600’s

About the top speed on the old road to Archangelsk

Getting worse..

Those who find dirt roads romantic should be made to driver on one for a couple of hours. Or just to look at plants if not killed them made quite unhappy by dust. Asphalt is one of the great inventions of humanity.

Stopped for dinner someplace between Vytegra and Vologda.

Alexandra will not comply with my request that this be destroyed.

Continue to Vologda under heavy rain.

What? Three days on the road and we are still 400 miles from the sea?!

An example of “tourist base” of the sort you can’t really find through the internet despite the fact that they have a site that will even open occasionally.

En empty road along the eastern side of Lake Ladoga. Watch out for log trucks. Only the cowardice of our driver who is obsessive about keeping distance saved us from meeting a trailer that separated from one of these trucks.

Chisty Dor (Clean Clearing). Just a small village made famous by ??? Koval, who lived and worked here for several years. Clean indeed. And rare case of a sign that remind motorists that unless you are a born assholes going over 15mph over dirt road through a village is not the thing to do.

A resting place by the stream. No garbage. An exception.

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Note the emergency bell. Another sign of a well-organized little village.

A community engine hoist.

Log piles need to be tall to keep water out.

Leaving “Clean Clearing”. Our driver is peacefully asleep. Our “look at the road” calls were met with skeptical “I’ve seen enough of them”. Yes, our driver’s unique ability to rest while on the job allows him to cover hundreds of miles. We are still looking for a rational explanation why he managed to stay out of trouble for over 30 years on the road.

Last stop for the night?

“No swimming. No walking on weak ice. Fine 100 roubles. No driving on weak ice. Fine 500 roubles.” To be added to the collection of Nyet signs, probably part of the Russian Misery Travel (c) concept.

By now breaking the camp and making late dinner happens like clockwork. In exactly one hour the tent is up, a sleeping place in the car is ready, two dishes are served for three, and a bottle of vodka is opened if our staff demagogue and rhetorician overcomes the resistance of Alexandra, the sobriety watchdog.

“A boat all to yourself. An absolute guarantee against sinking. You will not get sea sick or full refund.” Sign up for Uncle Pasha’s Russian Misery Tour (c).

A board announcing that the village of Syama is the birthplace of Vladimir Gilyarovsky, “a well-known writer, “the king of reporters”, a chronicler of Moscow”.

Went into the village. Got shouted at for supposedly parking improperly twice. In both cases unprintable words were used. Welcome back to Russia. Noticed this piggy made out of a 5 liter plastic jar.

The Village of Yarunovo, the birthplace of a Russian WW2 flying ace, who died when his plane ran off the landing strip and flipped over.

The entrance to Vologda was not at all what we’ve been expecting. The city has an image of churches and old wooden houses. Instead we were met by a long traffic jam and an extensive fence with patriotic graffiti. This one says “Love for the Motherland”.

A welcomed exception: “Irisha! I love you!!! Maxim K.”

“Forward, Russia!”

The colours of the Russian flag are everywhere. Even on graves and public toilets (see above).

“Power in Unity”, and allusion to Putin’s “United Russia”. Patriotic graffiti on a concrete fence with razor wire on top…

“Beer is the swill for imbeciles”.

Found the touristy district and then the road through which the Golden Ring travellers are supposed to enter and leave Vologda.

And a few wooden houses too..

“To Vologda Region motorists”. Will someone tell me whether period should go before or after the closing quotation mark?

The Monastery of Pavel of Obnora. Saint Pavel was famous, among other things, for having lived in a hollow in the trunk of a huge linden tree. After the tree period of his life birds started landing on him and small animals would refuse recognizing him as a human. The monastery is still there. One of the few that show no sign of trying to attract visitors and and don’t appear to position themselves as touristy places. We ran into it after I made an announcement that Higher Powers will guide us to a body of water large and secluded enough to take a bath..

Here is a map of the area for those who want this monastery that seems to be authentic enough to be worth a detour. Also Saint Pavel seems to fall into the “be nice to animals” sub-current within the generally violent Russian culture and for this reason I’m making a note to add him to my Vegetarian Russia page.

( http://www.peremeny.ru/column/view/127/  )

WC is not a “water closet” but an outhouse. Back to the one shitter per mile stretch of the road. And the colours of the Russian flag are gone. A pattern? The enemies of Russia just need to build enough clean outhouses to win.

Yaroslavl? Never ever approach these GR cities from the direction other than recommended in guidebooks!

The morning after the last night of our trip.

In case you ever need to load something heavy into a truck.

Entering Rostov the Great. Instead a newly whitewashed church we are greeted, as always, but the “We buy scrap metal” sign.

A fancy new hotel. See photos of signs (below) for contact details but there is no shortage of places to stay in Rostov.

Hotels are so numerous. We noticed about a dozen by just making one circle around the city.

House of Arts and Crafts. Closed “for technical reasons”.

After half an hour of unsuccessfully looking for a cafe and encountering locked doors we found this establishment that welcomes you 24 hours a day. But it was a funeral accessories store.

Tornado in Rostov. August 24 1953.

Another hotel “with a view onto the Kremlin and Lake Nero” run by Rostov painters.

Signs that invite you to just about all Rostov attractions. Click to enlarge.

Mikhail Koshkin, the designer of the T-34 tank, was born in the village of Brynchagi near Rostov-the-Great.

We’ve been expecting to be greeted by the usual “We buy scrap metal” sign as a punishment for daring to enter a Golden Ring city using an improper road. Instead the first establishment that greeting us in Pereslavl-Zalessky was a night club.

Pereslavl-Zalessky. Central street. Probably “Ulitsa Lenina”. I’ve been born here and spent the last 15 years in this country and still can’t get used to how Russian towns lack identity and character.

When travelling the GR watch for these signs. That’s where you are supposed to be. Stick to the designated route if you want to leave the country feeling you’ve got your money’s worth.

You are even shown which way to circle the Red Square. Do that and then the opposite.

“Museum of Clever Solutions”. Low-tech answers to life’s challenges. Cute. I especially liked cups with moustache protectors.

“Non-whites go home”. There is still Sergiev Posad ahead of us but by now we’ve had more of small town and rural Russia than what we could handle. So Alexandra is putting her camera away and I’m stepping on it to be home not too too late tonight.

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Page made September 4 2011



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